Written by Christine Herman
Can you believe it has already been over a year since we opened the doors to our Alberta location? And what a year it's been!
It was quite an adventure doing the build out of the store ourselves and once the doors opened, the adventure has continued on. We decided that the best way to recap the year would be through the eyes of the two employees that have shared the management of the shop over the course of the year, Rachel and Dylan.
What is one of your fondest memories of helping get the doors open?
Rachel: There are so many little things: learning the art of grouting tiles, installing cove base, landscaping the front area, and breaking in the beautiful new espresso machine. But my favorite memory is the day we hosted our first event, Thursday Night Throwdown, a latte art competition for baristas from all over the Northwest. I remember coming in that morning to a construction zone, and through a huge joint effort from the entire crew, we were able to transform it into the beautiful shop it is now, just in time to welcome in our very first guests. It was such a fun night, getting to show off the fruits of all the hard work we had all been putting in over the summer. And after the party that night, the crew that had been working nonstop since 9am that morning were the last ones left. We were all hanging out enjoying one last beer, reveling in the fact that we had done it: the shop was ready to start serving customers. It was a really special moment.
Tell us a little about the Alberta street shop and what you find different about it compared to the other two shops?
Dylan: I think it actually turned out very different from our other cafes, certainly in appearance. Wes and Christine really did a phenomenal job with the design of the cafe, the aesthetics are so clear and so true to Case Study, and the fact that our coffee crew did the whole build out really makes it a personal shop.
It definitely has a different feel too. If it was a dog, the Alberta shop would be a Great Dane, stylish and eye-catching but also really friendly and good-natured. And mellow. Just really relaxed and mellow. Whereas I think of the downtown shop's energy and I think of a Boxer, very energetic and ready to play all the time. Just up and awake and ready to go. And then Sandy would be like a Retriever, really eager to please and help out. Plus it's the original shop so it's like the family dog, everyone knows it and loves it, and it's in many ways really the heart of the family.
And what about Alberta street? What's different about serving on Alberta?
Dylan: Well, Alberta is so many different things to so many different people. So we get to serve a full mix of locals and visitors. That keeps my work day really engaging. I get to chat with my neighbors but I also get to offer suggestions on what breweries to visit while you're in town.
What's your favorite part of a typical shift?
Rachel: I love pouring milk drinks and working on different latte art. It's one aspect of the job that, even after a decade in the industry, is always new and fun and there is always something new to learn.
Dylan: The first sip of espresso. No question. I know I'm probably supposed to say something sentimental about customer service here, but really, truly, there's nothing better on a fresh palate and a sleepy mind than a sip of espresso.
Do you have a favorite shift at the shop?
Rachel: It's tough to pick a favorite. I love working morning shifts on the espresso machine, crafting delicious drinks. However, one of my favorite things about working in the shop is all of the amazing people I get to interact with each day.
Dylan: Probably weekday mornings. Especially in the summer, when we have the garage door open and the sun is rising. And you think, "I love making coffee".
What has been one of the most challenging parts about helping to open the Alberta shop?
Dylan: I think helping the shop find its own voice and own energy has been a challenge and an inspiration. Because I mean what are your reasons for going to an independent coffee shop? You are going to list things about the product and the location, but eventually you are going to start talking about the energy the shop has, its personality, and that's the thing that takes the longest to develop. No shop has that figured out right when it opens, and when you're the newest shop in the family then you have these older siblings setting really powerful examples. So it takes work to find your own voice. You have to tune in to your neighborhood and your clientele, you have to grow into it. It feels really good to be at the one year mark and feel like that journey has been really swift and really organic. And it will keep evolving, so the challenge is still on. It's always on.
What makes the Alberta shop a special place?
Rachel: The thought and focus put into creating the space; the design of the buildout, the crew and their dedication and love of the job, as well as the visitors sipping their drinks while enjoying the loft. The way it all comes together creates such a unique setting that can't be duplicated anywhere else.
Dylan: The people inside. Our neighbors and friends who come in and sit down every day. They're shaping the cafe more than we are, truly. We wouldn't be here if they didn't want us, and they're making it a really special place.
What are you looking forward to about the future?
Rachel: Getting to invite more people to share the space with us. I have loved getting to know the regular customers we have, chatting with visitors that are in the city just for a day, and welcoming in new neighbors as they explore their new community. We have hosted a number of parties at the Alberta shop since we opened the doors, and we plan on hosting many more. I always enjoy getting to host people in a different aspect than an average day in the coffee shop.
The people we share the space with are the ones who make it great.
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