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Greg Buchheister

Sludge: The Unfiltered Coffeebar Journey

I have this dream where I walk into Coffeebar early in the morning, grab the New York Times, get a cappuccino from my favorite barista (yes I have one) and read the paper cover to cover. I can usually accomplish steps one and two depending on the day, but step #3 has been ever illusive these past five years. As I am writing this morning, I am sipping a single origin coffee from Panama in my favorite Denver Broncos mug, circa 1973, pondering my next cappuccino with equal weight to my next paragraph. 

Last month, I talked about the extreme difficulty of running a coffee shop in Truckee, California. Hiring, turnover, training, more hiring… The Truckee two-step: two people in and two people out. While publicly voicing the trials and tribulations of running a business in a seasonal mountain community, I am also reminded that while things are difficult there is a lot to be thankful for. 

October 11th was our five-year anniversary at the Truckee location. Wow! Five years has gone by in an instant. I remember very clearly the first few months, but since then it has been a blur of espresso shots, dishes, regulars and seasons. The one thing that hasn’t changed since day one is why I opened Coffeebar, why I love it, why I work the long hours, and maybe the most interesting question... why Coffeebar has reached the five-year mark in a location where two other coffee shops had failed?

Why do you get out of bed in the morning? What inspires you? Simon Sinek has a great Ted Talk called “Start With Why.” In this talk, which I highly recommend, he explains the concept of the Golden Circle. There are three circles that relate to a company or product: the What, the How and the Why. 

To summarize his talk, almost 100% of employees know what their organization does. Some employees know how they actually do it, but very few people know why they exist.  We are not talking about profit here, we are talking about purpose.

The ‘why’ of your business is the secret ingredient. If you can communicate to your employees and to your customers the ‘why’ of your business, then you have a higher chance for success. To steal a quote from Simon, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it!” 

The reason why Coffeebar has been successful where others have failed is very simple, our ‘why’. “At Coffeebar we make people feel good, so they can go out into the world and achieve their dreams.”

Simple! Does that say anything about great coffee? Gelato? Beer and wine? Nutella croissants? No. Those are all delivery mechanisms for our ‘why’. “We make people feel good!” It is such a basic statement, but it’s truly the reason for our existence. Without it, we would just be another coffee shop on a corner serving up the brew of the day. So as we head into the holidays, I am grateful for many things, but I am truly thankful that I know my ‘why’.

What is yours?

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