Inside thoughts- Pop on starting a coffee shop

Happy Birthday Pop!! In honor of his birthday, we’re continuing this years theme with a mini-interview to get to know him a little more and see his perspective in starting SONDER Coffee.

Pop- on starting a coffee shop


We learned that Ernest is a man of few words, but Pop is actually even more so! This guy is totally mellow, zen, chill, but really hard working and ambitious. He owns/runs/works at two thai restaurants with his family — Star Thai and J’s Noodles,  which are pretty delicious by the way. One of my first times getting to know Pop was at his house, where he made bbq for a group of us. He kept serving us amazing food, sitting back and enjoying the company… someone asked him why he’s such a quiet guy and he responds, “I just enjoy hearing you guys talk and having a good time.” Truly a hospitable guy that just loves to bring people together and partake in the simplicity of a good moment. Anyways, let’s hear a little more from Pop:

Did you think you’d be opening up a coffee shop at this age? 

“Yes, actually. At first I wanted to get into a franchise, like Starbucks… but when I met you guys you steered me into a different direction. I’ve been think of opening one since I was 22.”

What was going through your mind when you decided to officially start SONDER Coffee?

“I thought it was a great opportunity to do something different than a restaurant. It’s still hospitality, but a different kind. What was going through my mind? Excitement…. nervousness.”

Has your background in restaurant prepared you for this process? 

“Most definitely. With things like being patient, with hospitality, with learning how to work with customers.”

What are you most excited for with starting your own coffee shop?

“To share coffee my knowledge and a coffee experience with the community. I’m looking forward to meeting people and building relationships.”

What are you not excited for?

“Waking up early, thats pretty much about it. Everything else i’m excited for. I’m a morning person but 5AM is the earliest I can do.”


What was the coolest thing to watch unfold in regards to starting SONDER?

“Friends helping out and people showing support, it’s really nice of them and cool to see people care.”

What’s been the hardest challenge this past year in starting a coffee shop?

“Waiting to open. The anticipation is killing me! There are always little things that goes wrong, problems to solve…”

What part of the coffee industry are you most interested to explore further on? 

“Definitely the Asian coffees— I’d like to go back to counties like Thailand and Indonesia to explore the coffee directly there more. I’m excited to travel for personal and coffee reasons.”

What’s your favorite coffee drink right now?

“Definitely a regular hot latte. 10oz latte, with nothing added.”

What would you say to someone else starting a coffee shop right now?

“Just don’t think too hard on it. If you want to do something go ahead and do it, because the more you think on it, the more you’re going to overanalyze it– going through negative scenarios, overthinking, etc. Just start pursuing it.”

Bold words Pop! He ends with “it’s definitely been a fun learning experience.” That it has– happy birthday Pop– looking forward to many more, and can’t wait to see what this year will bring!

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