It’s All About People


I woke up feeling terrible, but looking forward to a day off tomorrow. “Just one more day… ” The last week had been so packed; days were growing increasingly busy (a good problem to have), and we had our first two coffee cart events in one week (exciting steps too)! Yet in the midst of everything I felt myself getting sick, and with not even a moment to myself I was getting worn out and worried that without rest I’d soon be worse. Luckily I hadn’t gotten as bad as sniffing or coughing, but this morning I entered into my voice-giving-out-zone. I sounded like Winnie the Pooh and it was a tad embarrassing. Thoughts of weariness, insecurity, and overwhelmingness from endless to-do list were stacking up; of going home and resting and not wanting to stand entire days anymore. Yet all it took was one conversation to dispel the gray cloud above me and remind me of the perspective I needed. It wasn’t even significantly revolutionary, just an echo of what mattered at the core and remembering that starting a coffee shop is about more than coffee: it’s all about people.

The Power of Making Someone’s Day [with coffee!]

We talked about a few things, one being bad coffeeshop experiences, both as a customer and as an employee. What stuck out was how we have the power to make someone’s day better or worse. It’s as simple as that. When someone walks in confused, tired, upset, intimidated– how we choose to engage with that person will either have them leaving more happy or more upset. And the question posed is, “how hard is it to just be nice to someone?”

we have the power to make someone’s day better or worse.

We’ve all had our share of bad retail experiences, whether at a coffee shop or at a retail store or restaurant. We’ve all thought to ourselves at one point in confusion or annoyance, “if you don’t like people, why do you even work here?” Not even to be rude or condescending, but that it really would be better for everyone involved if such people could work somewhere they could be happy as well.

Attitudes are contagious and are really important for the environment being created. As someone who works at a coffee shop, you’re bringing someone into a home away from home. It’s your responsibility that they feel welcome and are served according to why they came. And people come to coffee shops for many reasons: to meet others, to get out of the house, to stop by from an appointment, to help from feeling alone or depressed or nervous, etc. It’s important to realize these intrinsic non-physical needs. What an important role we play to foster an environment where people can feel valued and special, where we can tip the scales and make their days a little bit better.

Remembering it’s all about people

You can either make someone’s day better or worse. And because you never know where someone is in life, the role you play in tipping the scales can really be impactful. Too many people go through their day feeling unloved and undervalued, forgotten and overlooked… or are dealing with weighty circumstances in their life. How hard is it to be nice? How hard is it to give a welcoming smile, and to make eye contact? What would a coffee shop look like if you really cared about making people happy and welcomed? To make it a goal to take each person that walks through that door and give them a welcome, a drink and an experience that they would leave happier? You never know what the smallest intentional gesture can do to let someone know they’re valued. Especially since a coffee shop is often the first stop in the morning and the barista is one of the first people they interact with, you can really set the tone for someone’ day.

I sure have my share of bad days, like today had started. Where it’s honestly hard to see past myself and my own issues and I’m just failing and falling short. We make mistakes! Yet it takes intention to realign myself over and over, to shift my perspective and remember that I’m not here for myself. I’m here to serve others an amazingly good drink and make their day better with that and how I do it! It means daily realigning myself to these values over and over… and I hope our shop stays true to this.

On an ending note, that’s what inspires me so much about SONDER– the definition, in addition to the people that walk through our doors. There really is more than meets the eye. There really is a story that everyone is carrying with it’s own set of vivid complexities. And how amazing is it to see it all unfold, and to be a part of it.

Coffee It's All About People

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Julia! I’m in the same place with my business, remembering that it’s all about people, connecting, engaging, sharing. Love your heart!

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    • Julia

      Constant reminders!! We can hold each other to it 🙂

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  2. I love this! As always, your writing is so eloquent and impactful! It is so true that underneath all do the details of a business, especially a coffee shop that’s it’s just about the people. If I walk into a coffee shop and the people working there are rude or even if they aren’t rude persay but it’s just obvious that they don’t really care… they could have the best coffee in the world and I likely wouldn’t go out of my way to be there. There is a reason why even though there is literally a Starbucks outside my front door that I choose to pack up my one year old and drive the 15 minutes to Sonder 🙂 mainly to see YOU but also for this amazing experience that you mentioned AND for the best hazelnut latte EVER! Xoxo

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    • Julia

      Aw, even reading you say that makes me remember all the more how important it is, and I’m so appreciative of people like you in my life! I’m so glad you take the time and effort to spend time at SONDER too <3 I hope you feel loved and relaxed there, cuz I love seeing your face too! hehe 🙂

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