This week was quite exciting in our world as we headed to Seattle, WA for the Global Speciality Coffee Expo! Six months into SONDER and still new in the coffee world, we had no idea what to expect and were just taking everything in. Rather than describe our weekend in a timeline fashion or go through the pictures (which are self-explanatory, plus who wants to check facts), I’ll leave you with my overall impression and the areas in my coffee life I walked away with a greater inspiration to cultivate. I’m also really still processing through it all as the newness of our coffee shop is wearing off and I’m transitioning further into my life as a coffee shop owner.
The Speciality Coffee Association Global Coffee Expo 2017 (mouthful) was dynamic and alive and full of many things. There were lectures that we went to with specialists speaking on relevant topics, an expo floor buzzing with hundreds of vendors on any sort of coffee related thing, and the U.S Coffee Championships that we once watched online we were now actually seeing in person! People from all over the world gathered; artists, craftsmen, scientists, importers, farmers, researchers, businessmen, roasters, and creators were all brought together by one thing: coffee. We were inspired and stimulated on so many levels from our taste buds to our minds. And meeting people from across the US and world that we’ve connected with through social media was amazing!
Enjoy a nice little touristy picture of me standing at the entrance.
As I’m still processing the weekend and beginning the pathway to discover where our place is in the coffee world, I was inspired to focus my attention to cultivating these 5 things:
1. Relationships. Starting SONDER took a lot of energy as we were very well meaningfully focused on it! But now that we’re open, it was a breath of fresh air letting the “just-opened” dust settle and getting to know others in the industry as well. It gets a bit isolated throwing yourself into your shops’ operations, and really saw the beauty this weekend of friendship and networks. I saw the importance and the desire to connect with other people, whether they are coffee shop owners like myself or not. And when I take a moment to think about it, I really appreciate the industry friends I do have right now, and the impact of their helpfulness and friendship in our story. It’s inspiring to meet such a diverse blend of people, and we’re all in this together with the common goal of making coffee better to better others.
Our view from the expo floor down Pike Street.
2. Craft. The craft of coffee is a beautiful thing. It is truly a science and an art, and I’m inspired by the endless possibilities venturing into it. There is always something to improve and learn, areas in which to develop and grow, which is fascinating and dynamic to me. Within the world of coffee, there is also a place for everyone, no matter your personality, interests and skills. And any aspect of coffee can be used to fulfill a greater purpose to better other’s lives (see next point).
So many great shops represented from DENVER, CO!
3. Passion & Purpose. There are moments I have no idea what I’m doing and am sick of it all, and there are moments where I’m fueled with a passion and craving to do something meaningful and significant that will impact others. I also don’t want my legacy on earth to necessarily be “having a coffee shop,” but I tuned into the fact that having one (or whatever position in our industry) can be a bridge to do something I am deeply passionate about. I met people who are changing farmers’ lives as coffee importers, or activists for fellow females in the industry. Even as a shop owner, on a basic level I thrive to bring a smile to people’s faces and change their day in those little moments. There is power in learning how to use the resources at your fingertips and channel that into something that can directly and indirectly improve people’s lives. This is inspiring and and I hope to cultivate this thought and find my place where I can give back– even if no one knows about it directly.
Dom from Corvus Coffee serving their delicious Boloya, Ethiopia single origin at the Synesso booth. 🙂
4. Authenticity. It was incredible to be in a room with thousands of other coffee lovers, including exemplary speakers, shops, and key players in the industry. On the other hand, there’s always a side of us that wants to compare, to fit in, or to also make a name for ourselves somewhere. But that struggle also challenges me that these things aren’t my priorities. It challenges me to focus on what intrinsically and purposefully matters in the long run; to channel in my personal passions and not give that up for just going with the flow. The reason these shiners shine in my opinion is that they love and are good at what they do because they are true to themselves. Whether anyone knows my name or not, I’m reminded the biggest thing is keeping it real and serving my customers well, and then narrowing into a focus to walking our own road and marching to the beat of our own drum, staying true to our brand and vision and ourselves.
Watching talented people compete in the US Barista Championship.
5. Dream. Lastly, I’m inspired to keep cultivating our dream and to keep dreaming on. Many of the game changers in the industry got there because they had a vision and are holding true to it, despite opposition, whether or not they’re recognized. Either way, there’s something to say to embrace my new life as a coffee lover and make the most of it. If we dreamt this far to start a shop, let’s dream on to bigger things. Despite the setbacks and challenges and super discouraging moments, I never want to settle or get comfortable and complacent with where I’m at. I want to make the most of things, and live a life bigger than myself, and keep dreaming on that the little passion I do have inside me would be used to make even the littlest impacts where they’re needed in our society, one person and cup of coffee at a time– however that may play out in my life.
An amazing sunset and view celebrating with UNIC Espresso at Columbia Tower.
And even so, this is just one moment along the pathway in this big coffee [life] journey we’re on. 🙂