This post is another in our Cafe Case Study series. We interview cafe owners to learn about the vision behind their space, the demographics of their city and then ask them a bit about the equipment they chose and why they made that decision.
Use these case studies as inspiration for your own cafe dreams or simply to get a behind the scenes look at some beautiful coffee spaces around the world.
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Open Since 2017
Santa Fe, New Mexico
1) what made you want to open a cafe?
I’ve opened a few cafes. Four in Santa Fe and some in the Bay Area. I think a good café is the hub of a community and a place where ideas connect and grow. Historically coffee and teahouses have been the center of cultural change. I also find it to be my creative expression of art and design. I enjoy the challenge of creating something that has a good workflow for the team, common sense customer experience and is beautiful at the same time.
2) how would you describe the brand of your cafe?
We wanted to create a space that is simple and beautiful. Industrial Zen. We wanted to have it be experiential – like you were in a garden year round, indoor and outdoor. We love plants, so we curate and sell unique plants that you don’t see everywhere, but can still thrive in our high desert climate. We focus on a few exceptional teas, rather then a full intimidating selection found in many teashops. Our menu is simple and healthy. Kim Muller, James Beard semi finalist put it together for us. And for coffee and espresso, I have a small but exceptional selection.
a small but exceptional selection. Industrial Zen.
3) describe the location and demographics of the area where you opened. why did you choose this area?
Santa Fe is a very unique town. Most of the historic city was built 20 years before the pilgrims ever landed on the east coast. There’s a deep seed of history and culture here: Spanish, Native American and old school cowboys, etc. With that, it’s also a mecca for artists and writers. From the old days of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the contemporary times of George RR Martin. The area where we located the café is the old historic rail yard, a part of town where most of the creative types live and have their studios. Our clients are very diverse in age, race and economics, yet have a common thread of art, design and community. We’ve become the place where they meet, share tea or coffee and inspire one another.
Our clients are very diverse in age, race and economics, yet have a common thread of art, design and community.
4) what equipment are you using to make coffee? why did you choose this equipment?
I chose a Modbar for a few reasons. Mainly the simple and elegant design. It’s amazing that no one has made such a beauty before. Our Modbar Espresso system is a beautiful centerpiece of art that you first see when you walk in. It’s a great conversation starter. I also like that the barrier is removed between baristas and customer. It’s subconscious, and speaks of the community feel we are tying to foster. Also, being in specialty coffee for many years, I do need its excellent functionality. I like that it’s easy to program and has the features I like to use to make tasty espresso.
Our Modbar Espresso system is a beautiful centerpiece of art that you first see when you walk in. It’s a great conversation starter.
5) describe your bar or customer flow. break this down for us. how did the equipment influence the flow? or vice versa?
Our customers order at the counter. While they are in line they get to see the Modbar and the hot water machines to steep tea. It’s a bit of beautiful theater that gets people excited before they order. We give them a card to take to their tables, and we bring the drinks and food to them. We do not yell out drinks or names. For me, that is something that is so annoying about coffee service to me. Of course it does work best in various situations. But we deliver drinks personally to keep the ambience of the space in tact. We also serve all our drinks on a wooden board in hand-crafted ceramics to class it up. This all creates a better atmosphere. We also shut off the Wi-Fi between noon and 3.
It’s a bit of beautiful theater that gets people excited before they order.
6) what’s one thing that makes your cafe special?
Opuntia is unique in its concept and design. But what makes our café, or any café, special is always the staff. I think it’s key to hire people who are not just capable, but also interesting – with big wonderful personalities and hearts. It’s the staff that crafts the culture of a café and its clientele. I hire people and let them thrive in their uniqueness rather than micromanage them to be barista robots like I see in so many cafes. Happy, positive, authentic connections with the staff and the customers are what I think makes a place special, much more than cool brewing toys and design.
I hire people and let them thrive in their uniqueness rather than micromanage them to be barista robots.