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I'm unfortunately not able to hire yet. As soon as I can afford to support myself and another worker, I'll post on instagram and this website with details about applying. For now, I'm still working on trying to support myself and keep the shop open!
Yes! The cafe and patio are wheelchair accessible. The space is fairly small, but I'm more than happy to move furniture around to accomadate wheelchair users. The washroom is fairly large, but is not outfitted for wheelchair users - something I'd like to change as soon as possible.
If anyone visits the store and has any suggestions for me to improve accessibility I would be extremely grateful to hear them.
For the entirety of my adult life I've been working in the "specialty coffee" industry. This is basically the small part of the coffee industry that deals with the highest quality coffee from a taste perspective (technically anything that scores 80 or above out of 100 when tasted by "experts"). As with a lot of quality-oriented niche things, a lot of the people getting into this area weren't actually rich people (until recently), and have just been driven by a passion for the coffee and a desire to derive some meaning and pride from their careers, but have had to/decided to market it specifically to upper middle class, predominantly white (in the West) people, which has led to it increasing exclusivity and a whole world of things that most baristas hate but don't know how to combat. While there are a lot of problems with ethics in coffee sourcing, the tiny specialty roasters I work with do put a lot more effort into their sourcing and investing in the sustainability of producing higher quality coffees for the producers they buy from, adding to the relative cost. And I hope to both learn more about it from them, and to inspire them to make it an even bigger focus of what they do.
When I opened the cafe I chose prices for each drink and food item based on what I'm used to from my work experience, and based on how much money I need to make for the cafe to stay open, especially with the finite amount of drinks one person can make per day. The markup on coffee is always high, but the relatively low overall price means that you can sell hundreds of drinks and still be losing money on all the other expenses. Most places I've worked, which all charged what I do now, didn't make a penny for the first 2 years - not an option for someone starting a business with no funding and relying on it for their income - and even after that they live or die by their ability to sell $5-$6 croissants, merchandise, beans etc. So I picked prices that were the lowest I could afford, and that wouldn't have to be increased as soon as rent kicks in after the 6 month grace period.
I hate how everything in specialty coffee is so inaccessible to working class people, and inhospitable to everyone but the white upper middle class. That's why I started doing "pay what you can" drip coffee, which loses me money, but is subsidised by the more expensive drinks. That's also why I continue to scrutinise my prices and look for opportunities to lower them. Maybe when the shop has a couple more workers, allowing us to make significantly more drinks per day, we'll be able to do an across-the-board price cut. I don't want to sacrifice quality, as sharing the delicious things I've been passionate about for over a decade with a more diverse group of people is part of why I'm doing this. But I do want to find ways to make it more affordable. Most baristas, myself included, literally could not afford the drinks they make if they didn't get them free through work...
I'm also very interested in systems that allow people to pay for eachother's coffees, or pay more or less based on what they can afford - taking what I know, and what I know I can make a living doing, and trying to reshape it into something better is going to be a long, gradual process, and people can either choose to understand that or not. One of the issues with a lot of my "pay what you can" oriented ideas is that the more money people have the less they're willing to pay. I get people in designer suits paying $1 for a coffee, and unhoused people trying to give me $10.
This one is pretty easy. Specialist books are hard to find and expensive. I never charge more than the retail price you would pay if you bought direct from the same suppliers I use. I'm looking forward to getting a big selection of second hand books, and maybe even doing a library model in the future, but I'm one person, with no bookshop experience, no contacts, no money, and only 3 months in this shop... If anyone wants to donate books, or set up a pop-up library, or suggest some kind of new system, or connect me with people who know more than me, I would be unbelievably grateful. As the things I currently have sell, I can reinvest that money in those kinds of things, including a growing selection of free posters, zines, newspaper etc. that I already have in the shop but isn't well signposted yet because I'm swamped. The other merch is source from very small suppliers, mostly independent artists who put real work and though into their stuff, who don't make much money form it as it is, and who can often not afford to give me the same wholesale discounts that big factories can. So I make sure to sell their stuff at a price that covers the cost and the shipping, and is ideally as close to their retail price as possible, without going under. I add a few dollars where appropriate to make sure I can make enough money to keep functioning and growing. I also scrutinise my retail prices for opportunities to lower prices, and have recently lowered the price of stickers because the shop is getting busier and I really want people to be able to get as many as they want. That cut cost me a few hundred dollars a week, but the increase in customers can absorb it.
Any and all products made by indigenous people are either bought at retail and sold for no profit, or bought wholesale, and then I will send them the profit once things sell.
I hope that helps a bit to answer the genuinely curious people who have very rightly been asking. Like everything else about the cafe/shop, the prices are the starting point of a work in progress, not what I WANT them to be.
I didn't. Pop Coffee Works, who are my house roaster and landlord at the cafe extremely generously offered to let me take over their pre-existing cafe for 6 months for free. After that, I'll be paying them a very discounted rent. Without their incredibly anti-capitalist generosity the cafe would never have happened, and I would never have been able to afford to start my own business without selling my soul to some sketchy inverstor/s. So all I had to pay for at the start was anything I wanted to sell, and the internet and utilities. Even that was a lot more money than I had, but with the magic of credit card debt I was able to get the ball rolling and have gradually been adding to the shop as things sell.
Not yet. The cafe is currently a sole proprietorship as it is a one person business. I'm working hard to grow the business to the point where it can financially support more workers. Once there are multiple workers, my goal is for all of us to make the same wage (a living wage or above), and all to have completely equal decision making power, within a consensus-based democratic system. What form that takes, and how to transition to it, is what I'm actively working on right now. This will always be a business that puts its role as a provider of safe, enjoyable, maximally remunerative employment to workers before everything else.
There is, of course, no ethical consumption under Capitalism. But we absolutely have a responsibility to find ways to break out of the unethical paths of least resistance laid down for us. I currently work with a very small number of very small, independent roasters. Those roasters are people I know care about the ethics of the coffee supply chain, and build their direct trade models with that in mind. That said, like most people in the coffee industry, I'm very uneducated in most areas of coffee trading and am actively trying to learn more and develop a strategy for operating in solidarity with my fellow workers all along the supply chain. So the best I can honestly say for now is that I'm trying to do better than the average, and hoping to do a LOT better in the long term.
While not a question, this criticism is at least partially a valid reaction to the imperfect media coverage I've received so far. It would be one of my first reactions if I heard about the business. However, the first thing I'd do about that reaction, which doesn't seem to have crossed some people's minds, would be to ask questions and/or visit the place to make up my own mind.
I am definitely not rich. I come from a working class background (although my dad eventually selling his soul to teach at a private school did give me some middle class privilege), have been a server my entire adult life, and even my highest paying job didn't pay a living wage.
I am a white, cisgender, queer man. When I used to daydream about opening my own cafe, the idea always left a bad taste in my mouth because I also feel that the world doesn't need more things owned by people at my particular intersection of privileges. However, this opportunity was offered to me, and I see it as an opportunity to use my privileged position to undermine the systems that put me there. The best thing I think I can do is hire people who aren't white, cisgender, heterosexual men, make them equal owners, and follow their lead in making the place less white-male-centered than the industry standard. That's what I'm working towards, and I expect to be held accountable if I don't get ther