Hi reader! Hope you are well. Today we will sit down with Dripp Coffee Company from Chino, California. Rabih Sater is the boss, and we have him with us:
V. Hi Rabih! How did you become a part of coffee industry?
S. Hi Maxim! I used to be a petrol engineer and had my own company. Due to economic recession, we experienced a severe downturn. We couldn’t keep up with the loss of funding to projects that we were part of, and I had to make a quick career change As a hobby, I am a big ‘foodie’, and I love good food, good coffee, and good wines and good beer. I love food so much; I thought the best thing to do would be opening my own coffee boutique. I didn’t have much experience in hospitality industry, but I had a lot of passion for it, so I thought I would do it step-by-step. I started to do my own research, closed my engineering company, and opened Dripp. My idea was to only serve specialty coffee from specialty roasters. I didn’t think so far ahead as roasting my own coffee. Dripp opened up about three years ago, and only after about a year we have started roasting our own coffee. Our sister roasting company called Espresso Republic, which I also own. Right now we have a total of four locations. We are small company that is growing super quick, and things are going really fast for us.
V. Amazing! How did you manage to grow so fast?
S. I have had a lot of operating experience with my previous job. Even though it was a different industry, I managed and operated businesses and employees. The production of coffee is like fabrication and development in my engineering work. I just took the experience and the talent that I had in engineering and just changed the product. It has been great. We have got a really strong brand, great product, and we are offering more than most other specialty coffee bars offer in specialty coffee industry. We also have a corky fun feeling to our stores, unlike an intimidating feeling that you get in most specialty coffee bars. This allows the consumer to transition to specialty coffee much more comfortably and easier. We always keep in mind that we are in a customer service industry; we are not just serving coffee, we are also serving customer service.
V. From what I can see, your brand seems to have already been completely defined. How did you achieve that?
S. We put in a lot, a lot of time. When I had my engineering company, I was very successful and happy doing what I was doing. I always like to get things done right the first time. I learned that technique of working and making things right the first time in my previous industry because you can’t leave room for error. So I took that ability and transitioned it to this industry. We spent night and day from day one developing and transforming our image. And if you look at our brand and our image, we don’t look “mom and pop” like many specialty coffee stores out there. We look like we are a national brand, and that is what we want. We want that and we want to become that. Some say you can’t become national in specialty coffee industry. You can have a few here and there, and that is about it. I disagree with all of that because I believe you can, if it is setup right, if it has a correct image and if it has been developed from the ground up. At this point our business model is set up to allow us to be ready for a full-on expansion in the nearest feature.
V. Did you apply anything from your Middle Eastern background to your business here in the U.S.?
S. Sure, for example, we have our own brand of Turkish coffee, and we do sell a lot of that. Because my family has a Middle Eastern background, I used the information that I grew up with, and used it to develop our own Turkish coffee drinks served at our stores. I don’t think anyone else is making better Turkish coffee than us. I actually traveled to Tukey last year to buy several special grinders designed for grinding just Turkish coffee. We take things seriously around here.
V. Could you please explain what Turkish coffee is in basic terms?
S. Well, we believe that Turkish coffee is the first kind of coffee. It is the way coffee was originally drank before the Italians began to brew it under pressure to make espresso. That is why I thought it was a very important piece of our menu. Turkish coffee is coffee that is grounded super, super fine, almost like a paste-like grind, that is much finer than espresso. When it is brewed, it is brewed with the coffee grounds, so it is unfiltered – there is no filter separating the grinds and the coffee. We have got several different variations of our Turkish coffee, and all of them are delicious.
V. In your opinion, is Turkish coffee something that should be offered in more places? Why isn’t it?
S. Actually, I definitely think that it is something that should be done in the specialty coffee industry as a standard, and it is something that they are missing. Just like you have a latte on a menu in every single coffee shop, you should have Turkish coffee there as well. It is the origin of coffee, it should be there. Why many specialty coffee bars don’t have it? I don’t know, maybe because it is Middle Eastern and that seems like an issue for some of them. They don’t want to carry something that is Middle Eastern. I think they forget that the passion should be for the product, not for the culture. Turkish coffee is easy to make, it just needs some rules. I think it should always be there, and we have it on our menu, and people love it.
Thanks Rabih. Can’t wait to see what you will achieve in the next two years. And for all coffee shops out there – get started with Turkish coffee ASAP!