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by Maxim Vershinin

Retailer Profile: Walk Your “Green” Talk

Categories: 2011, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Dimitri Thompson is a man on the mis­sion. He is the first try­ing to break a pop­u­lar stigma among cof­fee shop own­ers that going all-in for 100% “green” is expen­sive and not prof­itable. His Noble Café is gen­er­at­ing lots of buzz, and we are glad to have him here for this interview.

V. Hi Dimitri! We can’t wait for the café to open up, when is the launch date?
T. We are still wait­ing on a cou­ple of per­mits and inspec­tions, but I think we will be open in the next two to four weeks.

V. I’ve heard that the con­do­minium builders are really excited to have you in their build­ing, how did you approach them?
T. Yup, it is a two year old build­ing, but the bot­tom floor has been empty all this time. Nobody wanted to go in there, because although being a great place, it is a huge invest­ment. I approached them with my con­cept, and they loved it. I told them that it would be the first build­ing depart­ment that will have a room ser­vice deliv­ery done by tex­ting. This is how it works: you fill up your mem­ber­ship account with $150 to $200 dol­lars, and your cell phone and apart­ment num­bers get linked to it. So, for exam­ple, if you text “two cof­fees Maxim 207”, you get a text back with your order con­fir­ma­tion, and who­ever brings you the order will give you a receipt that says how much money is left in your account. Like I said, the con­do­minium devel­op­ers loved it, and even gave me six months free rent.

V. What are you try­ing to prove with your busi­ness?
T. You know, I guess I am just sick of peo­ple say­ing that we are a green café or a green restau­rant, and all they do is put in a recy­clable counter and a few garbage bins. There is no real com­mit­ment with money or any­thing else. I know that the cof­fee shop indus­try is not made up of culi­nary pro­fes­sion­als – how many of them are food and bev­er­age pro­fes­sion­als or have a degree in resort man­age­ment? The major­ity start a busi­ness because it is not hard to do, which means that they usu­ally get bad leases and bad con­tracts, and as a result they are pass­ing their ridicu­lous over­heads on to cus­tomers. I ran some of the best hotels and restau­rants around the world after get­ting my degree, and I am here to prove the point that doing things the “green way” is bet­ter and afford­able both for the busi­ness owner and his customers.

V. Could you tell our read­ers a bit about the extent of your “green” con­cept?
T. The level of my com­mit­ment has not yet been seen in the cof­fee shop indus­try. Whatever my elec­tric­ity bill is every month, I will go to the Parks Department of Oakland and give them the same amount to keep our air clean. I will have a com­postable machine on site, and my cups will cost me an aston­ish­ing 15 cents because they are 100% recy­clable within 90 days. I will be using the most expen­sive organic milk, and 90% of our main ingre­di­ents will come from within a 200 miles radius. Each and every one of my inte­rior sup­pli­ers gives me a cer­tifi­cate that their prod­ucts are 100% sus­tain­able. For exam­ple, my high-end reclaimable wood tables cost $700 each, although I could have paid $150 for a reg­u­lar cof­fee table. The same with the lights for the café; I could have bought all for $5,000, but I have spent about $17,000 because of their electricity-saving char­ac­ter­is­tics. Still I am not here to be a non-profit: this is busi­ness, and I am plan­ning on tripling my ini­tial invest­ment in 6 years.

V. What is your rela­tion­ship with cof­fee, and how is it going to be reflected in the Noble café?
T. I am an avid cof­fee drinker, and cof­fee for me is four things: machine, grind, tamp­ing, and beans. Take tamp­ing for exam­ple, nobody in the U.S. is seri­ous about it. If you are 250 pounds, and I’m 150, our tamp­ing pres­sures are going to be dif­fer­ent, and so are our cof­fee drinks. In Noble Café, we will use Macap (www.macap.it/) lever oper­ated espresso tam­pers to keep our drinks con­sis­tent. As far as our cof­fee sup­ply, it will come from the Blue Bottle Coffee Company that only roasts organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown beans.

V. What espresso machine will you be using?
T. I will be using a Plus 4 You man­u­fac­tured by Astoria. So far, I am the only owner in the U.S. of the newest model in a gor­geous red color, which you can dif­fer­en­ti­ate from the older ones, which have the car­bon fiber fin­ish. Plus 4 You groups have sep­a­rate boil­ers, and you can switch them on/off and set them to dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures. It is the only machine in the world that is cer­ti­fied to save elec­tric­ity by 47%. Also Astoria has the biggest repair net­work in the U.S., so if some­thing breaks, some­body can come in the same day – really quick ser­vice is impor­tant in our busi­ness as you know.

CofeeTalk wishes all the luck to Dimitri Thompson and his “truly green” Noble Café. Don’t just talk, walk your “Green” talk.

Noble Café

Dimitri Thompson
100 Grand Avenue, Suite 111,
Oakland, CA, 94612
www.noblecafeoakland.com
info@noblecafeoakland.com