It’s no secret that corporate America has long hired ex-U.S. military personnel to provide day-to-day leadership in the work force. If that trend is good enough for the big companies it should be true as well for small businesses. And it is. Here’s an example.
Barbara Jeanine and Kathy Hansen spent many years in the U.S. Navy.
“When it was time for us to retire from the service we looked at each other and wondered what were we going to do now?” Barbara told this blog.
Long story short, they decide after their retirement to open a coffee shop to fit in with a mutual dream of owning a place with coffee, art and books.
Now, the duo owns four coffee operations in the San Diego area.
The first opportunity was to purchase a tucked away upscale hole-in-the-wall near the busy intersection of Park and University Avenues. That was in 2011. It was already operating more as a coffee kiosk than a genuine coffee house, but Barb and Kathy spent many years building it into what it is today. It was called Industrial Grind Coffee, a name that’s stuck five years later.
Customers requested gluten free pastries and Barb created the first recipes that sparked the purchase of our bakery. Now it is a full blown operation with retail and wholesale accounts and many gluten free items (you can't tell they're gluten free). Soon after that, “we realized that we really needed to start roasting our own coffee. Now that operation is also running out of our bakery in Santee,” said Barbara.
In October 2015, they took over another operating coffee shop in Tierrasanta, and in July of this year we opened our 4th location on University Ave in Hillcrest. Instead of creating cookie cutter shops, each place is very different from the rest, but the menu line is the same at all four.
“We have 1 5 kilo roaster at the kitchen and 2 employees that operate it,” Barbara added, “We roast 10lb of coffee at a time and roast 1-2 days per week. We purchase our green beans from a coffee supplier in town and roast the beans to different temperatures to extract as much flavor as possible.
“Of all of our coffees, the three custom blends sell the best are Callie, Chief and Master,” said Barbara, “It’s funny because I actually just ran sales for the year to double check and it really is true. I think they are popular not only because they taste good, but people enjoy hearing the story behind how they were created: 16 Navy Chiefs got together and blended their favorite coffees to create our Chief Blend. Same with Master, but it was with Navy Master Chiefs. The Callie was created using the barista's favorite coffees at the time, and is also considered our house coffee,” Barbara said.
The Industrial Grind team says coffee tastes do vary based on location. There are many reasons for this. When they take over a coffee shop, they want to retain the customer’s base. That means keeping the items that regulars are accustomed to ordering from the former shop. Also, they discovered that their shops are in different types of neighborhoods. Some suburban and some city, so this means the preference for decaf coffee may be heavy in some shops and nonexistent in others.
The team has also added new touches to their acquired shops. They bake onsite calling their bakery items that the retail to other stores as IG Bakery.
They bake the majority of all items on the menu and they are all gluten free. “We do outsource for croissants and bagels because our kitchen is certified gluten free and so far we haven't found or been able to create a great gluten free bagel or croissant,” added Barbara.
So far, so good.
Industrial Grind Coffee Locations:
--Original site: 3922 Park Boulevard (between North Park and Hillcrest)
-- 6020 Santo Road (near Highway 52 in north Tierrasanta)
--New site: 1433 University Avenue (Hillcrest)