Manicures? Yes, I said Manicures, but I will get to that in a moment, first let me talk about some of my favorite memories from 25 years of Klatch, a milestone we reached in 2018. My earliest memories are of working in the Rancho Klatch, local bands on the patio, Mexican Mochas (still my favorite with the Ibarra Chocolate), the dream to average $1,000 per day in sales, and my endless search for better coffee that had me buying from 6 different roasters in 1993 (I was the original multi-roaster coffee house). Long days at UC Riverside trying to get my degree with longer nights behind the espresso machine, and lots of espresso. Let’s not forget of course our two little girls in tow, one of which was always sneaking behind the bar and trying to make drinks (yes that would be Heather).
Next was roasting for a friend in Yorba Linda who asked “You’re in coffee right? Well I just bought a coffeehouse that has a roaster, do you know anything about roasting?” Now having my Chemical Engineering degree and thinking I could do anything I replied “Of course, it has a manual right?” and so began my roasting career. Then getting a used Diedrich roaster for myself and installing it in our then 2nd San Dimas location, customers loving that we roasted fresh but asking when we would turn that loud machine off. Experimenting, documenting, cupping, and when all was right duplicating to our ‘Peak of Flavor’ roast style, and lots of espresso.
Roasting led to sourcing, travel and Direct Trade. I have been so fortunate to meet so many wonderful roasters, farmers and producers. My 1st trip to CR and bungee jumping off a bridge, Nicaragua with farmer Daniel who told me “No problem, I carry a gun”. Avoiding a hurricane from Florida on the way to Nicaragua COE with 4 other roasters and spending the day in Buenos Aires. A 47-hour trip from Burundi to Rwanda to Ethiopia to Amsterdam to New Jersey to home (I was not the best travel agent). Watching the Super Bowl from Ethiopia, Kenya, El Salvador and Colombia (the game is always during travel season). Countless nights sleeping in Airports. Running into a coffee tree while racing quads in the hills of Boquete Panama, dirt bike riding KTM’s with Luis Pedro on the Volcanos of Antigua Guatemala. Eating pupusas on the streets of El Salvador, drinking local brew from a 6’ straw in a small village on the side of the road in Uganda. Bolivia snow storm returning from coffee farm causing us to turn around. Lots of Zacapa 23. At last count over 46 countries and 100’s of farmers too numerous to mention.
The competition phase, which never really ends. Starting with Heather and barista competitions, the cowgirl competition, her first US Barista Championship victory, her second US Championship win, the World Championships in Tokyo, and lots of espresso….which this time earned us Best Espresso at the World Championships where Heather finished 2nd in the World. The Got Milk tour, the Ultimate Barista years, the Western Regionals, the Rat Trophy (years before Reg). Then Todd and the Brewing Championships, Italy, Ireland and drinking lots of geisha…lol. Today we have Jenn competing with a Colombian Geisha I found during a layover to Brazil. Winning America’s Best Cold Brew and America’s Best Coffeehouse.
Roasting memories, my favorite occurred on a sourcing trip to Ecuador. I was sitting at a hotel bar in Ecuador drinking Johnny Walker Blue Label with friend and early sourcing buddy Jeff Taylor because we both just found out we had won Roaster of the Year (us micro and him macro). Roasting and cupping my first geisha from Panama, winning 4 Golden Beans in 4 years, getting #1 Coffee of the Year, tons of 90+ coffees, Esmeralda 601, Elida 661 and 803, Wilford’s first year Elida Natural, first trip to Ethiopia (birthplace of coffee), Sipi Falls in Uganda, winning America’s Best Espresso. Our first roaster fire (happened this year) but we survived. So many memories and milestones I could talk for days and barely touch the surface.
So, what’s the manicure about? It really has dual meaning as we look to 2019 and beyond with what we started in 2018. The first is updates to our brand and stores. We updated our logo and colors then implemented those into our new Redondo Beach store in June, our remodeled San Dimas store in August, and our first drive thru store in Fontana in December. All not only have the new cleaner look but also incorporate a more efficient design. All also feature the Pour Steady which is a pour over machine that is computerized for more consistent, quicker and better coffee, not replacing the barista but allowing them to ‘klatch’ or communicate with our customers for a better experience. In 2019 we will remodel our remaining stores and also expand North (more to follow).
In our roastery we added a new line that weighs, nitrogen flushes, and seals our new look zip lock bags faster and better. New refrigerated delivery trucks for fresher Cold Brew delivery. Improvements in production have allowed us to maintain, not raise, wholesale prices while paying our people more. For those of you in California, increased wages will require all of us to be more efficient while providing the service our customers have come to expect.
The second meaning of manicure is our growing team as the next generation takes on bigger roles. Holly, my youngest daughter who never wanted to be in coffee came back several years ago and has grown to become our GM of Retail Sales. This allowed Klatch to expand with new retail stores mentioned in Redondo Beach and Fontana. In 2019 Klatch will expand to San Francisco and we are also looking to fill the gap from the IE to LAX as well as OC with a couple more stores. Never enough to be a competitor to our wholesale customers, but enough to help all with a stronger brand and examples of how to run retail. So, if anyone knows of a great location let us know. Jenn, who I mentioned above, started bagging in our warehouse but has grown to roast, cup and will be taking on a bigger role in quality control so we can consistently have great beans. Jackie joined our team last year and has taken over running our Roastery and Production. Helene is still aboard but has Alexis and Angelica to help everyone out.
Speaking of our team and growing roles, let’s not forget Heather who is also the new President of the SCA with a new Board and new Executive Director. Because of Holly, Jenn and Jackie taking on more responsibility, Heather will be able to lead Klatch forward for years to come with more training, more support, and more growth. All this will allow Todd and his growing team (he is hiring) to better meet the needs of our customers and me to find more great coffee, setting Klatch up for the next 25 years. And if you worried who is after Heather, we have little Peary who is already a cupper and take charge type of girl in the wings.