Hey guys! Today we are talking to one of the most accomplished and unique business owners in the industry – Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo. Read our interview with him below:
V. You have a book called “God Cries and An Angel Loses its Wings.” Catchy name! Please tell our readers what it is about and how did the idea for it come along?
L. Well, wine has 750 different flavor profiles and coffee has over 1,500 notes. We roast 20 different single origin coffees fresh every day. I never understood why anyone would put sugar or cream in coffee. If the coffee does not enrich your life and you need sugar, it is either not fresh or roasted poorly. So, when someone asks for sugar or cream in his or her non-espresso based beverage, we say, “You should try it first! This is the best cup of coffee you will ever taste.” I pause, there is quiet in the cafe, and I state, “Do you know what happens when you put sugar or cream in Chazzano Coffee? God cries and an angel loses its wings.” That is where the name of my book originated. However, I wrote the book about creating community in your business and building relationships with your customers. Even though we have over 200 wholesale accounts, retail is 60-70 percent of our revenue. When a new customer visits us, we interview them about what kind of coffee they want. Do you want something bold, something rich, chocolaty, fruity, or nutty? We will have them smell 10-15 different coffees and then we will ask them if they want it brewed as a French Press, Vacuum Syphon, Turkish, Pourover, Espresso, Iced, Cold Brew, or Aeropress. After we have destroyed their will to live because of the sheer amount of choices, we will ask, “What do you do for a living? What is your target market?” If the new customer just moved into town, we will let them know that we know some great plumbers, insurance agents, landscapers, pediatricians, dentists, etc. If a CPA is looking to hire more accountants, I will look for accountants who are not happy in their present jobs and refer them to the CPA. As a coffee roaster and coffee shop owner, I have tremendous power to do good in the world. Sure, it is impossible to get better coffee anywhere, but the true value that we give is teaching our customers and business friends how to grow their lives and their businesses. The book discusses the various techniques that will help you grow your business and create a balanced life for you and your family.
V. What kind of advice/secrets would you give to those starting this kind of business now, both roasting and retail?
L. Make sure that you are special. Read the Blue Ocean Strategy. The strategy is that if you create a business that is unique, you will not have competition. Your business should seem like it is on an island surrounded by blue ocean and that the sharks are unable to touch you.
Figure out how much money you truly need. I have seen many cafes quickly go out of business because they did not realize the amount of money they needed for payroll for the six months before people know that you even exist.
The most important advice is to buy high quality coffee. Buy from a coffee roaster that you trust. The coffee roaster should be crazy passionate about coffee and his/her business. Do not look for inexpensive products. Look for products that will make your customers proud. Buy local, organic, or Fair Trade for all of your products.
Educate your customers constantly. They will never become bored if you speak with passion in your eyes and voice. You, the owner, must be present all of the time during the first year, at least. You do not really know who and what you are until you are in business for a year. Train your employees by example. They need to hear you speak to customers, see how quickly they need to move, and you need to gently critique them so that they know what is expected of them.
Unfortunately, the old saying, you need to spend money to make money, is true. Spend copious amounts of your money on smart branding and marketing in the beginning. It produces quick visibility and credibility, which will lead to greater profitability.
Plan on your successor before you open the business. If you are baking cupcakes after three years until 3 o’clock in the morning and you do not get a chance to spend quality time with your family, you will hate your life and you will hate your business.
V. What is unique about you? What separates you from others?
L. We roast over 20 different single origin coffees fresh to order. After 2.5 weeks past the roast date, we buy back coffee that is on specialty market shelves, replace it at no additional cost, grind it up, and donate it to homeless shelters and low-income housing. We call all of our 200 wholesale accounts weekly. We provide them with enough coffee for just a week and a half at the most. We train every account how to sell and brew our specialty coffee. All coffee is roasted to order. None of the coffee on our shelves is more than two days old. For all of our restaurant and cafe accounts, we pair the coffee selection with their menu. If your Italian restaurant has a special caramel/fennel gelato, we will pair our coffee with the notes of the dessert. If your bar sells a lot of Mt. Veeder cabernet, I will find a coffee that will cut through the bold, rich mouth feel of that wine.
You could starve to death in our cafe. We do not offer a bite to eat because we want you to enjoy the 1,500 possibilities that coffee offers. Will I ever serve food in my cafe? Never. We have organic loose-leaf tea that we purchase from Zen Tea Traders. It is difficult to find anything of higher quality than our coffee or tea. My passion is in coffee roasting, business, and referral marketing. I love food, but my wholesale accounts employ some of the greatest chefs in the area. I cannot possibly provide the same quality. We are about the coffee – that’s all.
In the cafe, we offer a flight of coffee. Four different coffees brewed as a French Press with cupping forms. In addition, we have frequent coffee cupping parties where you will be involved in violent sipping and sniffing of four different coffees. Finally, I trademarked, “Drinking for the Cycle.” You may have heard about “Hitting for the Cycle,” where a baseball player hits a single, double, triple, and home run in the same game. At Chazzano, we drink for the cycle by trying the same single origin coffee as a French Press, Iced, Vacuum Syphon, Espresso, Pourover, and Turkish. Again, we speak about the various flavor profiles that occur from brewing the coffee differently.
We have been breaking the paradigm of traditional coffee roasters. We do not supply the equipment to our wholesale accounts. If you love our coffee and understand how much you can profit by having our product and customer service, you should buy your own equipment. I want to ensure that if you stop loving us, then you can break the partnership immediately. We only want accounts that love us and will brew the coffee correctly. You purchased your furniture, your cooking utensils, and the artwork on your walls, why would you not purchase the coffee equipment?
V. What kind of roasting equipment do you use, brand and model?
L. We use a US Roaster 5K roaster. It is fire engine red and it looks like something from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I was happy to find an American manufacturer of roasters. In addition, the roaster is electric. I wanted to do without a large purchase of an afterburner.
V. At last, is there something else you would like to communicate to our readers?
L. If you live your life with passion and joy, and you love what you are doing, then the money will follow. Treat everyone around you with compassion and find reasons to smile. Spend your life learning about everything you can get your hands on. Look for that balance in your life between business, personal, and family.
[iconbox title=”Chazzano Coffee Company” icon=”adress_book.png”]
1737 E Nine Mile Rd
Ferndale, MI 48220
+1 (248) 691 – 4256
Maxim Vershinin has been a columnist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years highlighting various roasters and retailers in the industry. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now furthering his education at Columbia University seeking a B.A. in economics.