Still here, still alive: Thank You Coffee
Nikon F2 - Portra 400
The final two. It’s been two years since I started this project, and the inspiration to start this project started with these two businesses. Throughout this series I’ve asked various individuals how they find fulfillment, and everyone’s answers are unique in their own ways. To focus on fulfilling yourself is “easy,” but what about fulfillment for others who work with you or for you?
I’ve wondered for a while if workers in the service industry are happy where they currently are, and what keeps them fulfilled mentally. The days are grueling and can be filled with monotonous daily tasks, so it’s not uncommon to find quick turnover at your local spot. Some employees leave for a career change, while others look for places that have better pay, and some look for a better work environment. It’s rare to find employees who are comfortable with their position and have the desire to stay for the long haul.
It begs the question, for the employees that do stay… What kind of environment do the owners of these small businesses create? How are they being fulfilled that sustains their mental health?
For this topic, we’ll be revisiting old friends whom you’ve met before; Thank You Coffee.
To recap, Jonathan, alongside his partners, Matt & Cody, are the owners of Thank You Coffee. They originally started as a pop up before the pandemic and formed a symbiotic relationship with Paper Plant (Formerly Paper Please). In their previous interview, they were in the process of moving into their new space in Chinatown off of Hill Street; since that time Thank You Coffee has grown, they’ve refurbished their new space, established a flagship café in Anaheim and are now a part of the growing coffee community in Orange County.
While Thank You Coffee Anaheim has a larger space and an expanded menu for Orange County’s community, their cozy location in Chinatown has a special place in my heart. It was where I first took an interest in learning how to make my own coffee, and they also make one of the best espresso tonics in Los Angeles.
Coffee shops energize the folks who commute to work, some who work from home, and others who want a space away from everything that is happening in their life by having a simple (or complex) cup of coffee. Working in the service industry can be monotonous for baristas, and there’s no surprise that some shops have periodic turnovers for other ventures or for the sake of their mental health. How do you provide fulfillment to your staff that work every day with the same routine, providing service to returning caffeine enthusiasts and not grow to dislike their job?
When we bring someone onto our team, we share with them that we’re driven by our values, which are to be kind, be great and be grateful. We know that service jobs are often temporary homes, but our hope is that their time with us would be one where they can grow, thrive and continue to move forward in who they are and the things that they care about. Whether you’re in a coffee shop, office or stadium, how you function isn’t just determined by the setting or context you’re in. It’s shaped by our perspective, work ethic, and care for others. Even in the mundane act of making coffee, we have the opportunity to genuinely serve someone and make them happy.
What we want more than retaining our staff is for them to be somewhere where they can use their talents and abilities and be happy with where they are. As they’re with our team, they’re heard and valued and treated with kindness, dignity and respect. We work hard together, and have fun in the process and support them as best as we can.
To work as a barista, you need to have a heart for hospitality and service and a willingness to hustle and work hard with and for your team. Hospitality isn’t just being nice to people you know and like, but it’s showing care and kindness to each person that walks through our doors and serving them with excellence. Good service doesn’t just come from one person’s skill and ability, but it comes from the flow of a team that communicates, works together and sets each other up for success.