18 things I learned in 18 years of running the DoubleShot

1. I’m not an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs focus on profits.

2. People used to always asked me if I “skimmed” the cash drawer. Haha. They thought we made enough money that I could actually skim the cash drawer! Looks can be deceiving.

3. Most people don’t like coffee. And most coffee tastes terrible, so I can’t say I blame them. But even people who drink “good” coffee often “doctor it up” with things that dampen the actual taste of coffee. I think that’s a mistake.

4. When a car goes through your window and the landlord fixes it and then someone throws a brick through the other window, and the landlord refuses to fix it, the prior is called “setting a precedent,” and the latter is called “breaching the lease agreement.”

5. Eighty-five percent of decaf coffee drinkers are only convenience decaf drinkers. If you tell them you don’t have any decaf, they’ll usually go with regular, caffeinated coffee. Furthermore, if your doctor tells you to limit your caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day, instead of drinking a “half-caf” latte, drink half of a normal latte. Also, find a new doctor; that’s ridiculous.

6. You don’t have to be Catholic to be friends with a priest; you just have to be a critical thinker, live according to a set of ideals, and admit to your shortcomings. And drink whisky.

7. A beautiful environment positively influences your culinary experience, but a beautiful empty building is empty in more than one way. When we finally finished The Rookery, we moved from 18th & Boston overnight, all night. And with only a couple hours to go before we opened for the day on March 5, 2019, all my staff left and I found myself alone, looking around at what I’d spent the past two-and-a-half years of my life building. And it felt like a huge mistake. This big, empty, soul-less building. And it wasn’t until all of our customers showed up that the place felt alive and I knew everything would be OK.

8. You have to stand up for what you think is right. I said it at the end of The Perfect Cappuccino. But sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, regardless of whether you’re right or not. And losing can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. And then you have to figure out how to make a lot of money really fast. Just so you know that from the outset.

9. It’s hard to make good coffee in micro-gravity. But the DoubleShot Space Program is working on it.

10. When someone acts inappropriately, there’s no reason to get emotional or lose your temper. It’s much more effective to be matter-of-fact and let them know that they can’t act like that. It also helps to do what you would do when encountering a black bear: make yourself look as big as possible, stay calm, never turn your back. If the bear comes toward you, yell and throw things at it.

11. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. If you want to do more than a couple things a day and not work all by yourself every day for months on end and fall asleep on the rubber mat on the floor beside the triple sink because you just needed to rest for a second, and then you wake up and realize it’s time to open again, you have to be OK with having a minimum standard and hoping your staff takes it as seriously as you do.

12. My grandpa was right: Camping is fun for a little while, but not if you have to live like that all the time. Sleeping in your car makes sense when you don’t want to pay more for sleeping than eating, but there’s something magical about a luxury hotel room where they line up all the shampoo bottles with the logo facing you, and the shower mat is folded into a swan, and when you ask the girl at the front desk if you can take a cocktail from the lounge back to your room and she says, “You can do ALMOST anything you want.” Now that’s living.

13. No one knows how many jelly beans are in that jar where people pay to write down their guess and then someone wins a prize because they guessed the exact right number of jelly beans. Give me a break.

14. The Rules are only useful when it requires people to stop what they’re doing and focus on coffee. As soon as The Rules become the focus, The Rules gotta go. I blame it on Portlandia.

15. Those little round stickers that cover the drinking hole on your lid so your coffee doesn’t slosh all over your console have really sticky glue on the back, so it’s a good thing they have our logo on them.

16. There’s no crying at the DoubleShot. (There actually seems to be a lot of crying at the DoubleShot for some reason, but I like to walk around proclaiming that there’s no crying at the DoubleShot.)

17. When you have an idea, people always say, “You can’t do that,” or “That will never work,” but if you don’t believe them and find solutions, they’ll start saying, “I was going to do this same thing…”

18. A LOT of stuff can happen over the course of a career. Mark Brown and I recapped some of the highlights in what seemed like a really long podcast episode, but actually it’s only three-and-a-half minutes per year. Listen in at aacafe.org.

Thanks for the memories, y’all. To share some of yours, go to DoubleShotCoffee.com/memories.

Happy 18!