Hello everyone! Lets hear from the owner of Booskerdoo Coffee Company, James Cavelry! This super successful and super positive businessman is here with us today:
V. Great to be here with you James! How did the idea for Booskerdoo Coffee Company come along, and how did it develop? Was specialty coffee your first serious profession, or did you do something else before?
C. Booskerdoo Fresh Roasted Coffee Company officially started in 2011 with our shop and roastery in Monmouth Beach, NJ. However, it really started in a tiny New York City apartment in 2009. I was 27 years old, and I was a freelance copywriter for a variety of advertising and marketing agencies. I had never liked coffee, even though I worked at Starbucks in college, until someone gave me good quality fresh roasted coffee. I drank it black and fell in love with it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I started to obsess over finding fantastic coffee, but even in New York City, fresh roasted coffee was hard to find.
I had read online that you could roast your own coffee in a basic oven with a pizza sheet. So I tried it. I had read it would be smoky. I cooked it into the second crack, and oh my goodness, black smoke filled the tiny apartment as if we had caught the whole building on fire. Luckily, my wife Amelia found it as hilarious as I did. We tried the coffee the next day and it was the best coffee we had ever had. It was a Colombia Supremo, nothing fancy. I realized then that a niche needed to be filled; fresh coffee made easily accessible to everyday coffee drinkers. I was not happy working in offices, the politics and the fluorescent lighting was melting my brain. So my wife and I scrounged up our savings and started a coffee company. I drank thousands of cups of coffee, researched like crazy, and roasted on a home roaster for a year. I had some friends of family who roasted professionally, so I drove to Brooklyn to learn from them. The best advice I received was to always taste what you roast and when it tastes great, do whatever you did again. My obsession continues today.
V. What challenges did you face and how did you deal with them?
C. Our biggest challenge is that we essentially operate three businesses: two cafes, wholesale, and online sales. It feels like we are herding cats sometimes. My to-do lists everyday are very long with a lot of little things to do. My head spins quite a lot. There are two things that I do to keep things moving smoothly: 1. I trust my employees. I give them responsibility and allow them to learn from mistakes to make the responsibility their own. 2. I will forever maintain the rule, that myself and our employees must focus on each customer, one at a time. No matter how much stuff I have to do, I must always take the time to give each customer the attention they need. No matter how large our company grows, this rule must never change.
V. I love your awesome name, Booskerdoo! How did you come up with it?
C. We wanted a name that had no definition because we wanted to give the name meaning. My wife was a Latin teacher in Harlem, so I had planned to sit down with her and find prefix and suffix options that had the emotional brand elements that we wanted to display. It didn’t end up being that complicated. It ended up going like this: Amelia started calling me Boo, then Boosker, and then finally Booskerdoo. She randomly said one morning at breakfast, “You should call the coffee company Booskerdoo.” I laughed at her, “Yeah right, that is kind of stupid,” I said. About ten minutes later I brought the topic back up. “I can’t get the name Booskerdoo out of my head… that is a really good name, lets use it.” Our brand is about energy, positivity, and not taking ourselves too seriously. The prefix “boo” has energy, the suffix “doo” is very positive, and the name as a whole is a lot of fun and a bit silly. Amelia is a genius.
V. What kind of advice/secrets would you give to those starting this kind of business now (both roasting and retail)?
C. In retail, we focus on the idea that we don’t sell coffee; we are in the business of making people happy. Coffee is just the conduit. My advice is to follow that belief. If you have great coffee, but your baristas are snobs, you will lose a lot of customers. If you have nice employees and great coffee, but your parking situation will piss customers off, you won’t have a lot of business either. Any business is all about the root of human existence… happiness. As for roasting, I would suggest to anyone starting out to not believe everything that you read on the Internet. Read blogs and message boards, but try out what you read, and listen to the taste buds of yourself, employees, and customers. For example, to today’s coffee connoisseurs and in all of their talk on the Internet, it says that light roasted coffee is the only coffee worth drinking. However, our two cafes and wholesale clients sell and purchase more dark roast than light roast coffee. To me, that disconnect says a lot.
V. What is unique about you? What separates you from others?
C. There are two points of difference that we focus on. One is literal and the other is emotional. Our literal point of difference is our focus on fresh coffee. We roast the same day that we mail it out, and we deliver to our wholesale clients in the same manner. In our cafes, we never sell anything that has been roasted more than 7 days old. We roast twice a week, so most of our coffee is between only one to four days young. We donate all expired coffee to our local Red Cross chapter.
The emotional point of difference is best described in what reads on our crest, “fresh roasted coffee for all.” We focus on inclusivity. We don’t sneer at café customers who drink decaf or who have never heard of a macchiato. Like I mentioned before, we focus on making people happy, and that includes everyone. We work very hard to bring exceptionally good coffee to the everyday coffee drinker. We don’t focus primarily on the coffee connoisseur, although they love our coffee too. We take a lot of pride when we turn the 7/11, Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts drinkers into coffee lovers who can’t drink anything else but Booskerdoo.
V. What is your roaster’s brand and its capacity?
C. We use a Diedrich IR-12. We love it. Diedrich claims you can roast up to 25 pounds at a time. However, for quality, we have found that we can’t put more than 22 pounds into the machine. But that is our only complaint of the IR-12. As we look for a second roaster, we’ll be buying Diedrich again.
V. Anything else to say to our coffee community?
C. I have just one thing left to say, “Coffee Rules.”
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.