Piecewise Coffee Co. - Equipping Your Shop
A couple of weeks ago we introduced you to our friends Stanton and Lindsey Scoma, founders of Piecewise Coffee Co. If you haven't had a chance to read about them, you can do so here! This week we're taking a look at Stanton and Lindsey's process of selecting equipment. We're also sharing some of the photos of the cafe build in progress!
Hey Stanton! We're excited to see the progress at Piecewise. How did you go about selecting the space?
The area we selected was in what was formerly the city’s main economic hub. Several storefronts dotted the side-walk lined street, but the life of the area had left decades earlier. We wanted to show off our little city and the history it has by giving the community another reason to walk the street. We were blessed to have building owners who share this vision. The building we’re in is around 75 years old and we stripped back most of the interior to expose its structural character. Many of the bricks in our space were made just down the road in a local brickworks. What elements could be left exposed were.
Makes sense, how did you go about designing the layout of the interior?
While showing a little of our city’s past, we also wanted a space that encouraged our customers to feel welcome. The long and narrow nature of the building allowed our customer servicing area to have one long bench with several two-person table tops. This makes the space adaptable for individuals coming to study or for larger groups to come push the tables together creating a more typical community table. Community can’t be forced, and our space allows it to meet a variety of their needs. The design is full of clean lines in a lessismore approach.
How did the general layout of the space factor into your equipment selection?
The largest impact on selection when considering space available was ensuring the drink prep area wasn’t cluttered. We eliminated a hot water tower because the available space just wouldn’t allow it. Instead, we chose a drip brewer with a hot water dispensers to help alleviate having to eliminate the hot water tower. Fortunately, our espresso machine was in a custom space built for it so we didn’t have any space concerns with its selection.
What considerations does workflow require when selecting equipment?
Workflow was important for us, but we felt it could be managed well if the equipment in the shop was easy to operate and allowed our baristas to stay engaged with our customers.
When we designed the behind the counter area, we wanted to create two regions, one for preparing espresso-based drinks and one for drip brew drinks. Each area would have its own unique equipment and anything needing to be shared would be put on a small overlapping area. Equipment capable of doing everything required for each drink area was important for this concept to work. SCG helped us think through this and showed us equipment models that could get this design right.
Where would you say Piecewise’s “coffee identity” lies? Do you see the shop as a coffee focused shop, or is coffee just part of a wider offering of food and other drinks?
Our focus at Piecewise Coffee is most definitely on the coffee drink. It’s our desire to produce the best tasting coffee and introduce some third wave coffee products to our area.
Broad question, but what were some of the benefits of working with a consultant? Obviously we want to make SCG consultants seem awesome, but even more than that we want to highlight how important it is to have a dealer that does more than just sell you a machine.
The knowledge and accessibility of the SCG consultant staff was so impressive. Each coffee shop has a unique set of needs and no equipment review we found was able to address all of our needs like John did. He had a way of steering us towards equipment to match our business and coffee goals that we couldn’t have done on our own. And we never felt pressured working with SCG.
We ran into an issue with a custom ordered item and John worked with the manufacturer to speed up shipping times so it wouldn’t delay our opening date. To get what we wanted, when we wanted it, would have taken us several phones calls coordinating with the manufacturer and shipping company. John handled it all for us. Another thing SCG did for us was finding service technicians. Within a day, he provided several companies who serviced our area and were ready to perform initial setup and on-going maintenance.
How much independent research did you do Vs. relying on your consultant?
Starting out, we had a high-level understanding of coffee equipment brands but didn’t really understand the differences when it came to us considering the actual purchase of equipment. Getting ready to drop some serious cash has a way of making you more interested in the details! At each coffee shop we visited, we would note equipment being used by the baristas and often we asked how they liked working with a particular espresso machine or grinder. All the brands have several models, each with their own nuanced pros and cons. We probably spent several weeks doing independent research when you add the coffee shop visits with the internet research. A ton of hours were spent watching Youtube reviews which helped show differences in action between machines.
When did Seattle Coffee Gear come in?
As we got closer to placing an order for the equipment, we connected with SCG about the purchase and found out they offered free equipment consultation. This wasn’t something we had considered or even knew about prior to them mentioning it. The team at SCG listened to our dreams and goals with the coffee shop before ever asking what equipment we were interested in. Above anything else they cared about a quality match between the shop and its equipment. Their depth of knowledge was apparent from the first conversation. It was detailed and often based on actual experience working with the different machines. Most baristas work with one or two different espresso machines or grinders, but the SCG team has worked with dozens and from their experience they shared how each would perform in a store.
What was one of the most helpful techniques that John used to help you make purchasing decisions?
The biggest question they asked was “Why” we wanted each specific piece of equipment. They took the time to make sure we knew what each equipment piece could do for us. The one time we had a question they couldn’t answer, they reached out to the manufacturer and got back to us in a day or two. Our confidence in equipment selection went way up after we connected with SCG. If we had to start over, we still would have done our own independent research, but would very much preferred having a conversation with the SCG equipment team at the earliest point in the process to narrow the options.
How much did brand factor into the purchasing process?
Brand factored most into the espresso machine selection. Being the workhorse of the shop, we wanted this one piece to have a solid history of reliability and, most importantly, repairability. The number of servicing technicians is limited in our market and we needed to know our machine could be serviced by someone in the area. We had brand preferences for the other pieces of equipment, but yielded to features and pricing more on those items.
What was the hardest piece of equipment to settle on? Why?
The drip brewer took the most thought to choose. There’s a number of makes to sort through, each with a dozen or more of their own models. Sometimes the differences were hard to spot and pricing could vary wildly. John helped us settle on one that was very programable with brew parameters like water temperature and brew time. John’s knowledge of equipment reliability helped us feel confident in making our selection.
What equipment did you try to save some money on?
The biggest investment for our shop was by far the espresso machine and espresso grinder. Our goal with them was to get the all the features needed to produce the best coffee possible. John at SCG really helped us navigate the different models for both those items and make a selection. John was also able to help us save money on the bulk coffee grinder by steering us away from one that would be way overkill for our size of coffee shop.
Where did you leave room for upgrades?
We were a little unsure which menu items our community would want most so we left a large section of our undercounter storage area open. As we grow this can allow us to add equipment for the specific wants of our customers, whether it be with additional refrigeration or cold brew taps or hot food storage.
What piece of equipment are you most excited to get your hands on?
We keep referencing the espresso machine, but it’s such a such unique item and we cannot wait to get some time using it!
We can't wait to bring you more from Stanton, Lindsey, and Piecewise soon!