There is no shortage of great coffee shops in Seattle. And if we dug a bit deeper behind mystique of coffee culture in Seattle, we will find great people. Some of them we know, like Starbuck’s Howard Schultz, Espresso Vivace’s David Schomer, Café Allegro’s Dave Olsen, Seattle Best’s Jim Stewart – the list goes on and on.
On that list is Dani Cone, founder of Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie, whose dedication, attention to detail, customer service, and consistently providing quality coffee has led to success.
Down the street from where I live is Fuel’s Capitol Hill location where coffee and community intersect. Serving Café Vita coffee and Dani’s very own assortment of High 5 Pie pastries, this small coffee shop is warm, inviting, and it’s natural light is easy on the eyes.
I recently asked Dani a couple of questions on the coffee biz, running a cafe in the American Coffee Capital…
Do you remember your first cup of coffee?
Hmmm my first cup of coffee, let's see….I don't know if it was exactly my first, but it must have been pretty close: my mom would always drink coffee, and it was either Folger's or Yuban (instant, freeze-dried), or later in the day it was Sanka. Truth be told, this is still what she drinks!!!! So, I remember in the evenings when I'd be watching TV I'd want to drinks some too, so she'd let me put a little teaspoonful in my hot cocoa and I LOVED it. I was probably 10-12 or so. But before that, I remember the smell of coffee brewing and it always seemed so adult, so “after dinner party”, so grown up. What's not to love about that?
What propelled you into getting into the coffee business?
Getting into the business was not my first job ever, (actually it was just my second). I happened to be at a deli where my primary job was serving sandwiches and making espresso drinks was secondary at best…but I fell in love with it there at the ripe ol' age of 15 and have been a barista ever since.
What is the Seattle Coffee Scene like today? How has it changed?
It's great, always lots going on, reflective of the industry itself….always new technology, new information, new techniques…it's a very kinetic industry – also a big part of what I love about being in coffee. On how it's changed: SO many ways, but the one thing that hasn't changed is that the industry is constantly changing.
What are some of the challenges facing cafes and coffee shop owners today in Seattle?
There are large costs involved with starting a coffee shop, that can be prohibitive; it's always good to stay on top of all the things mentioned (above) and that of course takes time, energy, resources, etc. Of course you would think competition, too, is a big challenge, but I am in the camp that sees that as endless opportunity to step up one's game, keep things fresh, be innovative, and of course always strive to be better and better and ultimately you are ensuring that the customer gets the best possible product!
On owning/Running Coffee Shop:
To me, it's the greatest job on earth. All day, every day, I get to do what I love doing: making coffee, making pies (when I'm at High 5 Pie), talking to and meeting people. I stay quite busy as my work schedule is 7 days/week, starting at 4am each day and going until about 6pm each night, but it's worth it!
What are your future plans?
I don't have anything lined up at this time for more shops, but I have to admit that when you love what you do, it's tough not to think about doing more of it!
An occasional series on cafe owners and coffee shakers and makers.
For more information on Fuel and High 5 Pie:
Below is the map of Fuel Coffee's location: