Monday, May 28, 2012

Small Business, Big Life

One of my favorite books is titled, "Small Business, Big Life: Five Steps to Creating a Good Life with your Small Business." The basic teaching is that no one should ever start a small business in order to grow it into a big business. If you do, you're missing the point of starting your own business. You definitely don't want to buy yourself a job with longer hours and less pay. You should grow your business in a way that creates a huge life of leisure for you and your family. I have a dream of vacationing in Jerusalem every summer for four weeks. In fact, if I'm roasting coffee for 10 hours each day for 5 years, I'm a dope and a terrible businessman. In addition, I will also be a terrible father and husband. I am writing this post at 1:00a.m. on a Tuesday morning as I roast coffee. I speak from the experience of having a wonderful growing business about which I am passionate. However, I dream of a bigger life with the growth of Chazzano Coffee.

We didn't go strawberry picking, but this weekend was better.

I remembered this great book during one of the most wonderful weekends of recent memory. Many of you already know that I am an observant Jew. From Friday evening to Saturday evening, Chazzano Coffee Roasters shuts down.  There is no commerce, no use of money, no deliveries, no coffee roasting. My employees, according to Jewish Law (which I follow), may not do something for Chazzano Coffee that I am not allowed to do. If I'm not allowed to drive on the Sabbath, neither are my employees allowed to drive on the Sabbath for the company. An unique opportunity came about this Memorial Day Weekend 2012. The Sabbath was followed by two days of one of the biggest Jewish Holidays, Shavuot. Therefore, there were three straight days of spending time with my family. I was forced to spend time with my family for three full days.

As observant Jews who do not drive on the Sabbath or holidays, we are isolated synagogue-wise, because the nearest synagogue is 2.5 miles away. However, our favorite synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom, is over 5 miles away. Do we drive and break Jewish law (for us) but join with our favorite Jewish community? On Friday evening, we had a candid discussion as a family: Should we drive to synagogue because of the distance? In the end, we decided yes and we went to sleep. It would have been the first time, ever, that we drove to synagogue.  But what is worse, staying home and not praying with your community or driving and being part of the community?

In the end, we walked. We walked 5 miles each way...for three days. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning, the three kids, Lisa, and I walked a total of at least 30 miles. It will be one of our best memories. We were living the Big Life. We walked, complained, we talked, we complained. We told jokes, dreamed about building Chazzano Tower in that empty lot on Woodward Avenue. Every couple of miles, someone began to complain, and then cry. But we continued on each day because we did something that we didn't know that we could. Each morning, we woke up, ate a hearty breakfast, got dressed, and walked 5 miles to synagogue. We discussed our dreams, both awake and asleep. We ran, we ran after each other, we splashed water over our heads. We passed many Chazzano customers in the streets. We walked 1.5 miles up 9 mile rd., at least two miles up Woodward Avenue, and the remainder down Lincoln to the synagogue. We're healthier, happier, and a healthier family because of our 30 miles of walking. Small business, big life? Check. The Lanzkron-Tamarazo family enjoyed the Big Life, at least for the weekend. How do we keep the party going?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chazzano Kickstarter Project

Chazzano Coffee was born in Cranford, New Jersey in 2002.  My love for coffee, however, was born well before. There was something about coffee that captured my senses…and my imagination. Yet, most of the coffee I could find left me…without the proper melody. So, while my kids played in the yard and my wife rolled her eyes, I began my journey to create the perfect cup of coffee.
Soon, I began to fill my neighborhood with the sweet aroma of fresh, home-roasted coffee. I was happy…and so were the neighbors. Our friends and neighbors enjoyed my coffee as we gathered, talked and played games. They came in as acquaintances, neighbors, even strangers…but they always left as friends. 

In 2007, we moved to Michigan. In October 2009, Chazzano Coffee Roasters and Cafe opened in Ferndale. Michigan. From the beginning, we knew that Chazzano was about more than just great coffee.  Chazzano has become a meeting place...not just a place to meet your friends, but a place to meet new friends.  The beauty of an incredible cup of coffee is shared by people from all walks of life and, through the coffee, connections are made. 
What makes our coffee so spectacular is the freshness.  Two and a half weeks after the date it is roasted, we donate our coffee to homeless shelters and community organizations.  Our coffee grounds go to local community gardens that help the residents of Detroit.

Over the last two and a half years, Chazzano has grown rapidly.  In addition to our retail customers, we have gone from just 3 wholesale accounts in 2009 to over 110 today.  Restaurants, specialty stores and offices are now serving our coffee. Their customers and clients appreciate that the coffee that they drink is as special as the food that they have enjoyed.  We ship our coffee to customers all over the United States.
With your help, Chazzano can continue to grow.  We plan to use this money to buy green, unroasted coffee beans from around the world. We buy our coffee in 132-150 pound bags from farms in countries like Ethiopia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Sumatra.  All of our beans are fair trade and organic.  Often, our beans come from small farms that, through our purchases, are able to keep their businesses growing.  One of the lots we bought last year was from a cooperative run solely by women-Nicaragua Las Nubes.  Being able to help small farmers is one of the great joys of being a specialty coffee roaster.  

Thank you,

Chazzano Coffee Kickstarter Project

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Blend, or Not to Blend, That is the Question

If Chazzano Coffee roasts over 30 different single origin coffees every day, why create blends? 

We're running out of coffee, let's try to look like geniuses: The main reason for creating blends is that we are always selling out of our most popular coffees while we wait for the next 2000lb. shipment of beans. We then scramble to find a suitable blend that is well balanced and similar to the missing single origin coffee. There are many wonderful examples of blends developed under duress: Tres Arias Blend, Domani Blend, Frank's Blend #2, Frank's Blend #3, Frank's Blend #4, (we don't talk about Frank's Blend #1...), Lecca Lecca Limone, Lisa Lisa, Mighty Mint Blend.

Crazy Curiosity: The biggest reason is we are insatiably curious. We love coming up with new blends that have a completely different flavor profile. Our newest blend, the Domani Blend, was invented because we had a few minutes in between busy times to treat the cafe like a Coffee Lab. Some wonderful examples of keeping ourselves out of trouble: Jen's Blend, Winter Blend, Klaire Bear's Tropical Summer Blend, Rob's Espresso Blend, Theresa's Blend, Rachel's Wedding Blend, The Lunch Cafe Blend, the original Chazzano Espresso Blend.

My Wife has a Bad Husband: Another reason for creating a new blend is that my wife and I (and our children) used to live in Farmington Hills.  I spent all day at the cafe drinking coffee and would always forget to bring home fresh roasted coffee. Therefore, my wife would suffer with 3-4 week old coffee. In order to make it a bit palatable, she would blend different coffees and thankfully, remember what she blended. In this way, Creamy Dreamy and P-Jam were created.

Happy Accidents: Finally, the last reason for creating a new blend is what I call, the happy accident. With the happy accident, I forget that there are beans already ready in the hopper and then I drop in another unrelated bean. I cuss loudly only to myself, send out a primal scream to the universe, and then I dump the beans and hope that I'm more genius than dope. 

Daddy, are they serious?

I'm just going to say it. Coffee should not be sold 3 weeks after the roast date. The complex aromatics just do not exist anymore after 3 weeks. We donate our 3 week old coffee to homeless shelters and low income housing. How old is the coffee that you drink? When you peruse the coffee aisle in the supermarket, does it have a date roasted? It probably has a date by which you should consume it. The good news is that 5 year old coffee will not poison you. The bad news is that with all of the fresh ingredients and food available to us now, why would you want to drink bitter and stale coffee? When I walk through the coffee aisle, anywhere, my son asks, "Daddy, are they serious?" He's looking at the date on the coffee bag that is often 6 months to a year from the moment we are reading the label.  And there's no way to know how long it took to get the coffee from the roaster to the store.

There is no way, yet, to stop the quick death of the coffee fragrance/aroma. Vacuum packed and nitrogen flushing are  really cool to hear, but they just don't keep the coffee fresh enough.

Recently, we swapped out brand new coffee at a few Plum Markets because they were over 3 weeks old. That evening, we had a large catering job and I was hoping that I was wrong and just crazy. I tasted 3.5 week old Nicaragua Jinotega and the same cofffee that was just 2 days old. The contest wasn't even close. The 3.5 week old Nicaragua had no taste. Sometimes, I wish that the coffee that some restaurants serve would come close to the old Nicaragua, but alas, I cannot sell old coffee. The old coffee that I took off the shelves was ground and donated to various shelters around the Metro Detroit Area.

Chazzano Coffee is sold at Plum Markets in Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, and Ann Arbor, at Whole Foods Market Troy, Western Market in Ferndale, and One Stop Kosher in Southfield. Buy it often, and buy it fresh.