RCC Spotlight: Augie’s takes coffee to a personal level

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Michael Isberto | Staff Writer

Oct. 30, 2014

There’s just something special about small independent coffee shops. They have this “je ne sais quoi,” something people can feel in the air. Some of those shops can even feel like home.  Augie’s Coffee House is one of those places.

“More than just creating drinks for customers,” said Robb Pearson, a barista at Augie’s in Redlands, “we want to create community, develop friendships from between people of all different backgrounds and connect our world through love and passion for coffee.”

The tradition of family can usually be traced all the way back to the owners. When a business is named after a family member, people will work hard to honor that name.

“Augie’s has had the same owners for the past five years,” Pearson said. “Before that it was opened and named Augie’s by a Redlands couple, after their grandfather, who purportedly drank six cups of coffee a day. The Riverside (location) just passed the one-year mark as well.”

The feeling of family and community is fundamental in Augie’s foundation. When independent businesses go out of the way to bring the community together, it can make a small business stand out.

Augie’s takes the spread of creativity upon itself by organizing events like the Redlands Arts Walk.

“We have been hosting quarterly our biannual art walks in Redlands for the past two and a half years,” Pearson said. “I have an art degree and have participated in art walks in the past. Redlands didn’t have an art walk to speak of so it made sense to try and get one started.”

Augie’s worked with local businesses and organizations to start the Redlands Arts Walk, which has been well received by artists and the community. It continues to work with local businesses and organizations to host the quarterly event, according to Pearson.

Augie’s is hopeful to work in the future with the Riverside Arts Walk as well.

“We do host a bimonthly rotation of local artists at both locations,” Pearson said. “As far as the future, we have talked with working with The Salted Pig and W. Wolfskill on creating a craft beverage festival in Riverside.”

In order to have the slightest impact on the community, a coffee shop like Augie’s needs to have a great product in order for customers to keep coming back. Its mindset on the craft of coffee and the attention to detail makes going to Augie’s coffee shops more of an experience than just a quick drive-thru caffeine refill.

“We let things happen organically and give our employees a lot of freedom in creating atmosphere and products,” Pearson said. “We are highly motivated to improve our craft both as an organization and as individuals. Community, working within it and creating it, is also something we strive for.”

The staff’s attention to detail has inspired them to roast their own coffee, as well as visit and buy coffee directly from farmers in different parts of the world: what people in the coffee community refer to as “relationship coffee.” They have built a direct relationship with farmers from Kenya, Columbia and other countries.

“We source great coffee, roast it as best we can, and brew it to its full potential,” Pearson said. “We craft our own syrups and sauces or work closely with other local businesses.”

Augie’s is a collection of passionate individuals who take pride in every aspect of coffee. They make an effort in all facets of the craft, from establishing a relationship with the coffee farmers directly, to roasting their own beans and lastly to being detail oriented baristas.

“We really wanted to have more control over the coffee we served,” Pearson said. “Roasting allows us to source, roast and brew exactly the kind of coffees we want. Also roasting allows us to control freshness. Freshness is key. Roasting is awesome. We really wanted to create all levels of our product.”

They take coffee seriously and when people meet them it shows that they care about what they’re doing. But more than that, they focus on relationships coffee can create and they emphasize the importance of community.