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- Where did the idea for “Dear Diary Coffeehouse” come from?
- When did Dear Diary Coffeehouse open?
- What was it like opening a business during Corona?
- What makes Dear Diary Coffeehouse unique as a coffee shop?
- What is Dear Diary Coffeehouse’s mission?
- What is Coffee Club?
- Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse vegan?
- Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse gluten free?
- What type of coffee does Dear Diary Coffeehouse serve?
- Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse roast their own coffee?
- Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse an art supply dealer?
- Whose products does Dear Diary Coffeehouse resell?
- What type of neighborhood is Dear Diary Coffeehouse in?
- Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse have outdoor seating?
- Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse have indoor / dine-in seating?
- How is Dear Diary Coffeehouse staying safe during COVID-19?
- Who owns Dear Diary Coffeehouse?
- How did the owners of Dear Diary Coffeehouse meet?
- What do the owners of Dear Diary Coffeehouse plan next?
Where did the idea for “Dear Diary Coffeehouse” come from?
Josh, a Dear Diary co-owner, and Shelby, his life partner came up with “Dear Diary Coffeehouse” together during one of their many, many business idea brainstorms. “What if there was a coffee shop called ‘Dear Diary,’ and people could write in diaries and leave them around for other people to read?” Josh, who had just built a workshop for himself in his back yard, began daydreaming of buying an old house and converting it into a coffeeshop.
Separately, Litsa’s dream was to have a coffee shop for artists. She was influenced by the early 2000’s when all her friends in Austin were comic artists, and she spent a lot of time at coffee shops drawing with them. Her idea was to have a coffee shop with good lighting, drafting tables, a small assortment of art supply retail, and an annex for life drawing, performance art, and art lessons.
Litsa had sold her house in South Austin to purchase an affordable commercial unit in a mixed-used condo on Chicon Street. She thought she would need to lease out her space for a few years while she saved money to start the business itself. Fortunately, Josh happened to tell her about his ideas before she found a tenant. The friends agreed that their ideas were similar enough, and they’d have a much better chance at success working together. So they formed their LLC April 22 of 2020 and got to work!
When did Dear Diary Coffeehouse open?
Dear Diary LLC formed April 22, 2019 and Dear Diary Coffeehouse opened its doors for business April 4th, 2020. Jumping through all the legal hoops and building out a food service space take a really long time!
What was it like opening a business during Corona?
Opening a small, retail/restaurant businesses in April of 2020 was nothing short of terrifying. At that point, we had spent a year working toward our grand opening event. Building out the space, ordering equipment and inventory, and hiring a crew took a lot of time, personal savings, and business loans. Litsa had sold her house in South Austin to purchase the small unit Dear Diary Coffeehouse would occupy. There was a lot on the line.
Opening during Corona was not a choice. There were not (and are not) relief programs for new businesses, so the Dear Diary owners couldn’t simply wait out the storm. Not opening meant losing everything.
Fortunately, Dear Diary’s “soft open” on April 4th was a massively heartwarming experience. Even though April was a fearful time for everyone, the shop was extremely busy its first day. Kristina, Dear Diary’s first barista, worked the bar while Litsa took orders up at the entrance of the shop. The weather was cool, and customers formed a respectful, socially distant line outside. It was truly a business birthday party; friends placed orders of $80 or more as a way of gift-giving to the new little business.
What makes Dear Diary Coffeehouse unique as a coffee shop?
Dear Diary is unique in a variety of ways:
- They are one of only two vegan coffee shops in Austin, TX (the other is Fat Cats)
- They are the only coffee shop that is also an art supply dealer
- They consign illustrations, stickers, zines, and fabric arts from highly talented neighborhood artists
- They are dedicated to positive community impact
- They helped raised almost $400 for the NAACP in June
- They launched Coffee Club to raise money for local non profits
- They were inspired by #BlackoutTuesday to buy auto-drip coffee beans from black-owned roasters moving forward
- Their menu is almost entirely local
What is Dear Diary Coffeehouse’s mission?
Dear Diary Coffeehouse’s mission is to build creative community.
Coffee Club’s mission is to support good people making good coffee.
What is Coffee Club?
UPDATE: We discontinued Coffee Club October of 2020 when we began roasting our own beans. We were really proud of the program, but it wasn’t financially viable during the pandemic. We are enjoying coffee roasting so much, we can’t imagine going back. However, we continue to find other ways to support entrepreneurs and artists in our community.
Coffee Club is Dear Diary’s coffee subscription service. #BlackoutTuesday prompted Dear Diary’s owners to think of ways they could support fellow business owners in Austin’s Black community over time. They decided to start buying their drip coffee and retail bags from black-owned roasters, but none existed in Austin. So, they started a subscription service to fund monthly purchases from a variety of black owned businesses around the country. Since the original goal was to help Austin’s Black community, they are donating $1 for each Coffee Club fulfillment to non-profits in Austin.
Coffee Club launched three months ago with Dope Coffee from Atlanta. Litsa worked directly with Chel Loyd, Dope’s co-owner who oversees Product development. Next, Coffee Club partnered with Black Coffee FW, owned by Mia Moss in Fort Worth. Both of these businesses opened in 2020, and have been hugely successful given the circumstances! Dear Diary purchased from Red Bay Coffee in August, an established Oakland coffee shop and roastery owned by an artist named Keba Konte. In September, Dear Diary is purchasing from a white-owned business for the first time: Amateur Coffee in Omaha. Amateur is exciting because Jasmyn Wichert, a co-owner, is a fantastic illustrator, and their retail bags are really cool looking. Plus, Amateur is a vegan shop.
Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse vegan?
Dear Diary’s prices and portion sizes are comparable to non-vegan coffee shop prices in the neighborhood. Even though plant milk costs A LOT more than cow milk, the owners of Dear Diary want to make purchasing plant-based products easier and more accessible for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse gluten free?
Dear Diary Coffeehouse serves gluten-friendly chocolate cake donuts and muffins from Mr. Natural Bakery. Unfortunately, these are not suitable for people with severe celiac disease because they are baked in a facility that makes wheat baked goods as well. For truly celiac safe baked goods, we recommend visiting our friends at Pie Jacked or Zucchini Kill.
What type of coffee does Dear Diary Coffeehouse serve?
We are very pleased to belong to a coffee co-op with a few other small shops like ours. We have four main roasts:
- Hammock Town is our medium roast, and blends seasonal beans from Central America and Africa for a really nice, well-rounded flavor. Hammock Town is our crowd pleaser.
- Porch Party is our dark roast. We select beans for their chocolate and nut flavors, and we use this blend to create deliciously rich and mellow cold brew.
- Single Track is our light roast coffee, and it is always from a single origin. We select beans that have a particularly unique flavor, and we avoid over-roasting it so you can taste the special notes of its region. This coffee is intended for explorers.
- Dear Diary Espresso is the only coffee we don’t offer in retail bags. Our espresso is a full city roast with classic bean selection: Brazil, something African, and something Central American. We tend to purchase from Uganda and Colombia, but there’s a Honduran farm we really like too. Anyway, whatever the blend, we really like delivering that chocolatey mouth feel with a little cherry on top.
Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse roast their own coffee?
Yes! You can find our retail bags in our store or online.
Is Dear Diary Coffeehouse an art supply dealer?
Dear Diary Coffeehouse has a small selection of art supplies, specifically targeted at folks who like to draw and journal. However, they can order a huge variety of art supplies from their distributor, SLS Arts. This family-owned business works exclusively with little brick-and-mortars like Dear Diary Coffeehouse. Dear Diary announced bulk-buying options to customers in their July Newsletter.
Whose products does Dear Diary Coffeehouse resell?
Dear Diary’s cookies, banana bread, and peanut butter cups are baked by Celeste’s Best.
Donuts are made by Wheatsville Co-op.
Wheat free baked goods are from Mr. Natural.
What type of neighborhood is Dear Diary Coffeehouse in?
Dear Diary’s neighborhood is full of dog walkers! The owners joke that Dear Diary is alive because so many neighborhood dog walkers have made Dear Diary part of their morning route.
Chestnut is also an artsy neighborhood. Dear Diary patrons include artists from “The Yellow House” and Zach Hall. Dear Diary resells art on behalf of Tabria Wilford (bandanas), Brian Maclaskey (prints and stickers), and Vanda the Panda (face masks)—all artists who live walking distance from the shop.
The neighborhood vibe will undoubtedly change when the bar district, just one block from Dear Diary, opens back up. But for now, it’s mostly local foot traffic, and barely any tourists. The team at Dear Diary is thankful, in a way, that Corona has made business slow because at least they can get to know their neighbors really well!
Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse have outdoor seating?
Dear Diary leases a large patio space full of picnic tables with umbrellas. It is located less than a block south of our shop, and belongs to Mission Possible.
Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse have indoor/dine-in seating?
Yes! We were so excited to open indoor seating in May! One of the main reason we wanted to open the coffee shop was people. It made us feel so good and hopeful to finally see customers dining at our tables.
How is Dear Diary Coffeehouse staying safe during COVID-19?
Dear Diary offers takeout and contactless delivery. Customers may enter the shop to browse locally made products like zines, stickers, and bandanas. The shop provides hand sanitizer at the door, and masks are required to be worn at all times by everyone.
The cashier and customer are separated by a plexiglass shield. All orders are delivered at the end of the bar, which is quite wide and positions customers at least 6 feet away from food and beverage preparation.
Customers can find sanitizer at the front entrance, the register, and the bathroom.
Dear Diary employees wear gloves if their hands may come in direct contact with food or drink. Otherwise, they simply wash their hands before doing food or beverage prep work.
The shop is not accepting cash during the pandemic for a couple reasons: a cash exchange would break the space between the cashier and customer, and cash is dirty. It’s nice not handling cash. Dear Diary Coffeehouse does make exceptions for the homeless and the poor since cash is their only option.
Who owns Dear Diary Coffeehouse?
Dear Diary Coffeehouse is owned by business partners Joshua Adrian and Amalia “Litsa” Litsa.
Josh is a freelance web developer by day, and a coffee shop owner…. also by day. He designed the look and feel of Dear Diary: its logo, the interior design, and its website. He also manages inventory for the shop, and produces product displays and signage as necessary.
Josh and his life partner, Shelby love board and card games. They are the center of a broad and nerdy friend circle, and used to host game night at their house every week before Corona hit. The interior of their house has a striking resemblance to that of a certain coffee shop. Josh and Shelby have a dog named Ira, and three cats: Fatty, Beebop, and Potato.
Litsa is a product designer, and brings a lot of her professional experience to Dear Diary. She tracks the business’ revenue and experiments with new products, programs, and partner collaborations to help the business grow. She also develops operational policies in collaboration with Josh.
Litsa and her life partner, Zak love mountain biking and road cycling. Before Corona, they enjoyed group rides with Phenom and Violet Crown. Since Corona, Litsa has been riding laps around Slaughter Creek Trail a whole lot, and Zak has been racing on Zwift. They have two cats: Walnut and Cottonwood.
How did the owners of Dear Diary Coffeehouse meet?
Josh, Litsa, and pretty much everyone else in their friend circle met through the Saturday Morning Caffeine Cruise, a weekly social bike ride. They also did the Vegan social bike ride on Mondays for a while. When that group stopped meeting, the crew started their own informal Monday night ride. When Josh met Shelby, his life partner, the friends gradually rode less and played board games more. Eventually Monday nights turned into game nights.
What do the owners of Dear Diary Coffeehouse plan next?
Josh and Litsa definitely want to start other businesses in the future, maybe under the Dear Diary LLC, or maybe on their own. They are still learning so much as first-time business owners, they are okay with focusing on Dear Diary for a while.