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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?
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?
No. Sadly, it’s pretty hard to find vegan AND gluten free products. The owners of Dear Diary have been looking for different options, so far, the price points have been too high, and the shelf lives have been too short. Dear Diary will keep trying, though! And in the meantime, Josh and Litsa highly recommend ordering VGF treats from the super cool ladies at Zucchini Kill.
What type of coffee does Dear Diary Coffeehouse serve?
Dear Diary’s espresso is a blend of semi-dark roasted beans Congo, Ethiopia, and Kenya. This gives their espresso fruity, funky notes with a rich finish. The flavor is delicate, and best enjoyed with small quantities of milk. People who love savoring the flavor of delicious espresso would probably enjoy steamed drinks with no more than 6 oz of milk (a cappuccino). It’s a style of coffee served by Figure 8 and Cenote as well. This blend is crafted by Third Coast Coffee Roasters and is not available in grocery stores.
Their decaf espresso is a very expensive, single-origin Ethiopian roast from a local white-label roaster. The hard, high-altitude beans are far less porous than most other coffee beans, and far less susceptible to charring while roasted. When people “don’t like decaf,” it’s often the char they are tasting. Dear Diary’s decaf espresso, however, is indistinguishable from non-decaf.
The cold brew beans are a blend of medium and dark roasted beans developed by Third Coast Coffee specifically for cold brew. It’s low-acid, smooth, and rich. Dear Diary serves cold brew both still and nitrogenated. It tastes great steamed as well.
Dear Diary is brewing Black Coffee FW‘s Eastsider blend right now, and in the winter when drip coffee sales increase, they will brew Third Coast’s Ethiopian Sidama coffee too. The Eastsider blend says it has notes of apricot and toffee, but somehow the combination of those flavors register as chocolate. One customer got confused and though a pump of chocolate syrup was added to her coffee!
The Ethiopian Sidama coffee is similar to a Ethiopian guji—very funky and flavorful. An au lait made with Ethiopian Sidama can hold its own right alongside the espresso drinks.
Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse roast their own coffee?
The owners of Dear Diary Coffeehouse really enjoy partnering with existing coffee roasters, and aren’t in a hurry to get into the roasting biz just yet.
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.
Savory items like tacos, kolaches, and sandwiches are made by Bistro Vonish.
Donuts are made by Wheatsville Co-op.
Dear Diary is a pick-up point for Milky Way Shakes customers while its owners move their food truck to a new location at 2324 E Cesar Chavez.
Packaged goods include local brands like Richard’s Rainwater, Kosmic Kombucha, Clean Cause Yerba Mate, Austin Eastsiders, and Hops & Grain.
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?
September 1st Dear Diary Coffeehouse will have outdoor seating for their customers across the street, in the fenced-in yard of Rosewood Acupuncture. The two businesses hope this lease arrangement is mutually beneficial. So far, Dear Diary has three picnic tables with market umbrellas, and they plan to add additional furniture over time. September will be a trial month to see if the new outdoor seating is used, and to give the owners of both businesses a chance to work out the kinks.
Does Dear Diary Coffeehouse have indoor/dine-in seating?
Dear Diary Coffeehouse closed their indoor dining area in early July when the city of Austin announced a spike in Corona hospitalizations.
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.
In the short term, it is likely the team will begin making product to wholesale to other retailers: cold brew, golden milk, stickers, and art packs are a few options.