Robert Collier believes that in the competitive coffee industry, you have two choices: you can be the best or you can be the cheapest. He knew exactly which one he wanted, and he’s been chasing the best ever since.
While today he spins through the litany of lattes, espressos, and simple syrups that make his business delicious, when he began he wasn’t even a coffee drinker. He spent days with Lexington Roasters, going through the roasting process and experiencing its intricacies. He learned to add fewer sweeteners to his coffee, to avoid masking the natural flavor of the roasted beans. He calibrates his brewing machines as the seasons change, and he’s proud of bringing pure cane sugar, almond milk, and other whole ingredients to his coffee brewing. He’s learning with his customers, and he’s excited to report that “people are more conscious than ever of what they put in their bodies. We’ve seen huge shifts in that over the past few years.”
Ambitious Goals, Local Adaptation
Knowing he wanted to brew the best coffee in the region, Robert still needed a business plan that was affordable and convenient for Waynesboro. In his words, “low overhead plus amazing convenience has been our recipe from the beginning.”
Micah’s Coffee is exactly that: a big enough building for exactly one barista, it sits between downtown’s two largest streets, Main and Broad. As customers zip through on either side of the double-window drive-through storefront, the establishment focuses on raising smiles, not rent. “We’re the best drink in under 2 minutes, and we make people feel good while they’re here.” After a decade anchoring downtown Waynesboro, last year they opened a second location in Stuarts Draft and they aims to keep growing within the region. Robert jokes, “I have three boys. I need three stores to afford them all!”
Advice for Fellow Entrepreneurs
Full of energy and focus, Robert is quick to answer what advice he has for fellow entrepreneurs. After a long discussion on the more technical aspects of overhead, convenience, and brewing techniques he slips easily into a new refrain: “Have a passion. The passion will drive you through the hurdles – around money, long hours, and the surprises. If you don’t have a passion, you will quit. The money may not always make sense, and you need to be able to weather that until it does.”
Building a Home in Waynesboro
One of Robert’s favorite things about his business is creating relationships with customers. “Our customers allow us to be a part of their lives, and they are a big part of ours — and the reason for our success.” His business has provided him more than connections and community, however, it has also given him the flexibility to attend his son’s first grade graduation and all their first day of school drop-offs. Recounting prior years in the banking industry, he remembers days when he was more goal oriented and fully focused on the destination. “But being a business owner,” he says, “has taught me to enjoy the journey, to enjoy each day along the way.”
To learn more about Micah’s Coffee, visit them online at www.micahscoffee.com. And of course, check back often at GrowWaynesboro.com for more updates on and opportunities for local entrepreneurs.