We have to admit, we LOVE coffee. This lead us to seek out really good coffee here in Buffalo, which brought us to Public Espresso + Coffee. We first discovered them online, but then in real life at the Larkin Square Market. And from that point on, we were… well, sold!
We sat down with Sam Scarcello from Public to talk about how he and his business partners got this whole Public thing brewing – pun intended.
Sam and his two business partners, Matt Rayburg and James Rayburg are three South Buffalo boys who have lived in Buffalo their entire lives. They met through a mutual friend, and had a shared appreciation for a good cup of coffee. This common interest propelled them into looking into ways to making their own coffee.
None of them had any real background in coffee, but James had been traveling a lot around the world and was finding a lot of 3rd wave coffee shops, and learned a good deal about their process and philosophy. “We researched home roasting, got some machines and ordered some beans. We started playing with good beans and we were really enjoying what we were creating, more than the coffee that we would find elsewhere in the city. People even started offering to buy it from us, so we decided to give it a shot.” We’re glad that they did.
Public soon started selling their hand-poured coffee at the Horsefeathers Market and at local farmer’s markets – which they continue to do today.
What they learned from local farmer’s markets:
“We sold 100 cups in 4 hours at our first farmers market. We really didn’t anticipate that, and used up all of our product very quickly.” This proved to be a confidence booster for them, and helped to confirm that there is definitely a market for their product. “It was also great advertising for us. We were able to get in front of a lot of people, and could also see how other people were running their businesses, and learn more about the different aspects of running a business.” “We would learn something new every week. New techniques and ways to make our process better and more efficient. We’re still learning ways to do it better.” Sam mentioned that working at the markets, as well as the more permanent space at the Hotel at The Lafayette has taught them how to work within the constraints of the physical space in which they operate.
Goals for Public Espresso + Coffee
“Ultimately, we want the business to be able to sustain the 3 partners in the business, so that we can all do this full time.” They also want to travel to the coffee farms from which they source the beans. “We want to create direct relationships with the farmers. We want to educate ourselves and understand and become a part of the whole process – from planting, harvesting, shipping, roasting and brewing.” We want to “help to develop coffee programs and help to improve the programs of the countries from which we get our beans.”
Hurdles & Advantages of Brewing in Buffalo
“It’s taking time to educate people about third wave coffee here in Buffalo. Tim Hortons is so engrained in the culture here. We offer a different aspect of coffee, which opens up a different conversation about it. Farmers markets have really helped with this. It’s just us, a plastic table and our pour-over coffee stand. It’s a great time for a conversation – it gives us 3 minutes to explain what we’re doing – our process actually gives us the time to get to know our customers and to educate them about our product.” “Being the first full-time 3rd wave coffee shop in Buffalo gives us the advantage of being able to script the narrative about 3rd wave here in Buffalo.”
Featured on Start Up TV Show
If you haven’t heard already, Public is going to be featured, along with a few other local businesses on Start Up TV. It’s a group that’s traveling around the country, looking for great start up businesses to feature. They’re working to educate people on what it takes to start a business, and they chose to feature Buffalo businesses! How great is that? The episode will hopefully air in November. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you know about it.
Sam, what would you tell a younger version of yourself?
“You’ve got to put in the time and don’t back down from challenges.” “Work incredibly hard and don’t let it break you down. You work hard, and then sometimes you get that reward – some weird or interesting things can happen – like a traveling tv show that wants to learn more about what you’re doing.” Sam also recommended, that you “embrace social media – it’s the most valuable asset for a company with low startup funds, especially if you’re mobile and doing things in different locations on a daily basis.” Instagram is their winning format at the moment. People seem to enjoy that platform the most and they get the most engagement and feedback. “If it’s boring to me, it has to be boring to everyone who’s seeing it. We started to incorporate humor or other info into posts. This really made it more interesting for me, and we quickly began to see more engagement.”
Things I love about Buffalo
“The shift in small business is really exciting. Pockets of businesses downtown, on the west side. Businesses working alongside each other and collaborating – it’s cool to see people working together – all working to push everyone upward and to change the city.”
What else should readers know?
“We are super passionate about coffee! We’re constantly learning about coffee, how it can be served and how we can be better at serving it.” Sam also noted that they are really excited to open a second shop. Stay tuned for more info on that! They are working on their Grant Street roastery and cafe. I have a feeling that we’ll be spending a lot of time there.
Yeah! Buffalo Nominations
Sam nominated BreadHive. He noted that he really appreciates their process and approach to their business. Make sure you keep an eye out for the interview with BreadHive! Oh, and BreadHive… you’ll be hearing from us!
HOW AWESOME IS THIS?
Head on over to www.publicespresso.com and place an order, using code YEAHBUFFALO and you’ll save 10% your order. Thanks guys!