“At our age, life’s too short for a cup of bad coffee,” Elsie Rhoads, 93, once told her daughter, Regina Smith. Now, Smith and her business partner, Beans and Baristas co-owner Phyllis Wolf, employ this motto every day since opening their coffee shop in Eastland Mall on Feb. 17, 2012.
Smith and Wolf came up with the idea of opening a coffee shop in the mall as their previous employer, Kitchens, was set to close. Both are self-described “coffee and tea snobs,” but the idea to open a local gourmet coffee shop was Wolf’s idea, Smith says. They hired all 10 of their employees from Kitchens, ensuring that the very people they worked with before would not go without jobs. Now they have an additional five employees.
Smith’s daughter, Adrian, came up with the business’ name, which is so catchy customers have asked the duo if the store is, in fact, a chain. Wolf, as the former manager of Kitchens, worked to bring in Kitchens customers as well as new customers who had never been to the store. The pair also continues to make their own recipes, saying they’re “self-taught on the espresso machine.”
Beans and Baristas also offers bulk bags of gourmet coffee, a variety of tea options, and also a number of specialty gifts, including the Le Creuset line of products. Beans and Baristas is one of two authorized local dealers for this line of French cookware. Customers also are able to purchase Café du Monde coffee and beignet mix from New Orleans. Another fun item, and possible trivia question answer, it carries is Lapsang Souchong tea from China — the fictional character Sherlock Holmes’ beverage of choice. Local items sold include cupcakes from The Pacetre here in Evansville. Smith and Wolf also stress that they will prepare any special order for a customer, provided their vendors carry the requested product.
Despite owning a business that has far exceeded their expectations over the course of the last year and a half, Smith and Wolf have not forgotten their humble beginnings when they had trouble fully lining their shelves upon opening the store. Every morning, they open their doors an hour early for mall employees. As Wolf says, “We try to give a friendly flavor.”
For more information about Beans and Baristas, call 812-475-8566 or visit its Facebook page.