How We Started Our Coffee Shop Business

It all started in 2008.  Having been old friends from the Ateneo Law School in Manila, Karen Recinto  and I, both based in the Bay Area, started talking about a possible business venture together.  Karen had been a stay-at-home wife and mom since her family relocated to the US.  The idea for a coffee shop stemmed from my earlier experience as a franchisee of the Figaro Coffee Company, the biggest Filipino-owned coffee shop chain in the Philippines.  With the combined interest and passion for my culinary pursuit and Karen’s stellar background in finance and legal, we both proceeded to plan for the opening of this coffee shop business.  The name Coffee Adventure seemed to be a perfect fit as it was, for all intents and purposes, truly an adventure for both.  Having found the perfect location at the then soon-to-be-opened Seasons MarketPlace in Milpitas, CA and having been able to put together a viable investment package, we were able to officially open Coffee Adventure to the public on May 27, 2010.

Since then, we’ve started to see our little business evolved from simply being a coffee shop with light snacks to an almost full-blown cafe or bistro-style restaurant, with a deli business to boot.  Despite  the fact that we had decided to retain the original name, Coffee Adventure has become known for more than just its coffee products.

Business partners and friends, Karen Recinto (L) and D.D. Pena (R, the author) want to take Coffee Adventure to the mainstream clients (photo courtesy of Adelaide Chen, Milpitas Patch)

Business partners and friends, Karen Recinto (L) and D.D. Pena (R, the author) want to take Coffee Adventure to the mainstream clients (photo courtesy of Adelaide Chen, Milpitas Patch)

Today, our coffee shop is mostly known for our authentic SILOG meals, the typical Filipino breakfast consisting of garlic fried rice, eggs and your choice of meats, ranging from the ubiquitous tapa to our own versions of tocino (both pork and chicken), longganiza (pork, chicken and the Ilocano-style Vigan longganiza), embotido (meatloaf), and one of our most popular offerings – the Adobo Salvador.  This is my own version of adobo – which is considered to be the National Dish of the Philippines, made of pork and chicken, braised and simmered for hours on end until it becomes shredded (ala pulled pork).  The result is a rich-tasting dish that can be used in a variety of ways.  The Adobo Salvador on grilled pandesal remains to be one of our top customer favorites.  Of course, in order to be able to cater to the mainstream crowd, made up mostly of the real coffee drinkers, the all-day menu also boasts of several Panini sandwiches (turkey and cheese and tomato and mozzarella are the most popular).  Our tuna in tomato-pesto sauce is also a crowd-pleaser, as it is used as a salad topping, a panini, or as a pasta dish.  Filipino-style Spaghetti and Pasta Carbonara have also become top-sellers.

Photo: Coffee Adventure in Seasons Marketplace in Milpitas , CA

Photo: Coffee Adventure in Seasons Marketplace in Milpitas , CA

Among the coffee crowd, nothing beats the popularity of the Philippine Barako, both for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike.  The Philippine Barako’s rich, bold flavor appeals to coffee lovers across the board. Our own Coffee Adventure’s signature ice-blended drinks are also well-loved, the Choco Mocha Blast and its white counterpart, the Caramel White Chocolate Mocha Blast.  As a dessert-drink, the Coffee Jelly Delight remains to be uniquely Coffee Adventure.

As a small Filipino-owned business, I would say that going up against the giants Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee is no small feat.  But the crowd’s response to our unique offerings has continued to inspire us and our staff to pursue our dreams of one day becoming even half the chain that these giants have become — in an industry where achieving excellence in products and services is merely the beginning of a lasting legacy.

For all those who are aspiring to be business owners, my advice is that it is never too late to pursue your goals. Just follow your passion and with hard work, prayer, and determination, you will achieve your dream.  Tayong mga Pinoy, madiskarte, matiyaga, at di sumusuko….‘Yan ang Power ng Pinoy!

(The author is the Managing Partner of Coffee Adventure Co. For questions about this article, please email to articles@powerngpinoy.tv)

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