GGET Finds its Fire

I imagine that if you’re reading this, you might be somewhat familiar with the company I founded with my friend (and United States Barista Champion ’15) Charles Babinski.

If you do know our company, it might surprise you to know that our first two coffee shops, G&B Coffee at Grand Central Market and Go Get Em Tiger on Larchmont just recently eclipsed the five year mark. In the land of hospitality and retail, I think this might mean we’re grown-ups now.

Since we opened those first two shops, we’ve had the incredible fortune to have found ourselves solvent and mostly doing exactly what we hoped to do : finding great coffees from different roasters across North America, cherry picking the absolute best, and serving them in an approachable, high energy setting. We have even opened a third shop, another Go Get Em Tiger on the edge of Los Feliz and East Hollywood. That third shop has offered a whole new set of hard learned lessons and is itself finally coming into its own. A couple more stores by year’s end will also allow us to invest more time and energy into this amazing city.

Anyway, when Charles and I first started brainstorming this coffee company in the Summer of 2012, we had lofty goals : we wanted to become a community fixture in the city we had both come to love profoundly, Los Angeles.

But opening day had something different in store for us : we struggled to find our initial audience and were short of the kind of cash that would allow us to exercise the patience required to come into our own incrementally. Also, the first year was really freaking scary for me : I had drained and depleted my retirement and had a brand new baby at home. At one point, Charles and I would open stores on opposite ends of town and cross paths midday to close the other store — 7 days a week, for consecutive months. The notion of becoming an LA fixture was the furthest thing from our minds. As the bill collectors crept closer to our doorstep, every day was only about surviving to serve another.

Jaymie! Check out that iPhone on the counter.

It is no overstatement to say that G&B and GGET as we know it today would not exist were it not for the incredible patience of our opening teams. These folks stuck around through layoffs, reductions in hours, general anxiety and uncertainty. They uplifted Charles and I when we felt depleted of hope, and they stuck out the hard days with us. Remarkably, many of that early crew have stuck with us long enough to see what we’ve become today, and have themselves become pillars of their shops and of the community.

Equally essential in those early days was the community of customers forming at our shops. G&B and GGET customers are the best, obviously, and the loyalty and empathy they demonstrated in those early days was remarkable. Also, as I look at my current circle of friends, allies and trusted mentors, a solid 50% of them are people I met while serving them coffee at one of our shops.

Finally, the same goes for our kind and understanding vendors, who showed unyielding faith in us when we got behind even with no sign that anything was improving.

Still struggling midway into 2014, the fortune of our company turned in rather dramatic fashion, when the most influential newspaper in the World (and one of its food writers, Oliver Strand) declared our fresh made almond-macadamia-milk latte to be “The Best Iced Latte In America?”. Okay, yes, there was a question mark, but it read like a declaration to us 🙂.

This lifeline propelled our shops forward in a way nobody could have predicted. Where the days were once long and the bars empty, we now had a line around the block from open to close.

Our team, accustomed to being sent home early to keep our labor expenses low, were suddenly working 12 hour days scooping ice and shaking almond milk lattes. We had been put into warp speed. Our feet hurt, but we were happy.

Fast forward a few years, and we find ourselves once again staring at those early, back-of-the-napkin goals we once held for GGET. We are now at a new moment of transformation and a point pivotal to becoming the thing of which we dreamed in the early days.

It might surprise you to learn that we’ve been working on some stuff behind the scenes for the last 18 months or so. You see, we have a space in industrial Vernon (just south of the Arts District in LA), and that space is a very large 16,000 square feet. We took over this space a few months ago with the intention of starting a new phase.

A 1/2 kg roaster in the corner. A 15 kg roaster here. And another one coming.

Starting next week, GGET and G&B will go from cherry picking the best coffees from the best roasters in North America to cherry picking the best coffees to roast our own.

It’s no small thing to fill the shoes of the great roasters we are going to replace on our own shelves, so we’ve taken the better part of those past 18 months honing our roasting skills behind the scenes. If you’ve drunk coffee at our cafes consistently over that time, odds are you’ve drunk some of our coffee already. We just weren’t vocal about it nor did we showcase those coffees on our retail shelves.

After all this time, we are launching our roasting to the public because we finally feel ready to fill those shoes. Respectfully, we believe time and attention have sharpened our skills to match those of any other roaster in North America, and the fact that we will be vertically integrated means we have the tools to express what we appreciate in a great coffee. For us, roasting is an opportunity to amplify a great coffee’s natural sweetness while magnifying all of the complex character intrinsic to the bean. We’re thrilled to deliver our vision of great coffee roasting and perhaps to begin to define what LA’s coffee identity can be while we’re at it.

So today, we announce the next step in the evolution of our approach to service, The GGET Coffee Club. This club will be a subscription, yes, but it will be so much more. There will be education, events, a text message service for troubleshooting your brews, behind-the-scenes access, and a lot more. We will be doing this the GGET way, which is to say we’re going to go 110%.

Our full service won’t launch until this fall, but meanwhile we’re opening our doors to folks who are interested in getting in on this early. If you want to be a part of our Friends and Family event, you’ll get 5 coffees delivered wherever you want em in the US for $100. The coffees will come every other week, and we’re pouring a lot of extra love into each shipment. I’m pumped about what we’re putting together for these packages, and I think you’re going to love it.

Again, you can join the club by clicking this link.

Note : If you’re interested in participating in our “Friends and Family” club, but don’t live in the US, text us at : 1–323-YAA-GGET (1–323–922–4438) or email us at hello@gget.com and we’ll sort out the shipping.