A cup of coffee changed Tim Stiffler-Dean’s life.
“I had just been kicked out of the house by my foster mother and was depressed, suicidal and had no friends. But, this guy Brian and his dad gave me my first cup of coffee. We became friends, our friendship grew and we started to work together. At another coffee joint, I met someone else who got to know that I was bouncing around. He invited me to live with him, giving me a place which I could stay in. Some time later, I went to Brian’s birthday party and met his sister…and we’re engaged now! Simple acts of kindness gave me purpose, love, encouragement and a home.”
A very concise version of Tim’s various accounts, which almost reads like a fairy tale: a happy blend of coffee, impeccable timing and most importantly, pure kindness.
Watch what he has to say.
It’s a seemingly too-good-to-be-true story that really is true, and since then Tim has gone on to manage a coffee café, sling espresso as a barista, and develop tools and services for independent specialty coffee companies to assist them with community building. Tim has also hosted and spoken at coffee events such as Caffeine Crawl; in fact, leading via speaking within a community is something close to his heart. He took to the stage at TEDxMiami University last year, reaching out to a wider audience to spread the message of change and connection that a single cup of coffee can bring. He’s also writing a book to share stories of how a simple cup of coffee can change the world.
“I live to help you achieve,” a sticky tagline I discovered on Tim’s bio. There was just something about it, with its layers of clarity and conviction, and as the interview progressed, I noticed how the simple phrase is a recurring theme which underlies all that he does.
“I am a community guy,” he says. “I look for ways I can serve around me and then I take every opportunity to serve in the capacity that I can.” Particularly about coffee, Tim muses: “I can’t cure cancer, invent new products, new cars, but the people that come into the coffee shops can do those things.”
On a small level, coffee is a little boost towards achieving their goals. On a larger level, Tim serves encouragement and support for them and their dreams. “A lot of people are frozen in shame or fear because of past hurts and they don’t have the motivation to push forward. Hopefully, they will be encouraged to push small steps forward and achieve their goals which are inside of them.”
A celebration of shared experiences
What happens after a stranger treats you to a cup of coffee? What cool encounters do people have with coffee and fellow coffee drinkers? Brewing the Way features personal insights and stories from Tim’s years with coffee and the experiences of a huge variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures. The uniting factor? How important coffee was and is in shaping these lives, passions and communities. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll become introspective and think about your own perspectives on life and the pursuit of happiness. That’s the goal I have when I hand someone a cup of coffee every day, and that’s the goal I have when I hand you this book.”
From stories to more stories
Story has always played a prominent part in Tim’s life. Stories could spark hope and open up brighter worlds; it became a useful escape tool especially in darker days. Through childhood and high school, Tim became a writer and storyteller to share this excitement with others. “A year ago, I was talking to a fellow barista and she asked me: ‘If you were to write a book now, what would you write about?’ I told her…and then wondered to myself: Why don’t I just do it now?” The opportunity came when he was contacted by Lee Constantine from Publishizer, who watched his TEDx presentation, regarding the possible publishing of a book.
‘Would you say writing a book was a goal?’ Tim says it certainly was something to look forward to ten years ago, when he had no purpose or direction. “But what I have now that I didn’t have before: The ability to live every day and see the good in the small experiences AND share these experiences, they make me want to wake up every day. There are meaningful moments in every single day, you just have to look for them. And sometimes you don’t have to look for them, they’re all over the place. The reason I’m publishing this book now is that there a message that I can share with everyone. If the timing wasn’t right, I wouldn’t have written the book. But I’ve been getting so much encouragement and support, and people are really connecting with the message which shows that people want to hear this message. That is why I am writing it at this time.”
BTW: a journey
When it comes to book promotion and the building of book subscribers, Tim has added an interesting twist to the book campaign. On the first of August, he held a concert-party, the BTWLive! Concert and Coffee Book Campaign Launch Party, which celebrated people coming together on the common ground that is coffee. It featured live bands, spoken word artists, local artists, painters, drum players…all in all, “people with all sorts of passions and skills, communities coming together in one place to show off what drives them. It actually shows what the book talks about in real life. It shows how all these different people can be brought together by coffee to have great fun.” Tim also hopes to hold another event at the end of the book campaign, such that both the start and end of the BTW campaign will have a focus on community.
Tim also opened up Brewing the Way to contributions of stories filled with coffee, impact and kindness, to be featured in the book. He’s still accepting stories, in fact; and even though not every story will fit in the book itself, Tim will post and share those stories online. A tool that Tim uses to reach out to his communities is Brew the Way, an app he created which allows customers to find independent, locally owned coffee companies. It’s an active online platform where people share their fond memories and experiences from cafes, like a Humans of New York but for coffee.
“Writing this book has made me focused on what drives me. It’s forced me to think about what my purpose is, what my identity is. Where am I going? What are my goals? HOW do I help people achieve? I help people achieve by amplifying their voices. The Brew The Way online portal offers a channel for people to communicate their experiences in coffees shops. Via the book, life changing experiences. At my events, people get a chance to talk on stage. Or perhaps through video interviews-getting them on camera to share their stories. When their stories can be directly told, they feel empowered as well as encouraged and excited. “I thought no one listened to me, cared about what I had to say. But through small acts of kindness, I realized I was a valuable human being. But some people don’t know that. Empowering these very people let them know that they are valuable.”
“But through small acts of kindness, I realized I was a valuable human being.” Head over here for more stories of lives changed by coffee.
Tim aims to engage a publisher through Publishizer, but is determined to deliver the book with or without a publisher. “I definitely hope to learn something from a publisher, but if it doesn’t work, I will self-publish, having the tools and people that will help make this happen close to me.” Tim has found his publishing experience to be “absolutely positive” thus far, receiving much support as well as picking up cool ideas about book promotion from fellow budding authors in Publishizer’s accelerator program. “It’s also been really great to work with the Publishizer team, feel their excitement and have them lead the way in publishing the book.”
Advice in this area? “The promotion process starts a long time before the book is in the publishing process. Promoting and selling the book is a very long process. You need ideas, and you need a lot of hard work. Start building your list of supporters early. Start building that network as soon as you possibly can. Because when the time comes to promote your book, you cannot be ashamed to be promote to those people. A lot of people make the mistake of promoting to just their friends and family. Promote it constantly, don’t be ashamed of sharing your hard work with others! There’s nothing shameful about going on Facebook and saying ‘Here’s my book, buy my book! If you have a good message, people usually are willing to support you. After all these years, I’ve been contacting the barista professionals, and they are interested and excited to hear those stories!”
Going through many rough patches in life made people much more important to Tim. “If I could make other people my focus, then I can put myself first because when I make myself first, then it’s making other people first. So I feel that when I help other people achieve their goals, then I feel great! There are so many cool people out there and I get to be involved in their journey.” What Tim is saying, then, is what we, with all our hearts want to believe and happily is true: Our stories matter. Perhaps they would be best shared over a good cup of coffee.
Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Tim’s book, Brewing the Way.
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