Young Hustler Coffee delivers our best-handpicked coffee from around the world, and motivational messages by up-and-coming entrepreneurs, directly to your door. This week’s featured entrepreneur is our local coffee roaster Helen Choi of Luce Avenue Coffee Roasters.
The coffee culture in Houston is growing and Young Hustler Coffee is growing right alongside it. Coffee shops are popping up, and roasting coffee in-house is adding to the unique specialty of the coffee community in Houston, Texas.
With coffee shops becoming more and more common in the downtown area, what can a shop do to make itself stand out? Luce Avenue Coffee Roasters has managed to do just that. Along with being a cafe that serves only specialty coffee, it also does small batch roasting for the coffee they serve as well as for outside customers.
Owner Helen Choi started the Houston location of Luce Avenue in late 2017, a few months after a sister company, managed by her co-founder, started in South Korea. She has worked hard to make the shop and roasters the success that it is today, always finding a way to make the coffee she is roasting and serving even better.
“Being a roaster takes a lot of effort, patience, and motivation,” Helen said. “We started “Luce Avenue” to learn more about coffee and to explore more fully what we could do with it.”
Another thing that sets Luce Avenue apart from other coffee shops in Houston is their explicit interest in specialty coffee, offering organic coffee that comes directly from the growers from quite literally all around the world and that is roasted right there in house.
As a Specialty Coffee Association Trainer, she roasts, cups, and offers the unique experience to watch on site, together with the coffee roasting process and quality handcrafted beverages.
While this might sound pretentious, the effect is not lost on the customer. By only receiving coffee directly from the grower Helen ensures quality coffee for each and every customer that comes into her shop. By participating in the specialty coffee market, she is able to individualize coffee in her shop and experiment more.
“People judge us more highly because we’re working in specialty coffee,” Helen says, “and working with specialty coffee allows us to explore and learn more things about coffee which a lot of people don’t know yet, and experiment with the coffee itself.”
The differences in Coffee Culture
Luce Ave has a sister company in Seoul, South Korea, a country that’s growing in all aspects of life, and especially when it comes to coffee. Within a busy country like Korea, fast service is expected. While in Houston coffee shops are commonly a place to sit and visit or work and are generally slow-paced, in South Korea a cup of coffee is served every minute to minute and a half. They have to do this to keep up with the fast-paced workforce that enters their doors and to keep up with the competitive market in Seoul.
While their coffee culture is faster paced than Houston’s, they still focus on specialty coffee and how they can ensure the best coffee for each and every customer. This is a common link between the locations, something that Helen and her friend in South Korea push to keep between the stores and use to maintain continued quality service.
Caution: Entrepreneurs at work
With being an entrepreneur there are constant ups and downs. Some days you see great success, and other days it seems like there are constant problems and setbacks. Helen has had her fair share of these since opening Luce Avenue in 2017, and she deals with each setback as a lesson of how to get to where she wants to be.
“I know it’s easy to say, but I take every failure as a stepping stone,” Helen said. “One thing I wouldn’t do is blame anyone else. Blaming is very bad for the work environment, so I just look at what I did wrong and how I can fix that to be more successful next time.”
While dealing with failure is common because of her line of work, she sees success even more. Success is her being happy with herself and her life. She can look around and say that she is successful, pursuing her love for coffee and running her own specialty coffee shop and roasters.
She’s reached success by following certain rules for herself, being consistent and always looking back on how her business has been run from day one, from the coffee she buys and roasts to her ultimate customer service. Her biggest piece of advice is to follow through with whatever you want to do.
“Dream it. Plan it. Make it happen,” Helen says. “As long as you dream big, you have bigger goals to reach. And once you reach those goals and feel the accomplishments, they bring happiness and you feel successful.”
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Young Hustlers on the Rise — Latest Episode “Powerful Interview with Our Coffee Roaster Helen Choi” Featuring Helen Choi— Stream it Now!