Disneyland is The Happiest Place On Earth, What About Coffee Shops?

It was a warm late summer Friday afternoon back in Tianjin, China.

My grandma Jane sat on her light brown leather couch with her eyes closed, listening with only half an ear to her daily stock market report and started humming of her favorite song “Great Ocean, My Home”. I was on my computer booking my flight ticket back to the US and made a decision to pause my fashion career.

Suddenly, she had her eyes wide opened when I told her I was going to open a coffee shop in Los Angeles.

“Oh dear. You’re going to have so much fun!” she sat up straight with her hands resting on her thighs and said, “listening to old vinyls, painting, relaxing while drinking coffee in your own coffee shop!”

Grandma Jane was quite right. I did have a lot of fun in my coffee shop over the past three years running it. Yet the “listening to old vinyls, painting, relaxing” has not yet really happened during the time being.

Everywhere is work.

From adjusting your daily coffee flavors(we call it “dialing-in” in specialty coffee), to debating between different Oatmilk(currently we are serving Califia Farms but we also had the famous Oatly and Minor Figures before) I should order for the following week, to scratching off the tini-tiny soap stains on the bathroom wall… If you were a detail-oriented Virgo, try working in a restaurant first before you claim you are a perfectionist!

I love it. Every aspect of it.

Because when you work for yourself, you know most of the time and energy you invested is going to have a solid return(I do not mean only in the monetary aspect). It may take longer than you expected in your ideal world, but it will happen eventually. Of course, you are going to burn out before it happens if you were not able to seek for a way breathing between your tasks. But our goal as entrepreneurs is to not burning out our energy before we even see our success, so please relax. Nothing is the end of the world. And if the end was coming, there isn’t anything we can do about it.

I have met quite a few coffee shop owners. Big ones, small ones, industry recognized shops, profitable shops and shops that had to close down. Running a coffee shop is not for everybody. If you knew that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, you probably should also know that coffee shops are less the happiest place. Just like running any other business, it requires massive amount of effort building and serving the physical store, developing the brands, and tedious daily operational tasks from managing your staff to entering your expenses. But we are not selling dreams in coffee shops like Disneyland is, we are selling your daily needs, we are supporting running everyone’s reality.

One day, one day all the extra work might be done by robots, and leaves us coffee shop owners to only enjoy drinking coffee, listening to old vinyls, painting and relaxing. But before that, we only wish your time spending at our coffee shops are always your happiest moments during the day.