Earlier this week, I wrote about my recent visit to one of the newest mobile trailers in Columbus, Raccoon Coffee Co. (read the review HERE). Ami and Jake are the super friendly, super passionate owners of this little cart, which, by the way, serves some excellent caffeinated drinks and delicious snacks, and they were kind enough to sit down and answer 8 Questions for my readers….
So, you guys both have quite the history in and around the coffee and restaurant business. For those who don’t know, can you give us a little background info on your pre-coffee trailer lives?
We met at Cup O Joe/ MoJoe Lounge Short North and ended up running that store together. Jake had been at Staufs briefly and worked for Coffea in Lexington, KY when he was in college and I had been at the famed Salaam in Athens, OH while I was at OU. After Cup O Joe/MoJoe I went on to open the new Sycamore in GV and then to Involve, a full service marketing and experiential agency in the Short North. Jake went to Brioso and they’ve been incredibly supportive of our adventure. We both still work full time during the week and RCC runs on the weekends.
Who came up with the name Raccoon Coffee Co.?
This is a good story. Jake’s parents live in this beautiful house they built in the woods 28 years ago. And they would have these baby raccoons orphaned occasionally… if their mom was hit by a car or something. So they would take them in and raise them. He had pet raccoons. And I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard.
It became such a big teasing point for Jake among all of our friends—people buy us raccoon toys and pillows, we have a velvet raccoon painting in our house. So it only seemed appropriate to name the business Raccoon.
What types of coffees and drinks do you offer?
We have a full espresso menu (espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte), we hand pour all of our drip coffee. I make our chai from scratch. We use Hartzler whole milk for our drinks. I make all of our syrups and those change. We also make incredible sodas– we just haven’t gotten around to adding them all to the menu
I must know the story behind Tiny Pies….
I don’t remember not knowing how to make a pie crust—kind of like you can’t remember before you knew how to read. My granny Tootsie (we pronounce both o’s like 2-tsie) watched me when my mom worked and we would always bake together. The crust is clearly the best part of pie and a slice of pie only has crust on one side. So I figured that a tiny pie would give you crust on all sides… plus they’re so damn cute. Two or three years ago very few people were making them, it felt really novel. You can find them more commonly now.
Tell me a little bit about how much work you guys put into your trailer itself. I heard you stripped it all the way down to the steel frame before remodeling it?
Oh boy. We bought the 1957 Trotwood trailer off of a guy on Craigslist outside of Cincinnati. Then we spent almost every weekend for the next year and a half ripping it apart and building it back up in Jake’s parent’s driveway outside of Dayton. Yes we took it all the way down to the studs and steel frame. Jake and his dad did everything themselves except for installing the electric and rebuilding the front tongue/hitch. Jake even custom built our 3 compartment sink.
Lots of people in the coffee industry scoff at the thought of drinking anything but black coffee for the clean, pure flavors. So what do you think – Is it ok that I add cream and sugar to my coffee?
Yea man, of course it is ok. You should eat and drink what you enjoy. You’ll notice that we don’t offer tons of flavors or candy bar style drinks… we want the coffee and quality milk to be the forward flavors. We love when people are willing to taste and consider different things, we appreciate an advanced coffee palate, Jake can pull you a beautiful shot with notes of hummingbird or whatever… but at the end of the day the priority is making sure that people walk away from our truck with something that makes them really happy.
So do you guys have any aspirations of a brick & mortar shop in the future? Or is the focus solely on mobile coffee right now?
Right now we are so happy in our little creation. We are always dreaming and scheming; there are always new ideas and collaborations we would love to start. But this whole project has been a real exercise in slowing down and building something great together. We’re exciting to be working together again—even if it is only on the weekends!
How can coffee lovers in Columbus keep up with where Raccoon Coffee will be set up next?
I try my damndest to keep our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram up to date with info– @RaccoonCoffee. Thank you so much for offering us this opportunity. We are humbled by people’s enthusiasm and really grateful
(Photos provided by Ami Iannone)