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  • Tomas Lee

"ARK" Resurrected Into "Enchanted"


March 7, 2017 was my first visit to the ARK Coffee Co and also my last time I've seen their existence. Back then, they're merely opened for business in a few months and gained quite some positive reviews on Yelp for me to follow and pay a trip there. Ordered a cup of Cafe Latte. As seen, the latte art was a bit sloppy, and the flavor was decent for a cup of four dollars coffee. During my visit, there were many Asian students taking advantage of their bright, wide workspace and free Wi-Fi to study and doing their homework. Not only that, a young lady in orange sport wear worked simultaneously on two different MacBooks thru the power of their electricity outlets at the expense of a coffee. That's a big 'no no' to any business. Occasionally, you would see a few customers from next door fitness center or locals walked-in to fulfill their curiosity and urge for coffee. Besides the coffee and tea, I didn't remember much else they were offering. Their design theme was to pursue simplicity, but the true reason might also be due to the lack of fundings. If you seriously reviewed their interior design, you'll find the ARK Coffee Co. limited themselves in seating capacity, wasted too much space by placing two table benches in front of the coffee bar/cashier expecting customers would stand still by the narrow spaced bar to enjoy their coffees. My guess is their purpose was to maintain higher customer turnover and also solve the waiting line congestion. But, both product and store design failed them miserably. In business no more than two years, already faced the change of ownership, and resurrected into a different specialty coffee shop.

Enchanted COFFEE Bar | la mirada, Ca

Products Score: 75 Service Score: 85 Store Score: 80

Final {verdict}: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5

Today, after noticed the news from Yelp that ARK has changed its ownership, I went down to check out the place if only having a facelift or a complete resurrection. In fact, it's the latter. Per the super-friendly barista, "Sam", the new owner spotted the store in the summer and decided to take over. And from there on, the store was slowly transformed into the Enchanted today, which officially opened in just 2 weeks ago. The store design is basically undergone the same formation, with the same coffee bar, but shuffled the seatings and adding new bench by the glass window at the entrance, and new shelves for holding mugs, plants and stocked coffee. Even their equipment like the La Marzocco expresso machine, they were remained from the previous owner, ARK Coffee Co. Still, there're some new elements to make the store much more cozy than their past life. First of all, the brand new ceiling light sets and the new round strip-printed tables allow more customers comfortably doing their works. Secondly, played soft music creates a relaxing vibe for customers to staying longer (good or bad, depending on peak hours performance and customer turnover rate). Last but not least, offering bigger menu in drinks (Besides the Expresso, Black and Tea, Enchanted Coffee Bar now has more than a dozen of new drink selections served.) and pastries, including seasonal Gingerbread Latte to increase dollar spent per customer and revenue steam, the weak link ARK Coffee Co. had I pointed out in earlier time.

My experience after I visited thousands of specialty coffee shops and roasters worldwide already told me that business could be hardly profitable if by selling coffee and tea alone. They either have to roast and distribute their own blends, or offering gourmets and pastries to increase revenue steam; otherwise, they must first be ready for the declaration of death.

In an additional, service is extremely critical to the successful of retail, especially to food and drinks business. The barista, Sam, herself is talkative and informative to any new walk-in abt their products. Plus, always give away a friendly smile from heart to every customers. It's a very positive attitude to gain trust to grow repeating customers. As well, she's a capable staff able to manage the cashier, brewing, and customer service all at once during her partner's out for lunch. Handled all tasks really well without any customer felt left out in the waiting line. Under the new big menu, I took on an opposite path of my usual route, instead ordered a Single Origin Pour Over. In between the Guatemala Rosma or Ethiopia Halo Fully Washed Beans from the Heart Coffee Roasters they are offering, I chose the former. Unfortunately, when I saw the drink, it has with a layer of coffee oil from the brewing process, which earned negative points from me. The brew was earthy with a medium acidic tone, but I expected more if they wanna surviving longer. Furthermore, products from Copa Vida and Forty Ninth Parallel are offered.

Got to also point out that they're more professional than their past life bc water was offered for customers to flush their taste buds between drinks. During the time sunlight shed thru the glass windows, the blinders were pulled down for the comfort of customers' staying. At the time, their customer demographic didn't change much from their past life: mainly the Asian students.

And lovely enough, since they're still in soft opening to public, the Wi-Fi network still has the name and password of their past life. A few old customers were stepped in with a surprise that their name was changed.

To extract more information out of them and fully study their products, a hot latte was ordered. It's at the right temperature whilst served. Very frothy and fruity with the right amount of aroma flavor. The latte art was simple and elegantly beautiful, demonstrated the skill level the manager has. During the time I tried to finish this blog, "Sam" was practicing her brewing skill under the supervision of the young manager.

At last, before I left, I fulfilled my curiosity abt their relationship with the Alchemist Coffee Project bc the Enchanted Coffee Bar's business card has printed their information together. Per the young manager, they're sister companies under the same ownership, sharing many resources in common, but of course, with a different twist of business formula. He's just visited the Alchemist the day before for the managers meeting to synchronize their management system and business goals.

In their case, sharing resources isn't enough to strengthen their competitiveness in market. They must advance and consolidate their long, multiple coffee bean supply chains to increase profitability, supply stability, market positioning, and brand awareness.

However, they needed to speed up their progress in building a business web site and a comprehensive social media network to win more customers bc opportunities don't wait and time flies.

With a well-established sister company to share knowledge, experience and resources, the Enchanted Coffee Bar has a higher survival rate than any other new roaster or specialty shop. Wish them luck and hope not seeing their ownership changed within a year time!

BTW, I am speeding up my process to share abt the business insights and observations of my Asia trip, and also the Alchemist Coffee Project is on my visit list. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading! :) Please comment and press ⭐️ below if you liked this article. Your responses would help me to improve the quality of content and other readers.

#CoffeeTour #Business #Management #Entreprenuership

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