Meet Ferndale Coffee Connoisseur Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo
Here's a Q&A with the owner of Chazzano Coffee, which recently celebrated three years in Ferndale.
There are many unique and interesting businesses that call Ferndale home, from retailers and restaurants to art galleries and even businesses you might not have known existed in your own backyard.
Each week, we'll feature a Ferndale business to learn about its roots, plans for the future and more.
This week we chat with Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo, owner of Chazzano Coffee. The business just celebrated its three-year anniversary in Ferndale over the weekend and is gearing up to expand. Here's what he had to say:
How did your business get started?
About 14 years ago, my mother-in-law asked what I wanted for my birthday. I told her, just send me $100 (please), and I'm going to buy a small coffee roaster that roasts just a few ounces at a time. After unwrapping the roaster, plugging it in, adding a few ounces of Costa Rica Tarrazu from the Santa Laura farm, I proceeded to roast the best cup of coffee I had ever tasted. It had awesome notes of almonds and chocolate. That started my coffee roasting obsession. I began to buy tens of pounds, hundreds of pounds, and then thousands of pounds of coffee that I roasted several ounces at a time in my tiny roasters.
I was employed as full-time clergy(Cantor) in a synagogue in New Jersey. I would come home from synagogue at 10:30 at night, kiss my children, kiss my wife, and then go out to the garage to roast coffee for a few hours, grind it, taste it, take meticulous notes and start the entire enterprise again the next night. When we moved to Chicago for a new job as a Cantor, I made quick friends with a very creative guy who loved my coffee, and who turned out to be somewhat of a prophet. After I led services for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) one year, he walked up to me and said, "Frank, you're a great Cantor, but I can't imagine you as an old Cantor, but I can imagine you as an old coffee roaster."
He gave me a birthday present of the Chazzano logo, and one slogan, "Carefully Chosen Coffee for Carefully Chosen People." Even after I moved again to Farmington Hills to become the Cantor of Adat Shalom Synagogue, that beautiful logo became the centerpiece and driving force for my business. The last significant portion of the story is that the position at the synagogue didn't work out in Farmington Hills, and I decided that Life is Short- it's time to do something that will bring great joy to my life. Thus, I began to roast coffee full-time.
We began the business in earnest in an office supply building on 10 mile and Orchard about 4 years ago. In three years, we've grown the business from 3 wholesale accounts, to over 145 accounts like Michigo Pizza, John D Bistro, Toast in Ferndale, Townhouse Bistro, Bacco Ristorante, The Stage Deli, The Forest Grill, Flip Salon, Signature Tattoo, Lufthansa, Western Market, Plum Market, Whole Foods Market in Troy, and many others.
Why did you choose this type of business?
I have always been a foodie. When my wife and I have had money, we'd spend it on going to the best restaurants because life can be short and it's important to experience that which will enrich your life. Even when we didn't have money, we'd still try to experience the best in life. Starbucks, 25 years ago, when they roasted much less than they do today, was my inspiration. Starbucks started the entire specialty coffee industry, they created the lexicon, and awakened words like machiatto and full city and ristretto that were not part of the popular mindset. That decision to buy my first roaster, the studying that I did for 10 years about coffee and coffee roasting, and the understanding the coffee is twice as complex as wine. Wine has 750 different flavor profiles, while coffee has over 1500!
What was the hardest part of becoming a small business owner? The best part?
When I have a passion for something, I'm impulsive. My life as clergy in a synagogue for 15 years prepared me for a life in business. We had been editing the business plan for some sort of coffee business for at least 5 years before we opened, so we were well prepared for a life in business. However, the hardest part of becoming an owner and especially the founder is that you make rookie mistakes- you work hard to grow market share and to gain new business, but you forget that this isn't just a passion, it's a business. A local business owner confided in me that when he/she lost $20K after grossing $1Mil, that taught them a valuable lesson. There is no support truly for a small businessperson because no one can truly teach you what you need to know for your particular business.
The best part of owning your own business is that your success or failure is completely in your own hands. It takes a lot of work to fail, but success is more difficult. You must be prepared for great success...or you'll fail miserably.
What are some things about your business that people might not know about?
We roast our specialty coffee, fresh to order, every day except for Saturday and Jewish Holidays. We roast it fresh to order and deliver it on the same day. There are no minimum orders. We have a Chazzano Carefree Coffee Club that delivers coffee to customers throughout the country, 1lb. every two weeks for one year. At our Coffee Cupping Parties we taste 4 different coffees from around the world. With violent sniffing and violent slurping we discern the fragrance, aroma, mouthfeel, balance, complexity, body, and much more about the coffee. We offer "Drinking for the Cycle" where we have customers taste the same single origin coffee as a French Press, Iced, Vacuum Syphon, Espresso, Pourover and Turkish. You'll notice how the flavor profile changes dramatically with each different brewing method.
We cater for 3 people to over 2000. We have catered coffee for Ann Romney's event in Franklin to Google's 2 day symposium on business websites. We have over 40 different coffees and offer over 20 different coffees every single day. All of our coffee is roasted in a 12lb. roaster and roasted to order. All of our coffee is sold within a few days. Any coffee that isn't sold within 2.5 weeks is donated to homeless shelters and community housing projects.
Beyond all of that, we are crazy networkers. Hang out in the cafe, have a meeting for pleasure or business, and I'll introduce you to the many local business owners who stop by. We might even produce some closed business for you.
Because it is the coolest city in Michigan. It reminds me of my homeland, New York City. There are all kinds of people here- I love the diversity.
What's your favorite thing about being part of the Ferndale business community?
This is the best place, by far, with which to do business. City Hall has always been extremely friendly and helpful to Chazzano Coffee. The ultimate model for a healthy and positive business is right down the street with our friends at Garden Fresh Gourmet. They have been excellent role models, both in the way they dedicate themselves to the community, and how they run their business and treat their employees. The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce and the local business, big and small, share resources and do everything to help each other grow. For that reason, I am on the Board of the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce.
What's next for you/your business?
We are speaking with the county and with Derek Delacourt [Ferndale's community and economic development director] about what the options are for expansion of our wholesale operation in Ferndale. I want Chazzano Coffee to stay in Ferndale for as long as possible. We need to buy a few more coffee roasters (the machines) and expand our footprint. Our retail and wholesale is exploding in a good way and we are running out of room.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start a small business in the area?
Whatever business that you start, make sure that there is nothing like it anywhere. Find out what makes you special and accentuate and exploit it with a smile. Whatever you do, do it with passion and with abundant amount of planning and metrics. The first step is to visit the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce. Next, visit the cafe and we'll introduce you to many different business owners who would love to assist you.
Anything else you want our readers to know?
I am also a part-time Cantor at Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park. In case you didn't know, I'm living my dream life of coffee roaster and cantor.
Want to know more? Visit Chazzano at 1737 E. Nine Mile Road, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter @chazzanocoffee.