I was also attending business school, and I never really separated the two: business and coffee. But I knew that there was more to come, so I moved to Europe to study the craft. At the time, Europe really had the edge on coffee -- beer, wine, coffee, all the beverages were being done better in Europe. So at the age of 29 or 30, I realized my ticket was ready and it was time to start my own company, so I came to Philadelphia.
I looked at a lot of cities on the East Coast, but when I hit Philly, I knew it was the one.
What about Philly stood out to you?
There were a lot of strategic elements to it -- its proximity to Boston, New York, DC. I like its infrastructure. Not even just airports and rails but ports for shipping. When you’re thinking big, you need to be plugged into the larger system.
But it was really the city that made it. At the time, Starbucks hadn’t been here yet. There were no cafes and I couldn’t understand how that would exist [in 1993], so they really needed me. And it corresponded to a time where the city was experiencing a reawakening in terms of its food and beverage. I knew that the scene was going to shock awake at some point and I wanted to be a part of that.