Within the first few moments of talking with Michael Shipley, owner of Conscious Cup Coffee Roasters & Cook Street Coffee, you can hear the passion evoking from his voice.
Shipley is making big waves within the industry, promising his customer base a quality beverage and a cozy atmosphere. He is also making his name and the Conscious Cup brand known throughout the community, lending his catering services to numerous charity events and nonprofit functions. Living60010 caught up with Shipley at Cook Street Coffee and shared a cup of joe.
How did you first become interested in the science and art form of making coffee?
When I was younger, I remember my parents taking me from Mundelein to the Caribou Coffee in Libertyville. That was my first introduction to specialty coffee. When opened our first café in Crystal Lake, we brought in consultants to teach us how to roast coffee properly and learn about the industry as a whole. While we were doing research in the first couple of months, I kind of had a passing interest, but then I started to experience really elevated coffee at some great shops and I became very passionate very quickly.
When did Conscious Cup first open?
We’ve been in business for about ten years now. When Cook Street Coffee opened up, we did some consulting work with them and provided coffee on a wholesale relationship. After about a year, they were in a transition of management, so we stepped in and said, “Hey, we love working with you guys, we’d love to manage the store as well.” That moved us from a wholesale relationship into a management contract. We then started operating and managing the store, leading us to purchase Cook Street in the winter of 2013 and become owners as well.
What is your favorite drink on the menu?
I go straight for the espresso!
Now that the holiday season has begun, what is your most popular drink right now?
Definitely pumpkin spice and as we move into December, we’ll do a lot of peppermint flavors.
Are there any deals to look out for with Cook Street?
We’ll soon be introducing our holiday blend, which will be available for purchase on our shelves. Also, we’re introducing new Kenyan coffee, as well as a fresh Kona, which is very popular this time of year. One of things we’re really excited about is our new packaging, which is a biodegradable craft bag featuring a clipped on card containing information on the origin of the coffee and a map of the country it came from.
What do you believe makes Conscious Cup stand out from other coffee shops in the area?
First and foremost, we believe in the product. We’re buying seasonal coffee from all over the world and roasting it in Crystal Lake and here in Barrington. Everything is a week out of the roaster, so it’s a fresher tasting brew. The way we prepare it is also different from our corporate competitors. By using traditional equipment and hand tamping, we have the opportunity to make a better quality drink. Our very personable baristas also make the effort to converse with customers and make them feel welcome within our space.
Is that what you think your slogan, “Simple Things, Done Well, Make Life Richer” represents?
I think so. My father actually came up with that phrase and it’s a really tight sentence. People in our contemporary culture seek out the simple things and get excited they’re executed properly. I believe we provide that service with our coffee.
How did the idea for your blog “Cook’s Blog” on Cook Street’s website come about?
My father is also in charge of that. He does a lot on the backend of the business and is very much the visionary of this company. It’s an opportunity to show what we’re reflecting on in the coffee industry or pose questions. Through this blog, we have a great way to truly interact with our customer base.
What other organizations or groups are you involved with in Barrington?
Right now, we’re developing an ad with Barrington High School’s newspaper The Roundup. In working with these kids, we’re giving them the chance to collaborate with us and put something in their portfolio for college. We also work with a lot of chamber groups and local churches, such as Willow Creek. We just donated and served coffee for them at their 5K race. It was a lot of fun!
Tell me a little more about the catering services you offer?
One of the perks of owning a coffee company is that when you decide to do catering, it just makes sense to start with your own wedding. I recently got married in July and we used a couple of small espresso machines for the reception. They’re basically home models, but can handle a lot of volume. What we do now is set up two machines with two baristas at each corporate event, serving espressos, cappuccinos, and other quality coffee drinks. We also offer “grab-and-go” catering, like a dozen donuts and box of coffee package. It gives us the opportunity to engage with the community outside of our café.
How long have you lived in the area?
Well, I grew up in Mundelein and lived in Crystal Lake for some time. I actually live in Lincoln Square now on the north side of Chicago and commute out here everyday. All in all, my family and I have lived in the northwest suburbs for thirty years.
What is your favorite thing to do in Barrington?
Aside from having a cup of coffee at Cook Street (laughs)? I am an avid fan of tacos, so I love meeting up with friends and going to the local taquerias in the area.
Where do you see Conscious Cup in 5-10 years?
We really like our business model at Cook Street and hope to find investors for other satellite partnerships.
How has your relationship been like with Barrington Bank & Trust?
We bank with Wintrust all over the area, including Barrington Bank & Trust and I personally bank with Barrington Bank & Trust. Their model is something that we admire. It’s the idea that BB&T is backed by such a solid foundation as Wintrust Financial, which gives them leverage on capital and assets, but they are a hometown bank. They’re great people to work with.