North Phoenix coffee company caters to the community
Story and Photos By Laura Latzko
For Troy Hailpern, serving as managing partner for North Phoenix’s Elevate Coffee Company means delivering food, bringing in tables from outside, greeting patrons by name and making sure the back meeting room is open.
Superior customer service and a quality product have always been important to Troy, who serves as general manager for the coffee shop.
Over the last nine years, he and his partners have built their business around these ideals.
Located at the Shops at Norterra, Elevate is owned by a small group of investors, including a church. Troy and his wife Barb Hailpern handle the shop’s day-to-day operations.
Troy says the shop was meant to be a place where people could gather with friends, family members, dates and colleagues.
The space, which is just over 3,000 square feet, includes outdoor and indoor seating, a stage and a meeting room. An open ceiling plan and touches such as a ladder on the wall and burlap coffee bags make the space unique.
“The idea was to create a comfortable space where people would feel welcome and beyond that inspired,” Troy says.
On any given day, people sit inside the shop chatting, partaking in a bite to eat or working on their computers or tablets. The coffee shop attracts a diverse clientele of individuals who work from home, students, families, meetup groups and business people.
A few married couples have had their first date at the coffee shop.
Troy says one of his job’s most rewarding aspects is the relationships he has built with regulars.
“You have people who have been coming here for nine years. You get to know their names, their drinks and their families,” Troy says.
Coffee was new to Troy and Barb when they started with the company. Both come from accounting backgrounds.
Troy says they learned the importance of quality customer service while working for Safeway.
“It was service that was above and beyond expectations. That’s my background,” Troy says. “You need to start with a quality product, but it’s probably what we’re known for, our service and our friendliness.”
A staff of around 18 employees helps the owners with their mission.
Barb works a full-time job and serves as an accountant for Elevate. Every morning before work, she goes to coffee shop for tasks such as counting the till.
Building relationships with others and getting advice from experts has allowed Troy to learn important skills such as extracting coffee from an espresso machine, making crepes and roasting coffee.
It took some time for the coffee shop to take off. It opened during a time when the area was experiencing economic difficulties, and getting the word out was hard at first.
“It’s like any small business. Those first two, even the third year, they were lean years,” Troy says.
Although coffee is central to what they do, serving the community has always been part of their philosophy.
“It really wasn’t about coffee. Coffee gave us a great reason to open the doors and invite people in, but it was more about being community-oriented,” Troy says.
Part of serving the community is providing a space for local musicians to perform and visual artists to display their work.
During the school year, first graders to high schoolers from local schools showcase their artwork at the coffee shop. During summer breaks, Elevate spotlights emerging local artists.
Each week, local entertainers take the stage during open mic nights on Thursdays on live music nights on Friday and Saturday. The coffee shop brings in pop, rock, jazz and acoustic musicians and bands.
“That is what is attractive to the people who are playing. We’re not just putting them on a sidewalk at the mall. We are actually putting them on a stage and allowing them to showcase their talents,” Troy says.
Local groups, including Colour Blind and Cold Soup, return regularly to play for crowds.
During the holidays, school choirs and bands perform at the shop.
Over the years, other performers have held events at the shop. The Musical Theatre of Anthem, for example, hosted super hero and Disney princess character breakfasts during the early years.
The shop not only serves as a performance space but a meeting place as well. Groups can rent a private space in the back of the coffee shop called the Norterra Room. Over the years, the room has been used for WordPress software classes, painting parties, birthday parties, baby showers, business meetings, meetup groups, networking events and music recitals.
The shop continues to have a local feel but has grown over the years.
Technology has been a big component of this development.
Through the Elevate Coffee Co. app, customers can order food and pick it up in a timely manner. Food and drinks can be delivered through Uber eats. Elevate has always tried to offer fresh, quality products. Ingredients such as strawberries and bananas are sliced in house, and eggs and meats are cooked to order.
The menu offerings include coffees such as the dirty chai latte, caramel macchiato, mocha, Americano and frappe. Breakfast sandwiches and burritos, grilled cheese, wraps and salads are also on the list. Noncoffee drinkers can indulge in smoothies, hand-crafted sodas, tea, lemonade, cider or juice.
About six years ago, the company began to offer artisan crepes. Troy says by adding sweet and savory crepes, Elevate was able to set itself apart from other area coffee shops.
The company upped its coffee game four years ago by roasting its own beans. The beans are roasted over eight burners, with a drum spinning in the middle.
“You look for the sounds of the beans, the color of the beans and the smell of the beans. There are certain indicators that tell you. And obviously, the temperature of the beans,” Troy says.
Elevate now makes beans for the shop and also wholesales them out to other local coffeehouses.
The store has also developed Rude Awakening, its own brand of K-cups. They are available on the Elevate company website, on Amazon and at the store.
In the future, Troy hopes to expand by opening an Elevate drive-thru kiosk. A portion of the shop’s proceeds go to Water4Kids International, a local organization that helps to provide wells and water filtration devices for communities in Central India and East Africa.
With the help of the community, the shop has raised enough money for 10 wells in the last nine years.