In the early days of Re-store (the thrift store I ran back in Taiwan), many people thought that we were a coffee shop. But because I did not drink coffee back then, I was not looking to sell it. During that time, several coffee distributors visited us, hoping to persuade me to sell their coffee at my store. It would be several thousands for the coffee master courses, tens of thousands for the coffee roaster, plus another tens of thousands for the commercial coffee machines. Basically, I had to spend at least thirty to forty thousand US dollars in order to make a cup of coffee for customers. The crazy part was, the sample coffees they brought for tasting gave me such bad palpitations that I had to chug two beers afterwards to reduce the agitation! Which is why, in our first two years of business, we only sold winter melon tea and beer. That is, until I met “Ze Coffee”.
In 2018, Aaron from Ze Coffee reached out to me with the idea of coming to my shop to sell coffee. After my mother’s funeral, I returned to Taipei. We met up a second time, after only meeting him once. I told him that the condition I cared about the most if we wanted to work together was to donate one-tenth of our revenue to charity. If he disagreed with this term, there was no need to talk about anything else. For a small business run by two people, to donate one-tenth of their earnings, it would be a lot of pressure. But they didn’t hesitate to agree. And so our collaboration was decided upon at our second meeting.
在 2018 年，他主動聯絡我提出有興趣來我的店裡賣咖啡的想法。在幫母親處理完後事回到台北後，就相約與只見過一次面的嘖咖啡老闆阿鈜第二次碰面。我跟他說要一起合作，我最在意的唯一條件，就是要把營業額的十分之一捐作公益，如果沒辦法，其他就不必談了。要求一間兩人經營的小咖啡店捐出十分之一的營業額，其實會有很大的壓力，但是他毫不猶豫地答應了。而我們的合作關係，就在見面第二次決定了。
I remember asking him if I needed to prepare anything. “I have no coffee equipment except cups and tableware at my store; how are we going to start selling coffee?” I asked. He just smiled. The next day, he brought a portable butane stove, a clay pot, a small coffee grinder, a gooseneck kettle, a bamboo sieve, a few raw coffee beans from his shop, and that was it. Then he began to roast the coffee beans right there in front of our store and started to sell coffee right there and then. From that day on, I started to reacquaint myself with coffee, and our shop was filled with the wonderful aroma of coffee at all times.
The loss of my mother changed my life in many ways. Psychologically, old mental disorders resurfaced, and I struggled with maintaining a mental state that could be out of control at any time, a fragile relationship with my family, and a thrift store with very little business. A year later, I had to face reality, and I asked Ze Coffee if they would be willing to move their coffee shop to our location permanently and take over the first floor storefront, so I could downsize the thrift store to just the second floor. In this way, we could share rent, as well as share the pressures of running a business by working side by side. For an established coffee shop to move to another location, this would take a lot of courage. But without hesitation, Aaron agreed. And so our partnership began in our second year of collaboration.
If you are currently in Taiwan or think about going to visit Taiwan, map below is their location. Or go visit their website at Zeroast.com. Go sit down and enjoy a cup of fine roasted coffee!!
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