sip me: brewing up success one cup at a time

At fifteen years old, Sip Me owner Laura Wentworth knew that someday she would open a coffee shop. At the time, she didn’t know when or where it would be, but she did know how she would operate it. “When I was a little girl growing up in Montana, my grandfather used to take me to a coffee shop called Clyde’s,” she recalls. “They knew all their customers, and treated them like members of the family. It really made an impression on me. So when I imagined what my coffee shop might be like, I knew it needed to have that same feeling.”

It took some 18 years for Laura’s dream to come true when, in June of 2015, she and then-partner Shannon Murphy opened Sip Me, a neighborhood coffee shop in historic Makawao. It had been a long and challenging 16-month journey for the pair of would-be entrepreneurs. “I’d never worked a day in the service industry, and neither had Shannon, before we opened Sip Me,” Laura says. “The bank people just laughed at us. Imagine two girls with no service experience, and no real business experience, wanting to open a coffee shop in Makawao, at the end of the street, no less!”

But the two persevered, and finally, with the help of Loan Fund Manager David Daly at Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc., Sip Me opened its doors in the location that formerly housed Kitada’s Kau Kau Korner, a venerable Upcountry institution for 56 years revered for its local-style grinds, like hamburger steak and beef hekka. “Our Makawao location has so much history and symbolism attached to it from Kitada’s,” Laura says. “I was nervous opening there, but it helps tremendously that my husband was born and raised on Maui.”

The interior of Sip Me is welcoming, with clean lines and an abundance of warm, cinnamon-hued wood that gives the shop a homey ambiance, and fits in well with Makawao’s historic character. The menu of coffee, tea, juice, and treats is hand-written in white lettering on sleek black chalkboards that line the back wall. There’s even a huge “Pay it Forward” board where Sip Me staffers keep track of goodies that have been prepaid for patrons by family members and friends. “Sometimes our customers spontaneously start up a pay it forward operation,” Laura says. “One time it went on and on for fifteen transactions straight!”

Sip Me serves local organic freshly roasted coffee from Maui Oma. Along with their house blend and traditional European-style espresso menu, guests can enjoy a special taste of Maui with local, organic, small farm offerings served up in a French press and pour-over style, highlighting Maui’s very own unique coffee culture. In addition to craft coffee, they carry an ample selection of artisanal loose-leaf teas. Sip Me also offers a wide selection of nutrient-dense, cold-pressed juices and smoothies, as well as a variety of fresh sweet and savory pastries, and gluten-free and vegan treats. “All of our food offerings are prepared off-site by incredible local chefs,” Laura says.

A recent partnership with Consuelo Bronick, of Consuelo’s Catering fame, will allow Sip Me to soar to new heights. In November 2017, Laura launched Sip Me at Consuelo’s in Pa‘ia, a coffee shop within a restaurant. “Our partnership with Consuelo is perfect,” enthuses Laura. “She likes to bake, and we don’t want to bake!” Also in November, Laura opened an espresso bar satellite location in Sea La Vie, a new store in Pa‘ia operated by Patti Pottorff, who also owns Biasa Rose.

In her largest undertaking yet, Laura is in the process of opening a 3,000-square-foot Sip Me in the old Pioneer Federal building on Ka‘ahumanu Avenue in Kahului. The location comes complete with a drive-through window, which Laura plans to use to its full advantage. “I’ve never run a drive-through before, so it’s going to be interesting,” she laughs. “You’ll be able to stay right in your car, get a cold-pressed juice, a salad, a panini, a soup, and a coffee. It will be like a healthy fast-food restaurant!” Slated for a January 2018 opening, Sip Me in Kahului will also boast 27 parking stalls for customers who prefer to eat and sip inside the shop.

Laura is also scouting out a potential location in Wailea, which will be her fifth location. “My goal is five coffee shops in five years,” she says. And she’s proven the naysayers wrong. “Before we opened the Makawao location, we were told we’d never make it—the location was bad, we were under funded, and we didn’t have any experience, which was all true! But now I’ve proven it can be done. Shannon [Murphy] is no longer part of the business, but I’m so grateful to her because without her, I would never have opened the first Sip Me. It’s not something I would ever have undertaken alone.”

–heidi pool

AT A GLANCE…

WHAT •

Sip Me, a quintessential neighborhood coffee shop offering organic coffee, tea, juices, smoothies, and treats.

WHERE •

Sip Me Flagship @ Makawao is located at 3617 Baldwin Avenue; Sip Me @ Consuelo’s is located at 115 Baldwin Avenue in Pa‘ia; Sip Me @ Sea La Vie is located at 106 Hana Highway in Pa‘ia; and the new Sip Me @ Kahului + Drive-Through is slated to open in January 2018 at 7 E. Ka‘ahumanu Avenue.

WHEN •

Hours vary by location; check the Sip Me website (www.sipmemaui.com) for details and phone numbers.

HOW •

Follow Sip Me at: facebook.com/sipme/; @sipmemaui; #sipmemaui.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: