When Barb, Amelie and I first sat down to talk of the future of Voluto I was as shocked as some of you are today to hear that they were ready to be done with coffee business ownership. I wanted to hear what they had to say and see where they wanted to go. I couldn’t imagine being an active part of what they were doing. I wanted to, but just couldn’t think of how. Questions arose in my mind like, can The Commonplace really have more retail presence in Pittsburgh – that’s not what we have set out to do? Our Goal has been to help other reatilers. Can I even afford to offer them any amount of money that would offset the investment and hard work that Barb and Amelie have invested in Voluto Coffee?
I listened and tried to envision a way we could help. The biggest issue for me was that I couldn’t imagine Pittsburgh without Voluto Coffee. We literally sit with people every week to talk about coffee – whether helping someone envision better coffee in their store or with someone who wants to start up a shop – Voluto is always a part of that conversation. We have led countless people on coffee tours of Pittsburgh – Voluto has always been a part of those trips. Amelie and Barb have done such an incredible job – that can’t just dissapear. My first reaction was to offer a scenario where the commonplace could run Voluto for awhile and give Amelie and Barb a break. That didn’t seem to be the answer. So, after much consideration Julie and I have decided to take on the mantle of Amelie and Barb by becoming more a part of the Pittsburgh coffee scene.
At every step of growth for The Commonplace it has always centered around people. The growth has always been organic and natural; never premeditated and forced. And here too we noticed that there was an able person to run Voluto that has long been a part of The Commonplace, personally and businessly – Drew von Arx. Just as our original retail transition to Pittsburgh was about giving Dre, Phil and Brad the ability to showcase their skills, the acquisition of Voluto will be about showcasing Drew’s skills.
The Commonplace was hesitant about doing more retail because of the message that would send the coffee shops we work with. Our commitment is to see growth and quality enhancement in the coffee industry in Pittsburgh I believe that will be furthered with our participation with what Voluto has done. Commonplace Voluto will be more focused on Slow Bar manual brew methods, where Commonplace Squirrel Hill will continue its pursuit of espresso and alternative espresso (by featuring single origin espresso). We are again excited that we are not moving into a specific neighborhood with a coffee shop that is doing amazing coffee (ie we won’t be stepping on anyone’s toes). Additionally, we are excited to be around neat things going on in the neighborhood – Salt, Verde, and others.
We will continue to have some offerings of 49th Parallel and most of the same food and will try to uphold the same quality in executing delicious cups! We will make one change, sorry Barb and Amelie, we will add a batch brewer for those who are in a hurry or are limited on funds. The Commonplace has always been passionate about offering a lower cost, amazing coffee (ie the Buruni Kayanza A+ – a lower costing coffee that is very delicious), next to amazing coffees that are a bit spendy (such as the Colombian Cup of Excellence Mercedes).
In closing, we are hopeful to have a similar enough experience for Voluto’s inner circle of regulars and also expand to a few new things that the Commonplace has been doing for the life of our business. Thanks for being a part of this transition and for your support.