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Good Afternoon friend!
Business profile: Cappuccino and Company's rich coffee, conversation, scoop up top reviews
June 17, 2016 Frank Marquez   

Read more by Frank Marquez

Baristas Sabrina Luke and Maranda Coop, and owner of Cappuccino and Company in Scottsbluff Angela Marie Kembel work hard to cultivate a friendly and inviting atmosphere, along with brewing some of the Twin Cities best coffee. Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen

Walking into Cappuccino and Company in Scottsbluff, customers can’t help but notice a small boisterous mostly middle-aged group which commandeers a table off to the right. Unofficially called the morning group, the owner Angela Marie Kembel calls them her regulars. The group of about a half dozen or more, on most days of the week, started meeting at the shop before she and her mother bought it in 2013. Some peel off from the group to get on with their day, while others saunter in for their daily jolt, stopping to join the conversation.

One of them, salty-haired Ron Salomon, a retired driver for the United Postal Service, said the discussions roam. “Some days it’s about coffee. Other times it’s about nothing.”

Kay and Tom Goodman, local accountants, nod. So does Joann Ross. Judi Widmaier, a volunteer at the genealogy center, looked around after the morning rush and said, “I think we’ve run everyone else off.”

Gayle Rojas, a volunteer at Diamond Vogel Paint around the corner, said “in getting together regularly, that’s what it becomes.” Later, in an email, she said, “Places like (Angela’s) coffee shop provide a comfortable backdrop for people of different backgrounds, interests, political backgrounds, etc., to meet and talk. It is a way to start the day with humor, too, as there is a lot of good-natured kidding within the group. While the composition of the group changes from day to day, the friendly support you receive from meeting with them remains the same.”

This is the kind of friendly atmosphere Angela has been working hard to cultivate, contrasting it with something large coffee chains can’t offer – a hometown-feel and personality.

At the front of the shop, visible from the main window, sit the skeletal remains of a giraffe from eBay painted on by local mosaic artist Grace Flowers who regularly returns to town for July’s Oregon Trail Days for artists’ gatherings. Angela calls him the shop’s patron saint because of the way he benevolently casts his gaze over the morning group, and other customers busily chatting away, reading books, or pecking at laptops.

“If he’s ever sold, we’ll miss him,” she said. The photos and artwork, part of the décor, all promote local artists. “It grew from the existing footprint, however, we changed the paint color, and overall feel and aesthetic.” A former jewelry shop, cabinets, cubbies, and drawers remain in place. The rest of it evolved into Angela’s desire to make the shop into a more restful spot.

The shop sits near the corner of Broadway and 17th Street in Scottsbluff. Angela talks about coffee like chefs do about soufflé. Her menu is presented with Bullet Proof coffee, a Mason Jar Macchiato, drinks which use natural ingredients and undergo a delicate complicated process. According to Angela, Bullet Proof coffee has caused customers to lose weight. Other delights include double dark, and chocolate gelato. She also opens the shop doors to official group activities, book club meetings, open mic night and other joyous gatherings – clearly a recipe on the list of any conscionable caffeine fanatic.

This month, Angela and her staff received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The shop is getting noticed. Earlier this year, the Panhandle Business and Professional Women presented her with the Employer of the Year Award for less than 30 employees on March 9. Currently, Angela’s staff includes eight women, who have worked to increase business three-fold since she’s owned the shop. It’s not hard to do with feedback both by word of mouth and via the internet. The shop originally opened in 2001, first owned by Jeff and Marcy Ross, then by Colleen Woodward. Angela has worked there since high school. When it came up for sale, she and her mother, talked about it and decided it was a really good idea. “On paper it probably wasn’t,” she said. “I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I threw myself into learning about the coffee side, and asked for help on the business side.”

Once past the first year, mom phased herself out of the business into retirement, but she occasionally stops by for lunch with friends or family. However, she avoids wandering back into the kitchen.

Over the course of time, TripAdvisor tracked the positive feedback given by the shop’s patrons. “We’ve been given excellent ratings, especially for our response to customers,” Angela said. “If you enter a search for great coffee on TripAdvisor, chances are good you’ll see Cappuccino and Company come to the top.”

Angela, who was homeschooled and attended Western Nebraska Community College to study English, does all the work of a wordsmith. She prepares her own marketing materials, which translate well in the way she describes her coffee shop, admitting that writing something catchy on Facebook helps business.

“We’re kind of an extension of your living room,” Angela said.
“So, it’s a place that is comfy. We take care of you. We know your name. We’ll make a complicated drink, if that’s what you like. Or a simple drink, if that’s what you like. We are fanatic in our pursuit of excellence in terms of coffee and expresso preparation. That has shown, as time has gone on. I mean we have seen a really good response from the community. People tell me, ‘I’m ruined for anything else,’ other than truly excellent coffee in bigger cities. That thrills me to hear. I love that customers look for independent coffee shops instead of going to the nearest chain or drive-thru.”

Angela added, “We really like having one location, and one that doesn’t have a drive-thru. That may sound counterintuitive, but it does appeal to a different clientele. They take a minute, stay awhile, bring a laptop, and really have a good face-to-face interaction with their barista and then head to work. I’m looking to keep that. I’m not looking to become fast-food coffee. If there’s an opportunity for a second location, I’ll consider it, but it would have to be in line with what we’ve established here.”

Employee Maranda Coop was a part-time receptionist for a real estate office before working at the coffee shop and has known Angela’s family for 12 years.

She was there when the doors first opened. Angela asked her if she’d be willing to help us start this? “I’m a huge coffee fan and I honestly wanted to help bring something special to Scottsbluff – providing good customer service and treating people as though they were in my own living room,” she said. “I love people. I know a lot about the regulars, their children and their jobs. Finding out about them makes them more friend than customer. Sometimes, they make prayer requests, other times for more sugar please.”

Chabella Guzman, KNEB Farm director, who regularly orders iced latte or coffee, said she frequents the shop because of the atmosphere. “I love the coffee and I have a good rapport with the baristas. One coffee is all it takes; I’m good for the day.”

Also tending to international clientele, Angela talks about customers from other parts of the world like they’re old friends. One customer from the Netherlands wrote about the shop on her blog. A French couple passing through vowed to return. Just as serious about coffee, there are also people who fly into Denver, and drive to west Nebraska to see the old Oregon Trail before heading to some other nearby destination, like Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone. Needing a small caffeine boost, they use the lingo: double expresso, macchiato, and latte, and like most aficionados are surprised to learn about some of Angela’s ingredients.

“It’s really fun to hear someone with a beautiful accent from some other country and order a double expresso and tell me how their trip is going. They’ll ask for directions to the Monument, which makes me smile because it’s so close. For me, it’s my backyard. For someone else who is not from around here, it makes sense.”

Truly, there’s a friendliness and an attentiveness not readily seen elsewhere. “We care about people more than we care about ourselves, and that’s reflected in how we do business. We’re going to bend over backward, and not complain about the fact we did. Asking about someone’s life isn’t a requirement, but we’re genuinely interested.”

Just ask the morning group.

Frank Marquez/Gering Citizen From left to right, Kay and Tom Goodman, accountants, Ron Salomon, a retired UPS driver, Gayle Rojas, a volunteer for Diamond Vogel paints, Joann Ross, and Judi Widmaier, a volunteer at the genealogy center see each other on regular basis at Cappuccino and Company for morning coffee and conversation.
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Thank you! Great story!
- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 09:33:52]

Thank you! Great story!
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- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 09:37:45]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 09:49:47]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 09:52:57]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 10:02:32]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-17 10:02:58]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-18 01:54:52]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-19 02:18:33]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-19 08:04:48]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-19 12:55:23]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-19 07:30:19]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-20 07:23:10]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-20 08:51:28]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-20 09:40:45]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-22 02:37:45]

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- Andi Hale [2016-06-22 02:40:39]

Thank you! Great story!
- Andi Hale [2016-06-22 02:40:44]

Thank you! Great story!
- Andi Hale [2016-06-23 04:44:58]