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From can to critic: Couple becomes coffee, tea experts

Tuesday, September 30, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

When Gary and Susan Pfau bought Coffee, Tea & Spice, they were drinking coffee from the can, but one year and a variety of flavors later, they have become coffee experts.

The Pfaus purchased the store in May 2002, when it was located at Chapel Hill Plaza, and reopened it July 22 in Parkade Plaza. When the Pfaus bought the store, there were no coffee beans and few tea bags in stock. However, they still had the coffee roaster, teapots, mugs, cookies, instant cocoa and coffee mixes to move. For the next two months, the Pfaus studied characteristics of different coffees and teas before reopening the business.

Getting to know you

Susan Pfau said that one of her favorite parts of her job is meeting customers. This comes as a surprise to her; she worked with computers prior to owning Coffee, Tea & Spice, because she thought she preferred working behind computers. But her perspective changed as she got to know many of her customers.

“I enjoy our customers so much,” Susan Pfau said. “I’ve met so many people here and now I see them out at different places in town.”

Pfau sees her interactions with customers as one of the most important parts of her business. She takes time to get to know what kind of coffee the regulars like and will talk to them about such topics as gardening while preparing their orders.

“Customer service is such a big part,” she said.

Along with keeping her customers happy, Susan Pfau would like to get her business more involved in the community. She is looking to join the Chamber of Commerce and Adopt-A-Spot along with continuing the Pfaus’ work with the Mavericks baseball team.

“We were a host family for the Maverick baseball players over the summer,” Susan Pfau said. “So we were somewhat involved with them, but I know we can get much more involved.”

A winning strategy

Customer service may keep the customers coming back, but Susan Pfau says the uniqueness of her coffee shop lies in the fact that she and her husband focus on sales through Web orders, gifts and holiday packages.

“I think that the difference between us and the other coffee shops in town is that they don’t really focus on the gift industry,” Susan Pfau said. “They’re very well known for the coffee and cappuccinos and a place you go to sit down and work on your computer or talk, but I think we can really excel in the gift area.”

Susan Pfau’s background in computers has helped in monitoring and increasing their Web orders. She redesigned the store’s Web site and brought back the coffee, tea and spice clubs to give customers a chance to sample the different items.

Humble beginnings lead to promising future

When the Pfaus first took over Coffee, Tea & Spice, they had to learn how to roast the beans. Susan Pfau talked to the former owner, read pamphlets and questioned vendors while her husband learned how to use the roaster from a coffee broker in St. Louis.

“Gary says that running the roaster is just like grilling,” Pfau said. “You can get it medium rare or well done.”


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