I'm super excited to introduce you to Jeffrey Knott, the owner of Blue Sparrow Coffee in Denver, CO. Jeffrey contacted me last year to shoot some images for his website. When I set foot inside BSC, I fell in love with the space. This cozy coffee shop has a beautiful decor, anchored by a deep cyan blue banquette and studded with brass accents throughout. They also serve first-rate coffee (we're talking homemade nitro cold brew on tap!) and have some of the friendliest baristas around. (Having lived in Seattle for over a decade, where baristas sometimes take themselves a little too seriously, I always give massive bonus points for friendly baristas.)
When Jeffrey told me about his unconventional path to owning his own coffee shop, I knew I wanted to share his story with you. If you've been dreaming of opening your own small business, read on for Jeffrey's excellent advice. And if you live in Denver or are planning a trip there, don't miss this gem of a coffee shop.
An interview with Jeffrey Knott, owner of Blue Sparrow Coffee.
Mad lib time! You could describe my business as my experience traveling the world meets how I like my coffee.
What is your background?
After a stint in the military, a degree in finance, and a cubicle in NYC I decided it was time for a change. I “gave it all up” and became a barista. As much as I love coffee, and loved being a barista, I needed more. After managing my first coffee shop, I had an opportunity to help open, and manage a new café in town. That experience was unbelievably challenging--I did a pretty good job faking it until I made it. I've helped open the doors to the seventh café in half as many years. I own, open, and operate coffee shops. And it’s my dream job.
How/when did you get the idea for your current venture?
Coffee is universal. It’s something that is shared all across our little blue dot. When I travel I've always sought out cafe’s, experiencing coffee in new ways, a reflection into local culture. BSC is a direct reflection on what I've experienced—what I want to experience. We feature coffee roasters from around the world, sharing these cultural reflections with our community while keeping it simple, friendly, and tasty.
On a scale of one to shitting-your-pants, how nervous were you about starting your business?
.5? I’ve had the opportunity to open several coffee shops for others before my own—some much larger than BSC. In comparison this was a walk in the park.
What's the greatest challenge with your business?
Letting go. Stepping back, and letting the team takeover. I want to create a very specific experience for our guests, and it’s most challenging making sure each and every team member knows what that experience is, then shares it with hundreds of customers day in and day out.
What do you love most about your business? What brings you the most joy?
Owning a coffee shop is so often over romanticized. Everyone want’s to own and coffee shop because they envision sitting around drinking coffee all day. It’s a lot of work—not all of it’s fun. I love the challenge of building a team that can deliver amazing products and amazing experiences to our guests. I love working my ass off behind the scenes, so it seems effortless from the outside looking in.
What's on your bedside table (be honest)?
Apple Watch charger
Kiss my Face chapstick
Soy candle No. 05 : Spruce by P.F. Candle co. (A little out of season, I’m thinking nightshade next)
Secret hobby and/or obsession?
Golf. I started playing to spend time with my granddad. He’s in his 80’s and still plays every single day #goals. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. Part of me wishes I put as much time, effort, and money 🙄 into something more useful for humanity, but it’s my escape. I don’t know what I would do without it.
If you could get in a time machine, zoom back into the past and give yourself one piece of advice before starting your business, what would it be?
Start social media sooner. This time around I decided to keep quite on the new café until we were open. It took much longer for people to find out about us than expected. Create your social media accounts early, reach out to the press, be active, build the hype and hope you can measure up to it!