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Meet Kylene Compaan of Chattahoochee Coffee Company in Westside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kylene Compaan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I love telling people my story because I think it’s pretty different from how most people get into business. I studied Sports Media & Communications (clearly not business focused fields) in college. After college, I worked as a summer camp director and then an administrator for mission’s training schools and spent a lot of time overseas. My goal was to do humanitarian work full-time, but in a season of transition, some friends invited me to come to Atlanta and work at their coffee shop for a few months. It was supposed to be a short-term gig, but that was over 8 years ago! I now own that shop I worked part-time in and opened a second location in 2015. But even that journey was really a surprise to me. I fell in love with the coffee industry immediately, but still never intended to make it a career. But as opportunities for growth became available, and after a lot of encouragement from some key people who believed in me, I took a management position and grew from there to shop ownership. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without the wonderful folks at Walton Communities, who believed in me from day one and really paved the way forward for me to open Chattahoochee Coffee shops in two of their apartment communities. I’ve gotten to where I am today by doing my best to embrace and run with every opportunity that’s come my way. By being willing to put in a lot of long days and hard work. And by asking a lot of questions and trying to remain teachable. Life is full of surprises and I’ve tried to take full advantage of the surprises in mine. It’s been an adventure and I wouldn’t trade a moment!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a wonderful road, but certainly not always a smooth one. The biggest struggle for me, having not had a background or training in business or accounting, was learning business and accounting. I made a lot of mistakes and looking back there are some things I should have done differently or could have done better in those early days. Another struggle, especially after opening my second location, was embracing the personal sacrifices that needed to happen to free up enough time to dedicate to succeeding. Certain other hobbies or pursuits needed to be “shelved” for a season to give me the ability to focus 110% on my business. I don’t regret that in the least, but if I’m honest, it was hard to make that adjustment at first.

Please tell us about Chattahoochee Coffee Company.
My business is called Chattahoochee Coffee Company. It’s a specialty coffee shop with two locations here in Atlanta. Coffee is obviously what we specialize in (we use Counter Culture Coffee), and in addition to standard drip coffee, we highlight custom pour overs with a rotating selection of single-origin coffees from around the world. We’ve got a full selection of espresso based beverages, and love our partnership with Mountain Fresh Creamery for our milk, a dairy located right here in GA. For non-coffee drinkers we’ve got plenty of options as well, including loose-leaf tea, chai, hot chocolate, etc.

Our mission statement states, “Chattahoochee Coffee Company exists to make a positive impact in our community and our world while providing an exceptional product to our customers. This is expressed in three fundamental commitments: Coffee, Justice  & Community.” For us “Coffee” means that every day, we strive to brew, prepare and serve the best possible product that we can, and we are committed to partnering with vendors that are going to supply us with the best possible ingredients to that end. “Community” means that we will put as much energy into customer service as we do drink preparation. We want everyone who comes through our doors to feel known and at home. “Justice” is probably what sets us apart most in the coffee industry, however. And this is also probably what I am most proud of. We want to use whatever resources we have as a company and as individuals to make a positive impact in Atlanta and the world. The majority of our merchandise section is stocked with what we call “Justice Partners” and the proceeds make from items sold goes back to those organizations. We also have a Charitable Giving Fund, which allocates a portion of our annual proceeds to be donated to various non-profit and humanitarian organizations locally and internationally.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
That’s a difficult question, because even in some of the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned invaluable lessons that have made me a better business person and manager. But if I had to start over and do something differently, I probably would take a crash course in business or hire a business mentor/consultant in my first year. I’d definitely take an accounting class. That would have come in very handy back in the day. Lol. God bless QuickBooks.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Steven Wallace
Cati Teague

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