Community and coffee: A Mane Coffee experience
Coffee shops and communities tend to go hand in hand. It’s seen in shows like Friends and Seinfeld and our local coffee shops are no different. One of these local coffee shops that offer this space and community is Mane Coffee. Located on 500 NE Spanish River Blvd Suite 7, Boca Raton, the coffee shop tries to make the community its main point.
Owner Daniel Karram is the young creator behind the business. Born and raised in Boca Raton, Karram always had a passion for all things coffee. His vision started with an interest in coffee that only grew stronger as he got older. “But even when I was in sales, I was like, man, I kind of really miss working on coffee,” says Karram.
It was then that Karram opened Mane Coffee in 2018 using all of his learned skills for his new business. He states that it’s “Just taking in everything I could take and learning things I liked, things I didn’t like from different cafes.”
“I had the idea that I wanted to start something but didn’t really know when. And probably about after a year of thinking about it, I was like, all right, I’m going to do this. Yes, I made up my mind. And from that point, it probably took an extra year and a half to just sign a lease.”
Coffee is not Karram’s only goal. His vision for Mane Coffee goes beyond a small cup of coffee. The sense of unity in his store is something that the young owner strives for.
“I like to view the coffee shop as almost an extension of my house. In a way that this is kind of like a living room that I can invite friends or strangers into and get to know them a little bit better and the staff uses it the same way. We’re very relational. We love hearing people’s stories and what people do in their daily life just and bringing that relational aspect of coffee into it,” says Karram.
“But the best memories and life experiences that I’ve had usually revolved around, like the environment and the staff that was there and how they interacted, how they shared their drinks, something as simple as saying like, hey, how are you doing today.”
Karram’s large background in coffee helps him achieve his goal of a welcoming environment.
“Coffee is one of those things where you could drink the same thing in a hundred different places. It could taste completely different based on how it was grown and processed at the farm,” says Karram.
“It’s the same thing with wine. A lot of the principles that are similar to wine are similar to coffee. Like your food, what you eat that day, what you eat the night before. All these things can affect how coffee tastes.”
Karram has had multiple influences that change the way he makes his coffee and runs his store. One of them being his cultural background.
“I’m Lebanese and it’s a huge part of our culture for as long as I can remember, like years of growing up and my parents or my grandparents making Turkish coffee,” says Karram. “We would gather in the living room and we drink Turkish coffee. And I didn’t realize how big of an impact it was culturally until I was visiting Lebanon one year with my family.”
The location of this refreshing business is also a key part of the coffee drinking experience. Being from South Florida, the young coffee shop owner states that many people never walk anywhere. That’s why he wanted people to have the desire to drive to his shop. “Everything’s a destination. So to me, I was like, well, do I want 700 square feet of space in a prime location on the side of the road where we might get a lot of people? Or do I want to have an environment that’s a lot bigger, where it’s more of a destination?”
“People can drive here, you can sit down, you can work, you can have a coffee, you can come back an hour later and grab another one and grab a toast, and it’s not crammed in. It’s a very wide-open feeling.”
This open feel can be seen throughout the coffee shop. An iconic decorative piece to be seen is Mane Coffee’s diverse seating. There is a variety of different seating throughout the shop. From traditional tables and chairs to standing tables and booths. Customers get to choose the different ways they’ll enjoy their coffee in an open and airy space.
The way Mane Coffee selects its coffees is also a big staple. Instead of getting their coffees from one coffee roaster, Mane Coffee gets it from six different roasters. The coffee shop gets around two or three types of coffee from eight different roasters giving them a variety in their coffee flavors.
“Having that variety is fun for me. Most people don’t care about it, but the people that care about specialty coffee and want to learn more, it’s a standpoint,” says Karram. “You could come in every day and drink a different cup of black coffee for pretty much a month and not drink the same coffee.”
Coffee isn’t the only thing Mane Coffee serves. On top of a large variety of flavorful coffee, the shop services multiple pastries, toast and even cereal. “Aside from the cereal, we do all the baked goods in the house as well. So we make everything from scratch. The bread that we use for hard toast we make in the house as well. It’s a nice big slice of bread, a super refreshing and it’s just the perfect toast bread in my opinion,” says Karram.
On top of its unique setting, the staple of this business is its creative name. Karram wanted his business to reflect his shop’s business. “It’s a play on words. I like lions so I was kind of like a lion’s man, but it’s also the main spot. It doesn’t have any deep-seated meaning. It’s just a gathering place, the main spot where we go to hang out.”
However, the pandemic affected Mane Coffee. Like many other businesses, Mane Coffee was forced to make many changes in its store because of Covid-19. Karram states that just when the coffee shop was seeing steady growth, the pandemic hit and took that away.
“You kind of go into a business thinking right, in the beginning, it will be slow, but no one could have predicted what happened. So it was all the work of starting a business over, but extremely disheartening because you kind of lost everything that you’ve built up, kind of crumbled down. But we made it through, thankfully. And it was horrible for a lot of people, like not just businesses, people like our staff, like everybody was struggling with different things to that.”
The pandemic also affected Karram’s staff, but he found a way to keep his service intact. Karram was able to maintain his entire staff, despite the hard times of the pandemic. “I reached out to the staff. I was like, ‘hey, we might have to cut some hours, but we’re going to do everything we can to kind of just help you guys. If you need anything, let me know. You guys won’t go hungry, you have a place to stay,” says Karram.
Now Mane Coffee can offer its customers indoor seating, a welcoming environment and delicious coffee. The pandemic hit every restaurant business differently. Some tried opening in the middle of the pandemic while others had been open decades before and were still affected. Some were still very new to the food and drink business when the worst of the pandemic hit, places like Mane Coffee.
Karram’s advice for those who want to open a food business, pandemic or not, is to have passion and a plan. You have to be passionate about what you do because if I didn’t enjoy the work, what’s my motivation if we’re losing money every day by being open?” says Karram. “So having that motivation, having that passion, but also the thing that I’ll tell everyone is just work in the industry for at least a year.”
It only takes one order to support local restaurants and food businesses. With every visit or order to a local place, restaurants can keep themselves afloat. Places like Mane Coffee offer high-end coffee and a variety of choices while caring for their community. Don’t forget to support small businesses like these so that they can keep their doors open in the future.