Doug Snyder is known as “the coffee guy” at work. For the past 4 years, he has worked as a barista in the Star Cafe' at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem. His love for the hot aromatic beverage started during his childhood in Walnutport.
“I grew up with coffee,” explained Doug. “Me and my dad did construction together and he had a pot a day during working hours.”
Doug met Melanie, his wife of 22 years, when they were in seminary together in Kentucky. He was studying to become a pastor, she was studying to “serve” in whatever way would give her the opportunity to “have a lasting effect on people’s lives,” she said.
When Doug returned to Pa. with Melanie six years ago, they already had a plan in motion of how they could use coffee to connect with the community.
“There’s something intimate and very personal about coffee,” Melanie said. “It’s relaxing and soothing, people love the aroma, they look forward to their coffee breaks. So we’re trying to do that, but in a creative way, thinking outside of the box.”
The concept they came up with is a unique spin on the classic coffee shop—instead of customers coming to the coffee, The Rolling Barista brings coffee to the customers.
“It was time for something new. We envisioned a mobile coffee station as an overlooked opportunity to connect with people,” said Doug. “We’re very concerned with good customer service. We wanted something that would allow us to chat with people in a non-threatening environment. I’m an extrovert, so I’m into that.”
The Rolling Barista is a coffee shop on wheels: A fully-equipped cart that can churn out lattes and smoothies at events such as birthday parties and family reunions. Operational for less than a month, Doug and Melanie are learning to work out the kinks and are hopeful they’ll eventually find a rhythm that will allow them to expand to service high-volume events like wedding receptions and high school football games.
“We’re still working on the flow of it,” Doug said. “We’re both used to high-stress situations.” Doug has served up to 375 people during an eight-hour shift at St. Luke’s. They both plan to get certified with the American Barista Association within the next 6 to 12 months. In additional to excellent customer service, they’re also committed to quality.
“The espresso is an Italian roast, which is important to me because it is good,” said Doug. “The beans are from Lancaster County, so they’re locally roasted and flavored and sent to us within a couple days, so you know it’s fresh.”
They’d like to see their eventual signature be the fact that they try to offer products that are as local and healthy as possible. They might even offer demonstrations to teach people how to whip up delicious drinks “just for their own enjoyment.”
But for now, they’re just looking to enjoy their small-scale venture and offer coffee as an ice-breaker to people in the community getting to know each other. They have no plans to become a massive operation.
“We’re not looking to make a big name, but we are looking to make an impact,” said Melanie.
Their “dream,” according to Melanie, is to eventually be in a position where they can facilitate a safe place for community members to help each other.
“A nonprofit situation, where we could offer a gathering place for people who are hurting to work on their needs together,” explained Melanie. “We could have different therapeutic resources like music, art, and pets. We would just be the host, a safe contact point, and it would just be people helping people. That’s the big picture and this is our baby step toward that goal.”
To book The Rolling Barista for an event, call 610-973-9171 or visit www.therollingbarista.com.