I’m finding it difficult to adequately reflect on the past twenty years. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that what started as a mere idea for a brand, consequence of being at the right place at the right time, has created thousands of conversations twenty years later.
Building our brand has been the most rewarding, albeit trying, journey of my life thus far. As any entrepreneur can tell you, success comes to those who can see the “cup” half full in times of doubt. Now twenty years in the making, I want to share the CCI Presents | Cappuccino Catering Inc story, rooted in the values that drive our unwavering commitment to experiential excellence to this day.
It was the 90’s. The economy was booming and I was a freshly minted college grad that would soon follow in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps to take over a family-owned diamond business. The job was stable, money was good, and I had a clearly defined career path ahead of me that would surely take me right to my retirement. From an objective standpoint, life was good.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, in hindsight), my path took an abrupt turn. I found myself burning the midnight oil and struggling to keep my head above water all to follow a path that wasn’t mine to begin with. I quit. I headed to Europe that week where I would spend a year reinventing myself.
I spent months going nowhere fast, and taking every little thing in. Coming from the diamond industry, I had become deeply intrigued with the craftsmanship that went into producing a quality product. Even when my former job had me sporting dark circles under my eyes, I got deep satisfaction out of exceeding a customer’s expectations with quality and meticulous detail. I found quality all around me in Europe, in the ceramic tiles in a hilly little town of Portugal, in the carvings of the towering Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, or the fine chocolates of Basel; quality was all around me. I began searching for the constant.
It was towards the end of my trip that I was getting ready to throw in the towel, return to the United States, and sell my soul back to corporate America. I was sitting in a small café in the heart of Tuscany in a small medieval town called Pienza with green thatched roofs. If there was a perfect time to have an “aha” moment, it would be then.
Fate did not disappoint. Two Italian men dressed to the nines that had just run into each other in the main square caught my attention outside the café window. They enthusiastically greeted each other and immediately ducked inside the café to share a cup of coffee. There was something inherently romantic about the practice, something that was foreign to my American experience. The espresso sitting in front of me was art. It was art crafted from the finest beans and prepared in the same way each time. It was an art that inspired people all across Europe to stop what they were doing to share conversation together. It was the constant quality I had been searching for. It was the cup that started it all.
My romance with quality coffee was just the beginning of a thriving relationship with the quality experience it would evolve into. Upon my return to the United States, I hit the ground running, seeking out opportunities to create conversation around quality cappuccino.
I got in front of people as often as I could, starting small with weddings and boutique openings, and later taking on events with a thousand plus in attendance. It might be difficult to envision a one-man shop serving over a thousand cappuccinos in one day, but I am the living testament. Doing a complete 180 with my career didn’t come without its pitfalls and long hours, but this time I knew had discovered my perfect blend. From boutique openings all the way to the national and international pharmaceutical conventions, my constant rung true: quality was priceless. Quality created conversations. In fact, it was from one of those conversations alone that a company was born-CCI Presents | Cappuccino Catering, Inc.
In today’s business world, marketers struggle to rid themselves of the old transactional marketing model. “Let’s push our messaging out through multiple channels and hope for the best.” The world is changing. Customers have more choices and information about said choices than ever before. Today’s brands rely on conversation around their brand. How do you create it?
You let them experience it. From a fresh-squeezed orange juice display at a Florida convention to delicious cappuccino for a show in Seattle, we understand that quality gets people talking. Experiences get people talking.
We have come a long way from our first cappuccino served and the first conversation created, but we are as passionate about quality and the experience it yields as we were day one. It all started with one conversation and I look forward to the thousands more to come.