You guys! Tomorrow is National Coffee Day! We must celebrate!! And by “celebrate,” we mean we must tell you about two Hallmarkers, Nate L. and John D., and their love for coffee. They decided to share this love of coffee with their fellow co-workers – and we couldn’t be more thankful! Read on to learn about their adventures in bringing this delicious caffeinated beverage to the masses:
“Style and Class boys. Style and Class,” Mr. Cornelius said in the fall semester of 1991 to his 8th grade students. It was a simple phrase, but powerful nonetheless. It meant be generous, be kind, be respectful, be a champion for what is right, and do it all with a bit of flare. It was a mantra for the model citizen. Style and Class. Those two are all you need. And in the back of that classroom sat a young Nate, hanging on every word.
Fast-forward 25 years. In an unexpected corner on the ninth floor of Hallmark, sits a cart with a carafe filled to the brim with freshly made coffee, its rich aroma heavy in the air. A wooden sign hangs from the front of the cart with a simple logo engraved into its face: Style + Class. A menu card reads “Self Service Coffee $1.00 Donation, Bean Varietal: Obura Wanonara, Region: Papa New Guinea, Roster: King State Coffee, Brew Process: Chemex.” The pleasantly surprised patron, if he/she is flush, drops a one-dollar bill into a glass jar, fills a clean white mug with deep umber liquid while enjoying the steamy aromas of brown sugar, white peach, and baking spice. It seems Mr. Cornelius’s message was heard loud and clear.
Style + Class is a self-service coffee bar created by Nate and John. Nate is a Photo Art Director and John is a Designer at Hallmark Cards. The coffee service started in September of 2014 and continues to this day. In addition to its weekly coffee service, it has grown to be a biannual pop-up event for bringing multiple creative studios together to share their creativity and, of course, a good cup of coffee.
Nate and John admit that the beginning of Style + Class was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. In a world chock-full of “artisanal, bespoke wares” and “handcrafted goods,” the idea of a trendy coffee shop that operated from the middle of a cubicle-dense corporate environment was entertaining, to say the least. But to do this in earnest meant a few prerequisites had to be checked off:
- Need a brand name. Pick two cool words and put an ampersand between them. Check. Actually, make that a plus sign. Check.
- Need a logo. Something like an “x logo” but not quite, because those are sooo 2013. Check.
- Engrave that logo out of reclaimed wood. Check.
- Create custom-made lapel pins with S+C logo Check.
(Thanks, Samantha L.!)
- Need to have locally sourced, fresh-roasted beans. Check.
- Need to have “slow bar” methods of making coffee. French Press? Check. V-60? Check. Chemex? Check
- Need a cool business strategy. Pop-up? Check. Ironic twist on a delivery cart? Check.
- And succulents. Don’t forget the succulents. Check.
Nate and John soon began to see an opportunity in their little “joke.” There was a demand for the coffee to be sure, but there were also real-world collaborations and creative sharing happening around the cart. Basically, the coffee cart became analogous to the proverbial water cooler, but with delicious caffeine instead of boring water. The mission was simple: provide good coffee and bring creative people together.
Over time, there have been larger pop-up events featuring Hallmarkers from various creative studios playing music, sharing poetry, and just hanging out. After two years of service to Hallmark, Style + Class is still thriving. On September 15th it celebrated its two-year anniversary along with the two-year anniversary of this blog. A happy coincidence that’s both stylish and classy.
Share with us your love for coffee on Instagram—tag us @think.make.share