WELOVENYC: "With New York you have to emphasize the relationships"

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Coffee is no longer simple. We’re far beyond that. It’s art. It has sexy appeal. A distinct coffee shop becomes part of your everyday routine and your choice of coffee is building your personal brand (and we all know how important that is in NYC!). New places pop up every week offering the finest craft there is and stakes are high to attract the crowd. I met up with one successful entrepreneur in town who’s survived for years, serving coffee to hipster kids in Bushwick. Let’s dive in with Andrew Tran.

(See the embedded video interview from his apartment)

Science In A Cup

«Mixtape is a walk up window. We strive to be like lowbrow meets highbrow and emphasis the highest quality product. Coffee is science to me. Old school guys were more about feeling it and looking at it as art, but now you have all these tools you can play around with.»

«People look at the business and think it’s easy. What I love about coffee is that there are so many small steps that you can adjust and make perfect. Everything you do ends up in a cup. From farmers to roasting to making. It’s a beautiful product. For some people they look at it as just pushing a button.»

Perhaps it’s his nerdy approach to brewing that created his success. Or the coolness of the concept having graffiti artists changing the walls every once in a while. Regardless, one thing he learned is to never have assumptions regarding the customers.

It’s easy to have a million friends in New York and it’s difficult to have one good friend.

«You would think that the young guys are the once getting picky about the coffee. Sometimes we get for example an old Dominican guy who tells me he can taste stone fruit and have an amazingly developed palette.»

Too Many Espresso’s Turning Into A Passion

Born in Queens, college at NYU and a graduate from Brooklyn Law School. It doesn’t sound much like Andrew was destined to be a successful barista. Life is full of surprises though. When you have a passion growing stronger than your educational resume, things can change.

«Up until recently I was working as an in-house councilor for a real estate developer, but I wasn’t feeling so great about it so I quit. When I was in law school and studying long hours, I was drinking a lot of espresso and kind of developed a taste for it. I would talk to all the baristas I came across and it really became a passion of mine.»

He made a 180 career change and decided to go all in with «Mixtape». Bold and beautiful. And apparently the right decision.

Swallowing people Alive

If New York was a cup of coffee- what would it taste like? A strange question, but I just had to ask him...

«It would be a sweet coffee with a bitter finish. Some of NYC is very beautiful and some very dark. You can see the most well dressed person walk around the street and on the next corner you can see a homeless person taking a shit in an alley. You have a designer stores next to a deli. You have projects next to new development. You have so many polar opposites. You can find anything here.»

Andrew is a native New Yorker. Loving it like a true patriot, but he’s also seen how the city can be brutal throughout the years.

«You would think that the young guys are the once getting picky about the coffee. Sometimes we get for example an old Dominican guy who tells me he can taste stone fruit and have an amazingly developed palette.»

«I’ve been here basically my whole life and I’ve seen so many people come to the city like a world winner and they don’t have any self control. I’ve seen people turn into junkies, pregnant, burn out and leave. The city can swallow you alive because everything is available. I remember one professor telling me when I started at NYU to take a look at the person to your right and left and saying that most likely none of these people are gonna be here in 5 years. There was a lot of truth to that»

«If you want to move here you need to have balance. You need to think about why you came here. If you came here just to party you’re not gonna make it long. You need to have a goal and move forward at all time. If you get stuck in nightlife you’re not gonna last long»

You Need A Good Friend

Andrew is not pointing fingers at anyone, but maturing in and with the city, there are some advice worth listening to.

«With New York you have to emphasize the relationships. I remember when I was younger and lived a more hectic lifestyle. I wouldn’t see my friends in weeks. You start to burn out doing that. Friendships are the once who can so easily go because you’re being pulled this way or that way»

«That can be heartbreaking. That’s why you have to focus on quality over quantity. It’s easy to have a million friends in New York and it’s difficult to have one good friend.»

So, according to Andrew, you have to find the right balance in NYC to survive here. If you do, there is no better place to live.

«I started my first year of law school in San Francisco. I quickly experienced that I missed the energy and diversity of New York. I feel invigorated when I’m here. I like the pace here. San Francisco is diverse in the sense that there’s a lot of different people there, but everybody is always in their car. People are not really melding. In NY you have to interact with people and I love that.»

Perhaps you should invite a friend out for a cup of coffee. Nurture the relationship. Make sure you have that one good friend. While you’re on that thought, you could suggest go hang out on the benches outside «Mixtape» and get some quality coffee. You’ll look cool. Thank you for sharing a cup and some wisdom. Really appreciate it!

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