Christian and Courtney Hilley with Chaleur Method Brew and Espresso

Christian and Courtney Hilley with Chaleur Method Brew and Espresso

You’re not going to want to skip over this one as Marcus sits down with young, married entrepreneurs Christian and Courtney Hilley. The Hilley’s own Mobile’s first third wave coffee shop in the heart of midtown: Chaleur Method Brew & Espresso. From working in coffee at young ages, to having prepared business plans ready at the right time, the unique path to business-hood has been good to them. Tune in and listen to the journey and future of third wave coffee in Mobile, AL.


Christian: Hey, I'm Christian Hilley.

Courtney: And I am Courtney Hilley. And we are with Chaleur Method Brew and Espresso.

Marcus: Awesome. Well guys, it is really exciting to have you here today. So, thank you for coming on the podcast.

Christian: Yeah, we're excited to be here.

Courtney: Absolutely.

Marcus: Yeah. Full disclosure, used to work with Christian at City Hope Church and so, it's also very exciting to have you here in a different capacity for both of us.

Christian: Yeah. Pretty cool.

Marcus: Tell us a little bit about each of you. Tell us where you're from, where'd you go to high school, college. Obviously you're married.

Courtney: Yes.

Marcus: To each other.

Courtney: Right.

Marcus: Just for clarification. And, just anything that might be pertinent to where you are today.

Christian: Sure. You go first.

Courtney: Well, I am from Mobile originally. Moved around a little a bit. We traveled a lot when I was younger. It took me going to Orlando in 2012 and coming back to really love Mobile. Being in a different place for a while and then appreciating what's here. And that love has kind of just grown over the years. I never thought when I was younger ... just 'cause in the city that you grew up in, you're like, I'm gettin' out of this town.

Marcus: Yeah. (laughter) The rebellious nature in all of us.

Courtney: But my love for this city has just grown stronger over the years. I've worked in coffee for ten years in July.

Marcus: Wow.

Courtney: Not the plan of my life, just kind of a side thing that I enjoy doing. I went to college for music, business and English.

Marcus: She and I have more in common than you and I do.

Courtney: Really? (laughter) Funny.

Marcus: I'd say that's funny.

Courtney: But I ... long story short ...

Marcus: No. No long story shorts here.

Courtney: OK. (laughter) I was not able to finish my degree. I was 11 hours short and I got sick, and wasn't able to return.

Marcus: Oh goodness.

Courtney: And so that kind of pushed me to, OK, now I have to prove my credibility.

Marcus: Without the paper.

Courtney: Yeah, right. And so from that came Ant Farm Journal, which would become Bellum, and more ... I don't want to say successfully, but more immediately progressive Chaleur Coffee.

Christian: Which, full information, Bellum is a magazine that Courtney's been working on for a few years now.

Courtney: It's for creative writing and photo essays and stuff like that.

Marcus: Yep. Pretty cool.

Christian: Yep. And so, I'm Christian. I am originally from Montgomery. I grew up there, I came here for school in 2010. I did not start working in coffee until like 2013 or '14, but got really into it really fast. My first job was with my dad, fixing printers. So, like, I really in high school had no idea what I wanted to do. But came to school at UM, University of Mobile, and did worship leadership. Anyway. So, fast forward ...

Courtney: That's where we met.

Christian: Yeah. That is where we met.

Courtney: Played in a band together.

Christian: We played in a band together. And ... yeah. So, coming out of school, I moved back home, I came back here, I did a lot of stuff. We moved to Jackson for a while. We've been all over the place. But similar story to Courtney, of leaving and coming back, you kind of appreciate what you have. Because once I moved here in 2010 I felt like it was home. And so, yeah, Chaleur has been a really cool and weird adventure so far.

Courtney: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Christian: We are what I like to call accidental business people.

Marcus: (laughter)

Christian: Because we have ideas that we think will make our city even cooler, and we start chasing 'em, and then, there's a business.

Marcus: I know a little bit about the story just because of you and I and the relationship that you and I have. And I just think that there's ... that's cool. And like, I'm aware of the magazine and what you're trying to do and the emphasis behind that. And I think I've even interviewed some of the people that work with you on the magazine. I think Heath interviewed for a position ...

Courtney: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus: ... back when Christian was interviewing at City Hope.

Christian: Yeah.

Courtney: Cool, yeah.

Marcus: So, it's just been very cool to see the progression. So I remember very clearly when you found the space, and building the space out and all the planning and stuff like that ...

Courtney: All of it.

Marcus: And knowing the statistics of small businesses and how prevalent failure is, the fact that you all ...

Courtney: Especially in the restaurant ...

Marcus: Yeah, especially in the restaurant arena. And especially knowing that there's extremely stiff competition in the coffee area. The fact that you guys are still standing, that's very cool.

Christian: Sure.

Courtney: We felt like ...So back to when we were playing music together, we would travel to all these different cities and go to third wave shops, which I'll get into what that exactly means a little bit later. But we would go to these cities, like Nashville and Birmingham and Orlando. Places like that, and they would have multiple third wave coffee shops with like method brewing and a lot of light roasted, like specialty roasted coffee. And we'd get to Mobile, and Mobile is very much like New Orleans in that it's just like a dark roasted city. And people like their chicory and their French presses ...

Marcus: I am not that guy.

Courtney: I'm really not ... unless I'm camping. If I'm camping I want to feel like a grizzly bear.

Christian: Some cowboy coffee.

Courtney: But nothing other than that, yeah.

Marcus: It give me heartburn, I can't ...

Courtney: Really? Laughter)

Marcus: OK, so we're getting too much information there. But I mean, I was a Starbucks fan for like, a decade. And I was just like ... But then what I realized was I changed my eating habits. So I stopped putting sugar in my coffee, and then I started cutting out the milk and the cream that I was putting in my coffee. And I only drink black coffee now.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: Yeah.

Marcus: When you go to drinking black coffee, Starbucks is crap.

Courtney: You notice the coffee.

Marcus: I am sorry, it is crap. And so ...

Courtney: We agree.

Marcus: ... most of the people that are drinking Starbucks coffee, except ... My parents are from South America, they're from Brazil, and so there're just some places where people just love ... I mean it could literally be syrup, it just pours out of the carafe. And they're that kind of audience.

Christian: Yes.

Marcus: But I'm not. I much prefer a light roast. And the funny thing is that most people think the darker roasts are the more caffeinated, and so they want that.

Courtney: Right, yeah.

Marcus: But the lighter roast ...

Christian: Right.

Marcus: As you can tell, because I'm talking really fast and I've had a lot of coffee today. (laughter)

Christian: Right.

Courtney: No, yeah, that was part of it for us. First off, is there even really a market for that here. Because if we're in 2016 and there's not one of these, like, a light roasted third wave shop yet, does Mobile want that?

Marcus: Do people want that, right.

Courtney: But it really has just been an education thing for us, of re-teaching people. Like, Actually, lighter-roasted coffee has way more caffeine in it. Like a steak. The longer you cook a steak, the more you taste the char, I guess, and not so much the steak, you know?

Marcus: The quality of the beef.

Courtney: Right. And so ... very similar. And I'll pull people in sometimes who are beer drinkers or wine drinkers, and I'm like, you should be able to taste notes in your coffee like you do in wine. Like, same ballgame.

Marcus: We are coffee nerds here.

Courtney: Love it.

Marcus: Chemex's and Nespresso's, although they're not great as far as ...

Christian: They're not bad.

Marcus: ... prepackaged.

Courtney: Oh yeah. They're impressive.

Marcus: My dream is that at some point in time we'll have a full steam espresso, you know, all that jazz.

Courtney: Let me know when you're ready for that because I have some good ...

Marcus: Sources.

Courtney: ... non-commercial suggestions.

Marcus: Very cool.

Christian: Yeah.

Marcus: Now, you used the term a minute ago, and I want to give you a chance to define that, so third wave.

Courtney: You want to take it or do you want me to?

Christian: I can. Yeah. Sure. So, third wave coffee ... So, there was kind of like first wave of coffee, which was basically coffee hitting the commercial mainstream in any form. So like, you'd go to the store ...

Marcus: Sanka or something like that?

Christian: Well, like ...

Courtney: Maxwell House, or Folger's.

Christian: Just coffee being mass produced and readily available to consumers. And so, second wave was kind of moving more into the beginnings of specialty coffee. And so as second wave started, it was kind of like, Oh, Columbian coffee. And like all these different regions of coffee ... It just kind of ... Third wave is kind of a return to how second wave started. So second wave kind of became the Starbucks and the Pete's Coffee and the drinks with a lot of sugar. Frappes.

Courtney: Frappes are very second wave, yeah.

Christian: And so, third wave is kind of returning to the roots of like, OK, when you pay attention to where a coffee was grown, like, the altitude, the region, like what's grown around it.

Courtney: How it was processed.

Christian: Yeah, how it was processed. All these things, you're able to roast accordingly and bring out the flavors of the region. The flavors that are inherent to the coffee, instead of just the flavor of the roast itself. Which is, char ...

Courtney: It's very much seeing it as a culinary medium.

Marcus: Yeah, coffee is meant to be much like wine.

Christian: Yes.

Marcus: So, if you at all get any enjoyment out of tasting the variations in wine, it should be the same. It shouldn't be something that you only drink as medicine to keep you awake because the kids couldn't sleep last night or something like that.

Courtney: Yeah.

Marcus: There are days where you just need a cup of coffee, right? But I mean, I want to appreciate it if I'm gonna stick ...

Courtney: Right, yeah. I have like a switch ... Like, if we're traveling and I'm in a hotel, I can like switch a switch off, and just have the hotel coffee. And then I still put creamer and sugar in that, because now I've gotten to where I can't have that ...

Marcus: Stand the taste.

Courtney: ... without that.

Christian: She can do it. I have a hard time with that.

Courtney: Christian will refrain and then have a headache for the rest of the day.

Marcus: One of the downsides to being a coffee drinker.

Courtney: Honestly. The more you learn the more you realize. But ... Third wave coffee is getting really big in the southeast right now. It just had not hit Mobile. So we wanted to grab that and become those people who do that. But, it also is just much, much better for you. It's kind of tellin' people, It can still taste good, it can still taste sweet. You can even taste grapefruit in this kind ... And you don't have to load it down with sugar and cream and stuff. And you don't have to see ... Like, Well, I'm on a diet, so I can't have coffee right now.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: Well you shouldn't be putting that stuff in it anyway.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: Kind of changing what they think specialty coffee is. And the area has been super responsive. Far more than we thought. But part of that is we came into it ... In order for someone to be open to being educated about something, they can't feel like you are on a different level from them.

Marcus: Not preaching at them. You're just kind of there with open arms, like, Yeah, we can help you with this.

Christian: Yeah.

Courtney: And so part of it is teaching our baristas and ourselves, just being very Southern hospitality with European knowledge of espresso, I guess. I don't know how to say that.

Marcus: That it is a really odd mix.

Christian: Sure.

Marcus: Well, do you remember the first ... You started the business, but do you remember the first time where you thought, OK, there's actually something to this. This is going to be successful. Because I think oftentimes people start businesses, and they're kind of like, Well, I've got this idea. Like you even said, is it gonna go? And then, you've figured that out, that yes, it is going to fly. Do you remember that first moment when you thought that there might be something to this?

Christian: There have been ... I mean, you know, there are ups and downs. And so ...

Marcus: That is business ownership.

Christian: Right. So I kind of have to have continual moments like that, where I'm like, yeah, this is going to be successful. It's going to keep being successful. But as far as a first moment goes, I don't know. You take that. 'Cause I have something ...

Courtney: I have a habit of having an idea and then making a game plan, like, completely planning it out until the end. For like even situations that aren't gonna happen. I just, I don't know, it's fun for me. And so, when we were in Jackson, Mississippi, I just made a business plan for the coffee shop that we were not planning to open at the time. Literally just because it was something to do, it was fun. My moment when I thought, OK, this is intentional, this is something that is happening and that we get to be a part of, happened very early on when I met our business partner, Robert. The way that that happened was literally, we were sitting at Carpe, it was super packed, and so he sat in front of me at this table. We kind of like stranger conversed, you know? And they had just gotten a new La Marzoccot, so we were talking about that. And then I mentioned, You know, me and my husband have always dreamt about opening a third wave coffee shop and just how much we would love that. And he was like, Oh, have you gotten a business plan for that? And I was like, Actually, I have one right here in my bag.

Marcus: I do. (laughter)

Courtney: It's weird. I didn't plan this. And when I get really discouraged, I look back to staples in our business story like that, that are just ... not to undermine how much ... how hard we've worked for this. But I feel we have been definitely given this. Like the meeting Robert and how intentional that was, and other opportunities we've been given that are kind of like ... We are just getting to sit back and be diligent and not fall asleep and, you know ... Stay with it, but that we are more getting to be a part of something that is happening rather than us trying to fight for it to happen and everything working against us.

Marcus: Right. No, that totally makes sense. I am understanding what you're saying about there being ... there's some purpose behind what's going on and that you are not just third wave, but third place.

Christian: Sure.

Marcus: And for those that may not be familiar with that term, it's a term used to describe the other place that people go besides home and work. To go and hang out and be in amongst people that are friendly and a comfortable place. And coffee shops and bars and places like that are often referred to as third places.

Christian: Right.

Marcus: And I think the more that you're pouring into your customers' lives, you're seeing the success because of the care, and the education that you're putting into that. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started in running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them.

Christian: Hm. You're smiling.

Marcus: You didn't know there was going to be a test, did you?

Courtney: I want you to take this one. I just don't want to answer all the questions.

Christian: Don't do it, is that ...

Courtney: I have a friend who I trained who now runs a coffee shop in Pennsylvania text me this morning, just asking basic encouragement. Because she's dealing with stuff that everybody deals with when you're running a business. But she's just a year behind us. And so I have an answer, but I don't want to talk the whole time.

Marcus: Well it's okay.

Courtney: I feel like I'm kind of monopolizing this conversation.

Marcus: The introvert. Come one, stay with me.

Courtney: This is what I was talking about. It feels like you have to talk ... (laughter). What I had to do and what I told her to do, is write down a list of basic ethics that you have for your employees and your team, your customers, and the customer experience. And kind of your big picture business as a whole. What you're hoping for your customers, which for us is that they would find a healthier option that's also more enjoyable, in my opinion. Just be opened up to a new world. And also feel like when they walk into our store, like we have invited them into our home to serve them. And for my workers, I want it to be very family oriented. I don't want it to be a thing ... I've worked in a lot of shops and with a bunch of different people who if one person's like, My sister just had her baby, or something, I would like to not have to work this shift. And no one would respond. And that's ... it's just not great. And that's something I never want. I want it to be very family oriented. And my employees and our team, which it happens, and I love it, to just have each other's backs. Feel very close and enjoy coming to work and feel valued. And big picture, as well, very similar to what I just said, but more financially based. And literally whatever happens and whatever decision you have to make, keep your ethics of what you wanted for your business in the first place in your mind and answer questions accordingly. Or deal with situations accordingly.

Marcus: See, he couldn't have answered it like that.

Christian: No, definitely not.

Marcus: No, definitely not.

Courtney: What were you going to say?

Christian: Something dumb, like, Work hard and be humble.

Courtney: Also good. Also necessary. (laughter)

Marcus: Oh Christian. That's funny. What are you currently working on in the business?

Christian: Can I take this one?

Courtney: Yeah. (laughter)

Christian: This is the fun one. Well, gosh ... When we opened the shop, the goal was, have a successful shop at all. Like, that's just the baseline. The baseline goal at all.

Marcus: (laughter) I know. Don't go down in a blaze of glory.

Courtney: I was just listening to Bon Jovi, it's funny you said that.

Christian: But we didn't open up the shop thinking, We're going to expand, we're going to blow up. We weren't thinking about it from a ...

Courtney: We're going to get rich off of coffee. It's a joke, if you don't ...

Marcus: I know both of you enough to know that that is not the intention.

Christian: But it's cool because now we're actually allowed to disclose now that we're working with a company called Innovation PortAL. They're putting a really cool facility downtown where they're going to house ... They're a small business incubator, and they do programs with small businesses. And we are planning to open a location in their facility. So it'll be independent from Innovation PortAL but attached to it. And so that's going to be a really cool spot, that part of downtown is about to blow up. We're really excited.

Marcus: Yeah, for those of you that aren't familiar, Innovation PortAL is a joint venture between the Chamber and the city, and has received a several million dollar grant to renovate a building on St. Louis Street. They've started that renovation, and they're currently operating. I mean, they have people that are kind of going through the program ...

Courtney: Yeah, they have a good number of clients.

Marcus: They have a couple of folks on staff that are kind of growing that business. But, what a phenomenal thing, what a phenomenal location. So is this going to be location number two, or are you just moving ... It is location number two.

Christian: It will be two. We thought about just completely moving downtown, but we really like midtown. We know a lot of people our age that are moving to midtown.

Courtney: And one of the reasons we chose that area in the first place is that it's a very walkable area that needs a corner coffee shop. We get a lot of young families are moving to the area, and they'll walk their dog on Saturday and come in, you know. We put a lot of effort into getting to know those people, and we would hate to just like pull away from them.

Christian: But then there's also, every shop ... well, maybe not every shop, but most shops open up and would love to roast eventually. And that's kind of how we looked at the roasting side of things. But we're actually talking to our business partner about that happening this year.

Marcus: Very cool.

Christian: That would be really cool.

Courtney: Right now what we do, we have a rotating menu of different coffees and so, we'll talk to a roaster. It's usually southeast is where we look. But we'll talk to a roaster. We'll get one of those coffees in, we'll rotate it. We'll have an Ethiopian for a few weeks, and then a Columbian for a few weeks. But we also have a relationship with a roaster in Paris, it's kind of a consistent relationship. We like serving their coffee. And so ... I'm getting outside the scope of the question.

Marcus: That's totally fine. I just think it's cool to think that you all would be moving downtown, because I know that there's a lot of restaurants and a lot of residential units. And there's just a synergy that's happening downtown.

Courtney: We're very excited.

Christian: Oh yeah.

Marcus: So to have you all down here, I think it'd be really a step in the right direction.

Courtney: We're thrilled.

Marcus: It's a good move. And especially being in the Innovation PortAL, 'cause I know there's going to be a lot of businesses that'll like to have an option for coffee that's literally right there. And I think there's like, I want to say there's like $20,000,000 worth of renovation of buildings happening just on that street.

Christian: On that street.

Courtney: On that street, yeah.

Marcus: Well, just within a block or two of where that building is going. And so ...

Courtney: It's insane.

Marcus: That's right down from the Buick Building to Rogers & Willard and RSI and Teklinks.

Christian: And the Cheese Cottage.

Marcus: And the Cheese Cottage.

Courtney: We are thrilled. We want them to be our best friends. Kristi if you're listening to this, please be my friend.

Marcus: Yeah, we're getting her on the podcast.

Christian: Really?

Marcus: We're excited about that as well. Are there any books, podcasts, people or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward?

Courtney: TED Talks.

Marcus: TED Talks?

Courtney: Always.

Christian: Yeah.

Courtney: Or anything.

Marcus: Any one in particular that stands out?

Courtney: Oh man.

Marcus: Come on, you can't just say TED Talks ...

Christian: You were listening to TED Talks a lot before we started ...

Courtney: I did a lot. I kind of oversaturated my brain with TED Talks. And so I can't really remember who said what.

Marcus: Right.

Courtney: Right before we were getting into this, just because I'd never managerially, same. Not my thing. I am far better at like quality control, and making sure everyone's feeling good. You feeling good? Awesome. And then leaving, than like actually having to manage small things. And I knew that was a weakness of mine, so I looked into that a lot. Oh man.

Marcus: It's okay if you can't remember. I was just curious if there was one ...How about you, Christian? Anything that's been helpful?

Christian: I started listening to a lot of NPR Marketplace, which hasn't really helped. It's just made me feel business-y, I think.

Courtney: (laughter)

Christian: You said people. There's plenty of people that have been really just instrumental in us ... We are pretty much right at our first year. Our business partner, Robert. Our parents.

Courtney: Honestly, Robert ... From time to time I'll remember just what we have. We have a basically ... And it's not an investment situation, or investor. It's like, he is a business partner in this with us. He is our acting financial advisor.

Christian: Yeah, like he wants this just as much as we do. But he has 30 years more experience than we do.

Marcus: That's valuable.

Courtney: And he's opened multiple businesses. And I get to talk to him whenever I want to, about anything. Just like immediate, direct mentorship.

Marcus: That's cool.

Courtney: He has been a huge gift, for sure.

Marcus: What's the most important thing that you've learned about running a business.

Christian: Don't point at me. I think you hear everyone say it's gonna be a lot of work. More work than you think. But it really ...

Marcus: And you think, Nah, it can't possibly be that much.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: Even if you try to ready yourself for that you're still not ready.

Christian: Right. But I think ... It is so much more work than you think it's going to be. And it's so much more stress. Things are going to happen that you aren't even going to think of.

Marcus: Like espresso machines breaking down.

Courtney: Yeah, specifically that.

Christian: Before you would expect them to. All kinds of stuff. But I view it a lot like having a kid, I guess? There's really no time that you're going to be ready for that? You can prepare yourself as much as you want for it being really hard. But even once you feel like you're prepared, you're probably not prepared for how hard it's going to be, you know? And so, of course do your due diligence, but jump in. If you really want to pursue something, get started now.

Courtney: You'll find out in the first year if you actually cared about it or not.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: Because there will be multiple opportunities for you to jump ship. And you won't though, if you mean it ...

Marcus: If you really want it to happen.

Courtney: Yeah.

Christian: And then, like a kid, it's cool to watch it grow. Like it really is. It kind of takes on a life of its own. And there are days where you just kind of sit back and watch, and you're like, This is really cool.

Courtney: Yeah, it's funny, we're in our second ... Our friends are all in their second wave of having children. They all had their first kid two years ago and now they're having their second. And now we're opening our second location. (laughter) And so we don't actually know what it's like to have a kid, but ...

Marcus: No kids, but we've got a second store.

Courtney: But, anyway. I think most of what I've learned is similar to that. You'll find out very quickly if you have grit and if you don't have grit, and who has grit and who doesn't.

Christian: Yeah.

Courtney: And how important that is. Also, you have to start having confidence in yourself, and your decision making, or you ...

Marcus: You second-guess yourself to death.

Courtney: It'll overrun you. Like, I picture a wave and being taken in the undertow of it. You have to ... back to my list of ethics, for your goals. You have to know what you think, and you have to be open minded and always be learning. Because you will be challenged on them a lot. And so you have to be very focused and confident in your own self. And that's something that I'm still learning how to do.

Marcus: It's extremely important ... I'm going to just pause for a second on what you guys were saying and just speak to the audience of, it's extremely important as a business owner to have those short checks with yourself and go back and look at the things you've accomplished. Because oftentimes you can get into this rut of just constantly thinking that it's just a battle. Like, I'm just fighting this thing, I'm fighting it, I'm fighting it. When the reality is, you are crossing streams and climbing mountains, and going under barbed wire. And if you look back, you're going to see all the things that you've learned and accomplished. There's something to be said for that journey and looking back and feeling a sense of accomplishment. That's what I'm distilling from what you're saying as well. Is just that, if you look back ... you know, it is very hard. It is like watching a child grow up. As somebody who has three boys, 17, 15 and 11, I look back at when they were younger , and I'm just like, Man, you know? And so a business is very much like that. Looking back at it and thinking, Wow, when it was just a year old, we expanded into our second location. And man, now we're at X number of locations, or whatever. (laughter) You're like, wait a second, what do you mean, there's going to be more than two?

Christian: Right?

Marcus: So, accidental business owners, I'm sure that's a big hairy audacious goal. What do you like to do to unwind?

Courtney: Unwind? What do you mean?

Marcus: No, see you can't ...

Courtney: I'm kidding.

Marcus: I used to ask the question, What are your hobbies? You don't have any hobbies, you're business owners. But you do unwind.

Courtney: Right. Yep.

Marcus: So.

Christian: Well, we've been watching a lot of This is Us. Which is actually probably not unwinding. It's like winding ...

Courtney: Emotionally gripping.

Christian: I like, honestly, like ... I have a day job outside of the shop. I still work at City Hope Church, I'm a designer. My drive across the bay in the morning, and back in the afternoon, and I just kind of like, listen to NPR and just ... How many times have we plugged NPR? We should probably reach out for a sponsorship. But anyway. It's just a great time for me to not really think about work or anything, just kind of like clear my head.

Marcus: Enjoy the water.

Christian: Yeah, especially it being across the bay.

Marcus: I drive the opposite direction that you do. People say, How do you drive over to Mobile? Because I can put the business anywhere I want, right? But I'm just like, You have no idea. Like, driving across the bay is just so valuable to me.

Courtney: It's part of it, right.

Marcus: Sometimes on the way home ... you get to see it from the opposite direction, I'm looking in my rear view, and the sunset on some days is just absolutely stunning. And I'm like, Thank you God, another day in the books. Thanks for all the blessings I just ...

Courtney: Right.

Marcus: I'm very much appreciative of that time to unwind.

Christian: Absolutely.

Courtney: Actually after yesterday ... I do have trouble unwinding. That's something that I'm actively working on.

Marcus: Might want to cut back on your caffeine.

Courtney: I have, I have! (laughter) But actually I was gonna say that yesterday, we had dinner at one of his work friend's house, and that's actually what I was going to say. It was the first time that I've felt like I was just resting with me in a while. And it was driving across the water, and that's one of the reasons ... moving away, and then moving back to Mobile, it's one of the biggest things was, I didn't realize how important it was to me to live on the water.

Marcus: Water.

Courtney: I have to have water. It's just ... yep, it'll clear your mind like that. So, I agree, yeah. Kind of just driving around the bay area.

Christian: And also Iona.

Courtney: Oh, and my dog, my Pomeranian. I'm a big dog person. I was gifted this Pomeranian. Luckily it's not a yippy, annoying dog.

Marcus: Right. I have a dachshund-Pomeranian mix.

Courtney: Oh shoot.

Christian: Oh man.

Courtney: I bet that thing is cute as freak.

Marcus: Big ears. But black and tan, like a dachshund would be, and with the dachshund coat, not the Pomeranian ...

Christian: Whoa.

Marcus: ... coat.

Courtney: So easier to take to the beach.

Marcus: Longer legs ... yeah, exactly. Longer legs. We got her from someone who had a dachshund and a Pomeranian, managed to somehow finagle that. And they were just accepting, I think it was a $20 donation so that they could have their female fixed. I was always a big dog guy, but I totally get it. Because this is the best dog I've ever had.

Courtney: Yep.

Christian: Yeah.

Marcus: Shout out to Lexi. If you're at home listening to this, Lexi, I love you, I'll be home shortly.

Courtney: With a treat.

Marcus: So what does a perfect day look like for you?

Courtney: I don't want my employees to get the wrong impression when I say this, but. I love days when it's technically my off day, but I get to just go in the shop, kind of as a customer, and like order and sit down and enjoy. And like, get the other side of the experience of it. And then ... I like being able to just go in and enjoy it as a customer. And probably drive around, probably go across the bay.

Marcus: Have lunch with Christian or something.

Courtney: Rest. Yeah.

Christian: Yeah.

Courtney: Anything simple.

Marcus: How about you?

Christian: As far as the shop goes, I would say ...

Marcus: Well, no no no no no no.

Christian: No no no. (laughter)

Marcus: It's not the shop.

Christian: Sure.

Marcus: I mean, what does the perfect day look like for you?

Christian: Well, the shop ... I mean, it is tied to that though, you know? Because there is a lot of joy to find ...

Marcus: See, my perfect day doesn't involve Bluefish one bit.

Christian: That's hilarious. (laughter)

Courtney: I literally can't even think of not having it right now, though. Because we're so like in the ...

Marcus: Yeah yeah. Sure, in jest. Of course I say that in jest. But go ahead, I'm sorry.

Christian: No. It's really cool, the days where you're at the shop, and you're talking to a customer and they just get it. Like, they completely get what you do. We had a customer come in and they were just like, Oh, Belleville coffee from Paris, I know this coffee.

Courtney: I went there when I was over there.

Christian: Right.

Courtney: And we were like, Yeah you did. We got super excited.

Christian: Those days are really cool. When you just interact with a customer and they're just like, wowed by what you do. It's incredibly flattering, but it also just makes you feel really validated that ... you're doing something that ...

Marcus: You're on the right path.

Christian: Yeah, that people connect with. That's a really good day for me.

Courtney: I changed my answer, can I do that?

Marcus: Yeah, go ahead.

Courtney: I wake up, get ready, go to the shop, no one is there. Other than the barista. I get my drink, and we have a short conversation, and then I leave and go to the beach.

Marcus: There you go.

Christian: Nice.

Courtney: Because I have the best customers in the world ...

Christian: True.

Courtney: But all in all ...

Christian: She's an introvert.

Courtney: I love ... yes, I so rarely get time alone anymore, that I value it like super high.

Marcus: So those of you that aren't familiar with the true definition of an introvert or an extrovert, it's where you find your energy. So as introverts, if you find your energy by going away by yourself, or maybe it's just with your family or something like that, but you're reading a book, or watching TV, or doing something that's very low key, that's how you would find your energy if you're an introvert. If you're an extrovert, that would be extremely draining for you. You would want to be around a lot of people, and you'd be wanting to have conversations and at a party ...

Courtney: Get pumped up.

Marcus: ... and having all kinds of stuff going on. Whereas an introvert would find that extremely draining. And you can cross over into those venues as an introvert or an extrovert. So an introvert can go to a party and mingle and network, and do all that stuff. And an extrovert can go home and sit and watch TV. But they find those things extremely draining, so speaking as introverts, I get what you're saying that, I mean, I'm a high-functioning introvert is what I like to say.

Courtney: Right.

Marcus: I go out and do all the things that business requires me to do. But at the end of the night, I'm going home and going to ...

Courtney: To your dog.

Marcus: ... sit down in front of the TV and pet my dog and have a little bit of ice cream. And then I'm going to go to my bed and I'm going to watch funny comedians on YouTube ...

Courtney: Yes!

Marcus: Until I fall asleep. And then I'm just going to pass out. Hopefully I don't drop the iPad on my face.

Christian: Nice.

Marcus: My perfect day would involve some level of that.

Courtney: Probably John Mulaney at the beach house at the end of the night. He's a favorite.

Marcus: Very cool.

Courtney: Love, seriously love my customers so much, but yeah.

Marcus: Well, tell people where they can find you.

Christian: Yeah. We are on Airport Boulevard in Mobile. It's a main road in Mobile. We are next to ...

Marcus: Well this is a Mobile audience. So you can be specific ...

Christian: Oh that's totally fair, yeah.

Marcus: Like address.

Christian: Yeah, okay. So you guys know Airport.

Marcus: I am at this address.

Christian: So we all know Airport Boulevard here. We are next to Ruth's Chris in midtown, at the corner of Airport and Glenwood. And when we move downtown, it'll be on St.Louis Street. But yeah, we're a green building with a ... what kind of roof do we have?

Courtney: It is a chateau roof.

Christian: Yeah, chateau.

Courtney: It's one of the reasons why we chose that ...

Marcus: Chaleur.

Christian: That building.

Courtney: ... building, because it was French lookin'. But yeah, it's the green building between the cleaner's and Ruth's Chris. We do have a parking lot, it's just not directly behind the shop. It is the one beyond that parking lot, that looks like a Ruth's Chris parking lot. Or you can park on the street.

Marcus: So, Facebook?

Christian: Yes. Chaleur Coffee. It's C-H-A-L-E-U-R Coffee. Instagram is the same.

Marcus: Same thing.

Christian: We're also on Twitter.

Courtney: Our website is

Christian: Yes.

Marcus: Very cool. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Christian: I really want to say something poignant.

Courtney: I know.

Marcus: I'm putting you on the spot.

Courtney: I know. Well, thanks for having us. This means a lot ... Just to see what you were doing and that you were trying to help small businesses, simply by letting other people know about small businesses, is a huge, huge deal.

Marcus: Right.

Courtney: And so I really appreciate that.

Marcus: Well, thank you.

Christian: Yeah, we're really glad to be here. One thing I will say is, for people who are listening, one reason we started this shop is because we saw a need in our city, or a perceived need. And it's really easy when you see a hole in your city to look at other cities and say, I want to be there instead.

Marcus: Right.

Christian: And I would just encourage you guys to believe in the place where you are.

Courtney: And fill the hole.

Christian: And invest in the place where you are.

Marcus: Yep.

Christian: So, yeah.

Marcus: There's extreme value in that. We have a chance with Mobile to make it, not that it needs huge improvements, but we have a chance here to make a huge difference in our quality of living, and the quality of living for the next generation that's coming up.

Christian: Absolutely.

Marcus: Stopping that brain drain that you were talking about. Because that is the problem that Mobile suffers from the most.

Christian: Sure.

Marcus: The people that are the brightest and best, that could do something here and make a huge difference, get entangled with the grass is greener. And they move to Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville ...

Christian: Sure.

Marcus: ... Birmingham, you know, whatever. Instead of staying here and investing in their city. So I would just second what Christian said. If you are what I ... and you may not even self-identify as the brightest and best. But if you have an idea, or if you have a desire or if you think that you have a way of fitting into the ecosystem here, don't leave. Invest in the city. The city will reward you. It won't be easy, but, that's life. Suck it up, buttercup.

Courtney: Right. (laughter)

Marcus: So, anyway. I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as business owners and entrepreneurs, it's been great talking with you.

Courtney: Absolutely, yeah.

Christian: It was great to talk to you. Thanks for having us.

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