Edilson Cremonese: The Barista’s Passion for Hospitality

Edilson Barista

Edilson Cremonese stands out as a unique individual in the hospitality sector, transitioning from a passion for bicycles and coffee to establishing a business that caters to major hotels and VIP clients.

A barista with an entrepreneurial mindset, Edilson shares his journey to success in the competitive hospitality industry. From discussing essential traits for baristas, exploring the art of coffee-making to the business aspects, this interview provides invaluable insights for those aspiring to join the hospitality world.

What inspired you to start such a unique business?

Edilson: In 2014, I decided to venture into the coffee business, initiating my journey with a unique coffee cart. The concept was straightforward: set up a coffee cart at a prime location, such as a bustling street corner or Brickell, and offer coffee to passersby.

What challenges (if any) did you have to overcome?

Edilson: After some research, I came across two people who were constructing a coffee cart atop a bicycle in the UK. This innovative design operated self-sufficiently, powered by a pedal and propane, eliminating the need for electricity. It seemed tailor-made for my vision, especially for sports events. I discovered they were not yet mass-producing these coffee carts.

This was obstacle number one. I managed to negotiate with the guys, and they committed to delivering the coffee bike within three months.

However, it took them nine months to fulfill the order and ship it to the US. Upon its arrival, I wasted no time. I secured all the necessary permits and licenses to kickstart operations, beginning with farmers’ markets. As word spread, I found myself increasingly sought after by catering companies, hotels, and various clients, not just to sell coffee but to provide coffee services at private events.

This momentum led me to diversify further, catering weddings, serving high-end boutiques in Miami, and collaborating with hotels to enhance their coffee offerings. Through persistence and adaptability, what started as a single coffee cart evolved into a thriving business, expanding its reach across different sectors and establishing partnerships with prominent hospitality establishments.

At that juncture, I faced a challenge in meeting the volume demands of the coffee bike. Clients would approach me with requests for large-scale events, sometimes catering to 1,500 people, and inquire if I could accommodate such numbers. Initially, I had to decline. Yet, I was determined not to let opportunities slip away.

In response to this demand, I took proactive measures. Understanding the importance of seizing every opportunity, I invested in the required equipment.

My philosophy became clear: never close the door by saying no.

As I forged partnerships with major hotels, the focus transitioned from selling coffee at farmers’ markets to providing a comprehensive coffee catering service. Thus, I rebranded my business as a coffee catering enterprise.

Our specialty lies in delivering the complete coffee experience to diverse settings, be it a private residence, boutique, hotel, or conference venue.

Our services are centered solely around coffee, ensuring a consistent and memorable experience regardless of the location. This pivot has defined the essence of my business today.

The toughest part of running my business right now? It’s definitely finding good staff.

And I bet that goes for anyone in the hospitality business- whether you own a restaurant, a café, or a bar. Finding folks who really care, who are there because they love what they do, not just for a paycheck. Of course, we all need to pay the bills, but what I’m looking for is someone who’s all in. Someone who says, “I’m part of Coffee Hub,” not just someone who wears the uniform.

Can you share insights on the business side of running a coffee bar?

Edilson: When I started my coffee catering business, it was a new thing, especially around South Florida. Only a couple of other companies were doing what I was doing. I felt like I needed to be a bit different, you know? So, I focused on providing fantastic customer service, like you’d get in a great coffee shop. And I ensured we served specialty coffee-a top-notch coffee made from high-quality beans, prepared just right to bring out the best flavors.

We wanted to offer more than just a cup of coffee. Sure, you can find coffee anywhere these days, even at gas stations. But we wanted to give people an experience. Even though there are machines that can make good coffee, they can’t replace the human touch, the vibe of a cozy café, or the friendly chat you get from a barista.

I had a heart-to-heart with my team about this. I told them, “Look, we’re not here just to serve coffee. We’re here to make people feel good.” I warned them that if we don’t deliver on that promise, we could easily get replaced by robots or fancy machines.

I got a real wake-up call when I went to a coffee expo. There was this robot there, making delicious coffee. It was efficient and consistent, and it could do our job. That got me thinking. The experience goes beyond the coffee industry.

What keeps people coming back to any establishment is how they feel when they’re there.

Customers are happy to pay extra for great service, not just for the product itself. So, I reminded my team to keep it real and to focus on giving people a warm welcome, a friendly face, and a great cup of coffee. Because at the end, that’s what keeps people coming back.

How important is mentorship?

Edilson: Yes, having a mentor was important for me. I learned a ton from them, and now I’m happy to pay it forward and be a mentor myself. But it’s a two-way street. Just like kids should be open to learning from their parents instead of always arguing, someone who wants to learn from me needs to be open to it too.

I’ve had people come to me saying they want to start a business like mine, and I’m all for it. I don’t see them as competition; I see them as potential partners.

I’m here to help however I can, but they’ve got to be ready to put in the work.

They need to be willing to go through the same struggles I did when I was starting, and they need to learn from my mistakes, just like we should learn from our parents’ mistakes. That’s why parents try to teach us things – so we don’t have to go through the same tough times they did.

What qualities do you look for when hiring?

Edilson: Having reliable staff who show up on time and can be trusted is crucial. Nowadays, it’s not just about staffing; it’s about changing people’s mindsets. It’s hard to understand how someone can survive without wanting to work yet still expect opportunities. The culture needs to shift, but I’m not sure how.

Being professional matters more to me than just being good at making coffee.

You can teach someone to make coffee, but you can’t teach personality or a genuine willingness to help.

Hospitality isn’t easy; dealing with people can be tough, but if someone truly has a passion for it, they’re the ones I want on my team.

What role does constant learning play in a barista's career?

Edilson: Getting a coffee education was important to me. I knew I had to keep learning and researching, but what made the difference was putting all that theory into practice.

I don’t work in a perfect world. I’m out there in all kinds of environments-indoors, outdoors, with different numbers of people-and coffee behaves differently depending on the situation. The temperature, water, and crowd size all affect how the coffee turns out. So, you’ve got to be able to adapt on the fly.

That’s why, sometimes, it’s a bit tough finding baristas who’ve only ever worked in coffee shops with everything set up just right. When they come to work with me, it’s a whole different ballgame. They’ve got to adjust to the venue, the clients, and even the folks walking in off the street.

Everyone’s got their preferences when it comes to coffee, you know? Education was crucial, no doubt about it. But real learning happens when you’re out there in the thick of it, facing challenges head-on. That’s where you grow-where you figure out what works and what doesn’t.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Edilson: I’ve got a decent work-life balance, but it’s something you’ve got to work on. Let me give you an example. Here in South Florida, we’re super busy from October to May, but then we’ve got a solid four months of downtime. And I mean, like, nothing is happening. So, you have to mentally prepare yourself for that. You work hard for eight months, then you’ve got this chunk of time off.

It’s not just physical, though; it’s mental too.

After working non-stop for two weeks straight, I’m wiped out. But instead of just crashing at home, I force myself to get out, see friends, go for a bike ride, whatever.

It’s tough sometimes, but work must be a priority, especially with how things are going. I mean, if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to afford anything, right? And you don’t want to end up stuck in the middle of nowhere, miserable, and broke.

So, you must find that balance. Spend time with friends and maintain relationships, but also be realistic about what you want. It’s a tough gig, but it’s all about making the choices that are right for you.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of your job?

Edilson: Well, if I had to pick my least favorite part of the job, it would be dealing with staffing issues. Lately, it’s been a real headache.

But on the flip side, my favorite part is working with people all day long.

I love being in different places every day, setting up in different venues, and interacting with new people all the time. It’s not for everyone, I get that. Some of my friends who own coffee shops prefer the stability of their routine, and that’s cool. But for me, the variety and challenge of being all over the place every day is what keeps me going.

What final piece of advice would you give to job seekers in the hospitality industry?

Edilson: Just carry a smile with you, you know? Good vibes and all that. It’s hard to explain how to do it, but you must be in a good mental space to be happy. I’ve always believed in being happy wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

Give it your all, be the best you can be at it.

People will notice, and those who don’t, well, that’s on them, not you. So, whatever you’re up to, do your best. That’s the key.

Edilson Cremonese’s journey in the hospitality world isn’t just about business; it’s about passion, perseverance, and a whole lot of heart. From the early days of wheeling around his coffee cart to navigating the highs and lows of expanding his business, Edilson’s story is one of grit and determination.

Throughout our conversation, Edilson shared the real challenges he faced, from staffing woes to the thrill of working with people from all walks of life. It’s not just about selling coffee; it’s about creating experiences and making people feel welcome and valued.

And Edilson’s advice for those looking to break into the hospitality scene? It’s refreshingly simple: carry a smile with you, give it your all, and never stop learning. Because, in the end, it’s those little moments of connection and joy that truly make the difference.

As we wrap up our chat, Edilson’s story reminds us that, in a world driven by passion and authenticity, anything is possible. So here’s to chasing dreams, spreading good vibes, and always striving to be the best version of ourselves-one cup of coffee at a time.

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