The Caffeinated Cow is quickly becoming a multigenerational family business.
Jake Norment, owner of the coffee and ice cream joint, believes one of his five children will take over the family enterprise, following in his and his wife Harmony’s footsteps.
“We have five kids total and three of them are currently in college,” he said. “I believe the one that would follow in our footsteps is our youngest. The little one is like our twin; anything that we do, he wants to do. For instance, we just came back from Florida and when we were going to and from, our son was telling everybody about our shop. He’s only 4. It was adorable and great publicity.”
The Norments have always been involved in the service industry, but food and beverage are still relatively new to them. The Caffeinated Cow opened its doors on South Eighth Street on May 20, 2018. Norment said the couple, who have lived in the Springs for the last 12 years, wanted to fill the community’s need and become their own bosses at the same time.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be my own boss,” Norment said. “Coffee and ice cream just happened to be the perfect combination because there was nothing in our neighborhood in terms of places to walk to or places for kids to hang out.”
Norment talked with the Business Journal to discuss their journey, and how important community is to small business owners.
What is your educational background?
I have one year of college and that’s it, but my wife — a.k.a. my business partner — has her degree in communications.
Tell us about your path to Caffeinated Cow.
Going back a while, I was in the Army as a field artilleryman and by the time I got out I was 22. I moved back down to Florida, where I’m from, and did car sales for a long time. I met my wife in Florida. There was a street festival going on and I was about 30 at the time. My wife will tell the story differently, but she saw me in line at the festival, cut in line, we started talking, and have hung out ever since. I have two kids, she has two kids, and we have one together. The funny thing is her daughters danced at the same studio as my daughter, but we never spoke until this festival. The whole thing is crazy.
Shortly after I met my wife, my mother-in-law wanted to move to somewhere different. She was living in Florida and decided she wanted to move somewhere else. Even though my wife and I had just met, I didn’t want to lose her. I decided I was going to pick up and leave Florida as well. When we got here, like everyone else we wanted freedom and to be our own bosses.
Have you always been interested in the food and beverage business?
We’ve always worked in the service industry. My wife used to work for MacKenzie’s Chop House downtown. For me, I worked for Sprint for quite some time and sold cars as well. As far as coffee and ice cream, that came up because we were walking through our neighborhood and came up to the plaza that we’re currently located in and, at the time, there was nothing. It was pretty vacant. There was definitely no ice cream or coffee. At the time, the whole neighborhood was grabbing ice cream from the Dollar Store. We saw a need within the community and decided to fill that need.
Where do you get your coffee and ice cream?
Our coffee is locally sourced from Barista Espresso and Specialty Roasters, which is located downtown. Our ice cream comes from Liks, which is based out of Denver. They’ve been in business for about 30 years.
What else do you offer?
We have some of the best breakfast burritos on either side of the Mississippi. We make them homemade out of our shop daily. We’re bringing a classic back. We make really bangin’ BLTs and we make Jake’s Slappin Sandwich, which is a Boar’s Head sandwich. We make some really great sandwiches and we have pulled pork every Friday made in-house. Right now, because it’s cold, we make homemade soup.
Do you have any family in the service industry?
My mother-in-law cooks for us here at the shop. She prepares our breakfast burritos. Our daughters work in our shop and one of our older daughters is in Florida in the service industry.
Where do you advertise?
We use Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and mostly free platforms. For other advertising, we’re getting creative by selling our T-shirts. They have a funny saying: ‘Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.’ We have mugs as well and a commercial airing on Fox21. We’ve also teamed up with our local Texas Roadhouse to protect the community and prevent [customers] from clustering together and waiting for desserts. We put a BOGO coupon at the bottom of their menu. When you’re checking out you can choose between a treat there or coming up the street to The Caffeinated Cow.
What is the most difficult part of starting your own business?
The most difficult part is the constant need for knowledge. You can never know enough. We made some mistakes starting up, which is fine. I teach my kids and my staff that you can make mistakes — you just can’t make the same mistake twice. The more that you know, the better off you will be in the business world.
If you could go back and do it again, what would you change?
Nothing. I would change absolutely nothing. The journey wouldn’t have the same outcome if we changed anything.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs or couples starting a business?
Absolutely. As a young couple or a new couple, you need to have patience starting a business and know your roles.
Do you coordinate any events with the community?
We are deeply involved in our community. That was one of the biggest things we said when we first started our business: It’s all about community. It’s part of our mission. For any school function we can do, whether it’s a fundraiser or supporting by handing out ice cream, we do our best to be there. Things have obviously changed a bit due to COVID. We still have been taking care of schools with coffee. We consider all of Colorado Springs our community. We’ve jumped into other communities as well to help with fundraisers. We’ve worked with the Humane Society, senior groups, and we have a deaf group that meets once per week in our shop. Our community is everything to us. I mean really it is everything.
Do you have a mission statement?
Our mission statement is constantly changing and evolving. At the root, it’s all about taking care of the community and making those around us better.
How has COVID affected your business?
At the beginning, COVID absolutely put us in a frenzy and a panic. We thought we were going to lose our business. Especially as a new business, keeping everyone away was extremely difficult. The year prior, we had a horrible hailstorm that only hit half the city. Unfortunately, we were affected as well. Our roof caved in our first year of business and no insurance company wanted to help us. I had to cry on national news in order to get the help we needed. It was really crazy. That situation honestly prepared us for COVID.
Some challenges at the beginning include the changing rules, maintaining our patience, and keeping the community away. We had people in the community buying gift cards for $200, $50, and $500 just so we could keep the doors open. We’re currently back to dine-in, thankfully.
What are your plans for your business in 2021?
We’re going to strengthen our business, community, and work on opening another shop. We have a location in mind already and we’re really excited.
What about your spare time?
We usually drive around and check out our competition to get ideas. When we’re not working, we’re working. It’s hard to clock out.
What else do you want people to know?
Don’t give up. This is a hard business, but don’t quit. There’s going to be some hard times and times when you can’t sleep — but even with the tough times ahead, do not give up. The business world will chew you up and spit you out. Do not give up.