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The Hustle

Name: Sarah Weaver (Bandit Coffee Co.)

Posted By Megan Holmes

Since its inception three years ago, Bandit Coffee Co. has elevated the St. Pete coffee scene to new heights. Beloved for its curation of top-tier coffee and tunes, Bandit Coffee is also known for standing up for its values, thanks to owners Sarah (a St. Pete native) and Joshua Weaver. The Weavers returned to Sarah's home to invest in the community and create a gathering space for collaboration. The minimalistic space, glowing with natural light, simplistic decor and tasteful greenery has made a home in the Grand Central District, bustling with creatives, entrepreneurs, families, and business people on a daily basis. Bandit Coffee shares their space with St. Pete Indie Market and regularly serves as a venue for events, workshops, collaborations, and much more.

Years in Tampa Bay

15 (born, raised, and glad to be back)

Hustle (job)

Co-owner, wearer of many hats at Bandit Coffee Co.

What do you do?  

As most business owners know, it varies wildly by the day. My overall goals are to keep Bandit running smoothly, serving our community an exceptional coffee experience, and growing our brand to put St. Pete on the map in the coffee industry.

Why do you do it?

The people. Service is all about caring for others, and we aim to serve.

The support of our neighbors and visitors are imperative to the success of the business, but the experience of connecting with people from every walk of life that you might not otherwise cross paths with – that makes it all so special.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

My husband and I left the advertising industry in 2015 to make this hustle happen – the same year we got married! We’ve always been dreamers and would constantly talk about what it would be like to have a shop of our own. When traveling to other cities, we’d make coffee shops a primary destination. We’d carefully study what worked well and what could be improved. We initially imagined a split studio space/coffee bar concept, but we felt like at the time, St. Pete was really lacking places for the community to gather for an excellent cup of coffee. We felt like investing in our community was the right thing to do, and we’re so honored they’ve embraced this idea-turned-reality!

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

High-end restaurants serve fine steaks and wines for a considerably high markup, right? And it makes sense. They require a lot of time and effort in producing, sourcing, aging, storing, etc.

We’re also offering objectively top-tier goods, carefully (and ethically) produced, sourced, roasted, and brewed coffees – all at an accessible price. Our drinks are only $1-2 more than the corporate coffee chains, gas stations, fast food restaurants. No one challenges why a filet mignon costs more than a Big Mac, but our industry is still working hard to gain the respect it wholly deserves in both the mainstream and culinary scenes.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

There’s a funny juxtaposition between freedom and feeling chained to your brick and mortar business. You can have the freedom to make your own schedule and plan out projects on your own time, but the shop is open 7 days a week, 10 hours a day, and it feels like there’s always something there to be done/fixed/cleaned/maintained. Finding the personal comfort with distancing yourself from the physical business a challenge! You need to trust and train your team to handle the everyday, so you can focus on bigger picture projects to help the business grow for everyone’s benefit.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Running a business doesn’t get easier, you just get better at doing it. You learn and grow with it.

What makes doing business in St. Pete different?

Our community is outstanding. The more I’ve traveled, the more I’ve marveled at my hometown’s steadfast support. It’s a beautiful thing that isn’t replicable. We’re diverse, we’re loving, and we’re living in a beautiful place. Maybe the secret sauce is the sunshine?

What’s on the horizon?

We’re constantly pushing ourselves to be the best stewards of coffee and service that we can be. We’ve learned a lot over the last two years. We’re going to take this knowledge when retooling and renovating our bar and interior space. We’re also growing our business beyond our walls by launching our webstore; obtaining more wholesale accounts, and eventually finding our own production space. We truly feel like we’re just getting started.

More Hustle

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