FAU Grad Opens Self-Serve Coffee Shop in Boca Raton

As people forego big-box coffee houses and opt for local mom and pop shops, a recent FAU grad has found her niche in a growing community of coffee fanatics.

Self-serve coffee. Yup, customers walk into the shop, create their own hot or cold coffee to their liking, then pay for it at the counter. No more baristas and seeing how your name gets misspelled.

Tiffany Hakim, 23, graduated last fall with a degree in finance but was already busy working on opening a business. She traveled throughout Central and South America in her last year of college and discovered how different coffee could taste from place to place, region to region.

“After my second trip to Costa Rica, that’s when I was like, that’s it, I need it, I need this every day!” she said of her favorite brew.

She got to work opening a shop in The Shops at University Park in Boca Raton. Hakim had a soft opening in February, then officially opened the doors to the Organic Bean Co. last Wednesday. Six days a week (for now, she’s going to have longer hours and open seven days soon) customers can make their own hot and cold coffees, including nitro coffee, or pick up teas and cold-pressed juices. Hakim also makes avocado toast, chia pudding, overnight oats, coconut yogurt parfait, peanut butter power bites, and other sweet but deceptively healthy snacks in-house.

The day after opening, Boca mag swung by the new shop to see how exactly a self-serve coffee shop works.

What inspired you to open a coffee shop?

I traveled a lot, I tasted coffee from different countries, and the taste in those countries is just so good. Coffee overseas is delicious and it’s nothing you can really get here. So I said, you know what? We need something like that here in America, in Florida. I saw the self-serve açaí in Brazil, so I decided to bring that [concept] over. There’s nothing like that, we’re revolutionizing the way you get coffee.

Which places did you visit?

The first place was Costa Rica. they have my favorite coffee in all of the world, so far. The beans are just, they’re different over there. They smell delicious, they taste delicious, you can just drink it black, it’s very smooth. The whole energy in that country, they say they have happy cows, happy trees, happy everything. Costa Rica is definitely my favorite. I don’t know if it’s about being in that country that makes the beans better or what it is, but they taste great here too. They come from these local organic farms from all these different countries. I went to Brazil and the coffee over there was a little bit darker, but also delicious, smooth. I also went to Mexico and Colombia.

What did you think of coffee before your travels?

At first it used to be, coffee is coffee, it all tastes the same. And then when you start tasting different coffees, you start realizing wow there’s really a huge difference, just like in different wines and things like that and the region things are grown. For example we have a shade-grown coffee, which makes the coffee less acidic and it’s a different flavor you get in the coffee. And the we have some beans grown on volcano regions, which makes the coffee taste different. We have [beans grown] by rivers; there’s all these different areas that these coffees come from and the environment that they grow in crates a different flavor, different aroma, everything like that.

When you were designing your shop, what feel were you going for?

A cozy environment, one that you’ll feel comfortable. There’s free Wi-Fi so you can come in, you can study. It feels comfortable to sit in there, be in here. It can be fast, you can come in, grab your coffee and go within minutes but it’s also a cozy environment, very home feeling, somewhere you feel comfortable.

Why did you forego the traditional coffee shop barista for self-serve?

If you go to some coffee shops, it could take five to 10 minutes to get a cup of coffee. Sometimes you’re in a rush before work, before school, it’s like you need go to in there, you need to get coffee, and get out . . . everything kind of takes a while. So you need something fast, you can get it and grab and go. Especially in our society nowadays, everyone’s always in a rush. And I think it’s fun, you can experience the coffee in a different way than if someone is serving you coffee. You make it, you understand how you like it, things like that. You get a good cup every time.

You use organic coffee beans and vegan products. Why is this important to you?

I care very much about what I put into my body. So the organic beans, it really is important that they don’t use chemicals when growing pesticides, keeping them as natural as possible and it does affect the flavor. You notice a big difference in the flavor of the coffee we have there versus some other coffees. It’s less bitter and less acidic tasting.

I’m plant-based, so I’ll eat fish here and there, but overall i’m a plant-based eater… [other coffee shops] would have almond milk or coconut milk, but that’s not the same as a creamer in your coffee. Sometimes you just want a really good creamer, something that’s rich, creamy, like a dairy cream, but dairy free. So that was a big part in getting the coconut creamers here since no one really has coconut creamers or almond creamers.

How does it feel to finally be open?

It feels surreal. Now it’s trying to get marketing and all that, so now it’s like one job is over and now onto the next part of the job. But it’s a relief to finally have the doors open, it was a long process and I’m happy to finally be here. 

Organic Bean Co., 141 NW 20th St. Suite B-5, Boca Raton, 561/961-0502; theorganicbeanco.com

Want more food news?

Sign up for our Dish e-newsletter, where you’ll get the latest food and drink news delivered directly to your inbox.