Parades, zombies, art shows, jazz, and a booming tea program are just a few of the things that you'll experience--depending on the night--at our Downtown cafe. Amidst the myriad faces that make up the cultural explosion that is downtown Sioux Falls is a steady, calm presence: Doug Hair. While he manages, Doug is also Coffea's resident tea master and one of the kindest most insightful people you could ever meet.
Doug cultivates a truly welcoming space for the many facets that make up downtown. "I really love it here. I lived here a little while before I was a manager, and I feel like I’ve grown in that community working as a manager of a place down here. I feel like I’ve been able to partake in the growth of the culture of downtown."
Talking about what what makes this location unique, Doug explained, "We have some of the weirdest people down here, because… it’s downtown. So we are welcoming to people, no matter who they are--as long as they’re acting respectfully." And that respectful piece is what Doug's polite answer really emphasized. It's important to Doug that his customers are able to enjoy their time without encroaching on another person's personal space.
Doug comes to us from the Brandon area of South Dakota and graduate from the University of Sioux Falls with a double major in Theology & Philosophy and Criminal Justice and also a minor in English.
Outside of the coffee shop, Doug might be enjoying his impressive record collection, performing or working with his band The Disarmed (yes that is a Smashing Pumpkins reference), reading one of any three books at a time, or drinking tea--most likely while reading about tea and listening to a record.
Doug's depth of understanding an appreciation of tea is why we now offer loose-leaf teas to take home. He's also helped us be able to build a tea-encyclopedia that on our website. Doug enjoys rare teas like aged pu'er or yellow teas that are difficult for us to get our hands on in Western markets and culture.
The fact that tea and coffee are approached so differently is something Doug often points out in his tea classes. With coffee, we have a tendency to get ultra scientific and want to know the molecular content of the water and so on. Discussing tea takes a more poetic understanding.
Whether it's tea, coffee, beer, or wine, Doug has come to enjoy, "the amount of low-key education that we do all the time... macchiato means something different to one customer than another, and we have the chance to help people understand that." We all know the cliche of the preachy, hipster barista that needs to correct customers; Doug and his staff rise above the cliche, meeting the customer where they are, listening to what they want, and if there's time to engage customers in conversation--if the customer is receptive and mutually engaging in conversation--then the low-key education ensues.
Instead of sounding condescending, Doug truly listens. "I want to do more than just crank out drinks... we want to help people understand what they’re getting, so they can best enjoy it."
Doug explains, "I love how much there is behind it all. Like, you get to a point where you know you could find all the answers, but then you get past that point and realize there’s really different opinions about all of those facts."
Put differently, it's easy to get lost in the esoteric weeds of the coffee industry, but Doug is equally excited to meet customers wherever they are in appreciating their experience (be it coffee or tea). He sees it as a beautiful challenge that each customer has a different ideal cup of coffee.