Jessica Gustafson, Head Barista at PERKS
Mighty Missouri Coffee is proud to partner with some great shops and wonderful people. In this series, we're interviewing the folks behind some of those cafes. If you love local, be sure to support them!
How did you get into coffee?
I'll always remember when I was about six or seven... my grandmother had all us kids sitting around the table and she served coffee in her pristine crystal mugs. It was so funny because, not even realizing it at the time, but she made the coffee so weak it was more like tea. But, from then on, I was hooked. I had my first barista job at Babb's Coffee House in Fargo while I attended college. Barbara taught me so much about different drinks. I just can't get enough!
PERKS is “Coffee with a Cause.” Can you tell me about that?
Our philosophy is simple: Keep it Fresh. Keep it Affordable. Keep it Local. Keep our guests coming back for our signature gourmet coffee, delicious pastries and tasty sandwiches, all while supporting community causes. That's what keeps us happy, and ultimately, you happy, too.
"When you bring people and good coffee
together it's a perfect recipe
for a great conversation."
It’s been our experience that coffee does a good job of connecting people. With the social aspect to your brand, how have you seen this in action?
When you bring people and good coffee together it's a perfect recipe for a great conversation. You get to learn about their families and friends, what breed the family dog is, even what type of work they are getting done on their vehicle that day. It's great to come to work every day and talk with people and learn all about them.
What is the most difficult part of a startup, and how have you learned to overcome it?
I think the most difficult thing about starting up Perks has been trying to pick and choose what to have on the menu. I know what I personally like, but not everyone likes what I do. So, for the most part, I try to please everyone by keeping most things simple and not giving too many choices -- just a few of all the greatest choices.
What has been the highlight of your coffee experience so far?
The greatest experience for me is the reaction I get from someone taking their first sip of their drink. Their eyes light up and you can just tell that they are going to enjoy every last drop. Even for me, in the morning after I get all my opening duties taken care of and I get to pour my own cup, I always look up and say to myself "Seriously. . that first sip!"
"...in North Dakota, there
has always been a sense of
community and sharing."
Has being part of a North Dakota community fostered the growth of PERKS? If so, how?
Living in North Dakota, there has always been a sense of community and sharing. It doesn't matter who you are, if you live here you you can't deny the fact it's just how it naturally is. It's great, because it's all very organic and very sincere. Here in North Dakota it's not "one for your own," but "How can I help and contribute?"
The idea of "Perks Coffee Community Cause" evolved from ideas brought together from a lot of great people at Bismarck Motor Company. It's been a great experience to work with everyone here and put all those amazing ideas to great use and for an even greater cause!
"Every month we pick
a different charity to contribute
that is local to Bismarck/Mandan."
PERKS is a brand new store in Bismarck. What are you most looking forward to down the road for the PERKS brand?
For me, the most exciting thing for Perks' future is to get the word out... we are not just a coffee shop in a car dealership (But really. . . how many of them are out there?! haha not too many. We are so unique)! We are here to help. Every month we pick a different charity to contribute to that is local to Bismarck/Mandan.
What is your favorite drink currently?
Oh boy my FAVORITE DRINK!?!? There are so many!
I would have to say I always get all gooey for a good ole fashion White Mocha latte'. They are so rich and creamy and good to the last drop. However, you can't go wrong with regular drip coffee. Gets me goin' every morning!
What are you listening to/reading?
I've recently rediscovered my love for reading. I even joined a monthly book club and we are currently reading "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler. Good stuff!! But I am also a little distracted and can't seem to read one thing at a time. I am also rereading "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, a classic book I read in college. One of my favorites.
You can visit PERKS Coffee at 1100 57th Ave NE.