Spencer Hooker & Megan Vidal of The Kookaburra Coffee


This is the time of year many business owners are thinking about gifts to send to their clients. When I first launched my consulting practice over six years ago, one of my first clients had worked out a deal with a local coffee shop to deliver bags of coffee to his clients. They had created a little co-branding so everyone would know who the gift was from and where this delicious coffee came from.

Thoughtful, local, co-branded gifts are a superstar way to uplevel the experience you give your clients. I remember seeing the bags on the counter in his office and thinking how beautiful and special they were. Of course, personally delivering them doesn’t hurt either - if your business lends itself to that. That day was the start of my personal love affair with a little place called The Kookaburra.

Growing from one small shop to a multi-location enterprise in our small town, the Kook (as we locals call it) has become something of a staple. In my world, it’s on the list of “places to make sure you take someone when they come to visit.” And, it’s not just that the coffee is amazing - and trust me, it is - it’s that every one who works there seems genuinely happy to be there and excited to see you. I rarely go in one where I don’t know at least one person, either working behind the counter or at a comfy chair on their laptop. Knowing the food they serve is also fresh and made locally makes the overall experience that much better. And recently, they stopped using traditional straws and went to hay straws - further showing their commitment to doing good things with their business.

Whether you are buying gifts for your clients, setting up those early morning meetings, or dashing in for a quick cup to recover from a slightly-too-late holiday party the night before, I hope that you’ll find the local coffee place in your town that’s putting as much energy into upleveling their community as they are brewing amazing coffee and support them!

Website: thekookaburracoffee.com Instagram: @thekookaburra

Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it? 

We are an aussie-american coffee company in St. Augustine, Florida. We opened our first shop in the heart of the historic district in 2012. We now have 4 shops and a Roastery, with a fifth shop slated to be opened by the end of this year (2018).

We serve coffee, espresso, and handmade aussie pies plus a variety of made from scratch baked goods whipped up by our amazing baking team. We are very conscientious in sourcing our coffees, meticulous in our roast profiles, and obsessed with providing the best customer experience possible.

This is all accomplished by attracting and retaining incredible staff who share our passions and values.

Why did you start your business? 

We wanted to do something meaningful on our own terms. We love coffee, we love serving people, and we wanted to creatively combine our backgrounds and experiences.

What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you? 

We take this to be a focus on serving the community in which you operate. For us this means sourcing the best coffee, dairy, and ingredients possible and serving our customers to the absolute best of our abilities. Secondly,we give as much back to the community as possible through a variety of charitable donations and event sponsorships. Thirdly, we place a huge significance on imparting these values to our employees and ensuring that we are collectively striving to enhance the community in which we live.

What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?

Our favorite part at this point is having people talk about our business to us without knowing our roles or involvement. It's incredibly rewarding to hear community members speak of the positive experiences they have had at your establishments or the social impact your company has on an area, knowing that it is not just lip-service.

What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?

Being compared to larger companies or national chains that do not share our community focus, values, or quality standards is a constant challenge. We consciously run our business with higher than industry standard costs in order to pay our employees well, source quality products responsibly, and provide a high standard of service for our customers. Sometimes it can be a struggle to convey this information to those not in the know in the brief time they visit one of our shops. Our employees certainly do a great job of this though.

What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 

We are going to continue to grow our business so long as the community and surrounding communities continue to support us. We are letting the growth happen organically, and we are excited to see where it takes us.

Who are your business icons, heroins, or mentors? 

People who shake up industries by either innovating or approaching things differently. We love to see people dance to the beat of their own drums in business.

What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business? 

Decide what you stand for and stick to your core competencies. Do not try to do too much or appeal to too many people. Be unique. Three tips along the same vein.

What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?

We visit our vendors or partners whenever we can. We like to send employees to coffee conferences so they can stay on top of the latest and greatest coffee industry stuff.

What is the last book you read? 

Spencer - “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy

Megan - “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business” by Danny Meyer