Found Coffee has only been open for three years, but it’s already managed to cultivate a community of regulars, thanks to great coffee and the savvy use of customer loyalty. With an eye to design and a focus on specialty coffees, Found Coffee’s warm space showcases a variety of “found” vintage objects—some provided by the regulars themselves. “When we first started, we displayed a collection of rotary phones from all around the world that was lent to us by a regular,” says Annie Choi, Found Coffee’s found-er. “I had a little kid come in and ask where the phone screens were! So we’re doing a bit of education, too.” Found Coffee is located in the close-knit community of Eagle Rock, Los Angeles——a neighborhood near Annie’s childhood home in La Crescenta. As for the name, she cites three inspirations, “If you look around, I’ve decorated the space with things I’ve found. I also wanted community to be found here—we have a big space, communal seating, and lots of regulars. Finally, I found myself through coffee.”
Customer loyalty is key for Annie, who has been using Fivestars from the very beginning. “Our sales rep mentioned that another local coffee shop was finding success with them, and they happened to be my friends.” With that friendly introduction, Annie took the plunge, and is glad that she did, as it’s made a huge difference in Found Coffee’s ability to grow and thrive.
Thanks to Fivestars, one of the biggest potential challenges Found Coffee would have faced was solved before it even came up: “In LA, there are a plethora of coffee shops, and if people don’t live right in Eagle Rock, they can forget about us.” With AutoPilot, she delivers reminders and incentives to her customers to come visit the cafe without having to spend any time on it. “Found Coffee has become an anchor in the community of Eagle Rock,” she says, and Fivestars plays into that. “About eighty-five percent of my customers are regulars, and I love being able to reward them for their support.”
Annie has found success in rewards that are both typical and creative. “We offer the classic ten points and you get a free drink,” she says, but also offers Found-branded merchandise—including coffee mugs, growlers, hats and tee shirts—for customers who want to save up their points (and many of them do). Annie’s advice to other business owners who want to replicate her success is simple, but effective, “People love free stuff!” she says. “Offer merchandise that’s cute, well-designed, desirable and people will want to save up to earn them.”
Annie’s city and her local community are extremely important to her—it’s why she started Found Coffee in the first place—and because of that, she’s always looking for ways to give back. Partnering with her neighboring business, craft beer taproom and bottle shop, Found Coffee put on “Coffee and Kegs for a Cause”, in which both businesses donated a portion of their proceeds to a local charity. The event was so popular they’ve decided to make it an annual event. “I’m a born and raised Angelino—this city is so close to my heart,” she says. “I’m always looking for ways to help those who are hurting.” Annie’s customers have resonated with this mission. “People want to do good,” she says.
In her commitment to her community, her passion for her business, and her success in building a loyal fan-base, Annie and Found Coffee exemplify the values Fivestars was founded on. Thanks, Annie!