By Hylan Joseph
Catherine (Cat) Foley is a gigantic ball of energy. I met her during the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston and was blown away by her passion and commitment to our industry. We spent several hours talking and geeking out about service, being an old barista and our industry in general.
I appreciate Cat’s perspective as a woman in the industry and her optimism for success and diversity that this industry will provide in the future.
Coffee Technicians Guild, meet Cat Foley of Homage Coffee.
Hylan Joseph: Why service as a career choice, what lead you this industry?
Cat Foley: Tech Service as a career choice found me after being in the industry for 18 years holding various jobs. I had completed a small business workshop and developed my business plan for opening a coffee shop when a few of my friends were having customer service troubles with the only tech company in this market. I owe the crazy awesome idea of Homage Coffee to Christophile Konstas at Perk! Coffee and Lunchbox for talking me up and giving me the support to start this long journey in coffee wrenching and I love every single minute of it!
HJ: What aspects of this industry do you like, what aspects do you not like?
CF: I love to fix things. I also really enjoy the critical thinking it takes to solve coffee problems, not to mention being a part of the excitement of consulting on a new shop, connecting with people in the community about their coffee journey, and – most importantly (to me) – STEAM WAND REBUILDS! They are the best. Every day I learn something new, which is exciting. The challenging aspect of my career choice is access to knowledge. Being in an isolated market, Homage Coffee tends to be overlooked placing a financial strain to continuously grow my business with some of the leading manufacturers and keeping up to speed on the new coffee technology.
HJ: For women, entering our industry can be a challenge. What kind of advice would you offer to someone trying to get into the field as a tech. What kind of advice are you looking for?
CF: Women, let's get to wrenching! The tech service industry is incredibly challenging for women to enter because we are women in an older, male-dominated, blue collar sector, to be frank about it. The best approach is excellent customer service, having an incredible amount of patience, staying overly-organized, and studying up. I am still regulating the growth of my business to ensure stability that aligns with my mission statement and that I create space for my family as well.
HJ: Where do you see our industry going in the next five, ten years?
CF: The coffee industry as a whole I believe will become more automated. That automation will trickle down into the tech side of the industry creating a plethora of jobs for skilled technicians.
HJ: How would you explain your service philosophy?
CF: My service philosophy is to provide my client with honest, transparent, genuine, and approachable experience when working with Homage Coffee. Coffee equipment can be an incredibly intimidating factor to most business owners both in function and financially. I have experienced that maintaining a proactive approach to my interactions have created trust and stability, for both parties.
HJ: How do you navigate the day-to-day operations?
CF: As an old Starbucks partner, I still use "Anticipate, Connect, Personalize, Own" as a tool to guide my operations. Making a checklist at the end of each day in my trusty Moleskine helps keeps all the information organized and easy to access.
HJ: What is your favorite cup of coffee or espresso drink?
CF: My favorite coffee beverage? Depends on my mood, in the moment, 100%. In the morning I enjoy delicious cortados, americanos, or a hearty South/Central American single origin with a pastry (I think I equally love the carbs!). When it is cold, I want all the mochas. During the summer, when it is 100 degrees and humid in Richmond, definitely cold brews all day. And lastly, my mid-day/afternoon push I tend to lean towards lighter, fruity single origins (Blanchards Koke knocks it out of the park) or a quick spro at a cafe.