Caryn Reed and her husband, Ken, opened Sips Specialty Coffee House in August 2012 with the idea that a good product and great customer service are the keys to a successful business.
The shop at 6118 Gunn Highway in Citrus Park offers all the usual products one would expect from a coffee shop, including espresso, lattes and cappucinios, as well as frozen coffee drinks and coffee drinks on ice, fruit smoothies, organic black or green tea and flavored ice teas. Customers can enjoy fresh bagels or pastries or a cooling frozen hot chocolate, and if they are in a hurry, they can use Sips' drive-through and be on their way.
Some, however, say that what makes Sips coffee house different from others is the coffee. Sips uses Crimson Cup coffee, which the Reeds discovered when an acquaintance opened a coffee shop in Michigan.
“It is the best coffee I've ever had,” Caryn Reed says. “When I first tasted it, I certainly didn't know we'd be selling it one day. It's a medium roast coffee, very smooth and not acidic. It's really different from everything else I've had in Tampa. For our frozen and over ice coffees, we use a process that's called cold brew, where the coffee is never heated up and it makes the coffee very smooth. I didn't realize all the science that goes into making coffee, and if you do it wrong, it comes out sour or burnt.”
The couple didn't exactly have lifelong dreams of opening a coffee shop. They both worked corporate jobs for years back in Michigan.
“We had worked very hard to make a living,” Reed said. “We'd raised four kids and did all the things people are supposed to do, yet because of the economy, we found ourselves unemployed. We decided to open our own business and, hopefully, not have to deal with corporate America again.”
Between the coffee shop opened by a friend and watching their son play guitar in different coffee shops, the couple came to appreciate the atmosphere a community shop creates.
“We hoped we could create a positive place where people could come in off the street, have a cup of coffee to recharge their batteries, then go back out and face the world,” Reed says.
The Reeds want their coffee house to be more than just a place to grab a cup. They want it to be a place that brings people in the community together. Small groups are encouraged to meet there. One Thursday night a month, the shop hosts an open mic for Christian performers and a regular open mic session every Saturday night as a way to recreate the atmosphere they fell in love with when watching their son play in coffee houses. Remaining Thursday nights are reserved for folks from the neighborhood to challenge each other in games of chess.
“I've seen people come in here as strangers and leave as friends, and that is really great to see,” Reed adds.
For more information, visit www.sipsspecialtycoffee.com, or call (813) 963-7477.