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Makeda & Mingus Cafe - 10 Years Strong in PhinneyWood

Makeda & Mingus Cafe is a community nook of a cafe in the Phinney Ridge - Greenwood neighborhood of North Seattle.  As the first home of Seven Coffee Roasters, Prashanthi Reddy took over the spot almost a decade ago and renamed it Makeda Coffee.  

In 2015 Prashanthi reinvented her shop as Makeda & Mingus Cafe, a tribute to Mingus, her five-year-old Rat Terrier pup and official shop greeter.  Seattle Eater published an article on the change here.


Makeda & Mingus Coffee Sign
(photo outside of Makeda & Mingus - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)

We sat down with Prashanthi to take a look at what it's like to own a small business and a cafe for 10 years, no small feat in and of itself:

Sean: Hi Prash, can you give us a brief history of your shop? When did you open, what made you decide on the concept, How did you choose the name, etc.

Prashanthi: We opened June 1, 2008.  Makeda is another name for Queen of Sheba.  Queen Makeda was the Queen of Ethiopia, thought to be the origin of coffee.  I chose to own a coffee shop because while I was going to college in the 90's and while everyone else was socializing in bars and clubs, I hung out in coffee shops.  I wanted to provide a similar type of community with Makeda.

Sean: What did you do before opening up your shop? I think a lot of people get curious as to the circumstances of opening up a small business and want to understand the mindset and process of going from an employee to self-employed. Can you speak on that process?

Prashanthi: I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years prior to opening Makeda.  I enjoy creating and making coffee.  I also treasure the different types of personalities that walk through my door on a daily basis.  They've become like family to me and I value that community far greater than anything I've experienced in the pharmaceutical industry.

Sean: Hows’ it going so far? How are you handling the balance between work and personal time?

Prashanthi: Well, it's up to me to schedule personal time.  The decision becomes do I hire it out vs. do it myself.  It's a balance of "can I afford it?" and how much time do I want.  It's a learning experience for sure.

Makeda & Mingus Specialty Drink - Humpty Hump
(photo of the Makeda Humpty Hump - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)

Sean: Do you have any recommendations to someone thinking about becoming self-employed? Any small business life lessons that you can pass on to a younger version of yourself?

Prashanthi: Talk to other small business owners before taking the plunge.  Consider taking a business class or two - lessons in Accounting or Marketing can be a big advantage.  Look, we all have a dream as business owners, mine is making coffee and being a part of a small close-knit community.  The reality is that you'll need to master many other tasks and skills that have nothing to do with your passion.

Sean:  What are your biggest challenges right now as a small business?

Prashanthi: Staffing.  Because of our smaller shop, our employees must be able to multi-task.  Making great coffee while interacting with customers in an authentic, efficient manner is a must.  It's difficult finding barista that can do both well.

Sean:  How can we follow your business? Website, social media, email, contact info?

Prashanthi:  Facebook - @Makeda.And.Mingus.  Twitter - @makeda_mingus.  Instagram - @makeda.and.mingus

 Sunrise from Makeda & Mingus
(photo of the sunrise from Makeda & Mingus Cafe - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)

Unlabeled photos courtesy of Sandra Coan Photography.

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