So all those years working as a barista in New Jersey, it was always cream and sugar with your coffee?
Yeah, and it didn’t help that the shop I was at wasn’t a serious in-depth coffee shop that was all about specialty coffee. Even as a roaster at that shop, I was kind of like the only one, this mad scientist in the corner experimenting and being able to taste everything.
It was your curiosity, it was you leading that?
Yeah, I think specialty coffee and anyone who’s involved in the industry has been driven by curiosity.
Were they doing single origins?
They were. They just didn’t have a good training program and the ownership wasn’t the best as far as education.
You told me that Top Hat allowed you to buy your house.
We’ve just pushed hard for the last two years. We both work day jobs and did the business and didn’t spend any money that we made from the business. Just kept building clientele. My wife works full-time at a non-profit and I work part-time as a barista. That was our income as in this is supporting us. And Top Hat kind of was just doing its own thing, making its own money. After two years we were able to put a substantial amount down on a house.
Can you talk about how you got contacted for the tv show [Celebrity Apprentice] and how that has helped out? It has given you at least some notice.
Yeah. Out of the blue, I got a call from Lorenzo Lamas who just says that he’s a celebrity on the phone.
He just said, I’m a celebrity?
I’m like, hi, this is Top Hat, how can I help you, and he’s like, [Lorenzo Lamas voce] I’m a celebrity. I’m like, ok. [Laughing]
Were you thinking of the tv show as soon as–
No, he didn’t tell me anything about the tv show.
No, no, I mean Bounty Hunter. Oh. No, what was the name–
Renegade. He’s in hundreds of these weird….I don’t even know.
But did you immediately think of Renegade?
I didn’t even know who he was. I guess I’m not old enough.
It was in the 90’s.
Yeah, or the 80’s.
I’m pretty sure it was the mid 90’s. [Renegade’s glorious run was from 1992-1997. The television landscape was seismically altered]. But he was a bounty hunter. He had a big-ass trench coat.
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