Coffee is essential. Everyone knows that — especially a pair of coffee shop owners whose initials are both AJ. They built Wicked Coffee from the ground up, and many people seem to remain so amused about it. The two have also stayed together for two years. Despite spending the majority of it under lockdown, it enabled them to come up with two small businesses together, including Wicked Coffee. AJ (he/him) studied as a pilot at Omni Aviation. Meanwhile, AJ (she/her) currently works as a technical recruiter for a BPO company.
Have a wicked morning with Wicked Coffee!
According to both AJs, owning a coffee shop remained a distant dream while they made a coffee out of a french press. In 2021, they decided they wanted good ice coffee every morning. Of course, this comes without having to go to a local coffee shop near them. It remains both expensive and impractical. Instead, they bought their own french press, a little grinder, a scale, and flavored syrups.
“They would manually grind the beans, steep them overnight, and make themselves flavored cold brew by the next morning. So, they did this for a good 3 months until they admitted it’s quite exhausting and time-consuming -given their responsibilities.”
“They, then, decided to get a coffee maker that could easily make them espresso shots. Their options were either a De’longhi Dedica or De’longhi La Specialista. They noticed though that almost all coffee machines are expensive. This led them to the idea of putting up a coffee business to help the local community with the goal to solve three things: quality, price, and time.”
Both AJs noticed that almost all coffee brands have gone minimal. They wanted their brand to catch attention, stand out, and seem playfully whimsical.
“Wicked seems the most appropriate name since it also implies playfulness. Like how coffee, milk, and other flavors play with your taste buds.”
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on Wicked Coffee.
The pandemic has been hard for many people. However, a lot of people have made it an inspiration to start up their businesses. According to both AJs, it was pretty evident that going out either for groceries or shopping became limited to keep people safe from the virus. It also made it harder for people to have access to a lot of important household items.
“With the internet and express delivery around, they noticed that this type of technological advancement could help more people since it provides easier access to the products. They both wondered what other products could they possibly bring closer to the local community. Since they have the privilege to source beans, ingredients, and tools used for coffee making, they realized it could be good coffee.”
Aside from the COVID-19, both AJs also had struggles when opening up Wicked Coffee.
When AJ and AJ launched in January of 2022, many of their friends, friends of friends, and family members had already expressed their support by sharing their page, and posts, as well as placing orders.
“Unfortunately, their coffee machine wasn’t able to handle the influx of orders, thus, it stopped working on Day 2. They had to pause their opening and refunded the orders they couldn’t complete. Upset, the two sat down, retraced their steps, and discussed their Plan B.”
“Saturday that week, AJ and AJ used part of their savings, and thankfully, a little financial aid from the family, and then they finally bought the San Remo Zoe Competition they had been dreaming about.”
Go big or go home became the motto for Wicked Coffee.
“AJ and AJ are serious about owning a coffee shop. They want to be able to serve freshly brewed and wicked good cups of coffee and be consistent about it.”
Wicked Coffee’s wicked flavors.
Wicked Coffee has Caffè Mocha, White Chocolate Mocha, Hazelnut, Caffè Americano, Caramel Macchiato, and Caffè Latte. Both AJs observed that the majority of Filipinos have a thing for sweets. So, the first flavors they released include espresso-based drinks including Caffe Mocha, White Chocolate Mocha, Hazelnut, and Caramel Macchiato. You can expect these to taste sweet and creamy.
Then, versatile options of classic and timeless flavors came next. Caffe Latte is an espresso-based drink, mixed with milk only. Caffe Americano, on the other hand, tastes stronger than a latte – having espresso and water only.
Both AJs explored more cafes and tasted coffee from Vista Coffeeteria, as well as Harlan and Holden. That’s when they decided to add Sea Salt Latte, an espresso-based drink, mixed with flavored syrup. And, is topped with sea salt foam that adds another layer and flavor to the coffee. Then, after visiting the Fat Seed Cafe and Niseko, they included Spanish Latte on the menu, an espresso-based drink, mixed with condensed milk. Lighter, creamier, and sweetened.
Of course, as business owners, both AJs also have their favorite flavors.
“AJ’s (he/him) personal favorite is Sea Salt Latte. When you take your first sip of the drink, you are automatically greeted by the sweet and salty foam. It blends well with the bitterness and slight acidity of coffee. There’s also that hint of sweetness and creaminess that makes this drink super interesting.”
“AJ (she/her), on the other hand, is fond of Caramel Macchiato. To her, it’s the perfect drink that accentuates the flavor of the coffee beans. The caramel syrup adds a slight sweetness that would make anyone dive for more.”
Wicked Coffee serves single-origin coffee beans from Mankayan, Benguet from Tago Coffee Roasters, Co.
This is one of the most unique ideas I’ve seen with coffee shops. For both AJs, they wanted their customers to have a wicked good time experiencing their coffee. Aiming to do so, they continue to improve themselves. Oftentimes, you can also find them exploring different cafes and tasting espresso shots from different origins.
Aside from that, they would also listen to baristas, read books, and watch videos about coffee making. They also want to improve their processes, their ingredients, and their materials. Of course, they wanted to continue building a harmonious relationship among suppliers, roasters, and farmers.
“Tago Coffee Roasters also introduced AJ and AJ to Mankayan, Benguet beans which have the similar taste notes to the one from Atoc, Benguet. Serving single-origin coffee provides a spectacular chance to highlight the taste of our local beans as well. So you can expect wicked goodness in every bottle/cup.”
Wicked Coffee is one of the newest coffee brands in the market. Both AJs knew that they wouldn’t be able to make an impact if they would fall in line with the trend of minimalism.
“They knew they had to do something different and to catch attention. They wanted their brand to reflect playfulness through colors. Pretty much like how coffee, milk, and other flavors play with your taste buds. The packaging is meant to be visually appealing so much that your eyes light up when you see them.”
“Like how your senses come to life when you drink coffee. Items related to coffee/cafe are also incorporated like an apron, coffee beans, portafilter, milk carton, cafe lights, etc. – this is to tickle the mind, to make people want to know more.”
Wicked Coffee also currently has a part-time staff member named Marc. He has been an amazing help to the pair. Jeun, a freelance writer, rocks their social media platforms. Twincie, on the other hand, is a freelance graphic whiz who created its logo and packaging. With the help of AJ’s (she/her) high school classmate Twincie, their brand came to life.
Currently, both AJs are focusing on continuously improving all aspects of their coffee shop. They also plan to change the packaging of their to-go cups. That way, it aligns with their colorful and wonderfully-designed branding. Additionally, their pop-up coffee stand also occupies half of their car garage. This sometimes lacks the proper ventilation and ambiance. Their main focus revolves around renovating and accommodating their customers better.
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.