203°F ? Why 203°F, you ask? Because everything about this trendy new coffee shop is precise, and that is their optimal water temperature for brewing coffee. 203° F (located in the Village at Totem Lake) is a lifelong dream of owner Alen Fikic, who has an interesting background and keen drive for delivering an amazing product and customer experience. Alen grew up on a farm in Bosnia, went to war and lived in concentration camps, and ended up playing professional soccer in Germany for 8 years. When he moved to the states, his first job was rounding up the carts at Sam's Club. Then in 1998 a friend offered him a job building espresso machines for La Morzocco, and was with Caffe Vida for a number of years after that. He went on to become President and silent partner of Zoka Coffee.
By this point he's clearly hooked on coffee and the experience it can provide. But he knew he could up the game. There are lots of great coffee shops, but he saw a shortcoming in service and happens to love the hospitality side of the business. What if he could offer great direct-trade ethically-sourced coffee along with openness, kindness, quality and ambiance? Off he went, carefully designing and crafting everything to the exact specifications that have been swirling in his head for years to create an all-around experience. He personally designed and crafted everything from the custom art, furniture, architecture, music, down to the custom roasted proprietary blend of Zoka Coffee they use. Nothing was left to chance, and Alen says, "this is what people deserve." All of his favorite things in one place. Vanilla extract from Madagascar. The Amish in OH made the furniture by hand. Espresso machines from the Netherlands. Aprons from Australia. He has carefully placed outlets for customers and the small tables are intentional to encourage community and conversation. The vibe of 203° is minimalistic but intentional. It feels bright, happy, clean and welcoming. I need this guy to take his approach and help me organize my life.
You can't help but like Alen, he's poured his heart and soul into this project and the results are evident. His down-to-earth friendly style clearly helps him connect with customers, because as I sat drinking my delicious decaf Americano random people would approach for a handshake, a compliment or a hello. Employees have featured recipes on the menu- Rachel's lavender has been popular- as well as seasonal drinks. Prices are comparable to industry standards. Sandwiches (w/halal meat) and pastries are also offered. Opening day on 3/2/19 brought in over 600 people. Whoa. Many said the wait for their coffee was well worth it!
With the Cinemark and a Salt & Straw coming in just across the street I have a feeling this place will be in high demand. Don't worry, plans are already in the works for future locations of 203°F Coffee Co. Kinda cool that kids 10 and under get free hot cocoa, there's no upcharge for extras, alternative milks (or flavors) and students get a 10% discount. Hours (subject to change) are 6am-7pm seven days a week right now. Check them out on Insta or FB here.