HUMBOLDT PARK — Raoul Adwan has wanted to make his mark on Chicago’s coffee scene since graduating college in 2017.
Adwan, who is from the Southwest Side but now lives in Humboldt Park, worked as a barista his senior year and then for several coffee companies in Chicago. But he has always wanted to open his own business.
Now, Adwan is making that dream a reality. The 26-year-old recently launched Thrd Coffee Company, a traveling coffee bar that can be rented for small events and gatherings.
Adwan said he hopes to build up enough clients over time so he can afford to open a brick-and-mortar shop.
“The biggest hassle of owning a business is rent,” he said. “For me, I knew that if I wanted to have a coffee shop I would want to try and generate some cash flow.”
Adwan works as a study hall instructor for Mansueto High School in Brighton Park by day. When schools were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic in March, he got to work and mapped out a plan to bring Thrd Coffee Company to life.
“There are people who … draw, they write, they watch Netflix. For me, I wanted to build a business. This was the perfect opportunity for me to do that,” Adwan said.
Adwan built a 5-foot-wide collapsible coffee bar and brought on board friends who worked as baristas before the shutdown.
“My hope is that it’s not a one-man band,” he said. “The goal is we’re working as a team, [that we have] a logistics team and then we have the barista come in.”
Adwan has lined up Good Manner Coffee, a coffee roastery in Lakeview, as his coffee supplier. The plan is to offer everything from espresso and pour-over drinks to lattes and cortados. The bar will also offer Full Circle kombucha, CBD-infused beverages from Vybes and Rise nitro cold brew, among other brands.
Adwan has leaned on his experience working for Back of the Yards Coffee and Tradecraft Coffee & Tea Outfitters to help him build the business.
“A lot of the vendors came from the past relationships at my old job,” he said.
Adwan is marketing the business to people throwing small weddings, birthday parties and other events, as well as property managers who want to provide coffee to their tenants in their lobbies.
The coffee bar can be rented for three hours minimum for $1,000. Customers can pay in advance or put down a deposit and pay the rest after the event.
Adwan said the cost includes the setup, teardown, travel and gratuity for the barista.
“I know an average barista makes $10-13 an hour plus tip. I want to commit to saying if a barista is there for two hours, I’m giving them $100. Three hours it’ll be $150,” he said.
Adwan, who is Mexican and Bolivian, said he wants Thrd Coffee Company to be a reflection of Chicago as well as the Latino community.
“My goal is we bring more of a Hispanic culture into this new age of coffee and tea,” he said. “We want to be that coffee option for Mole de Mayo in Pilsen or Fiesta Del Sol once the city [is in] Phase 5.”
Follow Thrd Coffee Company on social media here.
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