“My friend” are two words that easily tumble out of Street Brew Coffee’s Caitlin Campbell’s mouth as she meets people or serves them a coffee from her trailer, with her signature smile. You’ll find out more, but Street Brew Coffee is Caitlin’s business that she co-owns with her father, Ross Campbell. It is truly a family affair, but Street Brew Coffee is so much more.
The four-year old Canadian small business has a vision and part of that vision is helping others. According to the website:
“We are a counter-culture initiative that recognizes the less fortunate members of our society. Our desire is to inspire others to partner with us in our social justice movement that addresses the needs of those who need a helping hand to change their circumstances.”
With a contagious enthusiasm for all things caffeinated, Caitlin brings more than just business acumen to the table; she infuses Street Brew Coffee with a personal touch that resonates with coffee lovers and urban adventurers alike. She is also a TikTok sensation with 1.1 million followers and regularly getting more than a million views on her snack-sized videos which share her love for all things coffee. While her father Ross doesn’t always understand social media, he does get how great it has been for their joint venture.
We recently had the chance to not only go to a Mr. Coffee event featuring Caitlin, we also had the chance to ask her some questions about her life, Street Brew Coffee and what it’s really like to work so closely with your family:
Photo: Lelania Little Photography
You majored in Divinity and yet you founded a coffee company. How do the two go hand in hand?
Yes, I do have a Masters of Divinity and was enrolled in a Doctorate program to earn my PHD when COVID visited our world. International travel restrictions prevented me from travelling to the USA for my studies and our travel visas and passports were restricted. My original goal was to be a University professor. The coffee business was something that I could invest my energy and attention toward during COVID restrictions. I wish that I could claim that Street Brew Coffee was part of a brilliant corporate plan however I can’t.
I did develop a love for coffee during my Masters studies. Ice lattes were my coffee beverage preference. The sense of community that developed around coffee had an impact on me. We frequently met and studied at the local coffee shops.
You have suffered from both a concussion and a traumatic brain injury. How does it affect you on a daily basis?
I encourage folks to persevere and overcome challenges that life presents. Very few folks have perfect lives and almost everyone is trying to overcome something. The message is don’t let your challenges and/or life circumstances define who you are or what you are capable of accomplishing.
What makes Street Brew Coffee so special?
We source quality green beans from approximately 20 countries around the world and we very carefully craft roast them in small batches to maximize the bean’s flavour profile. Every green bean is unique and requires its own roasting profile.
We care passionately about our coffee and put the customer’s enjoyment first. Our success will be determined by consistently exceeding the expectations of coffee drinkers.
Not only are you a business owner, but you are a viral sensation on TikTok. How did you break through?
The posting of video content started while we were shutdown during COVID. We had 55 shows cancelled in 2020 and no shows in 2021 here in Canada. We were a new business with no opportunity to connect with people. Poppa Street Brew always says that 99.9% of those who don’t know about your product can’t buy it.
In February 2021 when it became apparent that COVID was not going away I asked my dad if he had heard of TikTok. His response was “what the heck is TikTok”? I showed him a few viral videos where people were doing crazy stuff and posting. He was not impressed as he could not imagine a positive fit for our coffee business. We did decide that I would post videos about brewing good coffee using inexpensive coffee gear and see if we could get some audience traction. People seemed to like the content and we saw an instant connection. I scripted, filmed, edited and recorded voice overs for 3 or 4 videos per day for 9 months. It was a lot of hard work and dedication. Building a long-term following on social media platforms requires the constant development of interesting content.
Take us through how to do a proper coffee tasting and the tools that you need on hand for the perfect coffee.
Coffee is a very individual and is subject to personal taste, which is what makes our business very interesting to us. A traditional coffee tasting technique is coffee cupping where you compare various coffees by evaluating their taste and aroma. The process of brewing is simplified to include only quality water and quality recently roasted and ground coffee.
We boil the water and pour it over the grounds in a cupping cup. You slowly stir the water and coffee and this releases the brewing process. You will see a brown scum form on the surface of the cup and this must be removed. The hot beverage remaining is the coffee and to test it you will use a small spoon to scoop coffee from the top of the cup. This coffee fluid should be the brewed coffee in its pure form. From these sips you can determine the quality of the roast.
My tip for the perfect coffee starts with quality coffee and a good machine. One that I love is Mr. Coffee’s 4-in-1 Single-Serve Latte, Iced and Hot Coffee Maker. It’s convenient 4-in-1 functionality – latte, cappuccino, iced and hot coffee – make it easy to make and enjoy pod-free, single-serve coffee from home!
Your small business is a father-daughter venture. Talk us through the challenges that come with working with family.
We are a very close family and this helps. We are very similar in intellect and personality with a very large generational gap. A baby boomer and a millennial co-existing can have challenges. We are so similar that we can often finish each other’s sentences and thoughts. Momma Street Brew is our in-house referee when necessary.
We have very different perspectives and mindsets that are fostered through our different generational experiences. We have a common focus and corporate philosophy and it seems to be working.
What is next for you, your Dad and Street Brew?
We will continue to roast coffee and grow our web traffic. Corporations have discovered us and are beginning to buy our coffee for corporate gifting programs and we will continue to grow that aspect of our roasting.
In 2023, we had approximately 35 bookings for our mobile coffee trailer. We have a number of inquiries for 2024 that could double our trailer bookings.
Public speaking engagements and product brand ambassador relationships continue to grow. In fact, I helped host an event with Mr. Coffee this past fall where I presented a coffee chemistry workshop to coffee lovers.
We are now seeing the benefits of very hard work over the past 3 years and will continue to partner with brands and corporations that share our values.