THE VIEW FROM THE INSIDE
Here I am, sitting in a line that is far too long to be for a simple cup of coffee. Yet, here I sit, every single day, waiting in the same line, always and forever mystified by the magnetic pull of a tiny little shack in a tiny little town. Back in high school, when I would walk in late to my first class daily in order to get my coffee from Dutch Bros, I couldn't quite put my finger on what the magic was. Was it the music or the Kicker or the cute barista I was crushing on? And then I finally realized that in a world where everything is too good to be true, we could all use a place that doesn't let us down.
I am a former Dutch Bros “broista”, an employee of yesteryear. I began my affair with Dutch Bros as a customer when they opened in Caldwell, ID in 2008, became an employee in 2009, grew into an assistant manager in 2014, was promoted to stand manager in 2015, stepped down to return to an employee in 2016, and soon completed the circle by returning to the status of customer that same year after overwhelming encouragement and support by my bosses and coworkers to get after my dreams. As someone who has been in—all the way in—and is now out, there is one thing you must know about the company: the image matches the heart. The exterior perfectly reflects the interior. In simpler terms, they aren’t bullshitting you. I promise.
I remember meeting the original employees after Shayna and Andrew Randall opened the shop in Caldwell, me just a dorky fourteen-year-old with glasses, braces, bad eyeliner, and no driver’s license. I was absolutely mystified how a group of people could be so cool. They looked cool, spoke cool, acted cool. There was just no other way to say it. I had a crush on just about everyone there—including the women because they were also mind-bogglingly cool—and when they asked me to join the crew, I couldn’t believe I had somehow tricked them into thinking I was even remotely hip. I mean come on, I had to ask my parents' before I could accept the job offer and they all wore designer jeans. How could they really expect me to fit in?
I began training and struggled to nail it all down for the simple fact that I was perpetually star-struck. I was the seventh or eighth employee they had ever had and by far the dorkiest and I just couldn’t seem to believe this daydream was reality. And then a few months in, listening to some coworkers tell the stupidest jokes you have ever heard in your entire life and pondering the fact that every single phrase anyone spoke was either a direct “Ace Ventura” quote or an extremely corny dad joke dripping in puns, it hit me: they weren’t cool.
At least not in the way I had originally imagined. You see, Dutch Bros isn’t about being cool, but it can sometimes seem that way if you aren’t able to put your finger on what it is that sets these good-looking young people apart. As a matter of fact, I remember hearing people ask if you could only work for DB if you were attractive, and that is partially true. But the specific brand of attractiveness isn’t the one you think it is. Broistas seem cool and attractive for one reason and one reason only: they are relentlessly kind.
There are countless stories I could share of people I know personally who have made a difference while they made a cup of coffee. Some are massive gestures and some are tiny greetings and some are earth shattering prayers, but all are life changing events within the movement that is Dutch Bros Coffee. As a matter of fact, this topic of lives being changed at the windows of these little blue shacks could be a book all its own.
But what about between the windows? What happens there? Let me, with the clearest hindsight, share my thoughts.
Between the windows, people start as seeds. They get planted within this community, covered with the soil of validation, watered with the rain of encouragement, and lit up with the sunshine of friendship. One could say a person grows during their time in DB, but I think that is far too simple of a word. See, seeds don’t just grow. They transform. All that has been dormant within the seed sprouts from the shell protecting it and develops into something that at first appears to be unrecognizable, but then, after closer inspection, it becomes clear that it is nothing but that little seed, fully transformed into everything it was intended to become.
Sometimes these seeds grow into tulips and remain within Dutch Bros. Sometimes, they grow into new flowers, taking on an identity that they never could’ve fathomed was contained within them, and they move on to the gardens they were created to be planted in. And what does it matter where the flowers live so long as they bloom?
This is Dutch Bros. Dutch Bros is the beginning of a new story. You see, my time with the company wasn’t a chapter in any book. No, it was a book itself. My love for this community, one that is gathered around a rich three bean blend, is its own story with its own beginning, middle, and end. It cannot be contained within a chapter.
Dutch Bros cannot be contained within the suffocating confines of modern business.
I'll never forget making my first Carmelizer. I pulled the shot, added the caramel, steamed some chocolate milk, and slapped a lid on it, never thinking for a second that in the coming years, I would go through this motion millions of times. That is how it always starts. You apply for the position, you get the job, and you have no clue the implications it will have on the rest of your life. And somewhere between that first Carmelizer and the thousandth, you change. You grow. You transform. And you bring your whole community along with you. Because you see, it’s not about the business. It never was. It’s not about making coffee or money or fans. It’s about making way for people to come to the crossroads where who they’ve always been and who they’ve always dreamed of becoming meet.
So when you hear it said that Dutch Bros is about changing lives, one cup at a time, you must believe it. Just look at me, that same dorky fourteen-year-old nearly ten years later, still just as dorky, but completely transformed by a little coffee shop from southern Oregon that wasn't afraid to fill me with the audacious idea that there was greatness inside me.
The world is in desperate need of fearless love and at Dutch Bros Coffee, they serve it out the window every single day. If you ask me, that's always worth waiting in line for.
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