|Coffee, tea and thee: Jeff Tuning's tastes are good to the last drop|
|International experiences lead to entrepreneurship|
|Published Tuesday, July 31, 2018 9:27 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|Jeff and Cheryl Tuning at Coppa Coffee and Team in the SouthPark Mall location.|
Hobbies can become full-time pursuits.
A three-year work assignment in Milan, Italy exposed Jeff Tuning to exceptional coffee, which led to sharing a coppa with Charlotteans. “Coppa,” as Tuning explained, is Italian for cup, and what began as an experiment for his entertainment turned into Coppa Coffee and Tea, a coffee shop with three locations in the Charlotte area.
Tuning, a native of Rocky Mount, Virginia, earned a degree in information technology from Virginia Commonwealth University, a field he dedicated 30 years to. However, Tuning left IT in 2015 to focus entirely on his entrepreneurial endeavor. While the first location opened in 2015 at 3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road Suite 201, a location at Central Piedmont Community College, Central Campus (1201 Elizabeth Ave.) became available less than two months later.
In February, they expanded to SouthPark Mall. They offer Charlotte-themed flavors from Panther Pride (a combination of hazelnut and vanilla flavors), Hornet’s Nest (flambéed bananas, cinnamon, nuts and liqueurs) and Knight Time (a strong dark roast with a hint of dark chocolate), as well as their signature brews Coppa House and Coppa Decaf.
Fresh baked goods from local vendors fill the shop—from giant blueberry muffins to enormous apple fritters and turtle brownies. They also provide coffee and tea accessories, as well as loose leaf teas, smoothies and specialty coffees.
Tuning sees the business as two-fold: roasting and retail.
“On the roasting side, I started off small-scale roasting, developed some profiles,” he said. “My volumes, as you can see, grew exponentially when I first started, so that I outsourced my profiles. What we’re about to do now is insource those. I’ve not had to compete head to head with the local roasters, but I will. I don’t anticipate anything different than what I’ve experienced throughout my entire life. I don’t even think about it—it’s so much a part of the scene for me. I grew up in corporate America, and I’ve been successful in corporate America. I expect challenge. I haven’t really run directly into challenge per say, but I expect it. That’s part of the game as I see it.”
For Tuning, it’s about being the best coffee shop—period.
“When you flip it over on the retail side, it’s a different paradigm,” he said. “Now, it’s not so much other roasters, or even other coffee shops. It’s really the customer base. How do you attract a diverse customer base? My goal in this is not to be the best minority coffee shop. That’s not my focus. My focus is to be the best coffee shop.”
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