Q&A With 3 Degrees Coffee Co-Owner Sophia Carlini

There is something truly special about finding the perfect coffee experience, it extends further than sourcing a quick caffeine hit, it becomes a ritual made meaningful with friendly service, reliability, visual inspiration and familiarity. 3 Degrees Coffee hits this perfect combination on the head with their hole in the wall coffee shop sitting elegantly at the entrance to Baileys Corner. Here, two worlds collide in beautiful harmony; outside is the busy city interchange buzzing with colourful characters, while inside 3 Degrees Coffee is a tranquil, fresh and airy atmosphere. This calm corner amidst the chaos provides the ideal morning coffee experience with a quick five minutes to breathe and energise before the busy day ahead.

I have been following 3 Degrees Coffee since it's opening earlier this year and was instantly enticed by the clever branding, Instagram imagery and the 'passion project feel' that shines through this wonderful partnership. Sophia Carlini and her partner Mike have created a go-to coffee stop in the competitive and busy inner city location using their warmth, business savvy and approachability. This couple are the friends you want to chat with in the morning, laid back, friendly and full of heart - regularly promoting the 'pay-it-forward' movement and connecting with their customers.

I sat down with Sophia to talk business, branding, coffee and style...

Sophia, tell me how 3 Degrees Coffee came to be?

I have always been a bit of a baker, I've made a lot of cakes for friends and events and when I met Mike he owned his own business already - Treehouse Bar. I guess having someone with business savvy helped push me in the direction of wanting to own my own business. He came home one day and told me he had seen a little hole in the wall in Civic and he thought we could turn it into a coffee shop where I could incorporate my love of baking and general love of food. That is basically how the idea was born!

What has been the biggest challenge in your business journey?

Building the business from scratch. When you've never built a business before, it leaves room for a lot of things to go wrong. don't know what you’re doing or you’re not sure of something involved a lot of research and had a lot of things went wrong. You don't know what your doing and have to rely upon 'industry experts' who don't always have your best interests at heart. As an adult, especially one in the small business world of Canberra you just have to find ways to deal with those things. I would often call Mike in tears or be absolutely furious over something and he would gently tell me to pull myself together 'your a business owner now'!

What has been the most rewarding part so far?

Seeing the finished product and having a successful business that runs well. It is quite an achievement to look at what we have accomplished and knowing we worked through the problems we have had along the way. So many small businesses fail for this reason so I am really proud of the face we pushed through the challenges and failures along the way.

The branding of 3 Degrees Coffee is really strong, was that a joint effort or did you do that on your own?

We are very similar people - our house is very much a reflection of our shop. It is very bright, fresh and bold, so when it came to the shop we both had the same ideas...but I'm the girl so I got the final say haha.

You are situated in such a great people watching location, do you find some interesting characters walk past?

For sure. The interchange is never boring. We often see people running from the police, once I saw a guy get on the bus with a rat on his shoulder. There is a very interesting mix of people here. We often have customers who want to 'pay it forward'; they pay extra money to buy a coffee for the homeless. Mike is also a really nice guy, he sometimes gives out a coffee when he feels its appropriate, like for someone who may not be able to buy one.

What is your favourite spot in Canberra?

We love the Cupping Room. I have also recently become a big fan of the area down near Campbell 5. They have some great cafes down there, we walk our dog there on the weekend, it's a really chilled area and the staff are really nice.

What is your go-to outfit?

I think most girls would say a little black dress; I think for me it depends on how I feel on the day. I purchase a lot from Sheike, pretty much my entire wardrobe is Sheike actually!

Is there anyone you look up to locally for inspiration?

There isn't one particular person, I follow a lot of the bloggers in Canberra including yourself. I guess I take inspiration from lots of different people but I also like to think I have my own style and don't just follow someone else.

What is your take on the local business scene developing in Canberra in terms of food, culture and fashion?

The Canberra foodie scene is growing really quickly and catching up to the rest of Australia, which is good to see. In terms of fashion in the capital, Fashfest is getting bigger and better each year which is cool. I was actually a model for Fashfest last year which was one of my bucket list items so that was amazing. Mike and I both really like to get involved in community events which are pushing the envelope in Canberra.

What is next for 3 Degrees?

Just to keep it running successfully, continue building up our social media following and find our niche. That has been a big learning curve - things I thought would work for the business didn't, and things I didn't expect to work were really successful. We are still trying to figure out exactly what works for us. Down the track we would love to find someone who can run the business and love it the way we do.

We want to have a family next year, so hopefully get the business to the point where it is running perfectly and we can have someone run it to free us up with our commitments a little. You never know what can happen, but at the moment we are really trying to just get into a good rhythm.

Photos via Tim Beam Photography

#3DegreesCoffee #CanberraBusiness

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