A successful banker gives up her secure job to start her own business. Such is the story of Janice Chua, a Santa Clara resident who once managed the loan operations division at the city’s Silicon Valley Bank before she decided to leave banking to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a cafe. This dream came to fruition on July 23 when Chua hosted the grand opening of Bitter+Sweet, a coffee and dessert bar offering light meals.
“I named my business Bitter+Sweet just to play on the two words,” says Chua. “I want to show how the two flavors can come together and complement each other in coffee and dessert.”
Chua, a coffee connoisseur, believes that coffee preparation is an art.
“If you prepare coffee right, you can taste the different notes in the coffee,” Chua says. “You can taste the citrus, the fruits in the drink.”
Chua credits her 17 year banking experience, 12 of which were spent at Silicon Valley Bank, for cultivating her entrepreneurial and management abilities. For example, working with lenders who assisted entrepreneurs helped Chua nurture her own entrepreneurial spirit.
“Being a manager also helped me learn how to run an operation and keep it streamlined,” Chua says. “It also taught me about the different areas I need to look at when I’m trying to run an operation. You need to put the right people in the right jobs and invest in managing, developing, and coaching them.”
Chua attended the American Barista and Coffee School in Portland, Oregon where she picked up the basics of running a coffee shop and the practical training required to make the drinks. Since then, she has passed on her knowledge to her six new employees.
“I taught them how to make the drinks right,” Chua says. “There’s one employee who’s thinking of starting his own café someday so I hope to help him along. My employees are passionate about specialty coffees and I want to give them the tools and equipment and opportunities to work on their skills so they can all be superstar baristas.”
According to Chua, Bitter+Sweet uses beans from Sight Glass coffee, a company that roasts their beans to order. Bitter+Sweet uses fresh beans from within two weeks of the roast. Coffees offered include the traditional drinks, such as the espresso, latte, macchiato, and cappuccino. The baristas are trained to give information about the coffee to customers.
“We’re sticking to the basics,” Chua says. “We’ll be preparing our coffees using the pour over method, which means each cup is individually prepared to order. We have a pour over bar where the customers can watch the baristas prepare the drinks.”
“I’ll love to see if I can be involved in the Santa Clara chapter of the Chamber of Commerce,” continues Chua, who is currently a member of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce. “I would also like to do community outreach with local schools in Santa Clara and Cupertino. The opportunity to contribute to my community is important to me.”
Bitter+Sweet is located at 20560 Town Center Lane in Cupertino.