Although only open at its brick and mortar location for a little over eight months, Santa Clara’s Voyager Craft Coffee, 3985 Stevens Creek Blvd., is already making a name for itself in the local coffee scene.
Owners Sameer “Sam” Shah, 32, and fiancé, Lauren Burns, 28, invested their entire savings and spread it extremely thin, performing many of the renovations–including making the tables, by themselves. They knew opening a small business in high-rent Silicon Valley would be a gamble, but so far, it has paid off–partly due to the way they interact with their customers.
Although native to the Bay Area, the pair spent time living in smaller cities. They admired the empathy and compassion people had with others and wanted to bring that sense of community to their business.
“We thought if we could do that, we could become successful business owners, because I think people will care about it,” said Shah. “It wasn’t so much about the financials … but the way we hire, the way we train, the way we ask our employees to interact with people was going to be the key. I think we’ve done that well and I think that’s what has allowed us to be successful.”
Outside of customer service, Voyager sets itself apart by buying beans that are roasted in small batches, often by local roasters. Baristas have full control over the drinks and ability to fully customize them for each customer. The menu also features a handful of signature drinks, each with a story that is particularly meaningful to the owners or staff.
“Valencia in Spain refers to the orange blossom water that’s in there,” said Shah. “That’s because, in the winter, the streets are lined with orange trees and everyone–citizens and visitors–are welcome to pick them and take them home right off the tree. So, we kind of linked all of these drinks and the ingredient back to the place where we thought of it from … These all represent places that are close to us.”
Shah said he and Burns wanted to create drinks like craft cocktails. “We thought … why don’t we actually have fun with these drinks, use high quality ingredients, source them from local businesses, make our syrups and see if they go well with our coffees.”
In addition to standard and signature coffee drinks, Voyager offers a menu of bites beyond croissants and muffins. Its toasts are piled with everything from fresh avocado, olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper to goat cheese and a spicy jelly they get from a small farm in Oregon that only sells to them.
“Honestly, it has become a bigger part of the menu than we ever envisioned it becoming,” said Shah. “It’s crazy how many toasts we go through–especially on the weekends. It’s beyond what we expected it to be.”
While Voyager Craft Coffee–open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.–has only been in business for just over a year (Shah and Burns had a coffee cart for about four months prior to opening the brick and mortar), the early success of the business and loyal clientele is something they refuse to take for granted.
“We want to build relationships with people,” said Shah. “We are owner operated. We always will be. Even if we ever are lucky enough to grow bigger we’ll still be owner operated. It’s really amazing to see people week after week, day after day and get to know them … It’s very humbling. That’s what drives us to keep getting better. It’s for those people because we don’t take that for granted. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”
Shah and Burns hope to add their own roasting operation within the next six months. They’re also working on new, seasonal, signature drinks and plan to roll those out at the end of June to coincide with the first day of summer.