At Crush Coffee Bar, the lid chooses the customer. That’s the honest truth as experienced by mother-daughter ownership team, Nichole Decker and Jazlyn Breesnee. There’s just too much evidence that the brief, handwritten messages penned on each individual coffee cup lid exit through the window into the very hands they were intended for.
Take the daily devotee who pulled up recently to Jazlyn’s window and reported a particularly long day.
“We just joke with one another all the time, and I said, “Oh, maybe your lid will say, like, ‘Keep pushing through,’” Jazlyn said.
What it actually said: “You are enough.”
Jazlyn regularly enjoys light-hearted interactions with the customer, but this time the woman drove away with tears in her eyes.
“I needed to hear that today,” she said.
The relational nature of coffee is why Jazlyn and Nichole do what they do.
“We want to make sure there is a really clear message that is going to uplift people — right now more than ever,” Nichole said. “We’re really careful with our words, and we get a lot of messages from people saying, ‘You just have no idea how this made my day.’ … We have some that will drive from the north side — it blows my mind — just for the conversation and the encouragement.”
Nichole said she and Jazlyn pray over the lids, and the team is regularly trained to watch for ways to be an encouragement. Some members of the Crush crew are people of faith and some aren’t, but Nichole loves how the entire team is purposefully relational and uplifting.
Nichole said she is often surprised by the reactions of customers. For one thing, she said men tend to look at their lid immediately — even moreso than women, although the messages even get to her from time to time.
“We write them, and I can still get mine and say, ‘Wow, I needed that today,’” she said.
And the reactions from young people consistently inspire Nichole to pen more messages of hope.
“Sometimes they literally just need a couple of words just to feel like, ‘OK, I can make it through this day,’” Nichole said. “I’m shocked by the number of young kids coming through looking for that. We’re clearly missing that in this generation, because so many of them will just stop and take a look at those lids.”
Nichole and Jazlyn took over ownership of the business last fall from founders John and Stephanie Blanton. Both were attracted to the relational nature of the business and the team already in place — which included Jazlyn, who worked at Crush while a student at University High School before her graduation in 2019. The familiarity made the decision an easy one, coupled with Jazlyn’s desire to pursue real-life experience over going the college route.
“We always wanted a coffee stand, and we always talked about how it would be fun to do that,” Jazlyn said. “Then I ended up working at Crush, and it just went from there.”
A Realtor with John L. Scott, Nichole also brings a wealth of coffee experience from bygone days when she managed the Spokane Valley Rocket Bakery location.
Both love coffee and coffee culture, but the fit had to be right. Nichole said the relational culture already in place at Crush as well as the team they inherited made the decision an easy one.
“The original baristas like Angela, Kayla, Riley and Traci were so positive with the sudden change of hands,” Nichole said. “They delivered the same incredible service they had for years and were amazing mentors to the handful of new baristas, as we quickly increased traffic at both locations.”
Nichole said among the many things that didn’t need tinkering when inheriting a new business: the Crush Coffee Bar name itself.
“We were super blessed to inherit a name that we loved and liked the logo and face behind it,” she said. “(We also) love the idea of ‘#crushinit’ for our hashtag, as we could use that to inspire people to Crush their day, going along with our positive, inspirational message and vibe.”
Crush partners with a familiar name in the local coffee industry, Brian Ellsworth of longtime Spokane roaster, Waverly’s Coffee. Jazlyn said working with Waverly’s to dial in an original blend — one that has been refined by the discerning taste buds of Jazlyn and Nichole — is a fun talking point customers appreciate.
The Crush menu includes an array of specialty drinks such as the popular Caramel Crush mixed in with all of the standards.
Moving through the menu offerings, Nichole emphasized, “We do local everything.” De Leon Foods provides the breakfast burritos. Desserts by Sara provides treats, including hundreds of specialty cookies for fundraisers like Hugs for Jade. Feel Good Fuel provides healthy options.
“We chose all Valley businesses because we are in the Valley,” Nichole said. “One of our big missions is the giveback factor we can have in supporting local businesses.”
THE TIME WHEN …
Nichole and Jazlyn took over the Crush location on Sprague in October and the one on 32nd in December. The traditionally slower winter months would help them ramp up to when business typically blasts off in March.
Then COVID-19 happened. While Crush was allowed to take precautions and remain open, there were many who assumed it was closed.
That’s when the owners of a Spokane Valley promotional item business, Hill Billy Bling, surprised Crush with a complimentary sign that said, “Yes, Crush is open.”
Known for her big personality, barista Traci Russell hopped in a dinosaur costume, grabbed the sign and began dancing down the East Sprague Avenue sidewalk. From passing traffic to social media video, let’s just say it didn’t take long for people to realize Crush was, indeed, still open.
Nichole said that is just one example of how local businesses have helped one another out during COVID. Crush and Waverly’s partnered to bless the Valley Hospital night shift with coffee. Even so-called competitors in the Spokane Valley coffee network are really more of a community, and now more than ever.
A friend of Nichole’s owns the Shotzy’s location on Pines.
“We called each other when all of this fun stuff started and said, ‘OK, are you low on this? Do you need sugar? OK, I have an excess of that.’” Nichole said. “They are right in between my two stands. We could compete against each other or be like, ‘Well, I hope you run out of that.’ Instead, we both reached out to each other. She went to my stand to support us. …
“I just think there are some really amazing small business owners in this town, and even though we are in the same industry and are technically competitors, we get to work together and just have a different vision for everyone and not just selfishly for ourselves.”
13411 E. 32nd Ave. and
16923 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley
@crushcoffeespokane on Instagram
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What a great article, sounds like I have to go try out this place. Love that they help out others in the business.
I felt the same way, Matthew! I love your Instagram account and hope you check them out. (And people should totally follow your Spokane coffee and beer journeys @2frothandfoam)