ACP 063: Anthem Coffee and Tea in Tacoma Washington

“When Anthem started did you think you would have an employee (Matia Long) serving with your team 10 years later?”



Anthem Coffee Delivering Heroic Hospitality

INTRO: Part 2 of interviewing Bryan Reynolds from Anthem Coffee and Tea in Tacoma Washington. Last episode we talked about how you personally need to cast a vision for your employees to learn and model back to your customers. We also left off with a quote from a visual artist who worked with Bryan, talking about the great ambiance in the cafe, here is Bryan’s response to that quote.

TIME 0:50
Levi: how did you build this culture?
Bryan: it stems from his parents modeling this to him growing up, there was never a stranger to his parents, everyone was a guest. I wanted to make a cafe that had a different focus on customer service because my own first experience in coffee as a customer was an uncomfortable one. You can walk someone through the ordering process in a loving way, giving undivided attention and serve them well. Make the product worth coming back.

TIME 3:05
Levi: “We wont be held accountable for how much we have done, but for how much we have done of what he asks us to do” the take away from that in a cafe would be if we want to make something cool like a fancy wall, how is that really going to improve the customer and employee experience? Do you have a lesson to share?
Bryan: the first time we adopted a virtual punch-card system to ‘bring people back’ but it ultimately it created an entitled customer for a number of reasons. We learned from that and changed it to a pre-load punch-card which has worked even better. We have had many other things that we wanted to do but never even launched. But as long as we learn from this and ‘fail forward’ then we are being made stronger. Its far more of a risk to not try than it is to take a risk.

TIME 8:15
Levi: “I know God will not give me anything I cannot handle, I just with He didn’t trust me so much” your first big fear must have been starting Anthem, but what is the next biggest fear that is around the corner for Anthem?
Bryan: success can lead to failure just as much as remaining dormant can, what scares me is if we coast if we let off the gas pedal. I’m constantly keeping myself tethered to the core values helps from becoming distracted. There’s 60 of us on this team, there’s a lot of moving parts. Which is why we focus on “Better before bigger.” And it leads to ‘how do we make little things like waiting in line better?’ that question led to them creating a Anthem Coffee IOS app. A [customer] line is a good sign because it means there’s something worth waiting for, but finding a way to skip the line ads value to some customers.


TIME 13:05
Levi: what is your 85/10/5 rule?
Bryan: in the book Leading on Empty, the author unpacks this idea, there is 85% of what other people should be doing for you, 10% that you can train leaders to do, and 5% that only you can do. If you don’t take care of you then you can’t take care of others. I love conflict because what’s on the other side of it, which is unity. From the book “Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing You Passion, by Wayne Cordeiro.

TIME 17:40
Levi: who introduced you to coffee?
Bryan: I was saving money for an engagement ring, so I started working at Cutters Point. I used to drink sweet sweet beverages (Black and White Hot Chocolate with Toasted Marshmallow) then a barista accidentally threw some shots into the drink (turning it into a mocha) and it was game-over, I loved the way it balanced the flavor and I was hooked from then on.


TIME 19:05
Levi: the White Chocolate Mocha is the ‘Gateway Mocha.’ What did you think of that first sip?
Bryan: I don’t drink sweet drinks as much, but I love an Espresso Macchiato, its like a mini-vacation for me. I love tasting different black coffees.

TIME 19:50
Levi: decaf or tea?
Bryan: I would go decaf. There’s something about the smell of coffee, it takes you away. My wife will brew a pot of coffee just for the smell in the house.

Glad you listened to these 2 episodes, some topics we covered that I enjoyed learning were: giving employees light responsibilities to free your time up teaching them lower risk tasks and testing to see where they’re sweet spot is. The small tasks is really part of setting up the “85/10/5% rule” and finding others to help handle 95% of that your workload. Do you remember that story of a customer loyalty program that had outstanding usage but went bust?

Well its time to say goodbye, I’ll let Bryan send us off with this inspiration and challenge “Better before bigger.”

Music in this episode by The Dirty Moogs, via


I wanted to share an email from Bryan when we were setting up this whole interview. After receiving the email I had teased him about stealing it from a TEDTalk, just because it was so well thought out. Here is what he wrote:

The thought process for this topic began after five years in the coffee business, I personally experienced “Burnout”, and then had to take a break for a month and get away from everything to refocus and game plan a new approach.

I read a book called “Leading On Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro, a Pastor in Oahu, where he talks about this 85/10/5 Rule and that began my intentional thinking about the way I lead my business.

85% of what we do anybody else on our team can do, things like taking orders, making beverages, cleaning at the café, opening and closing the shop, 10% of everything we do we can train a more highly skilled leader or manager in, things like ordering and inventory management, leading team meetings, and other things like that, but there’s 5% that only we can do as leaders and will be held accountable for, and this is the most important 5% that we should be doing every day.

So often and for the longest time the 95% ran my day-to-day. I wasn’t running the business, the business was running me, and I was literally just a firefighter running from thing to thing, fire to fire, knee-jerk reacting and leaving a wake of destruction in my path. It was exhausting.

Once I finally took the time to figure out my most important 5%, I wrote those things down and it reshaped my thinking and help me to realize that I can put boundaries on my world for my sanity and that ultimately boundaries would help create balance in work and in life.

My most important 5% is my faith, my personal being, my wife & family, my relationships/friendships and then obviously my roles and responsibilities as a business owner and leader (which are Threefold these days Protecting the Culture, Cultivating Leaders, and Casting Vision) but I know that I can’t lead others well if I haven’t led myself well first, and I can’t give what I don’t have. So I know that I am a very important part of this whole equation and that I need to be developing myself daily.

I believe a lot of business owners and business leaders don’t realize how important they are to their organization and that if they don’t take care of themselves first, how in the world are they going to be able to take care of anyone else?

I believe that developing Guiding Principles (Mission, Vision, Values) are the antidote and the vaccine for avoiding Burnout.

I spend a lot of time these days working with business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders in helping them to develop their Guiding Principles for their organizations.

It’s actually pretty amazing when in a sober minded moment you’re able to clearly articulate and define your Guiding Principles for not only yourself but for your organization and then how that applies to the way that you think about your business, lead your business, and the decisions that you make. No longer will you be making weary decisions that lead to failures, you’ll be leaving from a place of clarity and intentionally and you’ll see the results that you’ve always hoped for happening by design not accidentally happening by default.