By Angela Muniz
Kindness matters in life. It also matters in business, say Clay and Jen Novick, husband/wife owners of The Kind Bean, a neighborhood café they opened in 2017 that serves coffee, specialty drinks, grab-n-go breakfast and lunch, and handmade sweets.
The self-proclaimed foodies, who met while working in the hospitality industry in Tucson, share a common passion for delivering high-quality food and beverages, along with genuine customer service. The couple had previously owned a video and audio business in Chandler and were partners in a chocolate franchise in New York. Dismayed by the lack of common kindness in corporate America, they wanted to create something different.
“The world needs a little bit more kindness. Our thought was we could at least do our part. We wanted to build our own community, make friendships, and bond with people and customers. For us, the best way we knew how to do that was through food and people, and being able to mix them together,” explains Clay of their “kind coffee” approach.
The duo’s brand of business—entrepreneurship with a heart—goes above and beyond what they offer at their 1,000-square-foot coffee and sweet shop located at Pecos and McQueen roads. That includes getting to know customers, greeting them by their names, and understanding what they might need that particular today, whether it’s coffee, avocado toast or hugs.
“We give customers things they need, like coffee and treats. We also want our customers to tell us what they need to start their day,” Clay says.
Customers run the gamut from teachers, parents and students, to healthcare workers, first responders and law enforcement. “We have all walks of life who come in. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or what you order. We give everyone the same experience,” he adds. “For us, it should happen without being said or being asked. It should be the norm.”
While The Kind Bean serves diverse micro-roasted selections, lattes, botanicals and teas, as well as an array of light nibbles, pastries and sweets handcrafted by Jen, it offers something much more than the average coffee pitstop.
“Customers often say, ‘I never get a greeting like that from my own family.’ And that’s why they keep coming back,” Jen says of the repeat patron base. “Kindness is pushed out the door and into customers’ lives and their jobs.”
As part of the domino, feel-good vibe. The Kind Bean’s Pay It Kind program gives customers the opportunity to load money onto gift cards for other customers, a favor that is routinely returned without recognition. The kind effect also has cast a wide, but familiar net, leaving a lasting impression on visitors who come from near and far to experience the café’s menu lineup and positive coffee shop culture.
“We get customers from all over—from places like New York and Minnesota—and they can’t believe we’re in a big city, but have a small-town feel,” says Jen. “I’m proud of that.”