Side Hustle Diaries: I’m a Manager, Creative Director, and Bad-Ass Barista
Meet Alanna Herbert, the power-house barista who does so much more than just make drinks – she’s re-inventing the coffee industry.
What are your side hustle(s)?
My side hustles are consulting for coffee shops, as well as creating and designing new beverages for my own coffee shop, Coffee Source [located in Studio City, CA]. I’ve also started expanding on my very own personal brand, which is in the very beginning stages of development. Stay tuned!
Do you have a website or social media? Shout yourself out...
Hell yes, I do!
Personal IG: iwastoldnochance
Company IG: mycoffeesource
Coffee Source’s website is: https://mycoffeesource.com
Why did you decide to get into your side hustle?
I got into it because I was given a chance to work at an extraordinary specialty coffee shop in the Bay Area when I was a wayward teen. I learned quickly, and it became such a passion and form of therapy for me. I was fascinated by how scientific and specific coffee actually is. It’s a culture to respect, from farm to cup. Coffee is a really unique, all-sensory experience, and to have the chance to hone a craft and be good enough at it to make an income is a really awesome way of life. I have spent many years in the coffee world and have developed a huge respect for the way it’s constantly reinventing itself. The coffee culture is the farthest thing from complacent – it’s also a very subjective world, which makes it such a fun time. You can teach someone how to make coffee, but you can’t teach someone to love it. Those who dedicate many, many hours will work until the point of understanding becomes intuitional. But like anything you dedicate a lot of time to, you tend to excel in it, or at least one can hope!
Do you have a full-time job as well?
My full-time job is Manager/Creative Director of Coffee Source, a startup coffee company in California.
If so, how do you balance your day job and your side hustle?
Fortunately, the two align. I am able to essentially do both without one taking away from the other. If anything, they reinforce one another and allow me to use my time effectively. I can do both hustles in one location, and that is why it’s possible.
How many hours a week do you devote to your hustle?
My hustle is a full-time grind [she mentions that the pun is intended] and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the last 3 years of my life, I’ve devoted almost all my time to growing and elevating my company. It’s now more successful than I could have imagined at this time, and continuing. It’s been a journey of a lifetime, and I’m only 25. I owe my success to the Fuller Family, for without their utmost trust and resources, this dream wouldn’t have been possible. I love them dearly forever and always. It was John Fuller who initially gave me the opportunity to partner with him and led me down this beautiful path. Without him seeing my potential and giving me the chance to show my talent, I wouldn’t be where I am with the company. After his passing, his daughter, Emily Fuller, and I became an amazing team, and that is the current Coffee Source you see today. She is my partner in everything. My rock. The entire Fuller family has been with me all the way and I am so grateful. I owe them a lot.
Describe your day from waking up to sleep:
Most mornings I wake up at 5/5:30 a.m., and I’m at work by 6:00 a.m. I usually kick off the Morning with an almond corado (an espresso drink with steamed almond milk) to get the heart beating. The shop is alive and functioning by 7:00 a.m., and a little past that I am slanging drinks while chatting it up with my customers about the daily conversations of the week, or the hopeful ideas of the weekend. By noon, I’m on my way home to work on administrative duties or to conceptualize new drinks for the week/month/year. By evening, I’m checking on the shop’s daily report and getting ready to for bed. Us coffee people are in bed early, or at least I am. Running a business has slowed your girl way down, and I am so happy to be living the grandma life.
Managing and operating a shop is such a beautiful way to create relationships with the neighborhood around you. It’s hard not to ask every single person how they are doing or to conjure up stories about everyone’s lives outside my store. Also, having a place where people feel welcomed is everything, I like knowing I can provide a safe space for all. Coffee and community tend to be one in the same these days. It’s hard to find one without the other.
What are your goals and dreams for the hustle?
My hope is that I can keep pushing and expanding my creativity, which will allow me to create a business opportunity of my own. I would ultimately like to do some catering/personal barista-ing for high-end companies or clients. Almost to what a personal chef is, I would be a personal barista. It’s not something I see or hear about, and I’d like to be the first one that I know of doing this. I see myself in coffee for a long time; it’s become my home. No matter where I go in life or where it leads me, I’ll always have the ability to be involved in it, if I choose (goddess willing). It’s an ability that you can take all over the world. It’s an art, and the mediums you work with are coffee and milk. It’s very sacred to me. I’m excited to see what the next five years look like!
How do you organize your finances?
I am very careful about what I spend day-to-day, and I always save about 60 percent of my paycheck, if it’s possible. I am very good at stretching my money, as I live a very minimal lifestyle. Being vegan also helps! An $18 steak versus $13 in vegetables for a PHAT salad that can last me a couple days? Yes, Queen!
What are some of the challenges you face?
The main challenges I face are the ones inside my head. It’s easy for me to be overcritical of myself and my work. I tend to judge myself harshly and not give myself enough credit, but I’m working so hard on learning to correct that type of thinking. Also, being a woman in what seems to be a male-dominated culture can feel a little daunting, but it’s taught me to work harder on myself and my hustle. In the big picture, the product speaks for itself, and my hustle is my loudest voice.
It’s so important to take failure for what it is but to also understand that even if you “failed” at something, the act of trying means the most. I’m also a very sensitive person, so learning how to thicken my skin has been a huge asset. Business is not personal and it can seem very cold when certain decisions must be made for the benefit of the shop. I’m learning how to actively balance all of this out and not take that baggage home with me.
What’s one piece of wisdom you’ve picked up along your journey?
I’ve learned to always accept failure is just a lesson and that it’s not an end. It adds to the journey of what’s to be. As long as you have the intent, it’s just really putting one foot in front of the other and trusting in yourself, even if it’s hilariously scary.