When Small World Coffee opened its doors in Princeton on December 22, 1993, independent coffee houses were just beginning to pop up on the East coast. Founders and co-owners, Jessica Durrie and Brant Cosaboom, selected Princeton for their business venture after a year-long search of college towns throughout the United States.
Small World was their first coffee shop, although Ms. Durrie had earlier opened a cafЋ for another company in Santa Cruz in California. They found that Princeton had most of the “markers” they were looking for. “It has a world class University in the center of town; it has a walking downtown with a great mix of retail and residential and the demographics of the community were near perfect,” said Ms. Durrie. Although they thought that the town might be a little bit too small, its proximity to Manhattan and Philadelphia “meant there would always be an interesting throughput of people and events.” At that time, too, there was no competition. “Besides Princeton looked and felt like a community we could call home,” she said. “All of these attributes added up to a very appealing option for us.”
The town has fulfilled their expectations. “It took a while for us to get used to Princeton, but I have to say, it is now home. Twenty years of relationship-building create a very strong and meaningful foundation in business and life. The town has been good to us, and we are very thankful for that.”
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the popular Witherspoon Street café plans some fun festivities this Sunday, December 22. The celebration is designed to express Small World Coffee’s thanks to its loyal customers.
The Princeton High School String Quartet will perform from 8 to 10 a.m. while customers sip their morning coffee and read the Sunday newspapers. In the evening from 7 to 9 p.m., an “Anniversary Celebration Party” will feature live music from Chris Harford and the Band of Changes. The Nomad Pizza Truck will stop by and there will be mementos to mark the occasion, including the original Small World recipe anniversary coffee blend, whimsical mugs, and anniversary t-shirts.
Although Small World Coffee has grown over the years, it still retains its close-knit community feel. The company motto is “dream big, build small,” and the philosophy has stood them in good stead. The company’s first growth move was in 1995 when they opened their sister company, a coffee roasting business, Small World Roasters, with longtime friend and employee, Jonathan March.
In 2001, Small World Coffee at 14 Witherspoon Street expanded its footprint when it took over the space of the neighboring print shop when it went out of business.
In 2006 a second location was added on the north end of town next to the Nassau Street Seafood Company. This café houses the Small World kitchen and is primarily take-out, although it has ample out-door seating shared with the Blue Point Grill and Nassau Street Seafood.
Like Small World Coffee on Witherspoon, the Nassau satellite has become a neighborhood venue, especially for breakfast prepared short order with items such as the “Pile Driver” breakfast sandwich, the “Gringo Breakfast Burrito,” and the “Loxed and Loaded Bagel Sandwich.”
The secret of success, according to Ms. Durrie, is never to become complacent: “We always pay attention to the quality of our coffee and menu. Brant and Jon, my two business partners in the roasting end of our operation, are fanatical about the quality of our beans and roasting; they roast all of the coffee we sell. We pay attention to the quality, kindness, and attentiveness of our staff, the desires of our customers, and have tried to make the choices that have allowed us to remain in business for 20 years. We have certainly made mistakes along the way, but I feel like we have had the courage to correct them as they arise. Also our success, on an intangible level, has had to do with our authentic desire for connection, with our staff and our customers. Paying attention to the culture of our company and hiring the right people has allowed us to deliver a consistent approach to our customers.”
Besides its freshly roasted and artisanal coffees, small batch food and beverages created in its kitchen, Small World has become known for hosting visual art shows by local artists and performances by local musicians.
The interwoven effect of coffee, food, art and music has cultivated long lasting community affection for this local hangout.
For more information, call (609) 924-4377, or visit: www.smallworldcoffee.com.