A person who has an idea, goes for it full force, makes it happen, and loves it. That’s what I find to be truly inspiring.
I met Mark Corpus at the start of 2013. He told me about his wholesale coffee business… his quickly approaching trip to Ethiopia… his plans to open up a cafe with his friend in our Philly neighborhood of Fishtown. It all seemed so intriguing. We also realized we share a birthday: January 1st.
Just about one year later, when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, an alarm went off in my phone. An alarm Mark and I had set, as more of a silly joke to our future selves than anything else, on the very night we met.
It said: Collab birthday with Mark, whatever his last name is. Do you even know his last name? Did he open his damn coffee shop?
Heck yes I knew his last name by this point. Heck yes he opened up that damn coffee shop. And it’s doing incredibly. Coincidentally, Mark just so happened to be celebrating New Year’s at the same place as I was when that alarm went off. It was as if everything had come full circle. I was hit with this overwhelming feeling of inspiration. A year prior, Mark told me he was going to open up a coffee shop. And now… he’s about to open his second.
Mark, along with his friend and business partner (also named Mark), is a beautiful example of those ever-inspiring people who go for their dreams with all of their might, and make them happen. I wanted to share their story as motivation for you and me and anyone else to never give up. If you have a dream, make it your reality. It’s oh so very possible.
Meet the men of ReAnimator Coffee: Mark Capriotti and Mark Corpus.
Corpus! How did you and Mark Capriotti first meet? How did you get into the world of coffee together?
Mark and I met in college at Drexel. His cousin was my roommate throughout most of college so we saw each other pretty often. When we all graduated we kept in touch. I started doing home roasting as a hobby and began talking to Mark about it since he was into home brewing beer. It occurred to us at the time that no one was roasting high quality single origin coffees on a really small scale in Philly, so we thought we would give it a shot.
I love the vibe of your café. It feels like a chill hangout spot where everyone seems to be friends – both employees and customers – whether they actually know each other or not. How do you keep this sense of community alive?
A lot of our employees were our friends long before ReAnimator was even a thing. I think that sort of tight knit feeling has attracted a lot of good people to us and people who want to have that type of work environment. A lot of us live in the neighborhood too so there is also a friendly neighbor vibe going on there. There are a lot of really cool people that live in Fishtown that are doing similar start up/DIY projects so I think there is a neighborhood pride that we can create and do these things here and not have to settle for something that comes from other places.
How would you describe your typical customer? How old is he/she? What does he/she like to do for fun?
We have a pretty wide ranging customer base, but I would say a central trait among most would be curiosity. People who are curious about food, where it comes from, how its made and most importantly how it tastes are the people that are most likely going to enjoy our coffee.
Between your roastery, wholesale business, café, planning for the new café, and travels, you guys seem to have your hands full. How do you balance it all? Do you still have time for a social life?!
You find random bits of time here and there to do your own thing. Sometimes I leave Fishtown.
What would you say is your absolute favorite part of it all? Why?
For me it’s the discovery aspect of the business that I really enjoy. The process of finding new coffees, roasting them and tasting them is a really interesting and engaging process.
And the most challenging aspect?
Juggling it all, growing it and learning to keep the things that make your brand strong and lose the things that don’t.
Where has your coffee-related traveling taken you? How do you decide where to go? How often do these travels take place?
Right now we do once a year trips to Africa and Central America, but this year we’ve been pushing it a little further and staying out a little longer. We will be in South America in a few months and maybe Africa as well. When you’re sourcing coffee you are always looking into the future. We just finished up our sourcing trips for the next season of coffees that we will be introducing in a few months and the next trips will be to source the coffees for the season after that. It’s a big cycle.
What’s the coolest place you’ve visited on these travels? Do you do any leisurely activities while you’re there, or is it strictly business?
Tej bars in Ethiopia can get pretty weird. On this last trip we had a couple of days open up in the itinerary so we did a couple of days of surfing on the west coast of El Salvador.
If you could live off of just one type of coffee, what would that be?
If I could only get coffee from one place for the rest of my life, it would be Ethiopia. They’re super floral, sweet, clean and can have a wide range of fruit characteristics.
Let’s say you’d have never gotten into coffee from the start. How do you imagine your life would look right now?
I’d probably be doing something I hated.
What advice would you give to those who want to have a business of their own, but are intimidated by the idea of possible failure? How do you stay motivated and keep moving forward?
Being in a position where failure is not an option is highly motivating.
Travel photos c/o Mark Corpus.
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