Dishing Out Local Love: Serafina Coffee Roasters
According to Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization that celebrates independent businesses throughout Arizona, downtown businesses have seen anywhere from an 80 to 100 percent decrease in profits over the last few months. Recognizing the need, Suns Charities huddled up with Local First and Devin Booker and committed to supporting downtown Phoenix-area restaurants and food vendors with $100,000 in funding that will go towards helping feed the hungry in our community. As part of the Suns’ Small Business Assist program, Serafina Coffee Roasters has received $5,000 that will underwrite meals for those in need.
To spotlight the participating businesses, we connected with Serafina Coffee Roasters Owner and Founder Damian Serafine, who shared more about the local coffee shop, the partnership with the Phoenix Suns and giving back to the community.
Serafina Coffee Roasters
Serafina Coffee Roasters (45 W Jefferson St, Phoenix, AZ 85003) recently provided meals for The Salvation Army Kroc Center, one of the largest community centers in Arizona that provides a wide variety of resources to those in need across the Valley including education courses, fitness and wellness programs and serves as a continuing presence of The Salvation Army’s effort to build a community of hope in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Can you provide a little history of Serafina Coffee Roasters?
I first came to the Valley in 1993 and opened my first shop downtown and kind of went from there. Opened up a few shops here and there but initially, they really didn’t do much and coffee was sort of new to the Valley. Then I got a lucky break and got the Phoenix Convention Center contract for all their coffee and that propelled us forward. I’ve been roasting coffee since the early 90s and was one of the first coffee roasters in Phoenix, so it was pretty cool at the time. Eventually, my family and I moved away but missed Arizona and came back. We saw the location available at the Luhrs Tower was ready to rent out and I opened Serafina in 2018. That is where we are today and I absolutely love it.
What drives the passion behind the menu at Serafina Coffee Roasters?
It has always been about the people and the bean. It’s sort of like having a vineyard, it comes down to the quality of the grape, the coffee bean in this sense and that has always interested me. I love finding green beans from these small local farmers in Guatemala or Mexico that we get directly from the farmer, so they receive all of the profit with no middleman. We roast all the coffee in the shop and it’s really fun to try things we’ve never had before, (so) it’s exciting and that’s why the bean has always been important to us. Just as important is the people, I have always concentrated on having a cool crew of people working for us where we can make it like feel like a family experience for everyone who comes in. We have a menu but if someone walks in asking for something specific that may not be on the menu, we will make it for them. We’ve always treated everyone like family.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Downtown Phoenix culture?
I love it. I’ve been asked many times to open up locations in Ahwatukee or Arcadia or other parts of town and I’ve always declined. I’m a Downtown Phoenix kind of guy and when I first moved here from New York, I moved downtown and never strayed too far away. I love seeing the growth. Back in the ‘90s, you could almost take a nap on Central Avenue because the city wasn’t very busy but now, I’ve seen it grow and explode and it’s awesome.
How important is giving back to the community to Serafina Coffee Roasters and what does it mean to you to team up with the Phoenix Suns?
We always love to do whatever we can to give back, so we try our best and it’s a win-win. As far as the Suns go, we couldn’t be more proud to be connected with the Phoenix Suns and its charities and anything the team ever asks for, we love to be on board. At Serafina, we’re huge proponents of the Suns and we realized what the team has done for downtown and once the arena was built, a whole new life came to the city. Having our shop so close to the arena and the relationship we have is huge for us.
What are your current capabilities and what are some current offerings you would like to highlight?
We’re happy to be open, but our hours have shortened, and we close at noon for now but expect to return to our full hours beginning in June. Our menu is the same and we always have rotating specials and we are happy to make anything we can for people who stop in.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Huge! Local businesses are what make a city great, and I’ve always said that. Anytime you go to a city and you ask, “Where should we go for dinner, drinks, coffee,” nobody ever tells you to go to Chili’s. They tell you to go to the local joints because they’re cool, and they make up the fabric of a city.
How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your business model?
It slowed us down quite a bit, while we never closed but we did shorten our daily shop hours quite a bit. We close at noon now just because downtown doesn’t have anyone out and around beyond that right now. We’ve been seeing a small trickle of new faces in the mornings so I think things might be on the rebound as the city opens back up fully. Unfortunately, we had to furlough some staff for a little while but we’re excited to begin bringing everyone back soon. We were doing about a quarter of our typical sales at the worst of it.
What is it going to take for small businesses to survive this difficult time?
I think one of the biggest things will be help from landlords. They have to be proactive and offer breaks, if they don’t the small businesses are doomed. I’m really lucky our landlord has been incredible for us and they understand that if they get rid of us, no one else will be able to take the space right now with the limited traffic downtown. Secondly, getting our employees back and our full staff available, and thirdly, the continued support from customers and encouraging folks to support local.
To support this local business and browse Serafina Coffee Roasters’ menu, visit www.SerafinaCoffeeRoasters.com or follow on Instagram at @SerafinaCoffee. Be on the lookout for more local restaurant profiles from the Phoenix Suns as we continue to partner with Local First.