It’s Small Business Saturday and we are still celebrating National Coffee Day from earlier this week! We are excited to share more about Strange Matter Coffee Co. located in Lansing. Strange Matter is a multi-roaster pour-over and espresso bar. This coffee house is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and homemade vegan donuts-YUM!
GLAMoms recently chatted with owner, Cara Nader. We learned about her love of the science of coffee, how she quickly had to pivot her business during the pandemic and how the unique name -Strange Matter- came to be.
Welcome to GLAMom’s, Cara and Strange Matter Coffee Co. 🙂
Tell us about Strange Matter Coffee! (The who, what, when, where and why of Strange Matter Coffee)
Strange Matter was created by Cara Nader. It was a business plan collecting dust for 4 years as I figured out how to bootstrap the cash to open. I signed my first lease on the Eastside of Lansing in April 2014. I was 29 at the time!
So many folks helped and supported us along the way, since day one, and we wouldn’t be here without them.
What’s your background? What made you go into what you’re doing now?
My background is entirely coffee! My first barista job was in a Borders Bookstore at 18. I fell in love with coffee and never looked back.
Since my first job at Borders I’ve managed coffee shops in Traverse City and Chicago, competed regionally in barista competitions and latte art championships, until I finally opened Strange Matter 7 years ago, a dream that was years in the making.
What do you love about having a business in the Greater Lansing area?
It’s like a small town, but big town! I love running into the same folks every day. It’s like everyone in the area is on the same team and supports each other. That support and small town vibe has kept us going during the pandemic.
What has been the most challenging part of running your business during the pandemic, and how did you overcome it?
I’m a planner. Intensely. I don’t like to do things without a lot of forethought. Unfortunately, the pandemic really required us to live day-to-day and make frequent adjustments. That was my own personal challenge as a business owner.
We lost nearly half our business, staff, and closed one location that has still yet to reopen. We’ve overcome all of this by fine tuning our business plan over the past year, and making some quick pivots.
In the Spring/Summer of 2020 we introduced online ordering and local delivery. We started roasting our own coffee in the Fall of 2020. We also made a commitment to our staff to pay a liveable wage and offer positions with growth, and long term career opportunities.
What are some exciting plans you have for the business in 2021 and as we move towards 2022?
We have our Halloween and Christmas doughnut rollouts which are always my favorite! Beyond that, keep an out for us to re-open our Downtown location, and expand into another favorite Lansing neighborhood.
The NOLA is a definite favorite of ours! Can you tell us more about this amazing drink-
It’s a riff on a popular coffee drink. We make a cold brew concentrate with chicory. Then we combine the concentrate, simple syrup, and milk to create the perfect creamy drink.
It almost didn’t make it on the menu. I wanted an intensely coffee focused menu in my original business plan, which didn’t include a lot of flavors or sweet options. My wife, Elaine, convinced me it was the best drink and that customers would love it. I agreed to put it on the menu for her.Now I can’t imagine Strange Matter without it.
Now I can’t imagine Strange Matter without it.
Do you mind explaining the story behind the name, Strange Matter-
Our focus is on the science of coffee, and the science of extraction.
Strange Matter is actually a theoretical physics term.
It’s a combination of Quarks and is a theoretical substance, thought to be a liquid. If they ever are able to prove it, it will happen in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the greatest scientific place on Earth,
Combining coffee and science, and the science of liquid extraction, led us to the name Strange Matter Coffee. Believe me, there were many dud names before we got to the perfect one.
What’s your favorite business or two in the Greater Lansing area – other than yours, of course 🙂 ?
My two favorite businesses in Lansing are, Babe’s Corner and Zoobie’s/Cosmos in Old Town.
Thank you Kara and Strange Matter Coffee Co.-we will be in soon for a NOLA!