Like a triple shot

Macy’s European Coffee House wins three Best of Flag awards.

By the Staff

 

When it comes to Macy’s European Coffee House, it’s all about family.

That’s according to owner Tim Macy, who, for more than 30 years, has owned the beloved Flagstaff institution. He explained that the employees and the regular customers become part of the “family,” and that is part of the appeal of Macy’s.

The coffee house, located south of the tracks on Beaver Street, earned the Best of Flag voters’ approval with “Best Coffee House,” “Best Coffee Roaster” and “Best Vegetarian Selection.”

“It’s the spirit of the place,” Macy said when asked about why the business is so loved. “It’s always been the goal to have a family business and not a franchise. I think people pick up on that spirit … I always tell people who work here that they are part of the family forever.”

Macy’s faced challenged late last year and early this year with the inconveniences that came with the major Southside Streetscape project. However, the $1.2 million project also brought a nice boon to the coffee house, as they gave the location a big bump-out, which allowed it to have more outdoor seating on the Macy’s side of the street.

“We’re very fortunate with the way that all turned out,” noted Macy, who has always loved having his shop on the south side of the tracks. “I like being on the rougher side of the town. When I go to other towns, I like looking for those hole-in-the-wall places.”

Last year, Macy’s hit a major milestone when it turned 30 years old. “I had no business experience at all. It just sort of evolved,” Macy said in a prior interview. “I met a man named Carl Diedrich (of the Diedrich Coffee empire) who helped me into the coffee business. I saw his picture in the L.A. Times roasting coffee, and I had no intention of opening a business, but was interested in coffee.”

While living in Southern California, Macy contacted Diedrich to simply learn more about the process. Diedrich’s family had a coffee plantation in the lake district of Antigua, Guatemala, and he would go down twice a year to supervise the harvest and to stop in little coffee farms in Central America along the way to buy more beans.

He would bring the beans back to his shop in Costa Mesa, Calif., and roast them in a roaster he had built himself.

“We became good friends. I would go to his shop and buy a cup of coffee and hang out for an hour or so,” Macy recalled. “And after three years of this I had learned a lot about coffee. I was married at the time and we were desperate to get out of Southern California and start a business of some kind. And so he said, ‘I’ll build you a roaster and sell you my beans, and you start a coffeehouse.’”

So Macy ended up in Flagstaff and purchased a location from a retiring baker—the same spot where Macy’s is located today.

“We didn’t have a penny left over, so it was guaranteed for failure because we had no backup capital,” Macy said. “This was 15 years before Starbucks. Nobody knew anything about coffee. We had to train people on what espresso and cappuccino was from the very beginning. But there was a lot of interest, so by the time we opened the door in February of ’80 we were lucky.”

Over the past 30 years, so much has changed throughout Flagstaff that parts of town would be virtually unrecognizable to someone who had been away. But while Macy’s has certainly evolved over the years, it remains largely unchanged, as if it stands still at the center of a time-lapse video while everything around it rapidly comes and goes.

Devoted customers and longtime employees attribute this longevity to the general spirit and philosophy of operation found at Macy’s.

“I always wanted a place where everyone was welcome in a spirit of unity. And everyone who’s worked here always kept their own identity,” Macy explained.

He added, “I’m Baha’i so I always wanted it to be a microcosm of what the world could be some day … all these different people coming together—rubbing shoulders with lawyers and transients and students. It’s a wonderful thing.”

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