When Food Finds You

By Craig Chapman

Food businesses come in all shapes and sizes and are developed from all kinds of ideas, dreams, passions and love. The brilliance lies in figuring out how to make these elements come together in one heartfelt mission that is also profitable. Open Mike’s, once not even a food business at all, has become a thriving music venue/cafe/craft coffee roaster all-in-one thanks to the undying vision of owners Mike and Lisa Della Cioppa. They were faced with a big challenge: How to take an old music store and turn it into something that aligned with the core concept. Additionally, it had to be relevant and exciting.

Why start a coffee shop?
“We started out of necessity, trying to fill space where inventory used to be when the economy turned back in 2011,” explained Lisa. “We started with coffee (which was being roasted for us at the time), beer and wine. The kitchen and coffee roaster came along a couple of years later. We’re also what we are because of our amazing staff, friends and community. As of now, we’re finally comfortable being who we are, and we also still sell musical accessories and offer music lessons.”

So, Open Mike’s grew. Coffee, delicious food and a venue for all types of live performances — a true community space it turns out Brevard was craving.

Lisa’s love for the coffee side of the business was where her passion was from the get-go, not the serving coffee part. The roasting of the coffee beans and creating their own signature blends was something Lisa discovered she loved more than your average coffee enthusiast. “I’ve always been a coffee lover … but my passion for it grew with my knowledge about it,” she said. “It never gets old, trying and learning about a coffee — where it’s grown, the farmers who grow it, the various ways it’s processed. It’s truly amazing, and then to know how many coffee-producing regions there are, and all are unique. Then there are all the ways to prepare it. It fascinates me.”

With coffee shops on every corner these days, owners have to do something that stands out. Mike and Lisa have taken this to heart and paved new pathways in local coffee.

“We have a nitro cold brew coffee and one steeped with chicory root we called NOLA,” said Lisa. “I think we’re trying to give the county some of the world’s top-produced specialty coffee, but in a fun, relaxed, chill environment. We strive to provide organic, fair trade, ethically grown and sourced coffee, but we like to mix in music, community and atmosphere to that vibe. As far as roast style goes, we have our own specific profiles we use to highlight each coffee’s unique attributes.”

Her favorite cup of joe also happens to be a very popular one right now, especially now that we are in the summer months in Florida. “As of right now, I’m really into cold brew coffee. It’s so smooth,” she said. “I also like the Aero Press. It’s an individual cup brewer that brings out great notes in the coffee but is quick in preparation. As far as beans go, I love anything from Ethiopia. I’m obsessed with their coffee. It’s incredible what’s produced there.”

Lisa says some of their future plans include completing the evolution of Open Mike’s, bottling their cold brew coffee and expanding into more retail establishments. They are also excited about opening up as a wholesaler to other cafés and restaurants.

In the end, Lisa is keenly aware of what keeps her going every day. “Challenging myself,” she said. “Always crafting, learning and creating. Getting to truly know our customers and community. We live in such an incredible town. I absolutely love what I do.”