If you like coffee – no, more specifically – if you like good coffee, you must get yourself over to the Wise Bean in North Bethlehem. It’s tucked a little off Broad Street, still in a convenient location but one that makes you feel like you found a place that only those “in the know” are aware of. It’s small but beautiful, with bright colors, rock posters, local art and a gorgeous chandelier welcoming you.
And the coffee – they do it well. Very well. Read on to learn about the friendly baristas (that quickly learn your name), the atmosphere like no other in town, and why their coffee roaster is top secret (really!). Samantha Young, co-owner, knows everyone in Bethlehem and her vibrant personality and respect for customers and friends is no doubt part of Wise Bean’s success.
Read the interview with Sam Young below the cut.
How did the Wise Bean get started? Was it something you always wanted to do, or was it born from a circumstance or situation?
While in Boston dropping off my sister, my dad noticed that every corner had a coffee shop on it. And that just made him think that’s what Bethlehem needed… a really great coffee shop! So we did traffic studies and found that the corner of Broad and N. New were very busy (at that time there was only parking lot next to us).
Who are the owners? As a family business, do you guys get along well?
My dad, mom and myself are all partners in the business. We actually do get a long pretty well, but that could just be be because none of our shifts overlap that much. Hahaha.
The decor of the cafe is stunning! Who designed the inside?
My sister, Kelly, was in college pursuing her degree in Interior Design and came up with the floor plan and design while on summer break between Freshman and Sophomore year. I think she did a great job for a first year student.
I recently took a poll online about the best cafe’s in the area and Wise Bean was mentioned by several people as their favorite coffee shop. Your coffee is delicious! Can you tell me about it?
Our roaster is a TOP SECRET, but I can tell you that our coffee is roasted to order and it’s here the next day. It hasn’t been sitting around a warehouse vacuumed pack somewhere. That’s the reason it’s so fresh. The roasters buy only the best beans.
What is your relationship with your customers?
Nearly all of our customers are ‘regulars’. We practically know each one by name and treat them like they were family. Our customers have come to expect this from us. We’ve coordinated little trips to Martin Guitar and the Allentown Museums Andy Warhol exhibit and even a sleigh ride at Christmastime. We want people to think of The Bean as their third ‘place’. If you’re not at home or work, come to The Bean and see what’s going on and who’s hanging out.
Do you have any really funny stories about working at The Bean?
Once we had an ‘unusual’ couple that came in and started talking about Harry Potter, like it was real. When I mentioned Valdemort, they screamed at me “DON’T SAY THE NAME OUT LOUD!!!!”, and that was just the beginning of the conversation with them. Come in some time and I’ll finish it for you… there are so many stories we should have made a movie!
You have a very unusual and AWESOME way of issuing gift certificates. Tell me about it.
We have gift coins! These little colorful, ceramic tokens worth $5 each. They’re great because not only are they different from certificates and cards, but they can be reused too, boosting our eco-friendly factor. When you buy them, we put them in a little gift bag with coffee beans – it looks really cute!
What’s the best part about owning such a great coffee shop?
Hands down….the people! Everyone of you are different and unique, but collectively you all make us what we are today…..well loved. I don’t think other coffee shops can make that claim.
Visit the Wise Bean at:
- 634 N. New Street, Bethlehem (around the corner from the Boyd Theater)
- Monday – Friday 7:00am – 10:00pm
- Saturday 9:00am – 2:00pm
- Sunday – closed
- Phone: 610-867-5010
And stay updated with Sam and The Bean on FACEBOOK: Wise Bean Cafe