Customers from OKC, Guthrie, and well beyond drop in to Hoboken Coffee Roasters for a story years in the making
Twenty-two hundred miles. Before Mallory and Trey Woods transformed an old tire shop (and subsequent storage catch-all) into Hoboken Coffee Roasters, or revived a Victorian project into a beautiful home for their growing family (two toddler daughters and a third child on the way), there were 2,200 miles. On bicycles.
There are all manner of metaphors that can be used to describe the realization of a dream, but after moving from Stillwater to Eugene, Oregon to learn the intricate details of the coffee industry, Trey and Mallory created their own metaphor that was the perfect fit for their dream of opening a coffee company: a journey home by bicycle. After soaking up all they could of their Northwest experience, they took the slow, patient, painstaking way home.
"The anticipation and desire to be open were there, but we were not going to do anything more than what we could do that next day. That’s just like a bike trip," Trey says. "You want to get to the next city or water break, but you can only take it one pedal-stroke at a time.” The next pedal-stroke, mile, or hill. The next wall to paint, recipe to master, or number to crunch.
When a customer walks into Hoboken Coffee Roasters, the echoes of that metaphor are still there. Customers can feel the patience, the listening, the waiting, learning, and detailed preparation that went into this dream. Trey talks about the complicated education involved in making the drinks and roasting the beans. That same gracious attention the Woods honed while learning their craft is now directed to their customers. With roasting machine and cafe in the same room, many days you'll find Trey balancing the hectic roasting process with greeting a baffling number of customers by name.
After a couple years of wrestling with that forgotten storage building, the winter of 2012 saw the Woods open the large glass garage door on their shop for business. When you talk with them now, you can hear the sense of accomplishment in their voices, but it’s more about the relationships they’ve built than anything else. “One of the defining characteristics of Hoboken Coffee is that when you come in—and this goes along with the space and the feeling you get from it—most of the time we try to get to know you,” Trey says. They have put endless amounts of work into every inch of their space, but the pride in creating a place for people to know each other, to laugh and talk and build friendship, is such an overwhelming priority for them that every conversation about their dream business eventually gets around to the people.
Trey and Mallory don’t come across as wildly extroverted folks, but when you listen to them tell their story, you can tell they’re people junkies. Maybe that explains the 2,200 miles. You meet a whole bunch of people biking 2,200 miles. You meet a whole lot more with a coffee business as hospitable and welcoming as Hoboken.
There are locals—the everyday folks—that are clockwork. If you visit from Oklahoma City or beyond, chances are good you’ll see the regular rhythm of a small town. You’re also bound to see Trey listening to a customer from some faraway place telling him part of their story, just because it feels natural. Hoboken Coffee Roasters is one of those places that feels like a story.
When people walk into Hoboken for the first time, their minds do something interesting. They instinctively start imagining the plot, piecing the details together, and wondering how their own story intersects. Storytelling has a way of doing that. Hoboken is good storytelling.
As a couple, Trey and Mallory have been able to bring their unique individual abilities to crafting their business, from when it was just an idea all the way to the daily operation of an established company. According to Trey, their complementary skills have made Hoboken what it is. “If you separate either one of us from the business, it becomes a totally different thing that just tanks,” he says. “It doesn’t exist." The right paint color, the perfect cookie recipe, the important email that has to be answered precisely, the beans roasted in such a way—Mallory handles this, Trey handles that, and Hoboken opens its garage door to eager customers (and arguably some of the best natural lighting you can find).
Frugality and patience are what the Woods specialize in. The constraint of a small budget and the ability to slowly layer the different elements of the spaces they’ve created, both their business and homes where they’ve lived, have created something unique to Hoboken Coffee Roasters. Trey is quick to attribute the style and function of their shop to Mallory.
When you walk through their home or their shop, it’s striking what Mallory has been able to do with these unconventional spaces. It’s not like these buildings are cookie cutter blank slates where one can just copy and paste ideas from the outside world. As a guest in the spaces the Woods have made, you can feel the subtle decisions that have gone into matching these quirky buildings with a welcoming and gracious design.
There are so many layers of cause and effect that have gone into the Hoboken space. The deck in front acts like a home’s front porch, where the visitors’ first experience is one of relaxed refuge. When you walk through the door, the two-top tables and the expansive ceiling give the limited square footage a bigger-than-expected feel, but the close proximity of the tables to each other creates something Trey describes as an improvised community table. Customers get to enjoy privacy or interaction with the space around them in a non-threatening way. The podcast listener in the corner belongs, and so does the group of friends/strangers that have to move tables together to accommodate their growing conversation.
The patience and thoughtfulness that have gone into their business help their customers enjoy the coffee and desserts, but that detailed sense of story the Woods embrace is what helps connect their customers to each other and to Hoboken Coffee Roasters.