In an effort to get to know our neighbors and introduce our members to the local businesses around us, we periodically conduct interviews with business owners in our community. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Reegan Lessie, one half of the creative team behind Baba Coffee in Carlsbad Village. As is with many business owners, they are so much more than just coffee! Read the full interview to learn more.
Baba Coffee is located in the heart of Carlsbad Village, at 2727 State St. Their open and airy outpost offers a variety of coffee, tea, craft beer, and food throughout the day. Open from 6am to 6pm, Baba not only satiates people’s appetite throughout the day, but also offers the community a space to connect. They pride themselves on supporting the community in which they live and work by utilizing local vendors for the majority of their offerings, whether it’s for products or ingredients used within them. Owned and operated by Reegan and her partner, Rob, Baba is a warm and inviting space, with a feeling that’s akin to sitting down at your own kitchen table with a loved one — comfortable and familiar.
We opened Baba in August of 2016, so just over two years now. We also own Yoga80 in Sorrento Valley, which has been open since 2008. As far as roles go, we’re partners in both life and business — 50/50 on everything. Rob is more of the technical business side and I’m more of the creative side. He does the sourcing and ordering and I run all the hiring and training as well as a lot of the marketing and community aspects as well.
I’m the one who comes up with the menus and ideas and then Rob implements them. I often have BIG ideas that I get really excited about without thinking about the practical side of them. Rob helps me take those ideas and understand what’s actually doable. And it’s because of that that we have such a great end product.
We are more of a European style coffee shop. Our coffee has darker notes, like chocolate, merlot, and cherry. It’s more of an Italian or Spanish profile and tends to be stronger and more full-bodied. Many other coffee shops are focusing on a more sour and citrusy flavor profile, which is very different from ours. We are really proud of that too as it’s not found much around Southern California. People have taken notice and been very receptive to it.
Coming from a large family, community and connectedness is a big part of what we do and something we work hard to integrate. When we built the space out, we wanted it to feel warm and inviting, similar to the comfort you feel at home. We added blankets and cushions and have a large number of regulars who spend a significant amount of time here.
We often hear people say this is their home away from home and it just makes me so happy. I want to go to places that make me feel good so it’s nice to know that we do that for others.
A lot of the menu has been influenced by me as well. As the oldest of 27 grandchildren, I did a lot of cooking for other people growing up. But we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel or rewrite anything. We find local products we like and bring them in. We focus on products that are high quality, handled correctly, and can be scalable so that the food can be made the right way by all our employees and be consistent for customers.
We don’t skimp on things for price. We buy the highest grade, organic avocados, and Rob and I have even fought over having pasteurized, local honey. With our food and drinks — and everything we offer — we are trying to bring to the table what you might serve in your own home. Things that are hand selected for their quality and flavor. We also only have one menu all day and it’s available from the time we open until the time we close. You want breakfast at 4 pm? Great, you can have it!
I waited tables for almost 20 years and after that I never wanted to go into the restaurant business. I think in life you are gifted with things you sometimes don’t expect, so rather than trying to manifest specific things, you just need to go with the flow and ride the wave to see where it takes you. Sometimes it can be better than you expect.
But at the same time, yes, because I think this is exactly what I was made to do, even if I resist it sometimes. Yoga was the same too. I got into that at the time because I had a partner who was injured and I wanted to help him. But now it’s such a big part of my life. Rob and I practice yoga every day and have for the past ten years.
Who knows what’s coming next! We would love to open several more in some big cities, but we’re not sure when that’ll happen. I have lots of ideas but we need to do some work to figure out what makes the most sense as our next project.
For now though, we really enjoy our community and encourage people to come and connect with one another and enjoy the space. We’ve gotten to know a lot of our customers and they keep coming back because we have a great relationship with them.
My very first job was at Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop when I was just 13 years old. It was in North County Fair Mall at the time and I remember being so excited about it. They ended up eventually being bought out by Starbucks. Who knew I’d be working in coffee again this many years later!
Let go of the idea of having a full day off. Your business is constant, especially with ours which are both open 7 days a week. Once you let go of that, you can really start to enjoy the process. And make sure you make some kind of time for yourself to practice self-care. You have to find a balance — it’s so, so important. There is always more to do and get done, so get over thinking you need to do it right now.
It’s also really important to learn how to allow people to do their job without micromanaging them. Even if it’s not the exact way you might do the job, let people find their own way.
A lot of yoga and long, barefoot walks on the beach. I also love to read and study tarot, which I’ve been doing a lot more of lately as well.
The next few questions are a series of rapid fire, don’t-think-too-much, one-word answers to see how people think on their feet. They usually provide some pretty interesting insight!
Salad or Avocado
Do you work for or own a business in Solana Beach, Leucadia, Carlsbad? Contact us to set up your own interview and feature. We can’t wait to meet you!