Seven years ago, Josh Zad opened Alfred Coffee, a stylish cafe nestled among the luxury boutiques in the Melrose Place neighborhood of West Hollywood. Conceived with the intention of creating a comfortable space and “Instagrammable” moments for its customers, the store quickly became a popular destination among social and celebrity influencers.
Alfred has since established itself as a prime example of how to marry brick-and-mortar retail with a memorable digital presence, having grown to 16 locations across the U.S. and Japan. In an interview included in this episode, Zad explained that Alfred’s success and appeal is derived from its foundation as “a creative platform” focused on customer experience, rather than as a coffee brand.
“It’s about the lifestyle,” he said. “We have a broader message that goes in many different directions. The personality is there, and we try to reflect that on social media. It’s not about ‘Is this the perfect latte art, yes or no?’”
Today, Zad is aiming to replicate Alfred’s success with Calidad Beer, a brand of Mexican-style lagers that, like his coffee company, lives at the intersection of design, storytelling and consumer experience.
As part of our conversation, Zad spoke about how, despite no formal training in coffee or branding, he’s built one of the most beloved coffee chains in Southern California, why he believes that the company isn’t “doing anything groundbreaking,” the secret to Alfred’s “customer-first” focus and how he defines success for Calidad.
In this Episode
|2:46: Interview: Josh Zad, Founder, Alfred Coffee/Calidad Beer — Zad met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at Alfred headquarters in West Hollywood and kicked off their conversation with a brief chat about Alfred’s unusual “ban” on NBA star Kawhi Leonard, Alfred’s average customer and how he became an expert in delivering unique consumer experiences. Zad also spoke about why the company invests heavily in culture, why being nimble is key to being consistently better than its competitors and why he views himself as Alfred’s “creative director” and not its CEO. Later, he discussed why he wants Alfred to be synonymous with L.A., why he’s not interested in launching a cannabis brand, how he views Calidad as a direct offshoot of Alfred and why he wants the can’s color to be the most eye-catching element of its design. Zad also spoke about key mentors in his career and what he likes most about being a boss.|