Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, or where they’d like to know your name and serve you a warm cup ‘o joe often. One of those friendly places is Niwot’s Old Oak Coffeehouse - thanks in large part to manager Hannah Carlson, this month’s Familiar Face. Customers at Old Oak are recipients of Carlson’s smiles, stellar customer service and culinary contributions, as well as her curatorship of art and music.
Left Hand Valley Courier (LHVC) - Where did you grow up and what brought you to this area?
Hannah Carlson (HC) - I’m originally from Wisconsin and relocated to Longmont two years ago. I was looking for a change and have always been drawn to this area of Colorado - from the people to the outdoor activities, the food, and the art scene.
LHVC - What is your educational background?
HC - I went to Western Technical College in Wisconsin for Culinary Management. My classes were a great mix of culinary education with valuable management skills.
LHVC - What is your role at Old Oak Coffeehouse and is there other work you’re also involved in?
HC - I’m the general manager at The Old Oak Coffeehouse. [Owners] Michael and Patty have been awesome. If I have an idea or vision, they let me run with it. When I started, the only things we made in house were spaghetti and paninis. Now we make the majority of pastries in-house and I also started the breakfast sandwiches on the menu. I do all of the chalkboard signs and menus in the shop as well. I do all the artist and music booking, with the exception of Songwriters in the Round. I’m also in charge of hiring, social media, monthly email, and website updates.
I’m also an artist, so I do a lot of painting on the side. I don’t currently have my art up anywhere, but I’m working on a few commissioned pieces.
LHVC - What are the most rewarding and challenging elements of your job?
HC - The most rewarding part of my job is the relationships I’ve built and I see others build within the coffee shop. I love how coffee has a way of bringing people together and creating a sense of community. My goal as a manager is to make everyone feel at home and welcome at the coffee shop while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.
I think the most challenging part of my job is my demanding schedule. Between work, art, and everything else that life throws my way, I’m a very busy bee. But as busy as I am, it’s extremely rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
LHVC - How have ups and downs at work helped make you who you are?
HC - I’ve worked in a few different coffee shops before The Old Oak, all of them in which I took on some sort of management role. Especially early on, I made a lot of mistakes and had no idea what I was doing. But I think all of those mistakes were learning experiences and I was able to take something away from them. They taught me how to be a better manager and a stronger leader.
LHVC - What other pursuits keep you busy and how do you prioritize your life?
HC - I’ve loved art, specifically painting, for a very long time now. It’s always been a hobby of mine, a creative outlet to let the day's stresses go and focus on the canvas. After working at the shop and seeing artists’ work on the walls, it inspired me to put a collection of my own together. So within the last few months this passion of mine has transformed into a second job. Prioritizing art can be challenging for me, but I just remind myself how great I feel during and after painting and that’s what brings me back. It’s important to do things that make our soul feel good.
The inspiration behind my art changes every day - whether it comes from nature or my surroundings, a unique surface to paint on, my family and friends, or experiences in my life that have moved me. No matter what might be going on in life, art is always there. I can go back to the canvas after a long day and my stresses go away for a while.
LHVC - In what ways do you connect with the community?
HC - My biggest connection with the community is through the shop. Creating a sense of community within the coffee shop walls is very important to me. Making everyone feel welcome and like they are part of our family. Through these relationships I have become more involved with the whole town of Niwot.
LHVC - Are there any goals you're working toward?
HC - [My] work-related goals are to continue to expand our in-house made bakery menu. I would like to continue to add new items to our sweet and savory menu, as well as playing around with new drink ideas.
Personal goals would be to work towards growing my art business by continuing to put a new collection together. While I’m living in Colorado another personal goal is to continue to get outside and explore this beautiful state we live in.