Amanda SlateYou can meet the funniest people on a Specialty Tea Institute (STI) bus bound for International Tea Importers (ITI)!  We were practically vacuum-packed into the tour bus on our way to a reception and tour at ITI’s tea offices and warehouse in Pico Rivera, California and across from me sat my knee-to-knee travel companion, Amanda Slade.  It was one of those moments when a new tea friendship is made through twinkling eye contact and witty humor.  After an intense day of STI tea classes, we were eager to meet our hosts and then later became a little giddy from the gracious hospitality at ITI’s facility.  Thank you, Devan!  Amanda’s ever-present good humor is the perfect complement to her down-to-earth style.

Meet Safehouse Coffee and Tea
Owner: The non-profit ICM, but Amanda Slade is one of the guardians of the non-profit.  Amanda Slade has a talent for multi-tasking.  She is a tea professional whose community involvement exceeds the norm as she incorporates tea (and c*ff**) into humanitarian efforts.
Address: 109 South Hill Street, Griffin, Georgia, 30224

Jennifer: Amanda, how would you describe Safehouse Coffee and Tea?
Amanda: We retail and wholesale the highest-quality coffees and teas that we can source.  We roast our coffees for our Safehouse community and the Atlanta Metro area.  We also host educational events for consumers, clients, and the community at large – they all play a huge role in our company.

Jennifer: How are you promoting your business to retain customers?
Amanda: Through social and educational events based around exceptional teas and tea gear.  We find that our passion and excitement about a particular tea is best communicated and most infectious when shared in a social setting.  The relationships built during these times create trust and both our expertise and our care for participants’ personal enjoyment keeps them coming back.  In the case of wholesale, we have a personal stake in the success of those businesses to whom we sell, so we educate, educate, educate.  We have many lifelong friendships that began over a delicate and beautiful Darjeeling.

Jennifer: What is your greatest challenge?
Amanda: In the South, tea is cold and sweet, so our biggest challenge is getting our customers to step outside of their comfort zone and into the larger world of tea.  Most tea professionals we speak with ask how we get younger people to enjoy our teas.  Because our average tea drinker in the shop is 23 and male, the most honest answer is we ask them to try it.  Most will also enjoy a great cappuccino, but we often have them asking, “Hey, Manda, what’s new?”  That is my favorite question because it challenges me to find the best teas from the most beloved countries.  An educated customer is a customer for life!

Jennifer: What lies ahead?
Amanda: We are looking forward to going to countries of origin to source teas and continuing to expand our tea tastings, educational programs, and tea socials.  We are also planning to expand our teas into the online market (even my coffee guys from www.dirtycup.com are excited about this new venture).

Safehouse Coffee and TeaJennifer: Tell us a bit more about Safehouse.
Amanda: We at Safehouse Coffee and Tea have been called obsessive, extreme, and just plain unreasonable.  But whatever they call us, we will not stop going to any length to ensure we offer the best specialty coffees and whole-leaf teas to folks in the Southeast.  We wouldn’t drink anything else and we won’t sell you anything less.  At least once a month, we have concerts, poetry jams, or community potlucks.  Come on by and have a cup of the world’s finest tea with Amanda.  I’d love to meet you!

Safehouse Coffee and Tea is a non-profit-based business.  We all volunteer our time and resources.  Doing this allows all proceeds to benefit the outreach mission of ICM, the non-profit owner of Safehouse.  ICM works in the local community and beyond to bring wholeness to those with life-controlling issues.  ICM also has an Internship Training Program to teach marketable job skills to the under- and unemployed.  Most recently, ICM established the Coffeeland Honduras project to re-establish coffee farms in Linares, Honduras that were destroyed by Hurricane Mitch in 1998.  We hope to begin projects in tea-producing countries that have been devastated as well.

Year established: 2004           
Employees: 8 volunteers
Telephone: 678 603 1462                              
E-mail: Safehouse.Tea@gmail.com                                     
Amanda’s Tea Tips: http://safehousecoffeeandtea.com/page51.html
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM; Saturday, 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM; Sunday closed