YOU’VE BEEN SERVED
Meet Octavian Stan and Daniela Staiculescu, owners of Condesa Coffee
These days, it seems that everyone has a side hustle. But what happens when your side hustle starts to get as big as your main gig? Such is the case for Octavian Stan and Daniela Staiculescu, who turned their passion for coffee into a sideline that has become a bustling business. “The interest started at home, and when we had our first good cup of coffee, it was like, boom!” says Daniela. The couple, both Georgia Tech alums who immigrated from Romania, purchased Condesa in the Old Fourth Ward in 2011 and opened a second location downtown in 2015. Daniela is an academic advisor at Tech to more than 600 Ph.D. students in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Octavian is a data scientist at a software company. We caught up with the couple to chat about all things coffee.
What do you wish your customers knew about coffee?
DANIELA: The sourcing. That’s what third wave coffee is about and why we got excited about coffee: Not only does it taste better, but it starts by doing the proper thing with the farmers—paying them fairly. Our roaster has a great relationship with the farmers, so they’re paid decent wages. OCTAVIAN: The quality of every step in the process. Adding heart to the process is what people can realize third wave coffee’s all about. There’s this perception that coffee’s coffee. Maybe Dunkin’ Donuts is cheaper, but there’s a quality aspect reflected in the end product.
What exactly is third wave coffee?
DANIELA: The first wave was commodity coffee—the coffee that people have been drinking forever, like Folger’s. Then, Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee came (the second wave). That was a huge step forward in taking people away from drinking coffee that’s been sitting at work for six hours. Counter Culture and Intelligentsia started third wave about 20 years ago. They were the first companies to start direct trade with farmers and to roast beans themselves, creating lighter roasts of coffee which shows off more of the coffee’s flavor notes.
Which coffee brand does Condesa serve?
DANIELA: We use Counter Culture coffee. It was one of the initial third wave coffee roasters. They’re pretty established here in the Southeast; they roast in Durham, N.C., so they’re as local as it gets for a big roaster. Since we bought the shop in 2011, an amazing number of people have started to roast coffee in Atlanta, and they’re doing a great job.
What do you think of fads and specialty drinks such as Bulletproof Coffee, a trend that saw people blending butter into their coffee?
DANIELA: I like [to keep] things simple because if you have something that’s high-quality and ingredient-based, it’s enough. But I’m open to [new and different] things!
Do you drink the same type of coffee every day, or do you mix it up?
OCTAVIAN: We have a routine. DANIELA: We do Chemex at home, and when I come to Condesa, I have an espresso shot.
What’s your favorite treat to pair with coffee?
DANIELA: I like anything with lox— bagel and lox, our toast with lox—with a pour over, black. OCTAVIAN: A cappuccino with a croissant—very typical.
What’s your favorite boozy coffee concoction?
DANIELA: This was one of the things I wanted when we got our liquor license at Old Fourth Ward. I like White Russians, and we have the booze and the coffee, so we [decided to make] a Dirty Russian. It doesn’t have any Kahlúa because it has espresso, along with cream and vodka. It’s delicious.
If you’re having coffee in Atlanta, and it’s not from Condesa, where are you having it?
OCTAVIAN: I work close to the Arts Center, so I go to the Octane there. DANIELA: Georgia Tech has a little farmers’ market, and Valor coffee is there. They pulled me an espresso, and I was blown away; it was extremely tasty! I hope they’ll expand to a brick-and-mortar soon.
480 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue N.E., 30312
STORY: Lia Picard
PHOTOS: Erik Meadows