Sean Kohmescher opened Temple Coffee Roasters on November 1, 2005 on arguably one of the roughest blocks of Downtown Sacramento at the time. Fast forward nine years and Temple Coffee has grown exponentially. Success can be seen with the growth of the coffee empire. Temple Coffee Roasters currently has four retail locations throughout Sacramento, an award winning coffee roasting operations and an international wholesale business. Temple was named one of the Top 17 Coffee Roasters in the U.S. by CNN and Fortune Magazine.
Temple Coffee has become a symbol of Downtown Sacramento’s culture, energy and community. We had the chance to talk with owner, Sean Kohmescher, to learn more about his journey as a business owner.
What inspired the name Temple Coffee Roasters?
Temple was a named derived just from traveling. When I lived in San Diego, I traveled for several months in South East Asia. Temple was a name that resonated with me. It was a meeting place where people would gather. The temple never closes. It’s always there and available. That philosophy still holds today. We’re always open even on Christmas Day.
How did you get into the coffee business?
I was raised in Oklahoma and then moved to San Diego. Around 1996, I traveled around the world. When I came back, I moved to San Francisco. Some friends that I worked with in San Diego owned a business here in Sacramento. I worked in a café and I loved the coffee house and the culture, but my knowledge was very minimal. I graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in Graphic Design. When I graduated from the university, I didn’t want to sit in front of a computer. I wanted to work with my hands and do what I love. I called up a friend that owned a coffee house to learn more about the business.
Why did you plant roots in Sacramento?
When I decided to make the move, Sacramento had really grown on me. It had a certain aspect of growth that I think was available around 2002 and things were starting to change Downtown. It had a local community feel that I loved. I mainly wanted to be in Midtown or Downtown. To me, Downtown felt like it had more opportunity than even Midtown. I felt like it didn’t have the specialty coffee aspect and I thought Downtown had the least amount of culture at the time. It was the intention to create that kind of culture, whether that is familiarity with people or providing a gathering space. I thought downtown was missing that family feel and I thought we could create that.
How did you finance your business?
I worked for my friend. Saved up as much money as possible. I had an old Harley that I had restored and a fully restored 1958 VW Bug. I sold them and borrowed about $10,000 from friends and family. I started to build this place out by hand, just myself, over a several month period of time. I built all of the furniture, I did the painting, etc. mainly because I didn’t have the funds to contract it out. I had to build the whole place out myself.
How did you go from one coffee shop to 3 locations, coffee roasting operation and wholesale retail?
I needed to open up a location because the economy was going south around 2008. If we didn’t open another location, we would probably go out of business because it was so slow and a lot of businesses were struggling Downtown. Even if I was making half of the amount of money at a second location, I had two shops with income. That’s the main reason we opened another shop. In retrospect, it was a pretty brilliant move. The economy picked up and we were able to swing ourselves forward. That’s why we opened a second shop. We wanted a shop that would help us grow, and get into roasting. But the main reason we got into roasting was because of the economy.