The Riff Cold Brewed Tap Shack opened at four in the morning on Sept. 22, just in time for the College Gameday rush. Opening early was a way to get business before more popular coffee shops like Starbucks would suck in all of Riff’s potential customers.
This little coffee shack, located on 13th and Alder Street in a kiosk on the patio of Taylor’s Bar and Grill, is doing cold-brew a little differently. Riff is a new business that focuses solely on cold-brew coffee and started in Bend, Oregon, in 2018.
Paul Evers, Riff co-founder and CEO, said in a press release sent to the Daily Emerald that Taylor’s Bar & Grill Owner Ramzy Hattar offered him the location to sell their caffeinated concoctions, and he jumped at the chance to open the shack.
“Riff is a newer company that’s exploring how cold-brew and how coffee experiences are different for different people,” Briana Buckles, head of the day-to-day operations at the Tap Shack, said.
Not only did Evers and his team want to open a location to serve their new product, he said, but they also wanted to research what consumers were looking for. Riff decided to utilize the resources that were present in Eugene and hire four graduate students from the UO college of business to run the Tap Shack like it is their own small business.
“We began a recruitment campaign and within two weeks had four incredibly bright, fun-spirited and talented Ducks to lead the operation,” Evers said in the press release. “The beauty is, these young adults are so capable, we anticipate learning a ton from them.”
Buckles, Phil Denara, Travis Kim, and Daryl Mogilewsky are the four graduate students that Riff hired for this marketing project. Each student has a different job within the Tap Shack, ranging from in-depth market research to experimenting and making their own cold brew flavors. Mogilewsky said one of the best parts about the opportunity is the freedom given by the founders at Riff to set prices, hire their own employees and even create their own menu.
“Our piece in all of this is intended to kind of be a market research hub where they can collect information on how people are interacting with coffee and cold brew,” Buckles said. She and the other three graduate students are interested in learning about what people like to put in their coffee and eat alongside their drink.
Not only does Riff get the opportunity to conduct such exhaustive market research, but the students also have the chance to learn beneficial skills for owning and operating their own businesses.
“This is like our own living, breathing Harvard Business case sitting right outside of the UO campus,” Mogilwesky said.