Owner, Bill Sandweg, Opens Up

Copper Star Coffee owner Bill Sandweg works the espresso machine with a smile on his face.This interview has everything: vintage Cadillacs, planes, Copper Star Coffee customers.

How long have you worked at Copper Star Coffee?

We’ve owned Copper Star Coffee 13 years in April.

What were you like in high school?

I was definitely nerdy. I worked at Taco Bell.

What is your favorite book and why?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I like extremely dry, sarcastic humor that is deeply ironic.

When you’re not working what is your favorite thing to do?

I’m always working so my favorite thing to do when I’m not working is to not work. (laughs)

Do you have any hobbies?

I would like to be playing craps, when they finally legalize it I will be getting a job as a dealer. I love the interpersonal dynamic of it and I would love to do a casino night for the coffeehouse anniversary. I also fancy myself a writer but I don’t do that either. These are the hobbies that I aspire to but don’t actually do.

I do play around with my new car; it’s a 1970 Cadillac De Ville convertible. I have a deep love of 1970’s cadillacs.

There have always been classic cars in my family. My dad had a 66 1/2 Mustang then sold it for a 69 Stingray then had to sell it when I was born. My mom used to joke, “I married this guy and had a corvette and a flight suit and now I have none of that.”

So did you get your love of cars from your Dad?

No, it actually came from my grandfather. My grandpa loved cars and whenever he bought a new one he’d fly in his plane to El Paso, and buy a car there so he wouldn’t have to pay tax on it. He would make my grandma drive the car back home. Often when she arrived home she’d find a note that said, “Hey, Mary, flew to Vegas, be back in a day or two.”

What is something people don’t know about you?

I’m a borderline introvert. This is all a charade. I learned early on when I was waiting tables while finishing college that I needed to be more gregarious.

What is your best customer interaction that you’ve had while working at Copper Star Coffee?

You get to know your customers and boom it’s 13 years later. Kids that were five and ten are now grown up and buying their own coffee.

I have at least two couples who came here on their first date and are now married with kids.

There are so many regulars at Copper Star, what do you think keeps bringing them back?

The community, the interpersonal nature of the staff. I don’t ask much, I don’t direct much, but I want the staff to genuinely be in the moment with the customer. We are a neighborhood coffeehouse; we are tied to our neighborhood.

What is your favorite menu item?

The cuban sandwich and the new Italian panini we are rolling out. We roast the meat in the Cuban for 6-7 hours. Seven freaking hours. It’s all kinds of yummy. 

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