Brandi Plaisance sees life as a mug half full, and she’s working to spread her positive mindset through everyone’s favorite early morning drink: coffee. After working for years as an offshore paramedic, she took a leap of faith and hit the road with her own coffee truck, Espresso Geaux, last August.
For the past few months, she has been traveling around to Baton Rouge’s subdivisions to bring a semblance of normalcy during the quarantine by delivering a healthy dose of caffeine and smiles.
“I fell in love not necessarily with drinking coffee, but with serving it,” she says of the simple act that began while volunteering at church. “Coffee is people’s one special moment of the day. I love being able to be the person making them smile before they have to go to work.”
InRegister recently caught up with Plaisance to learn more about the truck, her team and what’s to come.
1. What is a typical day like for you and your team?
Our day usually starts with alarm clocks ringing around 4:30 a.m., and a grumpy puppy not wanting to get out of bed. After the commotion of that ends, we head to the truck and set off to get ice at our local commercial ice maker, then on to our pastry supplier for fresh inventory. We have a planned route that can start as early as 6 a.m., but we have to make sure our generators are running and all of our equipment is hot and ready for our customers. We arrive at our scheduled locations and get ready for the rush.
We spend the day traveling from one location to the next, and setting up and serving at each place. Once our deliveries are complete for the day, we have about three hours of work to do in the truck to prepare for the next day. Then, it starts all over again.
2. When did you launch Espresso Geaux?
I worked my last hitch offshore in July of 2019. We opened when I came home from my mission trip to Africa the following month. Our launch date was mid-August of 2019. I jumped right from one career to the next.
3. What is your professional background? How did you get into coffee?
I started working for Acadian Ambulance on the streets of Lafayette in 2010, then transferred to their offshore division in 2013. During that time, I put myself through school and graduated with a degree in occupational health and safety, then went on to get my Associate Safety Professional and my Certified Safety Professional from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals. I was then offered a dual role as a safety advisor and paramedic with the contract company that owned the platform I was working on. I continued to do that until my departure in July 2019.
My love for making coffee started as I volunteered at church in Lafayette. Only problem was, I didn’t drink coffee. I loved making it but didn’t really know the taste of it, so I decided I would go to coffee school. Yes, there is such a thing! I traveled out of state to take this class and I fell in love. God opened one door after the next and my dream came true quicker than I had expected. My heart is for serving people and someone once told me, “If you choose a career you love, you won’t ever have to work a day in your life.” I don’t know exactly how true that is while I’m doing monthly business paperwork, but when I am in the truck meeting people daily, I couldn’t be happier. Meeting people with a smile while they make a living for their family and bringing them joy while doing it truly sets my soul on fire.
4. How did you adapt during COVID-19?
We have over 10 cancellations in one week when the quarantine happened, so we knew we had to improvise. We made a Facebook post asking people if they wanted us to come to their subdivisions. The outpour of responses was insane! We ended up going into over 180-something subdivisions and gained over 4,000 new followers. We just started back last week doing our normal business operations.
5. What is one thing customers should know about your truck that they may not be aware of?
We have kid options, too. Most people that come up to the menu always say, “Wow, y’all have everything!” It always makes me smile because it does seem like we would have just coffee items but we have so many other non-coffee offerings to choose from also.
6. Have there been any moments since your launch that stand out to you?
The community support during COVID-19 was hands down one of our top moments. We hadn’t been open a year yet and the first year is super important. It can make or break you very quickly. When the whole nation shut down after six months of being open, it could have been detrimental! For some, it was. Our community really showed up for us, and we thrived through such a hard time. Words can’t explain how blessed we are for the people around us. We have people that drive to different parishes weekly just to find us! That’s more than just supporting us. That’s becoming part of our fan family.