What started as a way to fill the desire for a local coffee shop in Rose Park has blossomed into a neighborhood icon that keeps folks connected. When people expressed the need for a coffee shop on the west side in community council meetings, Trina Perez, owner and operator of Buzzed Coffee agreed and thought, “I’m going to do it.”
An avid coffee lover herself, Perez saw the lack of local options in Rose Park, and knew she wasn’t alone in longing for a great cup of coffee close to home. After months of research and training from the Specialty Coffee Association of America, Perez transitioned from teaching special education to entrepreneurship when she opened Buzzed Coffee in 2016.
Offering organic, fair-trade coffee and local baked goods by way of a 1997 FedEx truck-turned-mobile coffee shop, Perez has cultivated a remarkable operation.
When asked about sharing her love of coffee with the community, Perez said, “I believe coffee shops are catalysts for a lot of great things. They’re beautiful places for connecting and community.” Even without a brick and mortar shop, Perez has created a space for people to come together, more so than she thought possible prior to opening.
While a food truck was more feasible than a traditional shop, Perez noted that establishing a food truck came with unique challenges. “One barrier to getting the truck started was that banks and traditional lending sources aren’t keen on lending money to the food and beverage industry. I was told ‘no’ a lot,” she said. Eventually, Perez secured a loan from the city’s Economic Development Loan Fund. Without that loan, Perez isn’t sure whether Buzzed Coffee would exist.
Owning a food truck also comes with issues specific to the truck. “Last year was super challenging. COVID for sure was hard, but when the truck’s transmission blew in February it was a super hefty expense. Loss of income from temporarily closing and repair costs added up. We finally opened again, and two weeks later lockdown hit,” Perez said.
Despite the challenges they’ve encountered, the Rose Park community has shown massive support and the amazing Buzzed Coffee team has persevered.
Although her goal is to open a traditional coffee shop, Perez feels that operating a coffee truck during a pandemic has some advantages. People seem more comfortable standing in line outside, even in the cold, rather than inside a shop. The truck also provides a natural physical barrier which protects the team and the customers, allowing them to safely continue business.
When the going does get tough, Perez pictures Jorge Fierro, owner of another west-side business, Rico. Shortly after opening, Fierro told Perez ‘don’t give up’ several times during a conversation, and she thinks back on that interaction fondly.
The supportive and collaborative nature of the west-side business community resonated with Perez and is reflected in her own business practices. For example, all prep, cleaning and storage is done at Sugar Space Arts Warehouse, a multi-use warehouse near 800 West and 200 South that includes commissary kitchen space.
During warmer months, Buzzed Coffee hosts pop-up cafes and invites local musicians to perform. Local baked goods from establishments such as Fillings and Emulsions are regularly featured on the menu. Supporting and partnering with local businesses is an important component of Buzzed Coffee’s business practices.
Perez has lived all over Salt Lake and believes there’s a different element of human connection within Rose Park, which makes it a pretty magical part of town. She also says that being part of people’s morning rituals makes her heart sing.
Whether it’s nitro brew, a latte or a buzzed chai, Perez hopes you’ll taste the love and care that she and her team put into every drink. Buzzed Coffee’s locations are listed on instagram at @buzzedcoffeetruck, twitter at @buzzedtruckSLC and facebook under buzzed coffee truck.