10 Minutes With Liz Rose of New Order Coffee

Liz Rose was a stay-at-home mom before she opened New Order Coffee, a micro-roastery and café offering whimsical drinks and friendly service in Detroit.

Photos courtesy of New Order Coffee


Liz Rose decided to get into coffee in an attempt to ward off empty nest syndrome. This led her to open New Order Coffee, a micro-roastery equipped with electric air bed roasters and a menu full of fun drinks. (If you go right now you can get the Heartbreaker Mocha, a mocha topped with heart-shaped berry-flavored marshmallows). Liz utilized her experience working with start-ups to open a fun and friendly café in downtown Detroit, and she plans to open more cafés in the next two years.


Ashley Rodriguez: Let’s talk about your life pre-coffee. What were you doing, and what career path did you envision for yourself?
Liz Rose: My pre-coffee life: I was a stay-at-home mom for a number of years, and I began anticipating becoming an empty nester. I wanted to find a business opportunity that I could then focus my energy on once my youngest left the house.
Specialty coffee has obviously experienced explosive growth, and the more I learned about the advancements being made, particularly in terms of single-cup brewing, the more and more interested I became.


Liz became interested in coffee first as a hobby when her kids began moving out, but then became deeply invested as she saw the growth specialty coffee had been experiencing over the last few years.


AR: Opening a business by yourself is hard, obviously. How did you do it? How would you advise others who want to do the same?
LR: I have had the great fortune of being involved, whether directly or peripherally, in a number of start-up businesses throughout my life. Once I spent some years helping to grow a software start-up (back in my late 20s), I was hooked! No question there is risk, and pressure, and just plain fear of failing, but the challenge of laying the groundwork for a (hopefully) successful organization that works for both customers and employees … again—irresistible.


AR: Why did you decide to open a business? What did you want to achieve in your business that you weren’t seeing in other cafés?
LR: I decided to open a business because I was lucky enough to have worked with an excellent team, all experienced in specialty coffee, but open enough to doing things in a “New Order” way. We are all major proponents of electric air bed roasting, and we wanted to experiment with the marriage of our roasting process with different brewing methods. We are proud to offer our customers a choice, between super-automated by-the-cup coffee, a Synesso espresso machine, and a Modbar pourover system. We went for, in our opinion, the best in class in each category. The other reason to open was to follow a passion for offering the best in service, in what I believe is the best-designed coffeehouse in town.


Liz wanted to create a “New Order” way of operating—they roast all their coffee in-house, create fun and elaborate signature drinks, and emphasize hospitality and creating meaningful interactions with all their guests.


AR: Tell me about your staff. How do you approach hiring, and how do you think about employee happiness and retention?
LR: I look for people who are passionate about both coffee and customer service. I learned early on that technical proficiency does not make up for coffee passion and knowledge. A good sense of humor is also key. We like to have a good time working together.
I believe the number-one job I have as a leader is to encourage excellence. I once read a great quote, which conveyed that while innovation is to be applauded, execution is to be worshipped. If there is anything not to a customer’s liking, we simply replace it for them. Most of us humans can’t escape making mistakes, but I believe a business shows much of its culture by how they make (or don’t make) things right for the consumer.


Liz is motivated to lead by pushing for excellence. “I once read a great quote, which conveyed that while innovation is to be applauded, execution is to be worshipped,” she shares.


AR: How do you think your staff would describe you? 
LR: Hmmmm, I think I’ll need to ask my staff that question! Hopefully, they think of me as honest, fair, and just plain decent. If I’ve missed in any of those categories, I’ll be pretty devastated.


AR: What do you still struggle with as a leader?
LR: I am struggling and learning about the construction process. I have learned to ask, ask, and ask some more questions if there are things I do not understand, and that it is very much a necessity to have access to folks who are experts in their fields. I’m often the generalist who gets things solved by bringing together the experts.


Liz describes herself as a generalist, and is good at looking to others for expertise—including her staff, which she describes as a team of specialty coffee experts.


AR: Have you ever received a compliment or criticism that surprised you or made you reconsider the way you operate? 
LR: I did just receive a compliment that floored me, because it was from quite an industry leader, who felt we had hit on the right mix of in-store roasting coupled with a modular line up of coffee brewing equipment. Having opened our first café just last summer, I was really thrilled with that kind of read of what New Order Coffee is trying to accomplish. Also, we have received many customer reviews that point out how good our staff is. We endeavor to make every single customer feel comfortable and welcome in our café.


Praise and criticism are a part of opening a new business—getting feedback not just from industry leaders but from her customers has informed Liz’s decisions and validated her business model.


AR: What’s next for you, both small and big?
LR: Building out our New Order headquarters, and opening two new cafés in suburban Detroit, are our goals in the next two years. Quite a bit of specialty coffee has opened in the city of Detroit in the last five years. It’s been amazing to see how much people embrace a great coffee culture, whether they live in Seattle, Portland, or Detroit. But obviously we have large segments of our metropolitan Detroit residents who cannot come into the city on a daily basis. We are excited to bring our New Order way of doing things to another audience.


AR: What do you do in your spare time? 
LR: Aside from enjoying coffee … I love to visit my kids, and family, spend time walking around Detroit with my dog, Milton, and try to kayak whenever the weather allows!
About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at ashley@baristamagazine.com.