Jeff Baker of Higher Ground Coffee House

Jeff Baker of Higher Ground Coffee House brings steaming cups of coffee and good eats to Cheviot.

How did you start your business?
While doing some research on starting my own coffee shop, I came across an online post for a West Side coffee shop for sale. I bought that shop, Zen and Now, in Bridgetown in 2011. I was the third owner, and it didn’t take long before I realized what they say about small business is true: location, location, location.

There weren’t many other businesses around and it wasn’t conducive to a lot of walk-ins. The new location is in Cheviot, which has a lot of shops and small businesses around, which certainly helps. I noticed a big difference as soon as we opened the doors.

Higher Ground Coffee House opened officially on Aug. 1.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I spent most of my professional life in sales in various industries, but always wanted to own a coffee house or pastry shop. One day I realized if I didn’t give it a shot, I’d run out of time. I knew I’d look back with regret if I didn’t go after what I wanted.

Besides coffee, what are your most popular menu items?
Our paninis are the staple to our food menu, just because of their popularity. It’s a hard thing to mess up—put good meat and good cheese between good bread, put it on a grill and let it get all gooey and melty in the middle. They’re delicious.
For drinks, the lattes are popular—the French Kiss (white mocha with French vanilla and cinnamon) and the Cosmic and Karma.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
The Small Business Association and SCORE were very helpful with getting me started. A lot of research on my own was also helpful. When choosing a name [for the new coffee shop], I used a guideline the SBA has for weeding out ideas and picking one.

What’s next for you and your company?
I want to expand in the food industry and possibly get a food truck specializing in what I do already.

By Robin Donovan