Tumon Concorde Center Suite 104
518 Pale San Vitores Rd.
By Rianne Peredo
The business name was simple to Owners Younson Huang and Ashley D. Welch: Gud is a stylized version of good and cha is the Chinese word for tea. Huang and Welch wanted to open a café, along with Lisa Fu and Lawrayne Oclima, both in-house baristas. Through the four’s collective brainstorming, the business name emerged: Café Gudcha. Huang says that the business was the result of a “collaborative effort of our creative team: me, Ashley, Lisa and Lawrayne.”
Welch emphasized the importance of having a creative team which collectively shares ideas and works together to successfully operate the café. “There’s a kind of trust that we can make decisions that owners wouldn’t normally make quickly,” she says. Prior to owning the business, Huang was an accountant at a tax practice in San Francisco, Calif. Meanwhile, Welch was the shift leader for Blue Lemon restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Café Gudcha has been open since December 2018, and in addition to the variety of teas on offer, the café has a number of in-house coffee brewing methods, which involve pour-over, an AeroPress maker and espresso machine. Huang and Welch host coffee brewing workshops, the first of which — Beyond the Beans — was held on Sept. 21. The three-hour event had limited ticket sales and 21 people in attendance who were interested in the hands-on coffee brewing experience.
How would you describe your business?
Welch: If someone were to ask, I always tell them it’s very warm and inviting. We want a very home-y vibe where you can just come in and relax for awhile. And below the surface of all the aesthetics, we have a lot of purpose. We believe in being as sustainable as possible.
What does your business offer?
Welch: The biggest thing I tell people is our coffee and teas are not only amazing but they’re organic, fair trade and the best quality you can get. Coffee- and tea-wise, you’ll find that we don’t have syrups and you won’t find a “syrup bar.” For the golden mocha, we hand-grate our chocolate, use real cacao powder and our vanilla is pure vanilla extract. We try to keep it as pure to the coffee as possible.
What are your most popular menu items?
Welch: For coffee, I’d say it’s the Azteca. It’s a nice balance of sweet and creamy. It’s like a “Mexican mocha” with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I always suggest it if you’re unsure and want a good starter drink. You can ease your way into drinking a black coffee eventually by starting out with one that’s sweet.
For tea, the Lavender Hum is popular. It’s a lavender black tea with almond milk; a lot of people like a good milk tea.
What is unique to your business?
Welch: I know it’s a big trend for a lot of shops and people are getting into it — sustainability.
Young: For example, we started out using paper straws for a while and then someone else on the team said, “we’re cutting down trees and paper takes resources as well.” We’ve also been bringing in glass straws and we use other materials just to be as sustainable as possible and leave minimal carbon footprints.
Welch: As soon as people walk in, and the fact that we have the reusable straws, it’s pretty clear that we try to be sustainable. So we don’t get very many customers who are against that. Everyone has kind of gone along with it. And sometimes we’ll even ask, “you need a straw?” It’s surprising how many people will be like, “Oh, no, you know what, I’m good without it.” For example, the wheat straws are very expensive compared to paper and especially compared to plastic. We were asking customers for 50¢ a straw. A lot of people thought they were really cool and they were willing to pay the 50¢. If they weren’t willing, they said to us, “I can go without a straw,” which we also like.
What do you like to do outside of business operations?
Welch: Yoga and beach cleanups; we like to do yoga. We have yoga Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays, we close early because as much as possible, we do team building activities. Our favorite one — and the one we do the most — are cleanups and it goes along with our theme as well. It’s for everyone who can join.
Huang: We always try to pick a different beach every time. Our entire staff is eight — a small crew.
Do you have any future plans for the business?
Huang: Yes, it’s just very difficult with such a limited space. We set up three different stations — pour-over, AeroPress and espresso — and 21 people attended our Beyond the Beans event. It’s a workshop, so they all had an opportunity to use our equipment. We are definitely open to doing one for tea and it is in the works for after the holiday season.
What challenges have you faced while running the business?
Welch: I think that the biggest one is customer traffic. It starts out a little slower and then when business picks up, we have to constantly adjust to find better ways to improve. We are constantly talking about what we can do to make things better. Problem-solving is probably one of the greatest values out there. It’s a system that we are always refining and trying to find better ways to serve our customers efficiency-wise.
Huang: We want to improve our procedures and system. We are a small crew and sometimes we get a bigger crowd and are definitely challenged. Also, making sure everything is running efficiently and that we don’t run out of inventory. Going into this business, we knew that having a consistent supply is an important thing. There’s a lot more than meets the eye, but it’s fun and it’s worth it.
Hours: Monday to Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.