CHICAGO -- Trez V. Pugh III looked like a king on his throne as he sat on a Chesterfield sofa and sipped coffee imported from Cameroon at his 47th St. location in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. It's appropriate for the founder and CEO of Sip & Savor Coffeehouses because he said his team of baristas treats customers "like royalty."
"Every day I think about Black excellence," said Pugh. "Every time we open our doors, we're trying to give what we call the 'Sip Experience.' That platinum experience."
The vibe at Sip & Savor Coffeehouses, with two locations in Bronzeville, one in Hyde Park, and one in Forest Park, is supposed to make customers feel right at home.
"The reason I call it 'a house' is because I want it to feel like a house," said Pugh. "Nice art on the walls, copper ceilings in here, music playing; I want you to be able to relax."
The self-described "Mocha Man" is prominently featured on the Sip & Savor Instagram page, shown in reels walking into the coffeehouses and enjoying the drinks. The page has 11K followers and hundreds engage their posts everyday.
"Right now there's so much buzz about Sip & Savor and it isn't just me," said Pugh. "I've surrounded myself with a team."
Pugh said what separates Sip & Savor Coffeehouses from the rest is that they're a community-based space with express concern for issues like financial literacy, generational wealth and the well being of all people. The founder and CEO said he believes in the "5 C's': crisp, clean, classy, consistency, and customer service. To be successful and have longevity, Pugh said his patrons' experience mattered more than turning an immediate profit.
"You don't go into this to make money right away," said Pugh. "I went into it to make a difference. Ultimately though, you do want to make money. You do want to be able to pay employees a good salary where they can earn a decent living."
The menu at Sip & Savor includes coffee and teas from around the world as well as a variety of sweetened lattes, mochas, and blended drinks. A favorite of customers is the "Bama Mocha," which is named after Chicago's own Barack Obama. It consists of two shots of espresso, your choice of milk, and both dark and white chocolate to represent the former presidents parents. A pump of coconut syrup and pineapple syrup finishes the drink to pay homage to his time in Hawaii.
According to Pugh, the future looks bright for Sip & Savor despite economic concerns.
"There's still a bunch of challenges out there and we look forward to taking them on," said Pugh. "And of course being in the marine corps, we never did give up so, I persevere."
For more information on Sip & Savor Coffeehouses, visit sipandsavorchicago.com