Voices of Jerusalem: Crazy about coffee

Loren Minsky speaks to Rosie Nathan, 58, co-owner of the specialist coffee shop, The Coffee Mill in Jerusalem.

By LOREN MINSKY/ ITRAVELJERUSALEM.COM TEAM
June 11, 2013 14:15
Rosie Nathan, co-owner of The Coffee Mill

Rosie Nathan, co-owner of The Coffee Mill. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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“I love coffee,” smiles Rosie Nathan, one of the owners of The Coffee Mill on Emek Refaim Street. The store sells over 40 variations of quality coffee and puts together special blends for customers, either in the form of beans or ground in store. “People generally come in to savor a cup, and then take beans home with them,” says Rosie.

The daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Rosie grew up in Chicago. She came to Israel after high school on a year program and spent time on a kibbutz. She landed up staying in Israel for a few years, and thereafter returned to America. In 1980 she made aliya.
The idea for the store began 15 years ago when Rosie’s cousin Debbie Katz made aliyah. Rosie and Debbie, who had always been incredibly close, knew they wanted to open up a business together though they weren’t sure what. Debbie’s background was in accountancy and Rosie’s “previous incarnations” included nursing and working in high-tech. Since they both love coffee, they decided to open up a coffee shop in Modiin.

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They ran the coffee shop in Modiin for eight years before the shop’s current space in Jerusalem became available. The shop had previously been home to a similar coffee shop, also run by two women. Rosie and Debbie liked the location and believed they could take the business and make it their own.

They began by installing a wooden cabinet-lined wall to house their selection of coffee beans and by revamping the menu. They also decided to decorate the walls with New Yorker Magazine covers, which sets the coffee shop apart and creates an authentic New York atmosphere. “We both read the magazine, love the covers and figured it would be an interesting feature and would pull people in,” recalls Rosie. “However it’s our product, our amazing coffee, which draws people in time and time again.”

The Coffee Mill’s coffee is sourced from all over the world and is then roasted in Haifa. “We try to cater for everyone’s needs as far as possible and offer several decaf options, soy, fair-trade and organic coffees,” shares Rosie. According to Rosie, the organic decaf coffee they sell is stripped of caffeine using water instead of chemicals. The store’s fair-trade coffee from Columbia is roasted in two different ways, with one stronger than the other.

Rosie shares how different coffee from various parts of the world have their own unique taste. “The higher in altitude, the higher the quality of coffee,” says Rosie. “Both Indonesia and Africa have excellent coffee but there is great coffee from all over the world.” Rosie reflects that the best roasted coffee she’s ever had was in an authentic coffee shop in Italy on one of her travels. These days Rosie drinks just two cups a day. “I’m very specific about what I drink,” says Rosie. “I go for an Americana with just a little bit of milk. Over recent years I’ve become more lactose intolerant and a cappuccino is no longer good for me.”

The Coffee Mill attracts a wide clientele, although a large number are Americans and Anglo-Saxons who live in the neighborhood. Though the customer base is largely coffee lovers, there are still people that come in just for the ambiance or food. The shop is also renowned for the delectable scent of roasted coffee that fills the air.
Rosie enjoys different aspects of what she does. “I love what we sell, as well as the interaction with customers,” muses Rosie. “There is always something new to think about and to solve creatively.” Rosie admits that their biggest challenge is the business aspect and making it work – staff, economics and changes to the country.



Rosie is married and has three children and several grandchildren, all of whom live in Israel. Although Rosie lived in Jerusalem many years ago, she has lived in Hasmonaim for many years. “It was a wonderful place to raise children and has a very lovely community of people,” says Rosie. “But there is not much there and I spend most of my days at the business in Jerusalem. I really enjoy the beautiful drive into the city, which I do on a daily basis.” Rosie’s days are full and she works up to eight hours a day.
Rosie and Debbie work well together, both doing a bit of everything. Rosie attributes this to their patience and the love they have for each other. Rosie’s husband, an engineer, works in Israeli aircraft and is not at all involved in the coffee shop.
To unwind, Rosie loves to play with her grandchildren. She also enjoys traveling and has visited many places all over the world for work and for pleasure. “My favorite place in the world is Australia,” reveals Rosie.

Rosie is passionate about Israel. “There is no better place for Jews to live,” says Rosie. “Life in Israel is the best that one could ask for.” Rosie believes that all Jews should live here, give to society and “not just take.” She cites going to the army and volunteering as examples of giving back, and believes in the importance of raising a family with this mindset. “I am one of the last true Zionists. It’s not always easy but people should try not give up.”

“What would I do in another lifetime? I’d try to make the world a better place. Although I do that now in my own small way by smiling or engaging with people in the shop, in another lifetime I would perhaps be more proactive. Right now I feel strongly about the need to fight for the older generation to be able to support themselves and live out their days in dignity. A lot of people in our population unfortunately don’t have that option.”

“For now, I try to take each day and appreciate it and live it as well as I can without anticipations or disappointments. I try to keep everything in proportion,” reflects Rosie. “The key to life is being thankful for everything you have and being aware that nothing is a given. I’ve learnt that hard work, patience, understanding and love are what make things work.”

Though Rosie speaks of retirement in a few years, she is grateful for the “good run” that the business has had so far and intends to keep rolling with it. “One of the best feelings has been to watch the business turn into something. I am proud of our accomplishments,” says Rosie.

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