Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tipsy Coffee House Creates Sweet Spirits

*Photo and story courtesy Las Vegas Review-Journal
From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
"The shelves of Tipsy Coffee House are lined with pristinely decorated chocolates.  Meticulously decorated petite cake mounds with shimmering, artistic frosting add an air of glamour.  But while cake pops and other petite desserts are part of the ordinary, Tipsy Coffee House separates itself from other bakeries in at least one major way:  liquor.
A baker since adolescence, owner Kim Sostman said Tipsy Coffee - and Tipsy Truffles, its mother company - was born of a smaller dream: to make delicious desserts for co-workers.
During her time at Nellis Auction, Sostman often brought in unusual creations for friends if they promised to give honest feedback.
In addition to suggestions to improve the cakes, friends also made requests for new flavors - all of which were named after those who helped create them.
It didn't take long before alcohol was thrown into the mix.  Tequila, limoncello, amaretto, and rum are among the dozens of liquors Sostman's cakes feature . Eventually, chocolate shops got word and, for Sostman, the rest is history.
"People started saying they were really good and requesting orders," she said.  "And then they started buying them, and eventually they made their way to small stores."
In 2009, Tipsy Truffles officially kicked off as a business venture, selling chocolates and cakes wholesale to shops such as Eye Candy, Bentley's, and most recently, The Sugar Factory.
Although infusing chocolates with specialized liquor has become commonplace in chocolate shops and liquor companies, few take pride in infusing their cakes (after baking) to create a moist and decadent shot of chocolate.
But, what Sostman saw as a unique selling point, many others saw as a venture a little too risky to take.
When she began looking for a permanent location for Tipsy Truffles, she was met with hesitation by building owners.
"Even though I visited many places, the truth was, if you weren't corporate, most places didn't want to lease to you," Sostman said.  "After so much went under, they didn't want to take a chance on someone without backing. All of the building owners wanted chains."
It took nearly a year of searching before Sostman was able to settle into her current location, a former Coffee Bean at 6496 Medical Center Drive (near West Sunset Road and the Las Vegas Beltway), which is where the idea of adding coffee to her menu (and store name) was born.
Although there is only about one-fourth of a shot of liquor in each truffle, buyers must be 21 or older to purchase the decadent, alcoholic treats.  A box of six truffle cakes is $20, and a box of eight truffle drops runs $18.  Individual cakes can be purchased for $2.49 and drops for $1.49.  For large orders or catering, Tipsy Truffles can customize orders with choice of chocolate, liquor, color and even logos.
Lloyd Hook, a local mill worker, became hooked on Tipsy Coffee House after installing new floors for Sostman when the shop first opened.  After trying a few of her treats, Hook said he found himself within the quaint coffeehouse more and more each week.
And as Hook helped bring a new look to the building, he, too, offered opinions of Sostman's cakes, for the better or for the worse.
"She had me sample a lot of things, and we kept it simple," he said.  "If it was dry, I told her.  She would tweak it and we'd try again.  It's better to test drive everything before it goes on the shelf."
After coming in so often, he began to help with more than flooring.  As Sostman expressed her uncertainty about what to do with extra cakes and coffee grounds that went to waste, Hook offered a solution:  Put them in the coffee.
And so "Lloyds Tipsy Fratte" was born, a strategically made Frappuccino-style drink complete with cake bits, coffee grounds, and syrup to create a rich and textured drink.
Hook even suggested his daughter Amber Hook, a former Starbucks employee, give Tipsy Coffee House a try.  And just like that she was hooked, eventually becoming a barista.
"This is a much more creative atmosphere (than Starbucks)," Amber said.  "You really get the art side of it.  You are free to do what you want in these types of places.  How many places can you go where you can constantly create and make your own menu?"
Outside of corporate requirements of major chains, Amber noted the fresh and local ingredients allow easier requests and shipments.
"Here, we are helping other people in the community," Amber said. "Our coffee is not imported from Florida. It's all brought in and roasted here. It's cool. But more importantly, it's good and fresh quality." Ticker

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