COFFEE CONNOISSEUR: ARLITA IBACH
“Europe ruins everything” is something my brother says every time we stop at Starbucks for a grande cappuccino with whole milk and a double shot of espresso and a tall latte. Their wine is better than ours. Their bread is better than ours. Their coffee is better than ours. Europe even serves coffee with cookies at every restaurant. The only place you’d find that in America is on a Delta Airlines flight when the flight attendant presents you with the ever-daunting question of cookies or peanuts, and even still, the coffee is sub-par to Europe’s.
I have yet to find a European equivalent cup of coffee in my short time of acquiring the taste for the bitter beverage. Even in the busy college town of Boston, where I spend a lot of my time between classes and soccer practice at Wellesley College, there seems to be a lack of understanding of what goes into a good cup.
However, I recently walked into the Red Dot Coffee Company and it revoked my faith in humanity’s understanding of coffee. To me, drinking a cup of coffee should feel welcoming and take like memories. Arlita Ibach, owner and founder of Red Dot, did just that.
Sitting down to chat with Arlita explained why it felt like home, besides the fact that the building Red Dot is situated in was a newly renovated house. Arlita’s father was a first-generation immigrant from Holland, the country, and he gave her the love for coffee. “With my parents being foreign, I was taught America isn’t the only place in the world.” I was taught in a similar manner. Growing up in Holland, Michigan, I felt an instant connection to her and her family through my Dutch side of my family. I was taught we should be welcoming to all, and Arlita wanted to create this mentality through coffee.
Working several odd jobs, Arlita always kept the idea of a coffee house in the back of her mind. When I asked her why, she said, “I raised my family at home and throughout the years of raising my family, I realized that I enjoyed organizing and gathering.” She had always created a space to welcome people into her home to come and hang out. Raising two sons with her husband, they had many people through her home.
This togetherness and her love for European coffee gave her the inspiration for the new company. “I wanted to create a safe space just ‘to be’. I learned from a young age that coffee and conversation is the way to do your afternoons.”
The road ahead would be a long and hard one, but Arlita was determined to do it. With the love and support from her family, she knew she could reach her dreams.
First opening in 2016, the small coffee company has grown into a household name in the short two years it’s been around. Serving coffee and snacks to many different people of all ages, Arlita said, “It is important to allow people to freely express themselves at Red Dot.”
As Arlita is a woman in the workforce, I decided to bring up what it’s like to be a woman leader. Arlita said she’s always had a great heart for women, and she admires a power and uniqueness about them. We also discussed mentoring younger girls. “I wanted to be able to invite women to somewhere you can journey with them and enjoy going alongside them. I do believe everyone has a story to tell and there is a larger story to unfold.”
What does the name Red Dot mean? “Where are you right now? Where are you at in your story? That is your red dot. Wherever you are at in your story.”
Wherever I am in my story, I hope to be enjoying a good cup of coffee. Europe can try ruin everything, but the togetherness coffee may bring will always stay the same.
By: Olivia Reckley, Marketing and Communications Intern, Paragon Leadership International