Emily Burton already had a brewing process and recipes. But it was a trip through Kanab, Utah in fall 2015 that provided the inspiration that led to Sweetz Cold Brew Coffee Co., her shop in Gilbert.
There, she found an old bookstore with an espresso bar—just what she needed for the 14-hour drive they were taking to Idaho. Excited by the discovery, Burton and her daughters enthusiastically entered, but were met with less-than-enthusiastic customer service.
“It was just not coffee,” Burton said, referring more to the experience than the drink. “Like, that’s not coffee. Coffee is connection. Coffee’s like, ‘Yay, you got out of bed in the morning! High-five! If you do nothing else in the day, you at least had coffee.’”
Back in the car, no one finished their coffee. But it spurred the idea.
“It was just like, ‘Yeah, that’s it. I’m doing it. I’m going to open a coffee shop,’” she said. “My husband said, ‘Wait, time out. What?’”
But her husband, Gilbert firefighter Aaron Burton, did not stand in her way. In fact, she had concocted the cold brew for him after a doctor told him in 2013 he could not have hot coffee anymore—its acidic content made his acid reflux problems flare up.
The doctor suggested cold-brewed coffee as an alternative. Emily dove in to learn the concept and come up with something they liked. Their blended family of nine children served as taste-testers, and soon, they had neighbors and friends putting in their requests.
Shortly after Kanab, Burton was selling from their home with customers coming in for 15-minute appointments.
The resulting neighborhood traffic brought complaints, so in 2016, she opened the shop a few blocks from the home. They had lines around the building when they first opened, she said.
Now she is working on distribution, and is about to launch a food truck she has dubbed “Regina.” But she has not lost sight of why she is doing this: connection.
“It doesn’t take away your problems, but coffee is happy, right?” Burton said. “Coffee is just a little bit of liquid happiness.”
Sweetz Cold Brew Coffee Co.
835 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.