- Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kane County Connects intern Allison Arguezo, now a student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
No matter where you go in Kane County, you are never too far from a Starbucks or a Dunkin.
If you’re a coffee lover like me, then you’ve probably tried numerous drinks from both of these places. But I’m always looking to try something new, especially if it’s coffee, and that’s how I happened to stumble upon MOKA, a new coffee business in North Aurora.
MOKA is a little different than a lot of coffee shop chains, simply because it’s family owned and has a level of personal service that’s rare in any business these days.
I had an opportunity to meet and talk with the owners, Scott and Jeanette Miller, and learn more about their new business, and why it works. Here’s what I learned.
So, What is MOKA?
One thing that sets the North Aurora MOKA apart from a traditional coffee shop is that it operates mostly through the drive-through — which means that the coffee shop does not have indoor seating, although it does have outdoor seating for the walk-up window.
The drive-through option is a great service to commuting customers while the walk-up window serves bicyclists and pedestrians.
As for the coffee, MOKA’s owners take pride in hand-crafting all of their drinks. Their coffee is roasted by Landgrove Coffee, and their espresso machines are made by La Marzocco. In addition to coffee, MOKA sells smoothies, teas, shakes, MOKA Bites and much more.
What Makes MOKA Special?
The moment I arrived at MOKA, I was greeted with smiles and happy faces from all of their staff. As I was waiting in the drive-through for my coffee, the staff made an effort to engage in a conversation with me. They asked me about my day, what kind of coffee I like and so on.
The conversation didn’t feel like I was talking to an employee, but rather like I was talking to an old friend.
The MOKA folks make sure to try to put a personal touch on everything, from their interactions with customers to their service and coffee.
Scott Miller says that the MOKA business philosophy is “People, service and coffee.”
“That’s the main reason we have so many people come back over and over,” he said. “If we know a car well enough to know their drink, we should know their name.”
Unlike most drive-through businesses, MOKA doesn’t have a speaker box. As Scott and Jeanette both tell me, without a speaker box, the staff are able to communicate face-to-face and interact with the customer.
“We want to have superb customer service,” Jeanette said. “And one thing that has made it work so far is our amazing team. We really work to hire people who are genuinely friendly … We want to make sure customer interaction truly is an interaction and not just a transaction.”
But What Do Staffers Really Think?
Of course, the owners are going to say nice things about their business, so I asked some of the staffers to give me the real skinny.
Laura Intrain, one of the baristas who works at MOKA, said “it’s a great experience.”
“It’s chill,” she said. “There’s a different vibe with customers (and) you really play on that connection.”
Courtney Mickelson, from Batavia said she looks forward to coming to work because she knows she’s going to laugh during the day.
“The owner, Scott — he has really bad dad jokes,” she said.
Sara Harris of Aurora says the fun is both spontaneous and intentional.
“I love doing the window because I just get to talk to people,” she said. “That’s my job! It’s so one-on-one and just cool.”
Curious About Trying MOKA?
You don’t even have to like coffee to like MOKA.
Julie Schimpf, a high school senior from Aurora, says there’s something for everybody.
“If you don’t like coffee, we can make it taste not like coffee,” she said. “And there’s plenty of smoothies or teas, just so many options. Like my best friend came the other day and hates coffee and she got an Oreo latte and is now in love with it. Now she comes back almost every day and gets one.”
Talley Miller, a teenage barista from Batavia and the daughter of the owners, said it’s worth a trip to North Aurora just for the MOKA experience.
“Just give it a try!” she said. “People are always going to Starbucks and Dunkin and places like that and that’s really great, and they have great coffee. But it’s always good to be trying something different and just getting out there and doing something that’s not really in your usual routine.
“And I think that once they do try it, they’ll realize that it’s good and they should come by more often.”
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