Q & A with Brooke Payne, Founder, Cutters Point Coffee
By Marguerite Cleveland
The Cutters Point flagship store is known locally as “the Living Room of Gig Harbor.” This really describes the feeling that Brooke Payne, founder of Cutters Point Coffee, wants to evoke at each of his stores. Established in 1995, the company now has 12 locations—11 in the South Puget Sound area and one in Savannah, Georgia.
Q. Washington is a coffee drinking state with everything from Mom and Pop coffee stands to national chains. What makes Cutters Point stand out?
A. We like to say we are in the people business first. In a world of selfies, we take the time to take a photograph. This reflects our philosophy of having guests not customers. It is not just about the coffee. We provide our guests an authentic experience of genuine hospitality. That authenticity carries over into the design of our stores with reclaimed wood and comfortable seating. You can get a cup of coffee anywhere but you can only get the authentic experience at Cutters Point.
Q. Cutters Point Coffee is a true family run business. Can you share how your family is involved?
A. My oldest son Cody Payne is the head of our grocery division. Our coffee is carried at Safeway, Albertson’s and QFC. My daughter-in-law Alyssa Payne runs our marketing department and product development. My daughter Haley Payne manages our flagship store in Gig Harbor. Heather Payne, my daughter, does all our photography. My son Kramer Payne is a youth pastor and leads a group of 200 youth at our flagship store on Thursday nights. Most importantly is my wife, Jennifer Payne, who is the glue that holds us all together. We would be lost without her.
Q. Why coffee?
A. My faith is a very important part of my life. I was very involved with Young Life, one of the largest Christian youth organizations in the world when growing up. Our church community would gather after services and have coffee, and that resonated with me. In this day and age of social media, I saw a deep need for people to connect, and one of the most natural and easy ways to connect is over a cup of coffee.
Q. Can you tell us how the history of the Puget Sound inspired your name? Do you have an interest in local history?
A. I am a total nautical buff and love the water. I grew up in Gig Harbor, and the local history of the story of George Vancouver’s exploration of the area intrigued me. Our name was inspired by Peter Puget and Joseph Whidbey, who departed the main expedition in 1792 in two small cutter boats to explore what is now known as the South Puget Sound. They stopped at Point Fosdick and had their first meal. We like to think it included a cup of coffee.
Q. Can you share the support you provide to the local community and how you helped start a charitable organization?
A. All of our stores are very generous to the local community, whether supporting a race or events at a school. We are part of the community, and it is important to participate. One of the things I am most proud of is that we helped found a 501(c)(3) charity, 41 & Change, which assisted a Young Life Camp in Nicaragua. To raise money the camp was growing and selling coffee. We helped them turn it into a viable business which helps in three ways: First, the farmers are paid wages 25 percent higher than what they can receive locally. Proceeds from the sale of the coffee helps send Nicaraguan youth to camp. The company also offers a fundraising opportunity to youth in North America so they can sell coffee to raise money to attend a summer camp.