AF retiree incorporates love of coffee with mentoring Airmen
By Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 03, 2017
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- His coffee grinder is set to a specific coarseness, tamper that pushes the grinds with exactly 30 pounds of pressure, the espresso machine calibrated to give consistent shots of espresso every time at 198 degrees for the right amount of coffee at the proper grind, pressure and temperature can extract the optimal amount of oils, caffeine and flavor out of each coffee bean.
Making a good cup of coffee is both an art and a science.
Larry Bowman, an Air Force retiree, owns and operates The Coffee Corner, a small coffee shop in the 92nd Medical Group that powers Airmen, civilians and retirees through their days.
“Military customers are courteous, friendly and they understand camaraderie,” Bowman said. “I understand Airmen because I was once a supervisor and an instructor. The coffee shop allows me to mentor and help them out around the hospital. It’s my job as a retiree to help out where I can.”
Bowman enlisted July 2001, and was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base for 14 years, during which he was a flight chief for a section of crew chiefs, and deployed overseas seven times. He retired June 2015, and stayed in the local area.
“I encourage Airmen to go to school and get an education,” he said. “The better educated you are, the further you can take [your career] and the less ‘what if’s’ there are. Whether you’re transitioning out early, or at your 20-year mark, find something you love and go after it.”
Bowman said he has always had an entrepreneur mindset. He pursued an accounting degree using his GI Bill benefits, then invested in a coffee shop at Fairchild to fulfill his dream of being his own boss.
Bowman says emotional intelligence helps to build customer rapport when interacting with Airmen at the 92nd MDG building.
“I can usually sense customer’s vibes once I get them to talk,” Bowman said. “I smile and let people know I’m here to listen if they need anyone to talk to.”
Bowman asks for feedback to help grow and find better ways to get to know and make his customers happy.
“He blends a good cup of coffee and is really imaginative,” said Colleen Couch, 92nd Medical Support Squadron utilization manager. “He makes the shop unique. He’s former military, so he already possesses camaraderie and understands how to talk to Airmen. I don’t go just for the coffee, but for the social benefit. He lightens up my day.”
Just like Bowman ensures his espresso machine is calibrated correctly for crafting the perfect cup of coffee for his customers, he is always working on bettering Airmen and getting to know his customers here at Fairchild.
Take advantage of the resources available to you, seek out mentors and wingmen. For more information on how to take advantage of your military educational benefits, contact the Education Center at (509) 247-2348.