TJ Sizemore loves coffee. Those with the same passion might want to keep an eye on this up-and-coming java junkie.
For 10 years, he worked for an Atlanta-based Starbucks as a barista and later a manager. When he received an MBA from Georgia State, he accepted a corporate job near Milwaukee and moved here with his wife and child. However, after a few years, Sizemore realized his heart was still in the coffee industry and decided to pursue it full time.
"I was thrilled to find such a large coffee scene here and it inspired me to get back into the business," says Sizemore.
Three years ago, Sizemore started the Milwaukee Coffee Guild, an informal group and educational platform that provided coffee-related information sessions and tastings, as well as hosted the Milwaukee Coffee Festival at the Urban Ecology Center.
The third annual Coffee Festival is scheduled for Sept. 19, 2015.
"The first year we had it we had over 500 people attend, so we knew we were onto something. The second year, last year, we had over 650 people attend the event," says Sizemore.
The festival brought together many Wisconsin coffee roasters, including Stone Creek Coffee, Anodyne, Torke, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters, Hawthorne Coffee, Burman Coffee Traders and Fiddleheads.
"We also featured some local vendors including Indulgence Chocolatiers, Urbal Tea and Sartori Cheese," he says.
Sizemore also plans to start a business later this year called Pendulum, an online, and eventually brick and mortar, shop that will sell coffee equipment and specialty coffee beans.
"We will focus on locally-roasted coffee, but will eventually expand nationally and internationally as well," says Sizemore. "We want to offer everything – from the quirkiest to most renowned coffee beans and equipment."
The online store will open this summer and he hopes to find a physical space shortly after.
"We are looking in Walker’s Point and other areas that we think will be the best demographic for our concept," he says.
Sizemore – a self-described "military brat" – was born in Germany and moved many different places throughout his life.
"My family never lived anywhere longer than four years," he says. "It’s great to be in Milwaukee and to have a place I call home."
Sizemore was deeply inspired by a trip to Italy where he met baristas who were generous with their knowledge. "Before I went to Italy and visited so many different cafes I never really understood the artistry behind it," he says. "The baristas there were so great – they let me come behind the counter and opened my eyes to the level of passion for coffee that some people have."
Sizemore says although he appreciated what he learned at Starbucks, his heart is with the smaller roasters.
"I was a very loyal employee to Starbucks, but I really appreciate the passion and pride local roasters have," he says.
Pendulum’s website will soon be live. For now, people can stay in the loop via the Facebook page.
"I plan to focus on bringing the most eclectic and industry-proven coffee brewing devices together with some of the best specialty coffee roasters," says Sizemore. "This will be a coffee playground for people to come together and interact with each other and with coffee."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.