Meet the Founder: Josh Zad of Alfred
“But first, coffee.”
For Alfred founder Josh Zad, that’s not just a tagline – it’s the mantra that drives everything he does. The Los Angeles native launched Alfred in 2013 on quiet, tree-lined Melrose Place in WeHo. Today, they’re the most Instagram-able cafe in the world with outposts ranging from L.A. to Tokyo.
Recently, we caught up with Josh to learn more about his journey and his unique commitment to preserving and elevating local coffee (and tea!) culture.
01 Why did you start Alfred?
I started Alfred in response to the other third wave coffee shops that were popping up in 2012. I found them all to be focused too much on the beans and the craft itself, leaving much to be desired in terms of design, vibe, and community. Having worked under an interior designer for several years, I decided to go into the business myself and make my style of coffee shop! With that, Alfred was born.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
My biggest obstacle was myself. Having never launched a business, I had the entrepreneurial spirit, but I was paralyzed by indecision. everything from, “Where do I buy paper cups?” to “How do I find and hire the right people?” to “Is coffee going to go out of style?” All of these questions gnawed at me.
So, I just dug my feet in and went for it. And, ironically, a lot of the challenges I imagined having were replaced with completely different ones.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Trust your instincts, no matter how big or small your idea might be. There is a reason you have this idea — whether it be for a restaurant, salad dressing, or protein bar.
Once you are on the path of ideation and eventually, creation, it becomes very easy to second guess yourself. And, undoubtedly, you will have people around you that will be quick to give their opinions on how things should be done. But, no matter what, it’s important to stay focused and stay on your path. Always remember the creative spark and butterflies you got when you daydreamed about the idea and let that guide you to success.
04 What’s on the horizon for Alfred?
We are keeping with our L.A. roots and getting ready to open new locations around town! We also have a new ready-to-drink beverage (codenamed “tiny coffee”) that is set to release later this year with Bristol Farms as our launch point — naturally!
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Finding balance between my family and work has been a challenge. I try to leave work at an acceptable hour and I choose to not work on weekends. Scheduling is absolutely critical. My family and newborn baby inspire me daily and have redefined happiness and success for me.
Creatively, I am inspired by imagery, architecture, and our beautiful city. Each cafe has a different feeling and aesthetic that is inspired by the neighborhoods we open in, so you feel the energy of the surrounding culture and connect with your local Alfred in a different way.