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Why call it EVOKE?

The Definition

Probably one of the questions I get more than any other is why we called it EVOKE. What does that even mean? Is that a good name for a coffee company? Coffee isn’t in the name….. I’ve heard it all!

When we set out to build this company, we wanted it to mean more to people than just a place to grab a cappuccino or espresso. We wanted to challenge thought, action, and comfort when it came to ideas and creation. When we set out to build Cafe Evoke, we wanted it to feel different.

There are actually several definitions of the word EVOKE and we have seen nearly all of them used when people add it to their pictures of our cafe or catering operation. We actually love to hear what they think it means or what definition suits their experience best. However, there is one particular version that we had written at the top of our board / business plan while we were scheming all of this up:

[ ih-vohk ]

“to produce or suggest through artistry and imagination a vivid impression of reality”

dictionary.com

A reality produced through artistry and imagination. That was it. We wanted a place that would challenge the senses a bit (all white / minimal) and allow the way our guests used that space to be the art, the imagery, the reality of their experience. We wanted the coffee to shine. The people to shine. The life inside to be the focal point and not anything else. We wanted it to evoke thoughy and ideas.

Another definition that we found that we also really liked was this:

\ i-ˈvōk  \

“to re-create imaginatively”

merriam-webster.com

This one feels like it goes straight to the heart of what we had dreamed up. To re-create imaginatively. That felt so right!

It is funny how many times I have re-stated these textbook definitions since 2002. SO. MANY. TIMES. I feel a bit goofy when I answer someones “what does it mean” question with this sort of answer but it’s the truth. The dictionaries got it right.

A Quick History

In the early 2000s, it seemed like if you were going to open a coffee shop you had to name it something like Daily Grind, Java Castle, Perk Java Grinds, or something like that. You had to have a stage, an old couch, and some games with broken boxes on the shelf next to the dish bins. I knew I wanted to open a place of my own but I could not think of a name.

For a short time, I jumped onto that naming bandwagon and thought we would name it Sturdy Grounds – a place for art, music, coffee, and people. I don’t know if I ever really bought into that name because when it came time to begin really planning this business out, I never wrote it on top of the page. That spot was always blank….

After being in Nashville for a few years, I began to use the tag line…

“evoke thought”

I loved the idea of it and I ended up throwing that tag line as “line two” on all my business planning documents – under what should have been the name of the business. I also had a longer one…

“With this thought comes ideas. In this place, I will lose myself”

It felt like I was on to something but it also felt a bit “fuzzy” at best. It just seemed like this direction was going to be more philosophical than I really wanted it to be. I wanted a trendy place that was free of competition for these ideas to generate but not a church cafe or some place that felt untouchable if you didn’t feel like writing a poem or song or screenplay.

I began to really look around at places I loved to eat and drink. There was always some sort of mystery to their name. A simplicity. Something that would grab you and make you want to figure what out what it was all about.. One or Two word names..

I wish I could remember when it first dawned on me but I can’t.. Man I wish I had written that down. Maybe it is on my old blog that has been reduced to the WayBack Machine but I can’t find it anywhere.

All I can recall is that it was getting close to crunch time and as part of my business plan, I needed a brand or vision board to present along with the plan itself. I had to come up with something. Of course, it did not have to be the final idea but I wanted it to be. I had worked for nearly two full years on this plan and I wasn’t about to throw a name I didn’t believe in on the cover.

Cafe Evoke.

That was it. Why mess around with something when I could cut right to the chase. It had everything we needed and it told all we wanted to tell from the sidewalk.


Quick Side Note: When we landed on Cafe Evoke, my professor suggested we do some market research and peer review on that name. So, we sent out a survey to friends and family to get their thoughts. It was fun to read and most didn’t understand it. Maybe we should have pivoted then? Nope. We kept on and kept storytelling and knew we could show them what we had planned!


We were now called Cafe Evoke and had a name to go behind the brand. We owned the web address, email addresses, and began to design our brand. It felt like our baby had a name and it was an exciting time and made the rest of the business planning I had left for school so much more fun.

I am working on a piece now that will show the evolution of this brand we had created and I can’t wait to share with you the journey from the beginning until now.

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