When Christine Georgopoulos was just five-years-old she pulled various ingredients from the cabinets of her Pine Brook, N.J. home and concocted what she called cookies. She was bit by the baking bug and spent much time experimenting in the kitchen. Even when she worked in Manhattan for a market research firm, baking was her true love hobby. That is until July 2010 when she opened Marika’s Coffee House in Manitou Springs, which has been exciting and challenging, she said. Now, the 32-year-old bakes, from scratch, her macaroons, cupcakes, cookies and muffins for the masses. And, if you are a regular at her shop, she knows what you like.
What brought you to Manitou?
I moved here in August 2009 because my brother had been living here in Manitou already and I was ready for a change of pace. I had been working in Manhattan for a Market Research Firm.
How is it that you started baking at a young age?
My interest in baking was something I was born with. I did not grow up in a household of bakers. I remember being 5 years old and just pulling various ingredients from the cabinets and concocting all kinds of cookies — they didn’t taste very good at that point, but the desire to bake was very strong.
What did you love about baking?
The satisfaction of sharing and watching others enjoy my creations.
What inspires your creations?
Baked goods I’ve had in the past from my grandmother’s friends as a kid. Also, treats from various bakeries around the country that I’ve had that had a wow factor. I try to recreate whatever item I like by dissecting the flavors/ingredients and then add my own little twist and/or upgrade the quality of ingredients to make it extra delicious. Also, you must use love in baking or it won’t taste nearly as good. This is where passion is vital to your product.
Was it difficult to open your own coffee shop?
It was exciting, sometimes challenging, but overall I don’t know if I would use the word difficult. I think time consuming is a better description.
You’ve turned your coffee shop into an art gallery too, what was your inspiration?
All the local artists that live in the area and hang out at my shop.
What is your current favorite ingredient, or baked good?
I love working with fresh spices and vanilla beans. My favorite baked good is the Chocolate Espresso Cupcake.
What is your advice to other young professionals/entrepreneurs?
If you want to open your own business, make decisions that are in line with who you are and what you love to do. Do not open a business JUST to make money. There is a lot of patience and time that needs to be put into your business and, if you don’t enjoy it, it will burn you out, and that energy will negatively affect whatever it is you are offering.