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Zü Coffee’s Spirited Atmosphere

Among your wait staff are bats, hamsters and killer whales

Zü Coffee barista Ade Ogunbajo, left, came up with the idea of associating a spirit animal with each of the staff at the Waugh Chapel coffee shop. His own is the sloth, while Casey Martin’s is a hamster. “I’ve been told I look like a hamster — small and frantic,” she says.

Spirited conversation keeps the atmosphere companionable at Zü Coffee, home of the friendliest wait staff as voted by readers of Bay Weekly. At the Waugh Chapel location, customers chat with the staff about their spirit animals.
    Spirit animals arise from the shamanic tradition where they are paired with initiates to the practice, who can then turn to them for guidance in their lives. Informally, New Age seekers may identify with spirit animals that represent qualities they wish were theirs.
    At Zü Coffee, the wait staff have selected spirit animals to express their personality in one or two words, says barista Ade Ogunbajo, who created the staff profiles that periodically flash across the monitor behind the cash register. “People do notice our choice of spirit animals and talk with us about them.”
    Sydney Martin chose the killer whale. “I’ve always had a connection with that animal, ever since I was a little kid. I once had a chance to see one close up and look into its eyes — an amazing experience,” Martin says.
    Casey Martin, Sydney’s sister, went for the hamster. “I’ve been told I look like a hamster — small and frantic,” she says.
    Nani Pagan’s spirit animal is the bat, referencing her reputation as a bit of a grunge girl apprenticing as a tattoo artist. “I’m up late at night, so it fits,” she says.
    Despite his creativity in developing the staff profiles, Ogunbajo identifies as a somewhat lazy person and chose the sloth as his spirit animal.
    Aidan Benton opted for the sun bear, a denizen of the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. Ogunbajo, who suggested the sun bear for Benton, will show you a photo on his smart phone of a sitting sun bear. “It looks just like Aidan, who is six foot five, crouched over his computer playing video games,” he says.
    As for Zü Coffee owner Doug Henderson, his spirit animal is the mosquito. “Or so I’ve been told,” he says.