I first met with Leslie and Karen Cozza back in March when I began partnering with local businesses for the 2019 season. They walked in proudly wearing a hat and shirt promoting their brand, Taptastings. I quickly realized that we shared the same entrepreneurial spirit and they were two women I wanted to work with. I recently asked Leslie and Karen a few questions about the launch of TapTastings and their favorite local beers.
Tell me about yourself-
Leslie: I like to consider myself pretty well-rounded person with lots of different interests. I can tell you that I love sports, music, and comedy! There’s always something funny to laugh about! I’ve held various positions from teacher to auto tech to banker to singer, among other things!
Karen: I’ve always had an interest in helping and/or leading people. In every position I’ve held in the service and everything I’ve done in my personal life, I loved providing support. I’m pretty competitive too and love to take part in all sorts of activities! So balancing my nature to compete and to help is always fun.
What was your Career prior to TapTastings?
Leslie: My work life has taken many turns! My longest career was as Mathematics Teacher in Wareham for 18 years. Most recently, I was an office/operations manager at Trio Wine Company in West Bridgewater but left to spend more time with Karen, my wife and business partner. Karen: I recently retired from a 36 year military career with my last position as the Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 102nd Intelligence Wing here on Cape Cod.
How did you get the idea to start TapTastings?
We were heading out to local breweries with our friends and someone always had to be the designated driver. Karen had retired from the military and we knew that we needed jobs to keep us out of trouble! So, with more and more taprooms opening on the Cape, an idea was born!
What is a day in the life like for a beer-centric business Owner?
Leslie: Let’s do my day! A huge part of my day is keeping up with our marketing and customer relations as well as building relationships with our craft brewery partners. We try to make sure that we are constantly in front of people who might be interested in brewery outings. This ranges from maintaining our presence on social media to face-to-face networking events. We field quite a bit of inquires through different avenues and that needs constant attention. Then, of course, we prepare for any tour that we might have that day. This includes getting our van (Barley!) prepared, assembling our TapTastings swag bags and brewery information, making sure our food is ordered, and keeping all of our partners aware of our plans. After our tours, we revisit everything and talk about what went well and on what we could improve.
There have been a few brewery tours that have popped up in the area, what’s different about a TapTastings brewery excursion?
First, our tours are fully customizable, including off-Cape adventures. If we have not received a reservation for a certain day then the first group to reserve is able to have input on any changes to the itinerary. Second, we take pride in our preparation and making sure our brewery / food partners are ready to treat our customers as special guests. If a brewery is unable to do that for us then we certainly understand but we do whatever is possible to make that happen, including a ton of advance legwork. Third, we provide swag and brewery information not included in other tours.
What do you do for fun when you’re not touring the area with guests?
We love all sorts of things! We spend time with family and friends, of course, and each have our hobbies. Karen is an avid gardener, golfer, and a curler at the Falmouth Curling Club. Leslie is a Boston sports addict and cannot be torn from watching her favorite teams. She also enjoys playing in local flag football and basketball leagues and helping friends out with their technology headaches.
Where do you see this business in 5 years?
We see TapTastings as a regional brand that could have a foothold on longer excursion style trips, including overnighters. We’re currently working on an excursion that will show our guests the beer making process from beginning to end. We see this as something that could be successful for many years to come.
What are your go-to brews produced in this area right now?
Leslie: Anytime I’m at Barnstable Brewing, I get myself a pour of the Examen series. I get a bit of citrus and a nice amount of hopiness that presents itself well but doesn’t overwhelm. Whenever we’re asked about the beer we like, we have to hedge our comments because we’ve definitely learned that tastes vary greatly from person to person. I might get grapefruit but someone else might get a floral note. Something to try at Barnstable is a mix! You can order a half pour of Vanilla Milkshake with a half pour of Sweet Night Stout, or whatever you’d like.
Karen: At Devil’s Purse, I always tend to try the newest brew. Most recently, it was the Shore Laddie, an American Porter brewed with blackberries. One of my favorite pours at Devil’s Purse is their flagship Kolsch. It’s a nice clean, crisp ale that, like a lager, is very refreshing.