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In My Other Life - Ladue News: Business & Wealth

In My Other Life

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Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012 12:00 pm

Imagine you’ve reached a career rut—maybe you want to leave it all behind and dive into entrepreneurship, return to school or finally write that book you’re always talking about. 

For two St. Louis professionals, the rut was real—and they decided to do something about it.

Peter Cohen, Stringbean Coffee

They call him Mr. Beans.

Late last year, Peter Cohen made a life-changing career transition—from a bean counter to a bean roaster. The 14-year banking veteran happily traded in his preppy ties and wingtip shoes for do-rags and concert T-shirts when he opened Stringbean Coffee, a small commercial roastery in Fenton. Just short of a year later, Cohen is already realizing his dream: he frequents local farmer’s markets and mom-and-pop shops in a grassroots effort to share a variety of coffee roasts he creates, packages, delivers and markets himself. 

As a commercial banking treasury manager, Cohen looked at coffee as a hobby. But after 14 years in the finance industry, he no longer had a passion for it. “I started spending a lot of my breaks at coffee shops,” he says. “I found I liked the bold coffees I tried, but I didn’t like the bitterness.” After completing some research and experimentation, Cohen created his very own roast—Pete's Redeye—which packs “a bold taste with a smooth ending.” Cohen would go on to make various blends, some in collaboration with other local businesses, such as Kakao Chocolate, Pie Oh My and Star Clipper.

Soon, Cohen’s career path came full-circle. He was doling out samples and selling his coffee at the same stores he frequented as a child—from Ladue Market on Clayton Road to Freddie's Market in Webster Groves and Mannino’s Market in Cottleville. “I love seeing my coffee on shelves at cool mom-and-pop shops. A lot of these stores have been around for a long time—they are three and four generations.” Cohen has developed relationships with store owners and customers through their shared love of coffee. He’s even become somewhat of a local celebrity, garnering autograph requests and affectionate nicknames from area residents. Just ask Ladue Market owner Jerry Meyers—he calls him Mr. Beans.

Chris Jordan, Moneta Group

Chris Jordan will never forget the day his dad looked at him “as if he had three heads,” and his wife “stared in disbelief.” The successful Boeing rocket scientist was shifting his career path toward the financial industry. “It was a surprise for people because it was different and scary to make a large leap of faith like that, but I believed in myself,” Jordan says.

After 10 years of highly specialized and technical work on fighter jets such as the F-15 and F-18 at McDonnell Douglas, which later became Boeing, Jordan recalls his job turned into a job. “It lost its luster. I found I had a little more ambition in me to grow as a professional.” So Jordan earned an MBA through night classes at Saint Louis University and struck off on a road toward working with people, rather than technology.

Using his newfound interest and expertise in finance, Jordan worked for multiple major institutions before becoming the director of alternative investments at Moneta Group.

The financial industry proved to be a good fit for Jordan, who now has 15 years of experience in the field. He says he enjoys the daily challenge of working in an ever-changing environment. “Engineering oftentimes becomes very routine…finance is always evolving.” And most of all, he loves to connect with people through his work. “I spend a third of my time working with or preparing for face-to-face meetings with clients. I love that direct contact with people, and I value gaining and maintaining their trust as I work to help them.”

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