During my younger years I was unknowingly searching for a standard that I hadn’t experienced, yet alone even knew existed. This unguided pursuit of great coffee led me to a job working for a mom and pop coffee shop in our local Mall. I was working two jobs, one as a key holder in a retail apparel store and the other as a barista. Though my experience was limited to brewed coffee, I always wanted to dive into espresso. I got my first taste at this shop. Though this was not a specialty shop, it did show me some basics of espresso and also taught me some very wrong practices that I would have to later unlearn. I took note of how the shop was run and things I would want to do differently if I ever had my own shop.
As I began to progress in my love for coffee I switched from my much loved French press to the Chemex. My first few cups of coffee were horrid. I was using a stove top whistle kettle. There was no control. Over the course of the next few months I began to get the hang of the pour over method. I made some minor equipment upgrades such as a gooseneck kettle, a scale, and a timer. For once I started to understand that coffee could taste good. It was naturally sweet, bitter, but in all the good ways, and pleasantly acidic. I began to read books about coffee. The World Coffee Atlas by James Hoffman changed my understanding of coffee. Studying coffee was now my favorite past time. The rabbit trails were endless.
After a few years passed by, I quit my job with the coffee shop and quit my retail jobs. I began substitute teaching and enrolled in seminary. As I was progressing through seminary, I was faced with the question, “Where is God leading me?” The only answer that I knew at the time was “business as missions.” I had no experience owning a business, but this phrase kept popping into my head as I pondered my future in ministry. I started pursuing what this could mean, so I began developing a business plan and looking for a location for a potential coffee shop. Road block after road block, I felt like God was telling me, “no.” So I shelved it all. All of my research, my business model, and all the gathered information about starting a business. Instead, I focused on seminary.
A couple years later, I met a girl named Abbie. I immediately knew that she was someone I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. Before we even started dating, I told her that I was not wanting to date but I wanted to marry. She agreed and we were married 11 months later. During our courting, Abbie told me that we needed to pray about what we were going to do together as our ministry. We prayed. She immediately heard from God. I did not, so she encouraged us to pray again. I then heard God say, “business as missions” again. This time I felt like we were released to start a coffee shop.
The next day my dad tells me that he ran into a friend of mine that just bought a building and wanted to put a coffee shop in it. I reached out to him and my wife and I went to go look at the space. As we walked through the building, Abbie and I began to pray. We felt like God was telling us that this was where our business and ministry would begin. We signed the lease in May and began the buildout. Ten months later, we opened in March of 2018. We began small, only offering pour overs, tea, and cold brew. Over time, we expanded into espresso drinks. We began educating the Decatur public about specialty coffee and over time, people began to embrace us and our ideas about coffee. We began to see people coming from all over to enjoy the space and our cups of coffee. People were connecting, relationships were being built, and we were seeing ministry take place right before our eyes.
The first year of business was rewarding and we were seeing growth. We hired our first two employees, Brandon and Brent, and Abbie had quit her full-time job to help out with the shop, but all the growth came to a screeching halt in April of 2019. April 1st we burnt down due to a devastating fire. Still to this day we don’t know how it happened, but we are certain God’s hand was in the midst of it all. We lost everything, but my wife and I knew that this was not the end. We saw how devastating the fire was but we were positive that God had other plans and we held on to the hope of His calling for our lives.
Eight months of endless searching for a new location and by the grace of God, we found our new spot in the heart of the city! Our faithful employees stuck with us through the hardships and uncertainties. We reopened on December 4th, and began the new journey in our new space. Seeing familiar faces filling our space once again brought smiles to our faces as we continued to pursue great coffee in the city of Decatur.