In front of the counter, it looked pretty much like any other coffee house.
A pair of teen-age girls giggled as they pointed to their phones.
To their right, a mother stood near the cooler and asked her preschooler: “Would you like a fruit cup or a yogurt pouch?”
A few feet away, a young couple chatted as they waited on their Mocha order.
And at a nearby table, an older gentlemen smiled as his grandson sipped his chocolate milk.
A typical scene at a typical coffee shop across America?
Maybe, if a coffee shop inside a church were typical.
‘IT’S A PROCESS’
The aroma is what gets you first.
Robust and alluring. You can detect it from 50 yards away in any direction.
“The church smells great, doesn’t it?” asked John Westurn, Executive Pastor at Pathway Church. “Even if you don’t drink coffee, it’s very powerful.”
Sunday, September 9, 8:30 a.m.
That’s the day, date and time the new Pathway Café officially began welcoming customers. And they came in droves. Throughout the morning, a steady line of visitors purchased everything from baked goods, to bottled water, to freshly cut fruit cups. But what they really desired was coffee. Not just any coffee, mind you. They wanted the Pathway Blend, and nearly 250 cups were brewed.
“How many churches can say they have their own coffee blend?” asked Café Director Elisa Martin. She smiled and adjusted her slate gray apron that features the Pathway Café logo.
Elisa explained how the house blend was created by a team of “coffee snobs” in the church, who offered a thumbs-down to countless others they had experimented with over a period of months.
“We finally decided on a five-bean espresso blend from Colombia,” she explained. “All of our coffee is from Colombia. And it’s very good.”
Pastor John agreed.
“Not that our coffee was awful in the old café. It’s just phenomenal now.”
Throughout the morning, Elisa had been busy operating the espresso machine behind the counter, as six other team members filled their roles. Each shift features:
•A barista who makes the coffee
•A cashier (who now accepts credit cards or cash)
•A prep person
•Someone who takes orders
•And someone who oversees the baked goods.
Depending on their job, volunteers received up to 10 hours of training before the café went live over the weekend. Overall, Elisa leads a team of 40.
“We spent hours at other coffee shops,” she noted. “We studied their pricing and their best practices.”
“There will be a learning curve,” Pastor John added,” and it will be a process. But we’re excited about what’s ahead.”
THE PLACE TO BE
And Pastor John is hoping what’s ahead could be big. He believes the café can have the same unique drawing power as the Playland in the children’s wing, which has attracted dozens of families who hadn’t set foot inside of the church before.
“We want it to be an inviting place for people who don’t know Christ, as well as those who do.”
The café features soft lighting, rustic flooring, and large monitors on which visitors can watch the worship services in real time.
The area seats 100, and between services on opening day, nearly all of the 21 tables were occupied. Pastor John explained that even more “soft seating,” such as comfy chairs and couches, are on the way.
Items offered are scrawled on a chalkboard above the counter. Besides the main blend, there are specialty Mocha, Americano, Latté and espresso drinks, a variety of tasty treats that are baked fresh, as well as yogurts and parfaits.
All proceeds benefit refugees around the globe.
Elisa stressed that all the cups and straws are eco friendly.
“All of them come from the earth and go back to the earth.”
The café will be open three days a week to start:
•Saturdays — 5:45 to 7:15 p.m.
•Sundays — 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
•Wednesdays — 6:30 to 8:30pm
“We think Wednesdays could be a big night,” Elisa noted. “Awana and youth group really aren’t that long, and a lot of parents like to stay at the church and wait for their kids. They can have a cup of coffee and meet with friends, read a book, or do some work on their laptop.”
She, too, hopes the café becomes the place to go for the entire community — whether they’re connected to our church or not.
“We want this to be a welcoming, inviting space for a great cup of coffee and some great conversation with friends,” Elisa continued, gesturing to the activity around her. “There’s really no place in Chippewa where you can do that on a Sunday morning. We want to be that place.”
Based on the opening weekend, it’s off to a pretty great start.