Year One in the books!

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Hard to imagine that one year has passed since we took over Solar Cafe! The location has been so ideal. Thanks to the City of Hilliard and the many people who have worked so hard to bring people to this downtown area, we have meet so many people throughout the year.

Some have become good friends. Some needed help that was beyond themselves. Some were looking for people who would care for them. Some were looking for support during a rough time. Some were looking to celebrate. Some were looking for meaning and purpose. And some were looking for something that was greater than themselves to invest into.

14202757_635526213285405_1707879203474768731_nWords cannot even express the gratitude we can give you community of Hilliard for a great first year. Sure it wasn’t easy but you stood with us and supported beyond your duty. The crazy part is – we have so much more to do. We still get people into the shop saying this was their first time in or they have never heard of us till they did a search for coffee shops or were walking Old Hilliard. That means we haven’t even started getting out what we can ALL do as we live, work and play in Hilliard. It is certainly a community effort to make our community even better.

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This year has been full of experiences that we would not trade for anything. Experiences that were filled with hope and joy, and some that were hard and painful. Experiences that force you to get better. Experiences that show you where the warning signs are and a track history of “if I do this, then this will happen”. Experiences that are reinforced in books all around on how to handle things or what to look for or how to lead. Experiences that have the desire to make someone better and make an investment into the future.

community This year has also been one of firsts. No duh, you say! But seriously, I do not know about you but as much as I love repeating things- there is something fresh about “well, that is new”. I always love the new when it is exciting, not so much the challenging new. But both are needed for a well rounded life and experience. What I look forward in this 2nd year is an reinforcing of what was laid, growth and pruning of what needs to go, and growth beyond what we see right now.

 

Lastly, this year as been a year of hope. Through the you (the community), we have given over $14,000 to non-profits locally and around the world! The is something to celebrate as you where and are part of hope going to so many people. Yet still so many people have suffered loses, pain, disappointment and isolation. As a location, Coffee Connections has been a safe place for people to connect and start the healing process. It has also been the place where renewed life and purpose has been reinforced. It has been a placed were encouragement and “I can do this” mentality has won over. One of the first things we did a year ago before renovations was pray over the space, asking God that a peace would enter the lives of anyone who would enter these doors that they have not felt before. I am so grateful we have done this because we have had some many people comment on this very thing without knowing why and are grateful for it.

It is what we are all about: The People! We want to serve our city and love our neighbor. Its a passion that crosses any wall without creating offense. Its a focus that determines why we do what we do. To connect with each other, to serve one another, to promote unity and diversity.

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Value: All about the people

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For the next few blog posts, I wanted to present our values at Coffee Connections. We have one key value that we live by – All about the people. That key value is lived out in two ways: Love your neighbor and Serve your city. For this first installment, I want to touch on the origins of “All about the people.”

Many may find it surprising, but Coffee Connections was not part of a 5 year plan that we developed. In fact it wasn’t even on the radar! But God gave a vision and we began to walk that way. This story is shared elsewhere on the blog. Through this whole process,  the heart of serving people has always been at the core.  It is what we believe and how we act towards humanity.

A greek scholar tells this story – He was presenting an idea on a line from the Bible that says “for God so loved ALL the world…”. The student wanted to know the greek translation of the word “all” as to see if the meaning was different in any way. The greek scholar said, “Well the word ‘all’ in greek means…” As he paused for a few the auditorium got very quiet as to be schooled by an expert and their minds exploding with a very different meaning than what they were used to. “well, it means ALL”. A slow laughter rippled around the student body. So when we say “all about the people” we mean “ALL!” There is no segregation, disunity or defense against beliefs and life styles. People are people and they all have value. Devaluing people is defacing who we are an entire human race.

The “About” is the part in the slogan is simply points to whom the “all” refers. It’s People.  People means, well, you get the idea! Whether a child or an older adult and everywhere in between, we care about all people. One of the heart beats of the shop is for a multigenerational, multiethnic, and multidiverse group of people that can all gather.  We envision people sharing their dreams, desires, worst days, struggles and joys. A strong, supportive and movemental force that is driven by a deep and even spiritual desire to go beyond oneself. All about the people isn’t just an idea, it is our life style.

It’s a value.

It’s a community.

It’s a mindset that pushes one to be selfless and welcoming to make each other better. Because we all know we are better off together and we cannot stay where we are at and hope for better. We have to get better, we have to grow, and we have to share. We are living organisms that grow, so let’s grow together by sharing and listening. It’s messy…it’s beautiful…it’s All About the People.

The Perfect Shot?

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The perfect shot. If you talk to coffee professionals and experts, this is possible despite being complicated. Even the idea of THE perfect shot has variables. That being the case, lets take a moment and pull apart these words “Perfect Shot”.

Perfect. A attribute that is hard to obtain and qualify. Chances are your definition of perfection is different from mine and every person you talk to. Perfection is the pursuit of your whole being without fault or defect. No flaws, no issues- just perfect. Now, don’t get me wrong here. Perfection is something to shoot for because it shows in your work and life. It gives you a sense of validation and expertise that can be needed in various situations. Yet it often leads to some negative expectations and ultimately isolation. Perfection often brings a sense of the elitist mindset that defines who you are or what you. If your actions are not ABOVE anyone else and the definition is cracked in some way, the victim mindset sets in and a slow decline starts that shows itself in negative actions. Its a chase of all things “mine” and gives no wiggle room for error.

Rant over – Now lets talk about Perfect in the sense of an espresso. To do this, you need to have an espresso machine that will produce the right amount of pressure. Then fresh roasted coffee that is ground on a fine setting. Add the correct amount of ground coffee into the portafilter (around 14-18 grams. Next, you must tamp it to create a condensed puck. Pulling an espresso shot isn’t hard when you have the right equipment and knowledge.

Shot. The coffee is pulled from the espresso machine making a nice “mouse tail stream” to create three distinct layers: Body, Heart, Crema. Based on what kind of beans you use (example: single origin or blends) will result on the level of taste and those three layers. Your climate and region will also play a part into this result. Oh and don’t forget water purity. So yeah- its a lot and can be exhausting. Constant practice to create the perfect espresso shot is not only costly but also time consuming. Most of the time, most baristas look for key traits within the shot and adjust from there. Perfection in an espresso shot is a hard thing to grasp from time to time.

Its not that coffee workers “settle” for average. It is beyond that. It is seeing what has been given to them, with the knowledge that they have and adjusting where needed to create a shot of espresso that is palatable and on par. Though not perfect, which we already saw as objective to each person, the shot of espresso will be the very best it can be in that moment. Growth in how to adjust both machine and bean will add to getting better, of course. This is a must. A life- long learn and discoverer process.

If we take a look at life, people crave attention and then pass it off as “I don’t know why I am doing this” or even better “it doesn’t matter or I don’t have an end goal to this” is a passive aggressive attempt to minimize the feelings and thoughts that are within them. We all do things out of “need”. Some are public, others are private. Social media has this way of showing “perfect” without showing the mess. Even those in a mess look perfect. Right?! We start measuring up to others and what they do and who they are and see ourselves as missing that “perfect” mark that they are hitting often. Its only in a good, health and open community where perfection is stripped away and the reality of messy is available. A weight is lifted, freedom is found and “my best” is celebrated.

You are not settling for “average” or “normal”- which if you think of that those definitions can be subjective based on a person’s outlook and upbringing. You are moving forward away from what drives you and those around you crazy! You are moving away from perfection and into enjoyment of life. Perfection is an illusion people chase. Rather, aim to chase the realities of becoming better in all aspects of your life, to be a life long learner. To share that with others as they learn and grow. Together you will create a life system that is the best and most enjoyable.

 

Starting off strong

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We are in week two of Coffee Connections occupying 4004 Main Street. So far it has been busy and we have been interacting with so many people. The responses that we have been getting from the Hilliard community is so encouraging. We are very grateful for everyone who has been coming out and the regulars that continue to come in.

I said above that “we have been very busy.” I am not joking about that or trying to make ourselves better. It seems like every day we our running out of something. As we have made lists and bought what we need, the amount of people ordering has been much higher than we anticipated. The coffee is just a major indicator about how many people have been through our space. I roasted a lot the weekend we opened (or at least I thought it was) and we ran out THAT DAY! I am grateful for Tim and the Coffee Mess for having coffee ready for me to resupply. Then that following week I had to continue to get more and more coffee from Tim. So to prepare for our second weekend, I did a total of 9 roasts (roughly 1 to 1.5 pounds) and we used all of that up by Sunday. To say I am grateful is an understatement.

In addition to all of this, many people are coming and showing the space to family and friends. We have been getting stop ins and calls from various businesses asking if they could use the space for meetings, events and rentals (the Annex which should be ready early October). Our hope was for this space to be used by the community to love their neighbor and serve this city – it certainly is happening.

A look ahead makes us more and more excited. The fall season brings so many fun events that we are just thrilled to be part of. We will be hosting a Coffee Tasting event, Coffee and Canvas, a Hayride in the south of Hilliard, and much much more!

As we move forward strong, keep stoping in and following us on Facebook. We are here to serve this city and love these people. We are here to add value and meaning into people lives.

 

 

Renovations! Not to be done in a day

reno picSince last week, we have been working on renovations at 4004 and 4006 Main Street, Hilliard Ohio. Visit our facebook for more pictures and videos of what we have done.

This week has been all about painting the main house (4004 Main Street). We have been blessed with various people coming by to volunteer their time and helping this space to get completed.

For me, one of the more frustrating pieces to all of this is the amount time it takes to do a project. Painting here, organizing there, cleaning up over there and the list continues. I have been used to getting this done rather quickly that things that take time frustrate me. Ironic, this journey is about slowing down and doing it right and waiting for the right time.

Do not get me wrong, we are moving fast and getting so much accomplished! The little things can throw me off and get me down. I want to see if come together quicker yet I am not seeing the detailed small stuff that needs to take place first. These small things are so important and need to happen in order for everything to look good and fit together.

renoLike I said, so many people have helped out already and so many will continue to help out- to that I am grateful. Many hands make lite work.

So what have I learned so far that I can pass on to you?

1 – Be thankful! Things will not always go the way you hoped they would go, people will disappoint you, and projects will take longer. Yet being thankful will reverse these into – learning to grow through unexpected times, appreciate those who are around you and do what you can.

2- Take care of yourself. I have this guilt feeling of not being there to help out. Even right now, I am thinking how dare I take time and write this blog while I can be at the shop doing more stuff. But its important, especially if I want to continue to be productive.

I am grateful beyond words for the amount of time, energy and effort those who have been faithfully volunteering their time for these past few weeks to make this dream a reality. Thank you! Let us not give up the good work that is before us…it is only the beginning…

4004 Main Street, Hilliard OH

Solar PicWe are excited to announce that 4004 Main Street in Old Hilliard will become the location of Coffee Connections!  On August 21st, we will begin to make our mark on the space and we plan to be open this September!

Isn’t that currently Solar Cafe?  Yes, and the story behind how this came to be an option for us is truly unique.  I want to share that with you.

April is when the assignments for vendor’s spots around town are made.  Our desire is to connect with people in the community and the one spot I really hoped to get was Hilliard Station Park. And we got it.  But it was right across the street from Solar Cafe. Because we both would be selling coffee, and I desire to promote unity within this community, I decided to have a conversation with the owner.  I walked into Solar and introduced myself to Tom. I shared with him my ideas for unity with my vendor spot at the Splash Pad and asked if he would be willing to work with me.  He reached his hand across the table from me and said “thank you”. We chatted for the next hour and half, and the something that I never imagined, happened.  Tom’s true desire is to be the landlord of the property and noticing my passion and vision to have a great place for people to connect over coffee…he offered for me to purchase the assets of his business and set up shop. This offer shocked me.  First, Old Hilliard is my dream location to own a shop.  Second, it was out of left field.  We had just finished a dedicated time of prayer where I felt God clearly told me to just focus on the bike.  It seemed unattainable, though, because I didn’t have access to the funds to make it happen.

I shared this encounter with some friends and asked them to pray for us. Surprisingly, one of these friends later called me and said, “God would not let this idea go.” After more prayer, we decided to move forward as this friend became our initial investor, making this space a reality.

Since then, we have had various encounters with people about this space and their excitement about its transformation. The bike has done its job and will continue to make relationships by going out to serve people.

We plan on taking a few weeks to renovate the space and open it around the beginning of September. We’re so excited to have a physical location for people to come and enjoy great coffee and build connections.  My next post will be about what we plan on doing within the space and what it means to those who live in and around Hilliard.

Success

 

Thomas

The above quote by Thomas Edison is really drilling deep within my brain. Within recent years, Thomas Edison and his quotes have been mentioned often OR I am noticing them more as we are on this journey. Here is what I mean.

A year ago, Sharon and I sat down to figure out what we would like to accomplish in a year. Most of the stuff we added came true (mobile coffee option, relationships within various areas of life and city, etc), yet there was a handful of items that we did not anticipate or could not have known while we were dreaming.

The biggest item was the Wheely’s Coffee Bike. When it came in, to be very honest, I was taken back by all the items that we had to add to it. Then came the endless hours of getting it ready and the waiting for its approval. In the process, we found out the ‘ease’ of it getting licensed (as far as the Ohio government was concerned) to which we were thankful. Then came finding out what to do and where. A lot of time, energy and money went into finding spots and events that yield a very little return…at least not enough to support a family. Learning to simplify was tough and I am still learning to do that. We expected a greater return and easy opportunities YET we got more questions of “how” and “where.” Our starting dream was a dream and when reality hit- it hit hard! It was something that could easily send anyone walking away.

BUT!!!

Within the last few weeks, we have been getting more and more opportunities because we set ourselves up to be in various arenas of the city and have tried some different ideas. We wanted to add to what was going on (for example: Hilliard Station Park, various health runs that we were able to give back, local business opportunities, etc). Of course, we tried various things and either got a NO or no response. This is hard! Yet, to us, it is more that just coffee…it goes deeper. There is a driver that moves us to make certain decisions and make certain relationships. It drives us to be an acting part of the solution not just a voice. It drives us to create unity which springs relationships and possibilities only dreamed about. We know that as we reach out, someone will reach back and we will see our dream becoming a reality.

Its not about greed, popularity or special hand outs. Not the amount of money that comes in or spots we have. Its about staying focused on the goal – serving and building relationships.

Its what Sharon and I wanted to do a year ago and want to continue to do so that we could look back and say, “Yea- that was successful.”

Now it is up to you!

What drives you?

How do you measure success?

What do you need to stick with?

Or what do you need to let go?

Is it beyond yourself or within your control?

 

 

Saying THANK YOU!!

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This week, Coffee Connections get the privilege to say thank you two groups of people.

The first group is our police officer in Hilliard. We will be setting up at 3 today, 7am on Wednesday and then 11pm on Thursday night to serve coffee and non-coffee beverages as a thank you to some of our local heros. While I worked at Starbucks, when we first moved here, a lot of officers came in and had a great conversation with me about the city, their jobs and all that they do. As I moved away from Starbucks and into our own realm, I wanted to do something that would not only introduce ourselves but also say thank you. I contacted Hyda Slone, who later got me in touch with Lindsay Bright. Lindsay is the wife of an officer and is leading an appreciation for the officers this week. She loved the idea and I’m so excited we get to do it!

The second group of people that we are saying thank you to on Wednesday @ 9:30am, is the Ohio Ministry Network. When we moved here with this crazy idea of partnering service and coffee they have supported us, encouraged us and have given us many opportunities to ‘test’ out our idea. It is because of their support and network that we have been able to share, partner and reach out into this vast state with a completely different way to serve people.

This in no way is a completed list of all those we need to be thanking! Through letters, meals, hand shakes and coffee I want Coffee Connections to be about gratitude. It doesn’t happen often in our world and shouldn’t be done just one time of year. Being grateful needs to be a daily part of our lives.

So be thankful today! Tell someone how grateful you are for them or what they have done for you. Keep this simple: a card, going out of your way in the office for a short thank you, taking someone out…the possibilities are endless. It all starts with you.  I promise you will notice how you’re life and attitude will change by this simple concept!

 

We are APPROVED!! Time to Invite

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There she is! Well- almost. Missing the canopy (which you will see on the picture below).

This has been an very interesting journey to get this thing approved. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as we anticipated – but that does not mean I was lazy. Being new at this whole thing, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything over and beyond. I wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing.

I will detail the ‘getting the bike up to code’ in another blog post. But for now, I want to share our experience. Meeting with Nick at the Franklin County Health Department was honestly amazing. We chatted for a while about the bike, coffee and life. With a few things that we had to add, he gave us the approval. What the funny part was that he informed me that coffee does not spoil and our cart is so simple that getting a license would almost be necessary if I was going to use milk. Since we plan on that, he approved us.

This morning I went to a joint city of Columbus licensing event and found out that what I have is a ‘knock-down’ cart. Thus meaning I do not fall into food vendor licensing program. Though both the Columbus and Franklin County classify me as a Mobile Food Vendor. Then come to find out that I just needed either Franklin County Health or Columbus Health approval…I do not need both! But what was encouraging from this morning was talking with the fire department on what I needed to do in order to pass code. They were super friendly and instructive! A positive experience

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So here is the important part and it is what we have been doing for the start (until the City of Hilliard gives us their approval to set up on a regular basis on various spots), WE NEED PRIVATE PROPERTY OWNERS and PUBLIC PROPERTY OWNERS (aka-the city) TO INVITE US OUT! This mean festivals, parties, meetings, parking lots, street corners, etc. Because of this bike, we do not get to bid or be placed on a lottery in order to sell coffee. This is a good things AND a very negative thing as well.

Negative: Not a regular set spot.

Positive: We get to meet local owners, chat and invest in a certain area!

This means connecting with people is so important. I am just amazed to think that this bike has forced us to create more connection with various people, cities and businesses then what I originally planned on. Talk about spread that seed!

This is where you come in- HELP US!!! If you know of someone or a business or a city person, please connect us. We would love to partner with them in building relationships in their community.

 

 

 

Character Profile – Jay

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I wanted to start sharing the stories of those who have been buying coffee from us. Too often we get lost in the quick and easiness of buying/selling, that we forget that those who are BUYING are people with stories.

Coffee Connections mission is to create relationships with an eternal purpose one cup at a time. The win for this is for those who buy the coffee use it to create or build on relationships in their life. No greater joy has it been for me then to see how my very first supporter is taking this into his work place.

I asked Jay, “Why did you first buy coffee from me and why do you continue to buy?”

“I bought coffee from you first because of your passion for making the best cup of coffee. I continue to buy because it is the best cup coffee!” – Says Jay

I then asked, “How are you using it to create or develop relationships?”

He sent me this picture – IMG_1969

He then said “I like the French press method. I get a lot of questions and it is large enough to make two 16oz cups.  So that is how I share. People also love the aroma in my coffee office.”

Jay and I joke about the power of this coffee. He tells me that when he started to brew it at the office, people were leaving their work spaces to inquire of the pleasant aroma that was spreading throughout the office space. He said I should have a warning label on the bag that says “Can be Habit Forming”.

I am personally thankful for Jay! He has been a great encouragement and even had me into his office to do a coffee presentation. Coffee has very much been a great connecting piece between us, to which I am grateful for.

Thank you Jay for not only support us, but also thinking outside of yourself. Using your resources to help those around you. You have a genuine care for people and it shows through your passion in being and helping them. Thank you.