Nonprofit coffee shops serve the community
Among all the coffee shops in Savannah, The Foundery Coffee Pub and City Coffee stand out. These seemingly typical shops are actually extensions of two churches and their newest way to serve the community.
The Foundery Coffee Pub on Habersham Street is a coffee shop owned by The Foundery Ministry and funded by the United Methodist Church. But this pub isn’t just a place for churchgoers. Justin Barfield, the director of operations at The Foundery Coffee Pub, encourages anyone and everyone to grab some coffee, pull up a stool and just talk.
“It is a public space,” said Barfield, “and a public space is meant to extend hospitality to travelers. It is a place where you’re not just recognized, but known. Folks gather in an informal setting and exchange ideas.”
The coffee pub also serves as an extension to the church, but one far more accessible to the public. Barfield said they didn’t want to build a clubhouse only used for a few hours out of the week. A coffee shop would be used “seven days a week by the whole community.”
City Coffee Savannah on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard had the same idea, though Barfield doesn’t view them as competition.
“We’re in informal cahoots with [City Coffee],” said Barfield. “It’s all the kingdom of God. We’re churchy, they’re churchy. We’re all churchy.”
Jim Simpson and Erik Carpenter, owners of City Coffee, agree that the focus is on giving back to the neighborhoods around them.
“It’s not about competition with anyone in the city,” said Simpson. “It’s just a safe place for community to do community, whether they’re believers or not. The average amount of suffering is from people who don’t do community.”
All the profits made at both coffee shops go back into the community through various projects, both locally and internationally. A portion of City Coffee’s profits goes toward freeing enslaved children in India, and the Coffee Pub has several projects fighting human trafficking.
“It gives people an outlet to do something to serve the community,” said Carpenter. “It also brings a greater sense of awareness more than if you just walked in and hear a good message.”
Both coffee shops made it clear they serve a diverse set of customers, Christian and non-Christian alike. They just want to bring people together for something, even if it’s just coffee.
“The worst thing ever would be if people thought only Christians are welcome here,” said Barfield. “Everyone is welcome. This business would be closed if it became a Christian ghetto.”