Green coffee beans were our oldest daughter’s first toy. She used to scoop them up and pour them into different containers as she explored volume in the mind of a toddler. We used to put her on top of our coffee burlap sacks for fun and drag her to every coffee shop in a 5 mile radius. I don’t think she’ll ever have a memory that doesn’t involve coffee in some way from her childhood.
Coffee for me means more than a drink.
It means family.
It means community.
It means hope.
But it has also meant sacrifice.
When Tony first started roasting he would use a popcorn air popper. I think he bought over 20 of those things because overtime they would max out. That first year he would teach all day, tutor part-time, and then come home to help me with baby life and then go outside to perfect his roasting. Eventually the air popper became a more intensive setup and he would spend 2 hours in our backyard continually shaking beans as they roasted to ensure he didn’t burn them. Mason jars were filled with his creation and we soon learned that this was turning into something.
Eventually we became pregnant with our second daughter. Roasting Coffee started as a hobby but was now turning into a small business. We invested in a very interesting coffee roaster that we could store in our house. Tony would teach all day (as would I) and our daughter would spend her first year in daycare. We’d come home exhausted and once she was down for the night he would pull out this contraption and roast on our front porch. It was smoky at times and it brought our neighbors together. When are second daughter was born she didn’t have a nursery because it held our entire business, shipping boxes and all. I tried not to resent the fact that we literally had no space to put a crib and instead chose to honor the season in all its complexities…on my good days.
Later on it was time for a real commercial kitchen rental. Wonderful to finally have a nursery but difficult in new ways. The lease was from 8pm-6am so most nights Tony would go roast after working until 2 or 3am before coming home for a few hours of sleep and then reporting to his school to teach a full day. Then he would deliver orders after school and had many sales meetings and demonstrations…then start the cycle again. We saw him less and less during this time. When he left teaching and entered a job that allowed him flexibility we saw him more but it was our toughest season to date.
He was stretched thin, as was I with two daughters and a job of my own. Marriage took a hit too. Our lives had taken us in a different direction and we had to learn some new tools. We survived with the help of our community of friends that ask hard questions and a lot of date nights with tears and relearning each other. We emerged stronger and hopeful that we’d learn how to balance this new path together.
We kept pushing though. Not just for our family but for our mission.
The hope was to grow so we could stop just giving a portion of our sales away to a non-profit and in turn have employees and start working to employ people in our neighborhood of West Charlotte. This was life-breathing and one of the biggest reasons we’ve risked so much.
Things look different from our humble beginnings although we have a long road to go no doubt. For now, Tony’s extreme work ethic has led to securing a roasting location, quitting his job, and becoming self-employed. It has also meant that we were large enough to need our first employee, Marquell. Mentoring alongside him in-between tasks has led him to complete his GED and finish his first semester of college. And again it has involved risk. Less income for now but a chance to create change in a new and perhaps more tangible way for our community and friends.
I’m not sure what the future holds for us. We have dreams for sure but Enderly Coffee wasn’t built in a day. It started small, grew until the tension of the next transition was too difficult to bear, and each step has given us a new reason to risk…to sacrifice. We practice grace for the swelling next step and we trust that our customers see what we are building and continue to join us.
The other day I found a tiny green coffee bean in the corner of the bedroom that once held our business. As I picked it up, held it in my hand, my mind couldn’t help but see the last 3 years of our life in this tiny bean.
My daughter’s first toy & the nursery that wasn’t.
The hardships & fights.
The late nights & early mornings.
The first employee & the new hopes.
The neighbors & clients.
The successes & the future dreams.
The gratitude & deeper level of love after 10 years of marriage
All within a coffee bean. Yes, coffee is more than a drink.