COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – You can go anywhere for a great cup of coffee, but The Roastery on Taylor Street serves more than just hot drinks.
Coffee also serves as hope.
The Roastery is an extension of Oliver Gospel Mission, a ministry that has been helping people in need in Colombia for over 130 years.
In October 2020, organizers saw a great opportunity to transform the storefront adjoining the Mission into a cafe and cafÃ©.
All the beans are roasted in the house with a sophisticated roaster.
The roaster turns green coffee beans into rich, dark coffee beans, in a process you can see unfolding before your eyes.
The right heat, pressure and timing elements give perfect results.
The beans are then ground and brewed in delicious custom blends, including the roast’s signature “1888” blend, a tribute to the year the mission was founded.
Roberto Aguirre operates the roasting machines with care, gazing intently at a large screen. It tracks all of the key metrics to make sure each batch is roasted to perfection.
âIt’s a lot more scientific than I expected,â Aguirre said. âBut it’s a fun process. You have to wait until you hear a crackle, like a popcorn crackle.
Aguiire says he started roasting coffee beans at home, but now puts his skills to good use in roasting.
Some of the workers, like manager Kwatika Canty, are former guests of Oliver Gospel Mission programs.
Homeless and addicted two years ago, Kwatika got sober at Toby’s Place, Oliver Gospel’s transitional housing for homeless and traumatized women.
She was soon called to serve at the rotisserie.
“At one point I felt like I wasn’t worthy of being more than I was, you know?” Canty said.
Nowadays, she’s the queen of the coffee station serving lattes and smoothies, like it’s second nature. Far from where she was just two years ago.
âGod has blessed me so much over the past year, even before I came to Toby’s Place. I see that I can overcome any challenge. For a long time I was scared or afraid to be in the role of a manager, âCanty said.
Canty’s fear has been replaced with faith, and she thinks it fits perfectly with this place where change happens every day.
Her advice to people in similar situations to those she found herself two years ago?
Canty says to never give up on those who might be in a situation similar to hers two years ago. She says God always answers her prayers.
âYou might think he’s not listening, but he sure is,â Canty said.
Oliver Gospel Mission executive director Travis McNeal says he and his team see parallels between coffee and the hands that serve each cup.
âThe green bean takes on a yellow color, then there’s like a pop, crack, and then we have this coffee. McNeal said.
McNeal says it’s incredibly representative of us as people.
âWe are always transforming, we are growing. We’re on a journey, and we may be going through a time of breaking up, to get to where God wants us to be, âMcNeal said.
The end result, a beautiful mix indeed.
Those with Oliver Gospel Mission say that 100 percent of every roast purchase goes directly into the mission’s efforts to serve those in need.
In addition, the mission invites the public to come and have a coffee or a latte at the cafÃ© of the Roastery.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
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