Megachurches with coffeeshops might not be unusual, but Eastbrook Church in Milwaukee built theirs out of a problem. The church was located next to a bar that had a growing reputation for noisy bikers, drug-deals and violent crime. After a particularly nasty night in which three people were injured in a shooting, the community called for it to be shut down. Eastbrook successfully worked with the bar to–well, acquire it.
After a period during which the former bar was used for meeting space, they renovated the building and turned it into a coffee shop, says church elder Vera Wolf, who envisioned the space. Holy Grounds Cafe has been open since March:
“It’s an outreach to the community and provides fellowship for church members,” she says. “It’s a quiet haven if you want to use the Wi-Fi, meet a friend, have a business meeting or just get a cup of good coffee.”
Today, the smell of rich roasted coffee fills the air of the light and bright cafe, which is decorated with warm, soothing colors, black leather couches, sharp-looking wooden tables and chairs, and photographs of flowers and waterfalls.
“We didn’t want a bargain basement look,” Wolf says.
At the counter is a selection of coffee drinks, including lattes and cappuccinos, along with chai tea, hot chocolate, smoothies, Italian sodas, vitamin waters and juices, along with baked goods, soup and rolls. A small bookcase contains Christian pamphlets and books on religious subjects.
The coffee comes from Alliance World Coffees, an arm of the Muncie Alliance Church in Indiana, where pastor Guy Pfanz turned his own love of coffee into a business that benefits him and his church.
The specialty micro-roaster purchases beans from throughout the world. Alliance Coffee is all fair trade or farmer direct to be socially responsible, Pfanz says. He also sells coffee machines, and Wolf traveled to Muncie for barista training.
Pfanz also notes the cafe concept, in general, revitalizing coffee hours for churches everywhere.