ST. JOHNS – Success came almost immediately to Amber Haubert’s coffee shop when it opened a year ago at the corner of North Clinton Avenue and West Walker Street.
Customers stood in lines in the city’s downtown in those first few months, waiting to order drinks and treats. It offered something that’d been missing from the city’s downtown, a coffee shop, and it became Clinton County’s first and only Cops & Doughnuts’ wholesaler.
For Haubert, who’d been dreaming of opening her own coffee shop since 2013, the past 12 months at Global Coffee Co. have been “the busiest year” of her life. There was a business rebranding a few months after the shop opened — it was previously called Clairmont’s Coffee — and lots of momentum since.
“When we first opened I didn’t realize you could work 137 hours in a week,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting that workload, but it’s all worth it because I see the community enjoying it.”
Haubert has grand plans for the coffee shop’s second year. They’ve been part of her vision all along — to build a business that gives back and makes a difference locally, and half a world away.
As she gets ready to expand the coffee shop, it’s time to let the community in on the details, Haubert said.
“I’m going to work hard, do what I can to hopefully make some sort of impact, and hopefully people will want to be a part of that.”
Making a difference
On a Monday morning less than a week after Global Coffee Co. celebrated its one-year anniversary the shop played host to customers chatting at tables in the dining area.
An employee was behind the counter, awaiting craft coffee and doughnut orders, and Haubert was seated at a table herself, taking a rare break. The last year has been demanding. She’s spent countless hours at the coffee shop, which is less than half a mile from her home.
“I live here,” Haubert, 27, said. “I sleep there.”
But she still has lots to do before Global Coffee Co. can reach its full potential.
Hints of the shop’s intended purpose are already there, inside the 1,600-square-foot space. A world map fills one wall. The coffee shop’s logo? A compass with a coffee cup at the center. The store’s wifi password? “Make a difference.”
Then there’s Haubert’s wall of inspiration, filled with framed photographs Haubert took herself, portraits of people she met in Africa during a four-month mission trip.
A wall hanging in the middle of the photos reads, “Global Coffee Co. A positive + creative space focused on uniting & supporting to make a difference. Make a difference. Drink coffee. Inspire with love.”
Haubert started pursing ownership of her own coffee shop after an impromptu trip to Africa in 2013. Then a college student, she’d never been there before, but felt compelled to visit and to serve others with mission groups, she said.
For four months Haubert spent time in schools, hospitals and orphanages in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, where she built friendships with the people she met.
“It shifted my whole perspective in life because I saw so much,” she said. “I saw so much starvation and I saw so much suffering, and so much impoverishment for a 19-year-old coming from a small community. It was a whole new world, but it ripped and broke my heart.”
The trip inspired her vision for a coffee shop that would someday make a difference.
Haubert switched her major to business, began traveling as often as she could to India, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and started studying about coffee.
Now she’s ready to carve out an expansion that will pave the way for helping people she met abroad and in her own community.
Sometime next year Haubert aims to open Global Coffee Co. Gift Shop in a 620-square-foot space at the rear of Global Coffee Co.’s current building.
A hallway will connect the coffee shop and the gift store, where Haubert plans to sell items made from people she’s met in Uganda. Handmade key chains, jewelry, journals, artwork and handbags will be for sale, along with items from area nonprofits.
All the proceeds will go back to the people and organizations that supplied the items, she said.
“There will be a card on every item that says a little bit about who made them, where they come from and how you’re impacting their life,” Haubert said.
Global Coffee Co.’s gift shop will also sell clothing and gifts promoting the coffee shop itself. Profits from those items, including shirts and other items, will sustain the gift shop, Haubert said
The space, with its own entrance off West Walker Street, was previously home to property owner Tim MacCowan’s hobby shop and, in the 1980s, to Game Master, a hobby game store, he said.
Preparation for the expansion has started, Haubert said, but work hasn’t yet.
“It’s going to take time to get everything in place,” she said.
Customer and good friend Lauren DeFouw said she doesn’t doubt Haubert’s ability to create an inspiring space that can do good.
Global Coffee Co. has the warm and welcoming atmosphere of a Hallmark movie, she said, and the credit goes to its owner.
“I knew if anyone could do it she could make that happen,” DeFouw said. “She is literally probably the hardest worker I’ve ever met in my entire life. It is her dream and it is her passion. It isn’t just a matter of wanting it to happen.”
Haubert said she hopes for the continued support of the community.
“I’m so thankful for one year,” she said. “It’s so much, and in order for this to work people need to see the vision too. People need to know what it will become when they walk in the door.”
Contact Rachel Greco at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.
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