Zachariah: Looking Back
It's funny how what seems to be a small, unimportant moment in your life can completely derail you from the track you've been on. A piece of advice someone gives you, a seemingly insignificant decision you made, or maybe even a cup of coffee.
I remember two years ago in March walking from the University of Kentucky to this place called A Cup of Common Wealth. I hadn't really heard much about the shop before, but I knew that I could get a free drink and that's the only incentive a college student needs. So I walk half a mile to a small building on a small street with some weirdos inside it: some quiet guy named Joe and an excited girl named Basil.
I grabbed my free cup of Cold Brew with vanilla and walked back to class. But something stuck with me in that moment. These people who had no reason to give me free coffee not only gave it to me, but they also genuinely cared about how my day was, what I was doing, and who I was.
And that's something I'm not really sure I'd ever gotten before from the service industry, or from most people in general. This small moment of grabbing a cup of Joe would infect me in an unexpected way. It would be what eventually led to me switching my major from Engineering to Mathematical Economics where I would (hopefully) be able to serve and build relationships with the people around me.
Two years later and I'm still trying my best to follow that mission statement on the wall; "Embrace Community, Serve Others, Create Culture." I can't say that I've followed it every day, but I know that when I do use it I can truly inspire those around me. On that seemingly insignificant day in March I finally started to understand that a small business doesn't really have to feel like a business. Sure, money is important and it helps fuel that mission on the wall. But A Cup of Common Wealth is and always has been about impacting the community as a whole. It's why Joe and Basil gave me that free drink. It's why Sal and I just helped a customer move an oven instead of finishing our monthly meeting. And it's why that blue door opens up every single day.
I can't wait for our anniversary. It's the perfect celebration of this community that we have tried our best to create. We get to celebrate with the people we've cried with, mourned with, laughed with, and sang all of the Les Mis soundtrack with (maybe that's just Alex and me). And the best thing is that when that party finally ends our mission remains. We get to go back the very next day and do the thing we love - to serve the city we love.
And I hope that this coffee shop can always be exactly what it was when it inspired me. I don't want to be the only person who has been deeply affected by this coffee shop, and I know that I'm most definitely not. So please, keep letting us embrace, serve, and create culture with you. Our customers are the fuel for our purpose, and I love that slightly confused, slightly excited look I get to see in a new customers face whenever they realize that they haven't stepped into a coffee shop, they've walked into an idea, a way of life, and a genuine passion for community.