In 2019, exhausted by a string of flights and long trade show days, our founder Andrew Whaley stopped in to visit Fr. Connor Danstrom, a friend of Fr. Nick Blaha's who was pastor of the Newman Center at UIC. They toured the social hall at the center and discussed what it would take to make this space a home for all students of UIC. Andrew was tired and may have been a little more "prophetic" than usual, but Fr. Connor seemed to be on board.
After some back and forth on the phone, and a podcast episode about the encounter, a concept began to emerge. A visit or two and a thousand text messages later, Cor Coffee was on it's way to reality. A bar was designed and built, covered with reclaimed wood, and topped with a sleek black granite surface. Affordable custom furniture with live edge wood and hairpin legs was built by a local artisan. After tasting several local roasters, Groundswell Coffee came on board with beautiful craft coffee and some shiny new equipment. Then, Covid 19 happened and things ground to a halt. (pun intended)
Now in Summer 2020, things are firing back up and nearing completion. Calix is just finishing the development of a great branding package for them, the menu is being finalized, a contankerous bar gun is about to finally submit to installation, and a training and launch event has been scheduled for August. Volunteers, FOCUS missionaries, and the good padre will be behind the bar pulling shots and changing lives. "Cor ad cor loquitur." If you want to donate or support this project, here is the link.
Our founder Andrew Whaley went to Thomas Aquinas College with Fr. Nick Blaha and they had been talking about this crazy vision, now called Calix, since Fr. Nick was a FOCUS missionary at Champaign/Urbana. Andrew stopped in on the way home from a conference at Benedictine College and toured the Didde Catholic Center and, as usual, he and Fr. Nick started talking about how to reach out to the campus beyond the center. The conversation turned to what could be done with the social hall, some sketches were prepped, and ideas were tossed, but Andrew's mother had a stroke and things were on hold for a while.
A couple years later, Andrew reached out to Fr. Nick looking for a place try out a new Calix concept called the Calix BrewBox, a manual brew pop-up bar designed to intercept and connect with college kids that would most likely never come into the center. Equipment was ordered, a layout designed, and PT's Coffee of Topeka was chosen as the roaster. After speaking at that same conference at Benedictine, Andrew showed up in Emporia and gave this talk. The students seemed to be listening, since they tore apart and rearranged the center to face outward as described in the talk. They launched the first BrewBox prototype on Monday morning, Fr. Nick and the staff met more new students on the first day than they would normally meet in months, and Andrew went on his way, offering advice and helping order coffee for the next year or so.
Now, Fr. Nick is in Kansas City and Calix has reconnected with the Didde Center. This time we are helping design a modular furniture plan, along with a series of layout models for the different uses of the space. If Covid 19 will cooperate, a new talk will be given and Phase Two of the Didde coffee space will be under way. We love Didde and Emporia. Give here if you want to help. Tell them who sent you.
This project is a typical example how things can quickly "get out of hand" in the best way when Calix comes on the scene. Fr. Spencer Howe reached out, told us about his vision for the Northeast Catholic Collective, and about a building next to their main Church that they wanted to make into a cafe or hospitality space of some kind. Andrew Whaley headed up to Minneapolis, met a ton of amazing people, was bowled over by the potential in this parish, and fell head over heals in love with Northeast Minneapolis. Several parishes had consolidated and they were trying to figure out how to use all the real estate, but their vision was much much bigger than that. The only question was where to start and which project to do first.
Things seemed like they might stall out for a bit, since they rented the original building to Teach for Christ for a year. A few other options were considered, but none were quite the fit, then in true Calix fashion, Providence showed up and started doing some things that nobody could have predicted. A donor they met with had a friend with a cafe space sitting empty, but because of the future of the building it couldn't really be rented or leased. The offer was made for the Church to use it while it was available. Andrew and Fr. Howe hatched a crazy idea for an espresso bar pop-up, with no to-go cups, no wi-fi, inside a Faraday cage to kill all signals. Andrew had heard about an art exhibit called Faraday Cafe that did this and often referenced it in his talks. The idea was create a stir, fire up some conversation about what it means to be present in a human way, get a bunch of press, then at the end of the experiment reveal that it was the Catholic Church that did it. I know, sounds weird, but it got way stranger than that.
Andrew did this talk at the Anselm House on the campus of University of Minnesota, in which he mentioned Faraday Cafe as an example. He had never met anyone who had heard about Faraday Cafe at one of the talks, but in the audience that night was Sam Frantz, a student who was graduating from UM, and just so happened to be on the very small team in Vancouver who had done Faraday Cafe. If that wasn't crazy enough, he had explored entering the Catholic Church and had gone through Catechesis at the very parish that Fr. Howe pastored. What are the chances?
So, after buying some equipment and a local coffee legend who was friends with Andrew getting a used espresso machine donated, along with a monumental amount of sweat equity from Sam, Farside Coffee was born. It ran for several months, housed many talks, got some really bad reviews from people upset that they didn't have to-go cups, but saw many more people realize they did have a few minutes to sit down and have a cappuccino without their phone or laptop. People actual spoke to each other. The press was interested.
Now, there is plans in the works for a house of hospitality, a performance space in a basement, and a co-working space in that original building. The parishes are thriving and took the lead on local creativity during Covid 19's early dark days. There are some long term giant dreams for a parking lot in a hip neighborhood, and God willing, a new coffeehouse in the same neighborhood.
You can give hear. Tell them who sent you.
This is a project near and dear to the heart of Calix. In 1997, in the first few days of their time at Thomas Aquinas College, our founder met his friend Anne Breiling and, during a drive from Santa Barbara to Ventura, they compared visions for their future and found them nearly identical- the use hospitality for the sake of missional community. Over the years, Andrew and Anne shared dreams, ideas, and visions of how to make that happen. Somewhere along the way, the Shrine of St. Joseph on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, near Anne's home, was picked as a site of deep interest for her project. It's natural beauty and proximity to heavily populated surf beach, made it the perfect interface between seekers and those desiring relationship with them. Along the way, a coffee cart was donated and sold unused, pastors came and went, meetings were held, and finally in 2014 the process began in a real way. It was an audacious and world class project vision, so the fundraising took some time, but in 2020, after a brief stall due to Covid 19, Shrine Coffee opened their doors to the good people of Santa Cruz, CA. Calix is pround of this incredible group of professionals who brought such incredible talent to this beautiful space.
- Worked closely with founder Anne Breiling to clarify and develop the concept
- Advised on site selection
- Presented project pitch to ecclesial authorities and donors
- Worked with Fuse Architects and Meschi Construction to design the space
- Designed bar layout and selected all equipment
- Developed menu and operations paradigm for it's preparation
- Developed and launched a recurring pop-up in the space for awareness and fundraising
- Collaborated with the team and Antifolio to develop a beautiful branding package
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