Spotlight On: Amazing Grace Coffee Company
"Bold Faith and Bold Coffee!" That's what Amazing Grace Coffee Company is all about. If you love Jesus and great coffee, this article is for you. With all glory to God, I introduce this inspiring Christian-owned business.
The "Little Light" Shining in the Darkness
Many of us have the entrepreneurial spirit right along with the Holy Spirit. We feel the unmistakable pull to start our own business. We want to work for God rather than "the man."
If that's you, then you know what it's like to see that "little light" shining in your heart, beckoning you to come through the darkness like an OPEN sign on a foggy early morning. Initially, it may be just a spark of light, but God put it there.
A Little Background. Like other Divine Appointments, God shined the spotlight on Amazing Grace Coffee's Instagram page. I had just started the page for Off the Bench Ministries, and Amazing Grace Coffee was our first follower! Yes, the first social media follower is special in its own right, but I was immediately captivated by their company name and website.
Being a coffee lover, I ordered a bag of their dark roast (I'll tell you which one later). I am enjoying a cup of it as I write this article!
During our Instagram messaging, I learned that Amazing Grace Coffee Company is a family business. Steven and Martha Fowler, along with their adult-aged daughters Natalie and Tiffany, founded the company.
How Did You Get Started? First, I asked Steve how they decided on the blend between coffee and their Christian faith.
Here's what Steve told me:
"Reflecting back to when we lived in San Diego (in 2014) and how God was working on me to create a business that was God-centered, it started as a gradual and simple growth of faith for myself and my wife Martha.
I had started a few businesses in publishing and marketing and had done pretty well. I just got a bit bored with all of the details of creating marketing materials for other companies and wanted to try marketing a product or service of my own.
I started researching inventing products, and all of my ideas had been already thought of, and I had spent a lot of money with lawyers searching for patents. I thought it would be cool to start a business that had a secret biblical name and would please God by giving Him the glory. I called it AdiraSource. The name was taken from the Hebrew name of Adira. A girls name for strength, power and nobility. It seemed cool and my girls were excited too since we have all talked about starting a business together that can be a legacy for generations to come.
The problem with the business is that I struggled to find a unique product that we could sell. So I just put it to the side and continued to run my marketing business and pray that God would provide a product."
"Caleb's Mountain." In the Old Testament, Caleb reminds Joshua of Moses's promise to him. "So on that day, Moses swore to me, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly." Joshua 14:9 Caleb proceeds to claim his inheritance "Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day..." Joshua 14:12
What's important here is that God is true to His word. He is faithful to those who take a stand for Him wholeheartedly. He will lead the faithful to their own hill country and their rightful inheritance. Look at how God is working in the formation of Amazing Grace Coffee.
"In 2015, we had taken a trip up to our family cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains as we do every summer and we noticed how run down it had been and how sad we were how no one in the family was interested in repairing it. So we began to talk about moving up here and doing the renovations. We loved the redwoods and the surrounding community and the cabin is located in a Christian community/camp so we thought it would be great to make new Christian friends and grow in our faith in a smaller community."
"In 2016 we finally made the big move. I continued to build my marketing business locally and in the bay area. I continued to design for my clients in southern California who wanted to work with me online. I was quite busy with the business and working on the cabin but would always pray that God would provide a new business idea."
The Great Awakening
We can all appreciate how frustrating it can be when we try to make something happen on our own and it doesn't happen. We work and work but have little to show for our effort. It's like paddling a kayak back up a swift-flowing river. But in our exhaustion, we can always let go and give it to God.
However, we may be surprised at His response. Steve would agree.
"Much of the work on the cabin was very slow and I ran into many problems with the cabin's structure (it's old) and weather. I had lots of time to pray while I worked and would ask God to speak to me.
"One day, I remember just asking Him, 'God, just be my mentor. I need some specific advice.' So I clearly heard Him say, "Start a coffee business."
"That was the opposite of what I wanted to do! I had spent many hours researching business models for myself and in business school and always thought that coffee was the most risky and saturated business out there. So I kind of laughed at the notion and continued on my merry way of putting in a laundry room and rebuilding decks."
The Lazarus Effect. Remember Lazarus in the New Testament? Jesus took His time as He was going to see him even though His disciples said he was sick. Jesus was about to make a point. Jesus told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going to wake him up." John 11:11
We know that Lazarus was dead, but Jesus was going to awaken him and bring him back to life.
We see this in our own lives. If we go to sleep in our faith, we may never reawaken. We may take a nap when God says it's time to get off the bench and work for Him. Fortunately, like a loving Father, He will give us a gentle nudge to bring us back to life.
Look at what Steve says,
"Then as I was working one day, I pulled my back out and was stuck in bed for a few days to recoup. I read some good books on Christian leadership and realized how lacking I was in my faith and that I had spent many years not growing or thinking seriously about growing closer to God. I decided to be more intentional with my faith and acknowledge that God was always with me and that I needed Him for everything. I was relying way too much on my own understanding."
"At the same time, my daughter Natalie had moved in with us here and started working at Starbucks. She started introducing us to all the different types of roasting, flavors, and a culture that we were completely ignorant of. It was so much fun and we traveled to San Francisco many times to taste a new roast or check out a Cafe that we had heard about."
"So I could see that God was having a good time teaching me about something that I had so quickly rejected earlier. He was working on my heart and my mind."
"One day, I was selecting a paint for the cabin and decided on a brown color called "coffee" to use. So everyday, I would look at that paint and talk to God about how this was going to happen. I decided to start tasting coffee at cupping sessions in local roasteries. I met so many sweet, fun, knowledgeable and young people who loved coffee! Some of them also loved Jesus! I began putting the pieces together for roasting and creating my own business."
God's Plan and Our Idols
We know how easy it is to lose sight of God's Plan. We get sidetracked with other projects that become idols in our life.
Steve describes this perfectly as it relates to Amazing Grace Coffee.
"The only problem was, I had an idol in my life that was distracting me from my new calling. It was the cabin. I was consumed with my projects on the cabin and knew that it was pulling me away. After every project, I would find another one to take up my time and distract me from what God wanted me to do. In the middle of building a back deck that was what... I thought it was a masterpiece. I made it with a tempered glass roof so we could see the trees above and sit by a little waterfall that was only feet away. I was so proud of it. We invited our neighbors over and all of them would say, "Steve, don't you think you're asking for trouble with all that glass?" I would just shrug it off."
I relate to Steve's experience of "pride precedes a fall" so much that my left arm STILL hurts! :-) See my personal testimony under the heading "The Great Fall" if you question my empathy for his situation.
God has a unique way of getting our attention. He has no problem shattering our magnificent tempered glass creations (or mere mortal elbow). He will even uproot His own creation for emphasis. But, of course, it's all for our own good, mainly if we get preoccupied with our plans and temporarily neglect His. Sometimes it's incredible that we even survive the lesson.
Read what Steve said about their experience with "Amazing Grace."
"Then one rainy, windy day, God sent a giant Douglas Fir through the middle of it (tempered glass roof) and also smashed into our master bedroom too."
"So It was a big wake-up call and I figured God was trying to get my attention. The tree nearly hit me as I was standing very close to where it hit. I would tell everyone that I was saved by God's Amazing Grace and that eventually became the name of the coffee. Soon after, I caught Covid 19 and had a mild stroke. I've fully recovered but took some financial hits from the pandemic."
"Our daughter Tiffany who loves (social media) also moved in with us and we have been working on opening our first cafe in Dallas."
Bold Faith and Bold Coffee
I asked the Fowlers about their customer base, specifically, the percentage of Christians versus non-Christians. Do they have an opportunity to share their faith, and what has been the reaction? Are they able to use coffee as a bridge for sharing the Gospel?
"I think most of my customers are believers for sure. In fact, I believe that the mission of the business will be to bring light to the gift of Grace to believers and unbelievers."
"I would always think how cool it would be if Christians were to live out their faith so obvious that someday, you could drive down any street in America and see buildings and businesses with some kind of Christian name or influence everywhere! I suppose that would probably happen in the Kingdom of Jesus someday."
"I just want to start now and maybe other business people can get inspired by what we are doing. It seems that the world is getting darker and darker every day. I think Christians need to "flood the zone" with our faith and shine our lights even brighter in these times."
"I believe the location of a Christian cafe that can solve some of the local problems for the community could be an example of what we believe in. Loving our neighbors and showing compassion and grace in the face of evil should be a challenge we should all strive for."
"Since we are really just beginning this business we are surely relying on God to make things happen and ready to grow closer to Him."
I asked Steve if there had been any lessons they'd learned about combining faith and business. Would they recommend it to others?
"I'm not sure if I would recommend it. The commitment has to be started with God and His plan for them. I've learned that I'm not running (my) business but (His) business and that is a lot of responsibility."
"Because we are not of this world, we may not have the same kind of success that the world wants. Profit is not a priority like a worldly business and we are also targets just as Jesus was."
"I feel that as I start this business that the hardest thing about starting a faith-based business is fully putting your faith in God. Yes, as a business person you are always trying to figure stuff out for yourself and relying on statistics or advice from other people."
"I have found that my biggest struggle is to let God handle things in the business is hard for me and is my biggest hurdle. Thankfully, my wife Martha is so strong in her faith and reminds me often to let go of my worries and trust God. She is definitely the spiritual leader in our family! She is also from Honduras and has so many contacts and family ready to import some yummy coffee!"
Finally, I asked, what has been the greatest blessing you've received, individually or as a family, after starting a Christ-Centered Coffee business?
"I would definitely say that the greatest blessing is the way we've grown closer to God. We are more likely to express openly our faith and see things through "Kingdom Eyes" these days. The social media posts and feedback we've received has been amazing. We are all involved in the posts and pray over all of them that they reach God's children for inspiration. It has pushed us all to study God's Word more deeply and share it more often than we ever dreamed we would."
So How Is The Coffee?
I mentioned early in this article that I'm a coffee lover and that I ordered a bag of their dark roast. But, frankly, I had difficulty deciding which one to try first because every blend has a compelling Biblical name or reference.
Take a look...
DARK Roast: The Lazarus Mix Roast or The Great Awakening Roast,
MEDIUM Roast: Caleb's Mountain Roast
LIGHT Roast: This Little Light Roast
How creative are those names?! By the way, the Fowlers have dinner together, and they throw out coffee names and then vote on the best ones! Perfect. No wonder I used them as major headings/subheadings.
Now, as I finish my own cup of The Great Awakening, I can honestly say it has become the official coffee of Off The Bench Ministries! I need the boost to get me Off the Bench, and this coffee does the job!
I'll be trying The Lazarus Mix very soon. My holiday gift shopping just got easier as well.
For more information, contact Amazing Grace Coffee Company or via their Instagram. I give them my highest endorsement. If you love Jesus and coffee, I hope you will try their roasts yourself. Then, we can compare notes as we support our brother and sisters-in-Christ at Amazing Grace Coffee!
Their reference to scripture says it all, "Do everything for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31