Oliver Gospel’s ‘Roastery’ serves up hot coffee and hope

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Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 9:09 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2021 at 9:29 PM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - You can go most anywhere to find a great cup of coffee, but The Roastery on Taylor Street serves up much more than hot drinks.

The coffee shop serves hope as well.

The Roastery is an extension of Oliver Gospel Mission, a ministry that has helped those in need in Columbia for over 130 years.

In October 2020, organizers saw a great opportunity to transform the storefront attached to the Mission into a coffee shop and café.

All of the beans are roasted in house with a sophisticated roaster.

The roaster transforms green coffee beans into rich, dark flavorful coffee beans, in a process you can see play out right before your eyes.

The elements of proper heat, pressure, and timing yield perfect results.

The beans are then ground and brewed into delicious custom blends including the Roastery’s signature “1888″ blend, a tribute to the year the mission was founded.

Roberto Aguirre operates the roasting machinery with care, watching a large screen intently. He tracks all the key indicators to make sure each batch is roasted to perfection.

“It is a lot more science than I expected,” Aguirre said. “But it’s a fun process. You have to wait until you hear a crack, like a popcorn crack.”

Aguirre says he began roasting coffee beans at home, but now puts those skills to work at the Roastery.

Some of the workers, like manager Kwatika Canty are former guests of Oliver Gospel Mission’s programs.

Homeless and addicted two years ago, Kwatika got sober at Toby’s Place, Oliver Gospel’s transitional housing for homeless and traumatized women.

She was soon called to serve at the Roastery.

“At one point, I felt like I wasn’t worthy of being more than what I was, you know?” Canty said.

These days, she is the queen of the coffee station serving up lattes and frappes, like it’s second nature. A long way from where she was just two years ago.

”God has blessed me so much over the past year, even prior to coming to Toby’s Place. I see I can overcome any challenges. For a long time, I was scared or fearful of being in the role of a manager,” Canty said.

Canty’s fear was replaced with faith, and she believes she is a perfect fit in this place where change happens every day.

Her advice to people in similar situations to where she was two years ago?

Canty says to never give up to those who may be in a similar situation to hers two years ago. She says God is always answering her prayers.

“You may think He’s not listening, but He definitely is,” Canty said.

The Executive Director of Oliver Gospel Mission, Travis McNeal says he and his team see parallels between the coffee and that hands that serve each cup.

“The green bean changes to a yellow color, and then there’s like a pop, crack stage, and then we have that coffee.” McNeal said.

McNeal says it’s incredibly representative to us as people.

“We’re always transforming, we’re growing. We’re on a journey, and we go through a time of brokenness possibly, to get to where God intends us to be, ” McNeal said.

The final result, a beautiful blend indeed.

Those with Oliver Gospel Mission say 100 percent of every purchase at the Roastery goes right back into the mission’s effort to serve those in need.

In addition, the mission welcomes the public to drop by for a cup of coffee or a latte in the Roastery’s café.

Hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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