For several years now I have had a vision to open a coffee shop in the new building of First Baptist Church of Sofia. The idea is that the coffee shop will serve as a connection to the local community, a meeting place for the church community and eventually a training ground for girls leaving prostitution and other at-risk individuals.
Prior to our last time back in Colorado, I began to lay the ground work for this vision, first by confirming with the church that this was a shared vision, and then by working on a business plan with a Bulgarian businessman. As we worked on the business plan we waited for completion of the building which would eventually house the coffee shop.
While I could not directly work on the coffee shop while on home service, I was able to continue building a foundation by attending barista training and doing research into the necessary equipment. With our return to Bulgaria in August of 2015 and the opening of the building in September of that same year, I was looking forward to seeing quick progress toward the opening of the coffee shop.
Here we are a year plus later and the coffee shop is still not open. The longest delay was a result of the church needing to work out the final ownership of the building and making sure all the necessary paperwork was in proper order. Getting the basic business framework in place took most of the summer, but we do finally have a name—COFFEEOLOGY!
Once the rental contract was signed we hired an architect to help with the design of the space and to work on getting all the necessary documents through the various players, including the electrical company, the water company and eventually through the regional government. Each of these steps takes time; often more time than I think is necessary, so progress is slow.
One advantage to the slow pace of progress on the coffee shop is that it has allowed me more time to find the necessary suppliers. I have an espresso machine selected which will be ordered once we are a bit further along. I have also found a local roaster who will supply the coffee beans as we get started (future plans still include our own roaster, but one step at a time!). We are still looking for someone to supply the pastries, cakes, sandwiches and other items which will be available. I have several leads on potential suppliers and will be making a final determination down the road.
My original plans had us opening the coffee shop this year, but with the slow progress the opening will not happen until sometime early 2017. Once we have more than an empty space I will share pictures of the progress toward completion. Please continue to pray for all that needs to happen for this vision to become a reality.
Some may raise the question of why a missionary is working to open a coffee shop as part of their ministry. The vision for Coffeeology is to be more than an ordinary coffee shop.
As we continue to look for ways to engage the larger community in Bulgaria while supporting local ministries and creating new ministries, it is our hope and prayer that Coffeeology will be a foundational piece of this process.
Please pray for:
• For the additional paperwork that must be completed for the coffee shop.
• For the design and construction of the coffee shop space.