The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 23, 2013

A cup of generosity

New downtown coffeehouse owners invite you to pay what you can, more or less ...

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Forgotten Ministries is more than a church. It strives to be a ministry to the community, dealing directly with residents who need them and becoming part of their lives, someone they can count on.

Sarah and Jeremiah Herrian started Forgotten Ministries, which is patterned after some ministries they worked in while living in California.

One of the projects they have become known for is providing food and clothing to residents of the New View Apartments area every Tuesday at Don Haskins Basketball Court.

But they are in the midst of a starting a new project that will be different than anything they have done before. The Herrians are building a coffeehouse in downtown Enid that will be a “pay-what-you-can” establishment.

Paying it forward

Five80 Coffeehouse at 122 E. Randolph, the site of the old Cliff’s Camera Shop, should open in May or June, Sarah Herrian said.

“It’s a dual purpose place: to create an environment that is accepting to everyone and the profits will go back into the community,” she said.

They plan to donate to a different cause each month. Ninety percent of their profits will go to those causes, and 10 percent will go to participating churches in town that, in turn, will be asked to donate the money to a ministry within their church.

“We have an incredible team of people,” she said. “Volunteers and businesses have given.”

The coffeehouse will have three paid staff, a manager and two baristas, with remaining work accomplished by volunteers. Anyone who would like to volunteer can contact Herrian at sarah@five80coffee

The shop will be open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Doing the research

The project is a step in faith, and it has reaped rewards, Herrian said.

The Herrians have been thinking about the coffee shop idea for two years. They have studied business models of similar endeavors and have tasked themselves with extensive research about successful operation.

They have attended a number of conferences and meetings to study how to operate a coffeehouse and how to be a barista. They also have talked to people around the nation who have successful coffee shops that operate on a donation basis.

“We don’t owe a mortgage (on the business), and we will have only three paid staff and the rest are volunteers,” Herrian said.

Faith and dedication

They purchased the former Cliff’s Camera Shop and the adjacent building that previous owner Cliff Morton used for storage. During remodeling, the Herrians removed the interior wall and created about 5,000 square feet for their coffeehouse.

Herrian said one of the keys to success is creating a friendly atmosphere that will make all types of people feel comfortable. The concept is similar to one called Panera Cares, created by the owner of Panera Bread, at which people pay what they can afford for their food.

Herrian recently graduated from barista school, where she learned  operate a coffee business, and how to prepare coffee in the correct way. She called it an exceptional experience.

Jeremiah and Sarah both attended the America Eats summit, sponsored by the One World Everybody Eats foundation. The foundation originated the pay-what-you-can model. Panera Cares is established under that model.

The concept is people who can afford to pay the listed price of the items will do so, and those who cannot will pay what they can. By some people paying it forward, there will be enough funds to continue operating and to donate toward the announced missions.

The project has required faith and dedication by both Sarah and Jeremiah.

But they have had a little help along the way.

They will complete renovation of the building, estimated at a $400,000, for less than half the cost.

“The community has been very generous to us,” she said.