by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are anywhere near the town of Exeter, be sure and stop in at the Cappella Coffee House. When you walk in you are greeted with the heavenly smell of coffee and a cozy atmosphere—requirements for any great coffee house—and chances are if it’s on the weekend there will be live music as well. And not only do they serve coffee and pastries, but also an all day breakfast and lunch menu.
Also, unlike most Starbucks, you shouldn’t have to worry about a place to sit. “We are fairly big for a coffee house,” said Kara Ramseier, Cappella owner. “Lots of seating and comfy couches and chairs to sit on.”
Something else different at Cappella are the unique ways in which they help support local artists and craftsmen. They have a line of shelves they call cubbies where local people put there crafts to sell—like jewelry, scarves, hats, little kids clothes, etc.—all hand made. “Also along the walls we keep local artists photos or paintings they are looking to sell or just show to the public,” continued Kara.
Cappella is also a Christian coffee house, and according to Kara God just basically put it in their laps. “We were given the opportunity in early August of 2009 and opened September 17 of that same year. It was very unexpected and we never thought that we would run a coffee shop, but it’s been amazing. I have really had this passion for making and serving coffee ever since we started. I absolutely love meeting new people every day, and seeing our regulars, knowing them by name and having great conversations with them. It’s been fantastic.”
Kara went on to state that their desire was for Cappella to be almost like a live music venue and coffee shop all in one, which influenced their choice in names. “We have live music about every other week and wanted that to be the theme. Cappella is another word for Chapel and they were music establishments in Europe a long time ago where musicians would come and play for royalty. We like to look at our customers as royalty and treat them like it too.”
“Cappella has a great environment to bring your family or just relax and a read a book,” shared Cappella patron Corey Ralston. “I also love that it is Christian owned and themed.”
Since beginning in 2009, Kara feels they’ve continued to learn more about coffee and become more of a specialty coffee shop. They have also added delivery to local businesses. Delivery is free within walking distance, and just a dollar if they have to drive. “We really wanted to be able to serve the businesses who might not be able to make it out for lunch or a morning coffee and pastry.”
Cappella also has a coffee that is unique to the area called a pour over, which is a specialty brewed coffee, brewing as a single cup. “We get to make the coffee for the customer at the counter so they can watch and it makes an amazingly fresh, delicious cup of coffee.”
“Cappella is a family owned cafe that has a huge heart for serving the people of Exeter and any visitors that might be popping into the small town,” said local musician Joel Adam Russell, who has played at Cappella several times. “It is evident that this love for those around them is rooted in their strong faith in God and belief in the teachings of Jesus. One would be hard pressed to meet a nicer group of people than the owners, the Ramseier family. I have yet to run into them and not be greeted with a genuine smile.
As far as Kara is aware, Cappella is the only local Christian coffee house in the area and to her they are first and foremost a ministry. “We just want to be a witness, and put a smile on every face that walks through the door. One of my favorite parts of this business is being able to do that through a cup of coffee.”
Their concerts are on Saturday or Friday nights, but they also occasionally have had them throughout the week. “Mostly just local musicians and bands, but we are starting to get more bands from out of the area,” continued Kara. “Recently we had a band from Texas play here and soon we will have a band from LA coming in.”“I have played at Cappella numerous times, and it has been such a wonderful opportunity for me,” said Joel. “A venue like this is so paramount for a musician such as myself–someone just starting out, needing a low-pressure atmosphere to test the waters of live performance. I have also appreciated how she pairs local talent with more well established acts from out of town. It is always encouraging to be able to play with someone who has had some measure of success, and it’s also a great opportunity to build friendships with people going after a similar goal from different areas.”
As to future goals, Kara stated they just want to keep doing what they’re doing, and keep learning more and more about the business and coffee so they can serve the best coffee possible. They also plan some minor remodeling at some point.
“It is very apparent that Kara desires to provide excellence,” continued Joel. “She is constantly educating herself about types of coffee so that she is able to give her customers the best she can. She also has an appreciation for excellent music. While most small town music lovers sit at home dreaming of living in a big city where the arts are more accessible, Kara has decided to proactively bring in her favorite artists to play at the cafe.”
Cappella is open Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and closed Sunday. They are located at 132 N. E Street, Exeter, 93221 and can be found on Facebook and their website.
All but one of the photos in this article were provided by Corey Ralston of Corey Ralston Photography.