by Tom Sims
Tom Sims covers the Tower District, Downtown Fresno, and Old Town Clovis in his monthly column Strolling the Town.
We feel these are three areas in this Valley that are filled with history, culture and interesting stories. So join us each month as Tom goes Strolling!
There are several things you notice when you walk through the door of Kuppa Joy on Clovis Avenue in Old Town Clovis. One is that there are people present, working, conversing, and sipping coffees and teas in a welcoming atmosphere that is rustic and contemporary. You notice that there is community gathering in the room creating community.
That is by design.
Beth Bridges, Membership and Networking Director with the Clovis Chamber of Commerce notes that: “Kuppa Joy is locally owned. It also feels like the locals own it. It’s a place to hang out with friends, where you feel incredibly comfortable. Like home, but with much better coffee!”
So, it follows that the next thing you notice is the friendly greeting at the counter. You order your coffee and find a comfortable seat. The coffee is what coffee should be, bold but not bitter, aromatic but not overpowering, sophisticated but not presumptuous.
These people know coffee, tea and other conversational drinks.
The atmosphere is warm, the music is in the background and unassuming and there is something different. There is something in the air, something clear and definite, yet subtle and relaxed.
The dead giveaway might be the throne on the wall to the left in a prominent position. It has a cup of coffee on it. It means something. In fact, it means everything, yet, it requires asking the right questions to find out what it means.
Beyond the elegant, comfortable environment, the classy web page, the many flavors of tea and coffee, the organic and fair trade values, or the ability to connect with the internet, there is more. There is a passion; there is a sense of calling. It is not in your face, but it is all around and it is not hidden.
It is God’s throne and God is the center of the business. The cup is in God’s hands and God fills it with joy. It is the story of Zack Follett and his journey to joy.
Zack told the story himself on Facebook in January, much the way he told me in our interview:
“Today is a good day! Why? One year ago today I sat in Costa Coffee in Great Marlow, UK reading Romans 8, “life by the Spirit” drinking a cappuccino filled with pure Joy. I thought to myself, this is a Cup of Joy! Kuppa Joy was born at that moment. God told me to open a coffee house in my home town to connect with the community about His Love. This post is a proof of His faithfulness and goodness. He told me people will come into Kuppa Joy and be filled up with more than coffee but with hope, love, joy and peace which are characteristics of the Jesus because He will consume the coffee house. That’s why Kuppa Joy is what it is. I’ve been a football player my whole life and have no experience in business, so you know the Glory is not mine, but God’s. Thank you everyone for your support and helping fulfill God’s promise. Take this as encouragement that when you trust in God you can accomplish your dreams.”
That is the story. A young man grew up playing football in the Clovis area, made it to the Detroit Lions, retired, wondered what life would be like after football and made himself available for God to use. He caught a dream, pursued it, developed a plan, attended coffee school and came home to develop a business where Christ was on the throne.
December 21 of last year was Kuppa Joy’s grand opening. During the last year, Zack has been growing. He has been committed to integrating his business and his faith, shepherding his staff, building community and allowing communities to develop. There have been opportunities for growth is Zack’s life and in the lives of his staff. He uses the word, “grace” to describe his own growth as well as the words, “wisdom, trials, and blessings.”
He calls this experience, “unique.”
“What God is doing is unique.”
Reminders of his faith are ever-present, but no one gets in anyone’s face about it. Everything fits. There is no pressure; everyone is welcome. There are also indicators of a strong sense of social responsibility and participation in the larger community. Zack says, “I’m not going to take God’s name off the credits.”
Then, there is the throne, because Zack sees this business as “God-ordained.” Handcrafted in India, it is depicted as the store’s logo everywhere there is an imprint.
He cites Colossians 1:17 for this, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
No one has lashed out at him about that, perhaps it is because he has found a balance between high intensity commitment and low key presentation. Groups, bible studies, and other meetings are welcome. Folks can reserve a table in the back of the coffee shop and meet. Zack calls it a “safe haven.” There are special events and there is regular entertainment posted on the shop’s Facebook page, which Zack manages himself with a strong sense of social media savvy.
Of course, people can come alone and meet people over a cup of joy or work quietly on their computers connected to the rest of the world through free Wi-Fi. Reading material is available. There is good healthy food on the menu. There is a mission as stated on the website.
“Our Mission–Kuppa Joy is very pleased to open our doors in the heart of Old Town Clovis. We take great pride in the products we serve, from our signature Kuppa Joy, to our freshly prepared Panini Sandwiches. Our coffee beans are hand selected from Organic, Fair Trade farms from around the world. Fair Trade practices ensure proper living conditions and set wages for coffee growers and harvesters, and ultimately deliver a better cup of coffee to you. We have dedicated ourselves to producing the highest quality product for our customers, and are confident your palate will be forever changed after experiencing our Signature Espresso Blends, Single Origin Pour Overs, and our one of a kind Honey Joys.”
I am a coffee snob and a “health nut” and I am impressed with the coffee and the menu. There is a commitment to local foods as well as fair trade coffee well roasted and prepared. The word, “gourmet” comes to mind as one browses the selections of roasts, of teas, and of blends.
They are constantly developing new flavors and drinks in their “test kitchen.” Quality of service and product is a high value. As a result, Kuppa Joy leaves a good taste in one’s mouth in many ways.
I am not the only one who notices that. Asking friends and co-workers about Kuppa Joy, I kept receiving glowing endorsements like, “It was the best cup of coffee I ever had.” My ministry assistant and secretary, Rita West said, “It’s the place where my friends and I choose when we meet up and want to go somewhere nice.”
It is going to be one of my regular “spots” as well. In fact, I have a meeting next Tuesday night that I think we will have there! Good idea, Tom!
I may try the Organic Raw Peach Lavender Honey, Organic Earl Grey Numi Tea and Steamed Milk or I might go with the Espresso flavored with Organic Vanilla Syrup, Steamed Milk and Microfoam. If I am feeling especially adventurous and if I have been a “good boy,” I might order the Rich Hot Chocolate topped with Homemade Whipped Cream. I could “chase” that with a gluten free granola bar or a bit of biscotti.
For lunch, one of these days, I am going to try the “Fresh Tomato, Whole Milk Mozzarella, Pesto and Hummus Spreads, on a Fresh Ciabatta Roll” and the “Organic Spring Mix, Dried Cranberries, & Feta Cheese served with a Parmesan Crisp and dressed in a Balsamic Vinaigrette.”
My word for how that sounds is “yumscious!”
Kuppa Joy is open Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. It is normally closed on Sunday unless something like “Big Hat Days” is going on. Visit them at 518 Clovis Ave., Clovis, California 93619 or call (559) 298-7234 for information or reservations.