Socially Conscious Coffee Shop Opens at Demonbreun Hill

Editor’s note: During each Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., scholars are required to complete a mobile media reporting module, which includes producing videos and reporting and writing stories. Their work is displayed here.

0715_roldanby Roberto Roldan

Nestled between the trendy bars and restaurants that have popped up on a small stretch of Demonbreun Street in Nashville, Tenn., over the last few years is a new coffee shop that promises a little love in each cup.

Just Love Coffee Roasters opened its first stand-alone retail shop in mid-April. Just Love is a small-batch roasting company based in Murfreesboro, Tenn., that emphasizes what founder Rob Webb calls the “benevolence side” of the operation as much as its award-winning coffee.

“There’s nothing like this in Nashville,” Webb said. “Fundamentally, the company was built on wanting to give back. Before we made any profit, we were giving a lot of money back.”

The idea for Just Love sprung out of a family tie to coffee roasting and the passion of Webb and his wife Emily for supporting adoptive families.

He initially took over the roasting operation of his father’s company, but when he and his wife adopted a child from Ethiopia and researched the origins of coffee, they decided to create a high-end roasting company that supported adoptive families. Just Love does this by donating a portion of its proceeds to America World Adoption, the agency Webb and his wife used.

They also support nonprofit organizations and individual families by allowing them to open their own online stores through the website and sell Just Love coffee.

The company handles all of the sales and shipping, and the family or organization receives $5 for every bag of coffee sold through its online store. Within the first two years, the company has donated over $200,000 to adoptive families and charities, according to Webb.

For retail customers, the operation began as a front-end bar at Just Love’s 2,400-square-foot roasting facility in Murfreesboro. As people started to trickle in, looking to taste some of the coffee right from the roaster, the company began to plan for expanding its retail options.

0815_roldan

Hannah Guffey, a barista at the new Just Love Coffee Roasters shop in the Demonbreun Hill neighborhood in Nashville, Tenn., brews up a cup of coffee for a customer. (photo: Roberto Roldan/Summer 2015)

The Nashville location is the first of three stores scheduled to open this year. A shop in nearby Brentwood was slated to debut in spring, and Webb is planning to open a third shop, in partnership with Nashville-based Gigi’s Cupcakes, in Huntsville, Ala.

“What we’re trying to do is eliminate the seriousness of coffee,” Webb said. “It’s gotten very serious and stoic and a little pretentious.”

Webb also hopes 150 Just Love franchises will open across the Southeast and Midwest in the next five years. Those plans, however, depend on how well the first few shops in Tennessee perform against larger coffee brands such as Starbucks.

Webb said he plans to use Just Love’s small-batch operation and accessible environment to his advantage as he seeks to expand the company.

“It’s a generalization, but those large-batch companies are usually of a lower quality, and you lose those accentuated flavors,” he said. “We only roast 20 pounds of coffee at a time.”

As the company’s retail locations gain traction, Just Love will also work with a nonprofit organization to build a home for orphans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that specifically caters to kids who have “aged out” of the adoption system.

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