As an architect, Sara Aschliman knows a thing or two about designing spaces that encourages others to gather. After all, gathering is good for the soul, especially when you pair it with coffee. In her efforts to create a gathering space for her community of Wyoming, she utilized her skills to design a space that would allow for gathering, coffee, and community support and called it Wyoming Community Coffee.
The business opened in 2018 and is Aschliman's first venture in entrepreneurship. She says that while she didn't know anything about coffee or the restaurant industry when she decided to open Wyoming Community Coffee, she knew as an architect that she could create a welcoming space. "And I hoped that coffee could be the way to support it," she adds.
Community is at the center of the mission and vision behind Wyoming Community Coffee.
"In specialty coffee, exceptional products and services are the expectation," she says. "We excel by valuing a connection to the people surrounding the products we serve. That is not only our guests, but our staff, vendors, and soon, our farmers."
In the years since Wyoming Community Coffee opened its doors, it's weathered a global pandemic that changed the way we gathered for nearly two years. But that hasn't stopped the brand from growing. In fact, Wyoming Community Coffee recently started construction on its new roasting expansion.
"This will help to improve our profit margin, which we can then re-invest in our business, create career opportunities for our staff, and have control over where we are sourcing our coffee - what farms and producers we want to support," Aschliman says.
And the plans for growth don't stop there. Aschliman says that she hopes to continue growing Wyoming Community Coffee by offering a mail-order coffee bean subscription and developing community interest in coffee classes, and perhaps even starting a student internship program.
To help the shop get there is Main Street Ventures.
"With the Main Street Ventures Leap Grant, we are able to purchase our new coffee roaster, as well as the training for our staff, and the initial goods order," she explains. "As our business is growing, our goals are changing. This grant gives us the jumpstart we need to pursue our new expanded vision."
As Wyoming Community Coffee continues to impact its local community, Aschliman and her team are also doing their best to make an impact on the global community.
"Sadly, women in coffee often don't receive the respect, representation, and compensation they deserve," she says. "Internationally, women farmers don't get the money they have earned. We have specifically chosen to develop a relationship with two organizations committed to social justice and empowerment for women in the global coffee industry: Cafe Femenino Foundation and Katia Duke."
Cafe Femenino Foundation is a gender-focused program that is committed to helping women coffee producers. "Cafe Femenino operations under the belief that women deserve credit for their work, and provides compensation directly to women farmers," says Aschliman. There's also Katia Duke, who is a fourth-generation coffee grower in Honduras and a farm the Wyoming Community Coffee team has had the opportunity to visit. "Katia battled gender norms to get paid what her award-winning product was worth, and now uses her success to make positive change in her local community," she says.