Couple looks to end coffee 'dead zone' in Finleyville
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In the tiny Washington County borough of Finleyville, there is what Annie Quinio calls a coffee "dead zone."
In the town itself, and for five miles in either direction, there is no coffee shop.
"Pretty much the prevailing belief is that residents of this town aren't interested in coffee," she said.
But when the professional barista and her fiance and Finleyville-native Kyle Lee Hufnagel moved back to his hometown this summer, they asked everyone they met -- construction workers, small business owners, commuters, teachers, bankers, grocers, bartenders and mechanics, to name a few -- if they would patronize a coffee shop in the town.
The response was overwhelming.
"We really find that to be nothing more than a bad stereotype," she said of a perceived lack of interest in coffee. "Just because they don't have access to it, doesn't mean they don't want it."
The couple has begun a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Mini's Cafe, a coffee-roasting cafe and coffee shop they hope to open in the borough of 461 people.
The fundraising website accepts credit card donations from visitors and rewards them with incentives based on their pledge level. The company requires campaigns to meet the goal -- if they fall short, the project isn't funded. If the project succeeds, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires.
The couple has a lofty goal: $28,000 with about two weeks left. They're 5 percent of the way there, but Ms. Quinio noted that pledges often pick up toward the end of a campaign. And she thinks they have broad appeal, both to locals and to coffee enthusiasts elsewhere, who might appreciate their efforts.
The $28,000 would fund food service equipment ($11,000), an espresso machine ($9,000), storage equipment ($8,000) and more. The pair already has $24,000 in capital to cover the cost of leasing space, building the shop with an in-house roaster and the products to make specialty coffee.
Ms. Quinio met Mr. Hufnagel as a barista at a Michigan Starbucks, where she worked to pay the bills while in graduate school.
"I realized how much I love making coffee. To me, being a barista and serving people is really about a human connection."
If they don't reach the goal, the pair is poised to try again with a smaller fundraising campaign.
"One way or another, we're opening this coffee shop," she said.
For more information or to donate, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/minimakescoffee/minis-coffee
First Published November 1, 2012 5:45 am