The rich smell of espresso and the hiss of a milk steamer filled the small Greenwood coffee shop.
Patrons spread throughout Coffeehouse Five, working on computers, chatting in small groups or doing business. A fireplace on one side crackled, and unassuming folk, rock and indie music played over speakers set up in the corner.
The scene is commonplace at coffeeshops anywhere else in the world. But this particular shop was making a lasting impact in the Johnson County community, one cup of coffee sold or handmade pastry at a time.
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Since it was established in 2014, Coffeehouse Five has become a purveyor of not only fine, fair-trade coffees and other beverages, but a force for good. The certified nonprofit organization has offered free marriage and addiction counseling since it started.
Now, Coffeehouse Five has grown to the point where it can help even more people. Owners Brian and Michelle Peters have partnered with 12 nonprofit agencies and causes to support throughout the year, with 10 percent of all sales going to a different group each month.
“From the beginning, we’ve had this idea that we’d give part of our revenue back to the community in terms of supporting other nonprofits that impact families,” Brian Peters said. “This year, we’ve gotten to the point where we’re generating revenue so that we can make that happen.”
The mission and vision for Coffeehouse Five was born more than 20 years ago out of the disintegrating marriage of Brian and Michelle Peters. Brian Peters was an alcoholic and was having an affair. They were separated, and their marriage was stressed to the breaking point.
Through counseling both for their marriage and for Brian Peters’ addiction, they slowly started to repair their union over a few years. Marriage counseling in particular was instrumental, he said.
“We got to a point where it felt like we were healthy as a couple, and we started to almost literally get people showing up at our doorstop asking for help in their marriages,” he said.
Brian Peters was an attorney by trade, but with more and more people asking for help, his focus shifted. He became more involved in the men’s ministry at their church, Community Church of Greenwood, and doing counseling through the church.
Eventually, church leaders asked him to join as a staff member. He ended up working for the church for 10 years.
“During that time, I spent more and more time counseling couples and individuals who struggled with addictions,” Brian Peters said. “One of the things we discovered is that often times, a lot of couples waited too long to get help. Bitterness had built up and it was too difficult to reverse it.”
He discovered that many people need counseling, but couldn’t afford it. The mission then became figuring out a way to offer counseling for free, Brian Peters said.
The Peters family decided to create a coffee shop, which could provide the revenue to support the counseling aspect. The Community Church of Greenwood provided space for the initial shop in its recreation facility.
Once they felt comfortable with the ins and outs of a coffee shop, they started looking for a standalone location to serve a broader swath of the community.
After months of searching, they found a spot in Old Town Greenwood that they felt would work well. Volunteers and friends helped them refurbish the space, knocking out walls and installing equipment.
The hope was to create a modern look with character, balancing comfort and industrial aesthetics. Windows allow plenty of natural light in, and a blend of overstuffed chairs and wooden tables provide seating for studying, conducting meetings or just socializing.
All of those aspects were purposely chosen, particularly for the counseling aspect, Brian Peters said.
“One thing I discovered personally in counseling that I went through, if you go in for counseling at a local church, often times you’re ushered down the back hallway or into the basement. There’s not a lot of dignity to the process; you’re almost made to feel ashamed that you’re asking for help,” Brian Peters said. “So in addition to offering counseling for free, I wanted to find a way to provide more dignity, make it more open and welcoming.”
The shop gets its beans from a co-op in Wisconsin, 100 percent organic and certified fair trade. Customers can get the traditional coffee shop offerings, such as a mocha, latte or Americano.
The more adventurous can try cold-brew coffee on a nitrogen tap, or savor real peanut butter and signature mocha in its chocolate peanut butter pie latte.
“We’re kind of coffee purists,” said Amanda Peters, Michelle and Brian Peters’ daughter who does marketing as well as baking for Coffeehouse Five. “But we like to have fun with it. We want you to enjoy your coffee. You should enjoy what you’re drinking.”
The response from the community has been positive. The counseling aspect of the organization has been steady, with Peters or others meeting with couples and individuals in the evenings.
Coffeehouse Five has seen its customer base expand consistently since 2014, and proceeds brought into the shop have grown every year since.
That budgetary growth has allowed the Peterses to be able to offer a portion of its monthly profits to different community organizations.
Groups such as the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin, Johnson County Senior Services, the Midwest Food Bank and Greenwood Christian Academy were assigned different months.
May’s beneficiary will be the Indiana Donor Network, which helps coordinate organ donation and transplants in Indiana, as well as educates about the importance of organ donation.
Working with Coffeehouse Five gives it another valuable platform to help raise awareness of its mission and get more people thinking about donation, said Kit Werbe, spokeswoman for the Indiana Donor Network.
“Providing Hoosiers with the information they need to make an informed decision about donation is an important priority for Indiana Donor Network,” she said. “We are committed to building awareness in Indiana communities of the need for lifesaving and enhancing organ, tissue and eye donation, and thank Coffeehouse Five for helping us to fulfill our mission to save and enhance more lives.”
In November, that recipient will be byTavi, a vocational mission project of the Center for Global Impact, which employs seamstresses in Cambodia to create handbags, clothing and other fashion accessories.
The center has partnered with Coffeehouse Five for more than two years, said Lindsey Green, the byTavi brand manager. For byTavi fundraising events, the coffee shop has provided coffee, cups and other items free of charge.
The coffee shop has featured byTavi goods for customers to buy during the holidays and at Mother’s Day, with all of the proceeds going back to the seamstresses in Cambodia.
“This has helped us keep a presence in the Greenwood area,” she said. “(Center for Global Impact) is funded by donors and fundraising events. Not only will this support us financially but expose our mission to the community.”
With this being the first year of providing proceeds from the shop to other organizations, Brian Peters is unsure how successful this will be. Still, they are excited to see the results.
“It’s still a little bit of a stressor, figuring out how we’re going to make this work. But we’re committed to it,” he said. “As with everything we’ve done here, we don’t know how we’re going to get from point A to point B, but we take one step at a time and trust that God is involved with this.”
What: A registered nonprofit organization that uses sales of its coffee and baked goods to fund marriage and addiction counseling, as well as other community efforts.
Where: 323 Market Plaza, Greenwood
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Church worship: A worship session is held at the coffeeshop at 5 p.m. each Sunday.
How to get help: Free counseling is available to couples and individuals. Appointments may be made at coffeehousefive.com/get-help or by calling 317-300-4330.
How to help: Donations are accepted online at coffeehousefive.com/give
Each month, Coffeehouse Five will be donating 10 percent of proceeds to community organizations. Here is the schedule for the rest of the year:
February: Midwest Food Bank
March: The Boaz Project
April: Haven Women’s Ministry
May: Indiana Donor Network
June: The Refuge
July: Boys & Girls Club of Franklin
August: Beacon of Hope
September: Johnson County Senior Services
October: Down Syndrome Indiana
December: Greenwood Christian Academy