The unmistakable scent of freshly roasted coffee hung throughout the crafthouse at Brickhouse Coffee Co.
Bags of green coffee beans from Sumatra, Ethiopia, Brazil and other tropical locales had been poured into the gleaming production-style gas-fired coffee roaster. After about 10 minutes, the roaster’s chute opened, spilling the rich, brown beans into a bin.
Even without considering the caffeinated jolt the finished product would produce, the smell of the coffee beans alone was enough to invigorate the dozen or so patrons sitting at rustic, industrial-style tables.
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In designing Brickhouse’s first physical coffeehouse, crafting high-quality coffee went hand-in-hand with forging relationships in the cozy atmosphere of the coffee roastery.
“No matter where you go, coffee is part of culture,” said Jared Stayton, who started Brickhouse with his family. “Even though we’re here in Greenwood, we’re building relationships and using coffee as our tool to bring people together.”
What started as a way for the Stayton family to pay bills while serving as missionaries has grown into a project to help mission work around the world. They have created a roastery and coffeehouse, sourcing coffee directly from farmers in Central America, South America, Asia and Africa to roast by hand in Greenwood.
The goal is to use Brickhouse Coffee to train other missionaries to work in coffee, helping families figure out a way to support themselves in the field.
The name comes from an 1890s-style farmhouse that had served as Brickhouse Coffee’s original home. Though now housed in a sleekly remodeled shop in the former Jonathan Byrd’s facility, it still maintains that feeling of tradition and history.
“I wanted to bring that feel for this new space here,” Stayton said.
Stayton and his wife, Lora, had met while both were students at Indiana University in Bloomington. They married in 1998 and had two daughters.
In the midst of working a series of different jobs, Jared Stayton was drawn to further exploring his faith and deepening his relationship in Christ.
“I felt like something was missing in my life and my journey, wanting to experience God in a new, in-depth way,” he said.
The opportunity to do so opened up when Jared Stayton was called by God to quit his job, sell their home and move onto the campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College in Indianapolis with his family.
“I felt like the invitation to me was, if I wanted to experience God more, to trust in God more, I needed to be all-in,” he said.
After a year of studying, the family discovered an opportunity to take a mission trip to southern Spain, helping a church with some administration work. One of the jobs they needed assistance with was running a coffee shop in the church’s community center.
Jared and Lora Stayton were interested in coffee culture, having discussed opening a coffeehouse in Bloomington in the past. So that mission was immediately appealing.
They decided to go. To help prepare for his role in the coffeehouse, Jared Stayton spent a week in an immersive barista school conducted in Muncie. He worked eight hours each day, working side-by-side with a champion coffee roaster to learn styles, flavors and other aspects of the beverage.
“He really turned my world upside-down with coffee, in terms of the depth of it, the industry as a whole, the commodity chain. It blew my mind how deep it was, and really gave me a passion for it,” he said.
The Staytons took their mission trip. The experience was rewarding, but supporting themselves financially was a struggle. While they were focused on expanding the Christian reach of the church, they had to rely on help from friends, family and other supporters in order to survive.
“Many missionaries struggle financially. They’re constantly having to leave their mission work to come back and raise funds — sending letters, visiting local churches, talking to friends and family,” Jared Stayton said. “That’s the last thing a missionary wants to do. So we thought that there had to be a better way.”
That experience led them to try and find a business that would help them support themselves while not taking away from their missionary spirit. With Jared Stayton’s burgeoning education in the coffee business, and the global reach and interest of coffee, they decided a shop would be ideal.
Initially, the idea was to open a coffeehouse in Spain. But they had been forced to return to the U.S. to rework their visas, and during their return, found out that their church, Horizon Christian Fellowship, was considering opening a coffee ministry on their campus. The goal was to work with students at the Bible college, teaching them a trade.
When Jared Stayton presented his vision to the church leaders, they enthusiastically joined on to partner with them.
“It made sense, since I hadn’t done this before, to start out among family and friends and the support of our community,” Jared Stayton said.
Brickhouse Coffee was born in early 2013. They choose the name as an ode to the structure where the coffee roasting ministry was housed: A two-story brick house built in the 1890s. The Staytons created a roasting workshop in a back room, and for 2½ years, they used an old 1912 roaster to supply churches throughout central Indiana with their Sunday brew.
Jared Stayton pieced together a network of contacts at churches.
Once the business was established, the Staytons bought controlling stakes of Brickhouse and moved into a small garage in Fortville that they could operate out of.
After about 11 months, they partnered with an investor who helped finance Brickhouse, allowing the company to increase production capability with a new roaster. They also started looking for a more permanent location.
“We really struggled finding a good location that met all of our needs,” Jared Stayton said. “Plus, we were kind of in a time crunch.”
But once again, the relationships that the Staytons had fostered proved advantageous. When they had lived in Greenwood 16 years prior, Jared Stayton had become friends with developer Randy Faulkner.
Faulkner reached out to Jared Stayton — he had purchased the former location of Jonathan Byrd’s, and was remodeling it to accommodate varying businesses on Greenwood’s east side. Part of his vision was to have a coffee house in the building, and he invited the Staytons to come see it to learn what the site could offer.
“From the moment I walked in the door, I knew this was where we were supposed to be,” Jared Stayton said.
Remodeling the 5,400 square feet of space into a fitting home for the coffee house took much of 2017.
Brickhouse continues to provide wholesale coffee to churches throughout the region. The coffee bar allows them to also cater to customers on a day-to-day basis.
The Staytons hope that with the Greenwood location as a flagship, they can spread the Brickhouse concept to other areas of Indianapolis. The plan is to make the location a vocational training center, where other missionary families can come and learn the coffee business, then use those skills to support themselves while in the mission field.
Brickhouse also envisions a program to help more small farmers set up farms in coffee-growing regions.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have so much going on behind the scenes,” Jared Stayton said. “We wanted a place where people could experience Brickhouse firsthand, get to know our story and our family and our employees, and hopefully feel loved on when they come in.”
Brickhouse Coffee Co.
Who: Jared and Lora Stayton
Where: 100 Byrd Way, Greenwood
What: A coffeehouse offering direct-trade coffee roasted in-house. The business helps support mission work of the Stayton family, and they hope to use it to help other missionaries learn how to support themselves while doing their faith-based work.
- El Corazón: Light-medium bodied, well-balanced cup with nutty overtones.
- Heritage Espresso: Nutty and well balanced with hints of cocoa and a bolder roast profile.
- Black and Tan: A blend of Brickhouse’s darkest and medium roast beans
- Black: The darkest roast offered at Brickhouse
- Descafeinado: A bold decaffeinated coffee
- Sumatra: The highest grade of specialty coffee available from Sumatra, this specialty coffee is earthy with notes of dark chocolate
- Yirgacheffe: A clean-finishing Ethiopian coffee with a lemony-citrus touch
- Bourban Barrel Brazilian: This bold roast is aged in freshly drained white oak bourbon barrels