Dozens of coffee shops have made names for themselves with individual visions and aesthetics in various Queen City neighborhoods. One of the newer kids on the block has a burning passion for serving the perfect cup of black coffee and making their customers feel like family. Felix Coffee Co. is a pop-up that surfaces at local markets, serving a limited variety of third-wave coffees and teas and a curated selection of merch.
Logan Peele and Jessica Ufkes brought the idea of Felix Coffee Co. to fruition just over year ago and celebrated the pop-up’s first anniversary in April. The duo has set themselves apart by committing to a nomadic business practice, wheeling their way around the Greater Cincinnati area and feeling out various communities to find where they belong before planting roots. Two words describe their timeline so far: baby steps.
The shop’s name comes from the Latin phrase felix culpa, which translates to “a happy fault.”
“It all started with us wanting to do something bigger than just being college students,” Ufkes says.
Once the idea for launching a coffee shop had been planted, it stuck. Despite frequent reminders from others of how little money they would make as a start-up shop and the possibility of it all falling through in the end, they weren’t fazed. Instead, it fueled their passion.
“Logan and I said ‘Screw you guys. We love you, but we’re starting this coffee shop,'” Ufkes says.
Felix stems from Peele’s obsession with coffee and Ufkes’ love of community. Community without coffee feels like a dim office space with a drop ceiling, and coffee without community is just a damn shame. “We want people to feel at home even if they don’t know us,” Peele says.
Ufkes and Peele ask themselves, “If we’re not pleasing (our customers), who are we pleasing?” They want to serve others via quality coffee, so they focus on simplicity, education, transparency and building relationships.
Felix’s community-forward focus is inspired by the people that nurtured them in their earliest stages: Sozo Loveland, the church where Peele’s father preaches, was the first place to experience Felix as an entity. Felix’s first endeavor was becoming the welcoming committee at Sozo, offering hot coffee to everyone who walked through the door.
“We’re thankful for the people who have enabled us along the way. Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” Peele says.
While the hospitality of Sozo was integral in Felix’s initial lift off, local Yield Coffee Roasters equipped Ufkes and Peele with the insider info they needed to turn their dreams into action. Felix sources beans from Yield, and the company has taken the couple under their wing, nurturing their skills in the coffee industry and encouraging their budding business. Photo: Provided
Out of the dozens of coffee companies Felix could’ve chosen to buy their coffee from, Yield stood out from the rest for a number of reasons – most importantly, their status as a nonprofit and heart for direct-trade relationships.
While offering locals excellent service and a great cup of coffee is important to Peele and Ufkes, ensuring that the farmers who harvested the beans earn a living wage is possibly more so.
Caring is what Peele and Ufkes do best – from turning strangers at the market into friends to sustaining the symbiosis within the coffee community, they’ve put their heart and soul into their business. They’re less worried about the bottom line and more zeroed in on the big picture.
“We never really thought about money,” Peele says. “We’re focused on serving others.”
That mindset backed their decision to think outside the box and become a coffee company without walls. By tossing away any preconceived notion of how a coffee shop should run, Peele and Ufkes were free to create a shop that is an extension of themselves and their ideals.
Eventually, Peele would like to apply the roasting skills he’s been honing with Yield to his own business to roast all of Felix’s coffee. But presently, his motive is to continue laying a groundwork and dream about the future.
Peele and Ufkes refer to themselves as “opposite creatives” -where one falls short, the other picks up the slack. Their partnership has allowed them to use their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses.
For now, they’ll still pop-up and serve the community until it’s time to take bigger steps forward; Ufkes and Peele plan on investing in an espresso machine and eventually a brick and mortar shop.
In the meantime, Felix will remain a mobile coffee cart serving great coffee from a company they believe in to strangers they hope will become friends.
To find Felix Coffee Co., visit felixcoffeeco.com.
By Sami Stewart
© Copyright © 2018 SouthComm Publications, CityBeat. All rights reserved.