Fort Collins Hot Spot

Sep 272006
Authors: ELENA ULYANOVA The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The old town coffee house doesn’t open its doors until 6 p.m. Saturdays, but by 5 p.m., a routine visitor, anxious for a hot cup of coffee on a chilly autumn day, is invited inside despite the hour.

“We want to show people the truest kind of love there is just by the way we serve them, the way we do business and the way we love everybody that comes through the door,” said Chris Hess, director of events and public relations for Everyday Joe’s Coffee House.

Hess, a 2004 CSU graduate, holds one of only two paid positions at the coffee house, which is primarily volunteer-run.

The non-profit coffee shop opened in the summer of 2003 as a community outreach project of the Timberline Old Town Church. The inspiration came after the church began meeting at the retired electrical appliance warehouse every Sunday four years ago.

Hess said church members didn’t think it was right for the building to sit empty all week, and wanted something there that would benefit the community. The edifice underwent a complete transformation, and Everyday Joe’s Coffee House came to life.

The building now houses a cozy coffee house filled with large sofas, tables and chairs spread out across the vast area that is outlined by red brick walls. A stage for concerts rests in one corner, while the coffee bar sits at the other end.

At first glance, the business does not seem to set itself apart from other coffee houses, but in reality it functions much differently.

At the end of each month, Everyday Joe’s Coffee House takes what would have been profit and donates it to community-minded organizations, such as Realities for Children, The Food Bank for Larimer County, Neighbor to Neighbor and Habitat for Humanity. In an effort to further reach out to the community, the first “bill” paid by Everyday Joe’s is a $100 donation to one of these organizations.

The coffee house is considered an outreach project of the church, however, Hess said there is no religious pressure at the coffee shop.

“If you force feed anyone anything, they’re just going to reject it,” Hess said. “They know that we’re not going to hand out Testamints (a brand of mints that include a scripture verse on each package) with every cup of coffee.”

While many of the volunteers are church-goers, a large number of them don’t go to the church.

Even though the coffee house is non-profit, it has free wireless Internet as well as two desktop computers, which are available for free use. Hess said it doesn’t bother anyone if people come in just to use the Internet and don’t get a cup of coffee.

“We are really finding that we are turning into a community center that serves coffee. People come in and use the computers and leave and we’re fine with it,” Hess said.

As a music venue, Everyday Joe’s also participates as a part of the music scene in the Fort Collins community. The non-profit nature of the coffee house does not provide pay for bands. However, bands can charge a fee at the door and collect 90 percent, although Hess said the coffee house encourages bands to ask for donations instead.

Everyday Joe’s also promotes community art by allowing local artists to display visual art on the walls in the coffee house and Everyday Joe’s doesn’t take a commission if the artwork is purchased.

The welcoming philosophy at Everyday Joe’s has kept Matt Williams, a senior social work major and the Everyday Joe’s regular who was let in early, a frequent visitor since last spring.

Williams said he enjoys the comfortable couches, wide open space, a quiet place to study, an “unbelievable” staff and high-quality coffee that goes to a good cause.

“What strikes me is its openness; they are open to everyone and it’s not a small coffee shop so it’s not crammed,” Williams said.

Hess has a similar notion of Everyday Joe’s. He said the staff at the coffee house wants people to feel like they have somewhere they can feel like they belong.

“We are here to build and foster community and connect the disconnected,” Hess said. “We want to be a place that everyone can come to regardless of whether you’re homeless or whether you make $15 million a year.”

Staff writer Elena Ulyanova can be reached at

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