Mocha on Main: Warehouse Coffee offers community gathering spot, delicious drinks
Story by Jacob Hatcher
Photos by Rachel Howard
On a cool November morning, espresso machines are whirling and orders are being called out to patrons at downtown Hartselle’s Warehouse Coffee, a six-year-old coffee shop that has fast become a staple of the Hartselle community. Manager Kristy Wiley is greeting customers with a smile while baristas prepare drinks, most of which do not even have to be ordered; they have most of the regulars orders memorized by now.
Between its downtown location and traveling coffee bus, Warehouse has cemented itself as a regular place for commuters, remote workers and patrons of all ages to drop in and get their daily fix of caffeine. An extension of Life Church Hartselle, Warehouse Coffee is the fruit of Pastor Brad Sheats vision for a resource for the community, as well as a way to give back locally and globally through whatever resources they produce.
As its name suggests, Warehouse Coffee is located in what once was a warehouse space and they fully embrace that history with exposed brick, distressed wood fixtures and ceilings that point to the building’s history. Built in 1929, the building has been the home to a number of businesses before its current iteration.
“You know, it was a thrift shop…there were old couches on the front porch and just mounds of clothes,” Wiley said, “and now it’s really changed the dynamics of downtown I think. I think it’s brought a lot of life to the community.”
When asked what Warehouse Coffee means to him, Virginia native and Hartselle transplant David Whitt said, “It’s my sanctuary. I have come here every day for three years. I could not think of something bad to say if I had to.”
Wiley, who has fifteen years of experience as a school cafeteria manager prior to taking on her current role, says she attributes the success of Warehouse Coffee to the relationships the staff has built in the community through the years, as well as their commitment to being a community-oriented institution. “We’re truly classified as a non-profit so we give back everything. Thousands of dollars have gone back to schools, feeding families; we also provide a place for the city to meet free of charge. We really try to be community minded.”
The coffee bus has also become a mainstay in the community since its inception a year ago, allowing Warehouse to take their coffee and their community-oriented mission to venues and places all over Morgan County. “It’s really taken off. Any time the trailer is out, someone has reached out and it’s going back to that group. It all goes back to the community to help; that’s the purpose of it. And I think God’s blessed that … giving back tenfold,” Wiley said.
Additionally Wiley says she never thought Hartselle would support a coffee shop, but after closing for a month during the pandemic, they came back stronger than ever. Wiley suspects the longing for togetherness that many citizens felt after having been quarantined for so long played a major role in the flourishing that occurred since reopening in May of 2020.
In addition to the coffee shop, Warehouse also operates The Venue next door. The Venue is a 4,500-sq.-ft event space that is open to the public for rent, but has no also given Warehouse an opportunity to continue its efforts to create space in the community for people to gather together and enjoy fellowship, as well as facilitating events for the city, school functions and the Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It all goes back to relationships,” Wiley said. “We are here to serve. That’s the goal of the coffee shop; the whole purpose. Whether it be just to give you a place to come and work, or to feed someone that’s hungry, or give back to the kids that are our next generation.”