Humble Coffee opened its second location, a drive-thru coffee shop, on Feb. 14 — but hopeful drivers had already been lining up for weeks.
“We get so many people coming up every time we’re in here, and we have to say, ‘Not yet — soon!’” said co-owner Shelly Mirenda, just days before the opening.
“One of the main reasons we wanted to open on the Eastside is there’s not a lot of local [coffee] here, so we’re excited to bring that to this side of town,” she said.
“Already people’s enthusiasm and excitement are telling us it’s a great choice to be over here.”
The Valentine’s Day opening of the new shop also marked the third anniversary of Humble’s Templeton Gap location, which Mirenda and her boyfriend, tattoo artist Mike Hedrick, bought almost a year ago.
Hedrick and Mirenda, a former District 49 second-grade teacher, had just completed an ambitious interior remodel at the Templeton Gap shop when the chance to grab the Eastside location came up. They couldn’t pass it by.
“I was reading our [online] reviews and responding to them, and one lady had left a review that said… ‘You guys need one out east. There’s an empty kiosk on the corner of Powers and Barnes — just saying,’” Hedrick recalled.
“I came out here and looked at it that same day, and no one was here so I called about 20 numbers and eventually one called me back. We signed the lease that week.”
Mirenda said many other businesses were interested in the location, so they moved fast — and found themselves facing yet another major remodel.
The existing kiosk was “terrible looking on the inside, and the outside was not appealing” Hedrick recalled, so the pair and their willing staff spent many late nights bringing it up to their standards.
“We had a little chaos for a bit and long, long nights,” he said. “I’d work in the [Templeton Gap] coffee shop in the morning, then go to my other job in the daytime, then come here at night and stay till 1 in the morning.
“We wanted this to be somewhere our employees like to be … if the place looks like a nightmare, they’re not going to be happy.”
Caring for their employees is a theme Mirenda and Hedrick return to again and again.
“Our crew is hands-down amazing, we’re like a little family,” Mirenda said. “What makes this successful is that the people we have are exceptional.”
They credit their experienced employees, including Joshua Jewell, who took silver for Best Barista in the Indy 2016 Best Of Colorado Springs, with showing them the ropes when they bought Humble. While they had dreamed of owning a coffee shop for years, both were new to the business.
Hedrick had bartended and waited tables through college, but his passion for coffee came from pre-dawn cups with his dad.
“My dad’s military … and he’d work 48 on and 96 off, so every four days we’d get up at 3 in the morning. I was 8 years old, and I’d drink black coffee with him while he’d have breakfast, then I’d get back in bed.
“So from the time I was that tall, I was like, ‘Black coffee! Black coffee!’ I’ve always loved it.”
Lately, Hedrick has been digging deeper, juggling 10-hour days at the tattoo shop with learning barista skills.
“Until a few weeks ago I couldn’t make anything but espresso,” he said. “Shelly’s sort of the face of Humble, and I’ve been more the ‘mechanic’… but I want to learn all sides of the business.”
All Humble’s employees will circulate between the two locations.
“They’re probably more excited than we are,” Hedrick said. “Because they don’t have the nerves about it, they’re just ready to jump in.”
While drive-thru/walk-up service has to be fast, Hedrick and Mirenda say they won’t budge on quality or technique.
“Our standard at Humble is to make sure everything we use is really high quality,” Mirenda said. “We buy local and organic where we can … and we choose things that are health conscious so we know that we’re giving people what they enjoy while still having healthy options.”
Humble’s beans — including medium-to-dark roast and white espresso — are roasted by their long-time partners at Mango Tree Coffee (previously Firedance Roasters). The honey and teas are local, and milk substitutes include coconut, almond, soy and hemp milk.
The couple talks about more locations, but for now they’re enjoying an early success — taking gold for best local coffee shop in last year’s Indy Best Of — and they’re “so happy to be part of this coffee community,” Mirenda said.
“It’s booming,” she said. “We’re getting a real coffee culture here, the kind you’d expect more in the Northwest. We have beautiful places like Loyal and Switchback … we go to all the cafés throughout the city and just enjoy the atmosphere and the people.
“Coffee’s such a connection for people,” Mirenda said. “It makes everything a little bit better.”
[su_box title=”Humble Coffee” box_color=”#005ac3″]Location: 2103 Templeton Gap Road; 4379 Integrity Center Point
Contact: 719-448-6253, humblecoffee.com[/su_box]