The Raeford Coffee Co. held a soft opening last week and will debut at Hometown Christmas this Friday evening, with a grand opening to follow December 4 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of the Raeford-Hoke Chamber of Commerce.
Michael Bramer, Joshua A. Miller and Stephanie Bellomy found themselves looking for a place in Raeford to have a cup of coffee and socialize, they realized they had come across a new opportunity.
“I’ve lived here for about three years and we actually all met through church. There were many times when we were hanging out in Raeford and really wanted to go to a coffee shop of some sort and hang out and have a good cup of coffee and spend time together…but there wasn’t one on Main Street,” Bramer said. “After kind of joking around about it for a couple of months, in January of this year, we were like, why don’t we make this a reality, why don’t we do it.”
After some investigation into the possibilities, the three friends were able to purchase and renovate a trailer to suit their needs. Raeford Coffee Co. will be a food truck-style mobile coffee spot serving up all kinds of coffee drinks.
The mobile coffee shop was a good option for them to get started with, Bellomy explained.
“We don’t have any overhead other than operational costs, so it relatively makes it easy for us to just be open,” she said. It also lets them travel to different festivals in the area outside of Raeford.
The menu will feature typical coffee offerings like lattes, mochas, drip coffee and some things that aren’t as common in coffee shops, such as a cortado – espresso with warm milk – and pour-over coffee. In the summer there will also be cold brew coffee on offer. The owners plan to add pastries from a local bakery to the menu in the future.
Raeford Coffee Co. gets its supply of coffee beans from the veteran-owned Cactus Creek Coffee in Aberdeen. The Cactus Creek Coffee owner Mike Birky has been instrumental in supporting their business development, coaching them through the process, Bellomy added. The business sourced its other products and equipment locally, too.
Beyond offering a good cup of coffee, the Raeford Coffee Co. is meant to help bring people together and offer engagement, Miller said.
“One of our pivotal values of the company that we all dreamed up was, we wanted to engage with the community,” he said. We wanted to be for the community, by the community, coming from the community, so it’s exciting. That’s one of the advantages I would say about the trailer too, is that we can engage not just our local community but other communities as well.”
The big goal for Raeford Coffee Co. is to have it be a place for community where people can be connected, the business partners said.
“Our coffee shop, the goal is yes we want to sell coffee and we want people to enjoy good drinks and good food when we have baked goods…but the most important thing for us is that people are loved, connected, and heard. That’s kind of our motto. We want people to feel loved, to know that they are seen and appreciated,“ Bramer said.
“And welcome,” Miller added.
“That they are connected to the community through us or through people they meet at the coffee shop,” Bramer said.
Eventually the business partners would like to see Raeford Coffee Co. become a permanent fixture in downtown Raeford.
“Our goal is eventually to be on Main Street, the kind of main area of Main Street in a brick and mortar building,” Bramer said. “We’re not sure what that looks like yet, but we’re hopeful that God will provide something at some point, and that He’s given us this to kind of get us started so we can start saving up some money and get moving in that direction.”
Bramer is the president, dreamer, and building/project manager, Miller handles the administration, business organization and human resources and Bellomy oversees daily operations, menu development and management, according to the company website.
Bramer grew up in Southern Indiana and graduated from Ball State University with a degree in architecture. He decided to pursue a career in the Army. His dog, Mac, is also a “vital member” of the Raeford Coffee Co. – “Although not an official partner, [Mac] contributes to the overall atmosphere and morale for partners and employees,” the business website describes.
Miller graduated from Western Kentucky University with a B.A. degree in music and a certificate in nonprofit administration, and also holds a certificate in grant writing from the University of Louisville. He is pursing an M.S. degree in entertainment business from Full Sail University. Miller currently serves as an Army Human Resources Officer, and plans to transition into the performing arts administration and entertainment industry while giving back through community service and volunteering.
Bellomy was born and raised in Fayetteville, and as a child had a dream of becoming a chef or owning a bakery. She completed a year of culinary school and spent a summer in Austria working in a kitchen. She has worked in administration for FTCC for the past 12 years. She earned an Associate of Arts degree and is working toward a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The Raeford Coffee Co. team is handling the coffee making at the moment, but plan to pursue hiring a barista beginning in January. People interested in applying can find out more by contacting the business by email at [email protected].
Raeford Coffee Co. has a website available online at https://www.raefordcoffeeco.com.