Tucked inside a historic three-story building dating to 1853, Parkville Coffee is a homey place that brews not just coffee but also community.
“Going back to the 1600s, coffee houses are meeting places,” owner Kristin Helling said. “Things happened at coffee houses.”
Since assuming ownership of the business in June 2017, Helling has focused on creating a space where patrons can connect as they enjoy house-roasted brews, scratch-made pastries and fresh-made lunches.
“You see people enjoying each other’s company and talking to each other,” she said. “We don’t have TVs, so it’s just a nice vibe.”
Helling also believes it’s important that local businesses know and support each other: “On Main Street, everybody likes to cross-promote with each other.”
In 2012, Helling was a Park University alum working in the financial industry and struggling to find creative inspiration for the genre fiction she loved to write. A friend urged her to join the Parkville Coffee team. She worked her way up from barista to shift manager to store manager and, finally, owner.
“I just fell in love with the industry, everything about it,” Helling said. “I love the global properties of coffee and how it connects you with the world.”
The beans her staff roasts in the store are sourced from suppliers who have strong relationships with farmers in places like Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Colombia and Sumatra.
“Especially being a writer, I love the story of the coffee,” Helling said. “Our importers actually eat dinner with the families. I love hearing what they’re doing to produce the coffee, what it does for their lives. Then when we get the beans into our hands, you can smell what else has grown in the soil with that bean. You can smell red bell pepper, cocoa. Then we get to put our imprint on it.”
As for the future, Helling is looking to expand Parkville Coffee’s wholesale market and catering division, which includes a traveling full-service latte bar.
“I bring the passion for the industry forward in the company,” she said. “I bring a clear passion for my employees to also appreciate it. When we’re excited about what we’re selling, our customers are excited about what they’re buying.”