Coffee and the Fear of Failure

I’m scared to death.

This week I’ve done something I thought I could never bring myself to do again.

I’ve jumped back into the coffee business.

I’m scared because the last time I jumped into the coffee business, it ended in failure.

In the spring of 2003, two idealist college grads started a coffee bar at Denver Seminary called Kurios Koffee. Drew Moser and I didn’t know much about running a coffee bar but we were crazy enough to jump into it. For two years it went well as Drew and I were the main baristas along with my brother Ben, who we paid in free coffee.

Then Drew graduated seminary and I bought out his portion of Kurios Koffee. Then I started as a full-time youth pastor and started paying employees to run the coffee shop. Three years later, we were up to our ears in debt and the enrollment at Denver Seminary wasn’t growing as we thought it would with a new campus in Littleton.

So Hillary and I decided to close the coffee shop instead of going deeper into debt.

Kurios Koffee failed.

After all this my business mentor told me, “The worst thing you can do is never try again.”

I didn’t believe him. There was no way I was jumping back in again. I was done.

Fast forward a few years. Edgewater Coffee Company was closing on December 31, 2013 and as a community we needed to find a way to keep the space open as a neighborhood place to drink great coffee and connect with neighbors.

I fought the idea of stepping in for months.

I couldn’t do it.

The last time I ran a coffee shop it ended in failure and debt.

I couldn’t even step foot on the campus of Denver Seminary for years because the feelings of failure were too much to bear.


But something/Someone deep in my spirit was telling me to jump back into it.

So on Monday, January 6 I put my barista apron back on and the nonprofit I lead, Edgewater Collective, assumed management of the Edgewater Coffee House. We are going to see if we can continue the great work of Edgewater Coffee Company’s founder, Gina Hartley, and make the coffee house viable in Edgewater. These days nonprofits are experimenting with social entrepreneurship and ventures that feed profit back into the nonprofit.

It is amazing how my experiences with Kurios Koffee inform my role leading a nonprofit and especially managing the coffee house.

That doesn’t mean that I am not afraid of what could happen.

But fear is a great motivator.

And failure is the best teacher.

I firmly believe and have experienced that the joy of success only comes out of pain of failure.


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Dangerous Obedience. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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