Covenant alums Ian Goodman and Kris Perkins opened Goodman coffee shop with partners Aric Annear and David Rossi two weeks ago.
Previously, Goodman had owned Greyfriar’s, and both Ian and Annear has just opened a micro-roastery, Goodman Coffee Roasters, in St. Elmo last March.
The new coffee shop has only opened since October 9th, but business is going steady.
“This is actually a slow morning,” Ian said, despite the constant flow of people. A friend and I had come to visit the coffee shop on a cold Tuesday morning. After receiving our lattes - a blend of Sumatra, Brazil, and India -- Goodman and Perkins soon joined us to tell the story of their coffee shop.
The four partners had no plan of opening a coffee shop so soon. Goodman and Annear initially opened the roastery in St. Elmo as a hobby and side business. Back in 1997, Goodman turned his SIP project into the Greyfriar’s coffee shop. Perkins, who graduated in ’97, became his manager, and Annear his roaster.
They sold the business 10 years later and went their separate ways. Nine years later, Goodman was a property accountant and Annear an editor. Yet, they soon realized that they still had an itching enthusiasm for coffee, and eventually opened the roaster.
When Warehouse Row lost one of their tenants, Brash Coffee, they contacted the Goodman Coffee Roaster twice to fill in the location as a retail coffee shop. The partners finally agreed.
“The goal is to one day ultimately have [Goodman Coffee Roasters] as a full time job,” Goodman said last March, when only the roaster was up and running. But he’s already left his job to take care of the business full time.
The Warehouse Row location proves perfect for a coffee shop that carries a huge selection of beans and a fast service: TVA, Bellhops, Coyote, and other businesses surround the perimeter, and their employees are eager for their next cup of coffee.
I asked him, “With the coffee industry growing fast in Chattanooga, what could Goodman coffee shop offer to the daily humdrum of the Gig City?”
“We have Ian,” Perkins said, laughing.
Goodman, whose last name became the trademark of their roaster and coffee shop has worked with coffee since high school. His mastery of coffee is part acquired experience, part gift, his wife Leda Goodman said.
“Last time we forgot to put on a new label to the coffee we made. We said it was Malawi. He tasted it and he said, no, this is [another coffee bean],” Mrs. Goodman, who is also Covenant’s Assistant Director of the Center for Calling and Career, said.
They also offer is a wide variety of beans. “We carry about 20 or more different beans and we’re always adding to it. Other coffee shops in Chattanooga carry 2-3,” Perkins said. These beans represent 15-17 countries.
“There are massive differences in coffee beans, and it’s fun introducing people to it,” Goodman said. He believes that coffee is universal, and their price range reflects that.
“People enjoy coffee in prosperous times, and need coffee in hard economic times to get jobs done,” Leda said.
While having an artisanal approach, Goodman prepares their coffee fast to cater to their busy customer base.
When studying in Covenant, Goodman, a Catacombian, would hand out espresso drinks from his basement window.
“That’s how I met him!” Mrs. Goodman said, also mentioning that her appreciation of coffee has escalated since their marriage.
Cosi Goodman, the Goodman’s son and current Covenant student, has helped with the design of the retail coffee bags and the coffee bean illustration on it.
Kris Perkins was a Covenant Business major who graduated in 1997. He is now in the healthcare management business and is co-owner of insurance broker companies in Athens, GA and Chattanooga, TN. He also owns a distillery in Connecticut.
The two other partners also have business and coffee experiences. Annear was owner of Fremont Coffee Company in Seattle before he sold the business to settle in Chattanooga. Rossi was co-owner of the distillery with Perkins.
While the owners put much care into this startup coffee business, they are looking to train their employees and giving larger portions of responsibility to them.
“We’re not so young anymore,”Goodman said, joyful but worn out after two weeks of creating drinks and tending to customers and after a summer building the shop and preparing for the business launch.
The probability of expansion is lucrative, and the Goodman Coffee Roaster is looking to eventually becoming a franchise. While they are confident of their survival as a business, Perkins said that their biggest challenge would be growth.
J. Crew, whose location in Warehouse Row is right to the coffee shop, said that the traffic from the coffee shop has increased their sales.
Whether or not further growth will happen, Chattanooga seems eager to “get a cup of good in you,” as their tagline says.