Nichols Farm CSA is coming back to Overflow!

We're excited to welcome back Nichols Farm for the 2015 season!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It's about relationship.  You get local, fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables while building a relationship with a local farmer (in this case the Nichols family).  

Nichols has made some improvements for the coming season:

  • All members also receive a 20% discount on any farmers market purchases.
  • Expanding partnership with Local Thyme to include more weekly recipes and tips to best utilize your CSA share. 
  • Now offering a half share that is every other week for those who thought it was just too much produce.  

This 3rd one is probably the most exciting for people who were hesitant to sign up previously.

Find out more and sign up at this link.

Full disclosure: Overflow is not getting paid to host this CSA. We might receive a box of fruits and veggies to split among the staff. People who come to pick up their food might make a purchase from Overflow. We're not sure what might happen. Primarily, we're doing this because it's the right thing to do.

Thoughts on Our 4 Year Anniversary

Today marks 4 years since we opened to the public on March 18, 2011.  In case you're wondering, the day after St. Patrick's Day is most definitely a great day to open a coffee shop, at least in Chicago.  I'm sure you can imagine why.

The past 4 years have had their ups and downs.


We knew when we chose the South Loop neighborhood that we had an uphill battle in front of us.  The South Loop just doesn't have the population density of other neighborhoods. Plus, it is still perceived as "scary" by some who live north of us so they don't visit for eating, drinking, or shopping.  Even more-so in 2011 than in 2015.

We were, are, and will be willing to fight this uphill battle because we believe the long term benefit will be worth it.  We envision that, if we put in the effort at the beginning when small businesses around us was somewhat scarce, we'd become a neighborhood institution.  Even if lots of competition opened up later, we hope we'll be so ingrained in the South Loop that no one could compete with our South Loop neighborhoodliness.  Besides, the more direct trade coffee being consumed the better!

Did we accomplish this vision?  Hard to tell.  But I think that, if we were gone, we'd be missed by lots of folks.

So, what got us through the past 4 years?  In a word, perseverance.  Even when the going got tough, we pushed through.  We tightened our belts.  We put in long hours.  We never gave up or backed down.  We went through the pits of despair and kept our hope alive.  We won't bore you with all the details but I can tell you I wouldn't want to live through it again.  I would add that we didn't persevere alone.  There were lots of friends, family, loyal customers who stood with us and helped us when we couldn't keep going on our own.

What's next? We're close to becoming profitable and then the sky is the limit.  We've got some great ideas along the lines of Placemaking, a real South Loop Chamber of Commerce, franchising, and further mentoring/coaching of others who want to start coffee shops of their own.  There's still a lot of slavery in the world as people produce coffee, clothing, flowers, sugar, etc.  There is still lots of work to do and we're not giving up anytime soon.  Face it.  You're stuck with us.  :-)

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A Story of a Lady Who Is Embodying Overflow's Mission

If you've been around us or at Overflow in the past 18 months, and especially the last 6, you might recognize this lady. 



This woman's name is Mary Ayres.  She is Amanda's mom.  She's had a rough journey over the past 3 years.  She retired 3½ years ago.  Then, in February 2012 (shortly before Overflow's 1st birthday), she had a stroke that has left her with aphasia, an acquired language disorder caused by damage to the brain, in her case the stroke. Aphasia makes Mary have extreme difficulty remembering words and she has lost most of her ability to speak, read, and write.  She is still very intelligent but has issues with communicating - both sharing her thoughts and understanding what others are trying to share. 

Due to Mary's stroke, she and Virgil, Amanda's dad, moved to Chicago in August 2013.  They made the move so that Amanda could pay their bills, file their taxes, communicate with their doctors, and an increasing number of things they couldn't do for themselves as they got older.

Then the unexpected happened.  In June of last year (2014), Mary lost her husband of 34 years.  Now we are totally responsible for caring for Mary for the 20 plus years of life she has left to enjoy.  And how, you ask, are we helping her get the most out of life when she is disabled by aphasia???

This is where Overflow and Mary intersect!  Instead of staying home alone doing practically nothing while we work long hours, Mary spends 4 days a week at Overflow (that leaves 2 days to be home alone, and 1 family day where none of us work).

Since Mary is hanging out, she has started to build relationships with some of Overflow's customers. 
  • On Monday mornings, a group of women about the same age as her have invited her to be part of their women's group.  She can't say much but she really likes to feel included and involved in their lives.  
  • On Thursdays, a group of parents from the school in our building have invited Mary to join their prayer group.  They pray together for the kids, teachers, staff, parents, and anything else that comes to mind.  
  • On Saturdays, Mary also joined a Zumba class and helps greet the women as they arrive.  They all love to see her smiling face at 8am on a Saturday morning.  They've started to call her the Zumba mascot.  
When she first moved to Chicago, we were the only people she knew.  Now she has a community of people and her need to feel like she belongs is met. Moreover, she helps meet other people's need to belong.  She's embodying Overflow's practice of community building!

But wait, there's more...
Mary loves chocolate and tea.  If she could, that's all she'd eat and drink.  But, as we've shared with her about child labor in the chocolate industry (we dare you to Google "child labor and chocolate" and see what you discover), she's reduced how much chocolate she eats.  She understands that children should be in school, not in the cocoa field working from sun-up to sundown.  So she's more careful in her chocolate consumption.  Plus, she's started to consume fair trade tea as a way to make sure tea growers receive a fair wage.  We can't get her to drink coffee (yet) but she's definitely thinking more and more about the stories behind the things she buys.  She's embodying Overflow's practice of ethical economics!

This is just one story of one person and the impact we have as a community.  It just happens to be the one closest to us.  We see what's happening with Mary and we think, "Yes!  We really are changing the world one life at a time."


2015 Individual Overflow Membership - Join the Movement!

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Make a positive difference with your purchasing power...

Be part of a growing community of world changers...

All without tracking points, punching cards, or earning stars (whatever that means).

Overflow Membership is a straight-forward 10% discount program for your favorite coffee, tea, pastry, sandwich, fair trade gift item, and more!

Minimal hassle for 10% off every purchase, all year long.



Top 10 Things For Which Overflow is Thankful in 2014


10. Our location.  Many aren't aware but behind-the-scenes there's been a renewed sense of working together with a few of our neighbors at 1550 S. State.  One example is that we're now providing lunches for some students at Daystar School.  The kids get healthy lunches and we get some increased revenue.

9. Our neighborhood.  The South Loop continues to grow and nurture more and more businesses, which means more residents stay in the area and others come to the neighborhood.  We're excited to see where the future takes all of us.

8. Our roaster.  Ipsento continues to do a great job and roast quality tasting and ethical coffee.  We love to drink it and are proud to serve it to you!

7. Our baker.  Delightful Pastries keeps delivering excellent and ethical pastries.  We love to eat the non-GMO wheat, real butter, easy sugar, and locally-grown ingredients.  We might love it too much.

6. Cash.  We're thankful when people use it to pay instead of plastic.

5. Our neighbor local, small businesses.  There are too many to name but they give us places to go and "Eat, Drink, Buy Local!"

4. Our partners.  We love the Greater South Loop Association and the Daystar Center and the added value they bring to Overflow!

3.Our team of baristas.  "Teamwork makes the dreamwork."  We're thankful for Justin, Mark, Dan, Caleb, David, and Dustin.*

2. Our customers.  YOU are the life breath of Overflow.  We wouldn't exist without YOU!

1. The magic that happens when customers, baristas, and our partners all work together, embracing their diversity and their similarities, to change the world one cup at a time.  Let's call that magic "True Community."



*If you know any females with barista experience, we love to have more ladies on the team.  ;-)

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