In 2011, Stage a BUYcott!

Looking for a positive change to make in 2011?
coffee beans
Make a positive difference in the world by starting to purchase direct trade coffee, like Overflow Coffee!

There are 25 million coffee farmers in the world, most of which still do not sell their coffee to equal their costs to grow it, let alone make a profit.  In the U.S.A. we have minimum wage requirements but in many coffee growing countries this is not the case.  By purchasing Overflow coffee, you not only make a difference in the lives of the farmers who grew your coffee.  You also send a message that coffee farmers should be paid fairly.

In 2011, stage a "BUYcott" and buy coffee that benefits farmers rather than takes advantage of them!
Overflow has begun making purchases to set up our physical coffee shop.  Your purchase gives us actual cash to use in making our purchases.  The more cash we have the less loans we need to get and the lower we can keep our prices.  This is a win-win for everyone involved so consider switching your coffee purchasing to Overflow.

Check out the updates we made to our online store and consider making a purchase here.  

We have a special deal to buy 10 lbs of coffee in advance and get 2 lbs more FREE.  If you use 1 lb of coffee each month, you can take care of your entire year at one time and never have to worry about it again.  You'll get your 1 lb delivered on schedule each month. This offer is for a limited time only.  Take advantage of this offer before it expires!

If you aren't a regular coffee drinker, you can give a gift here.

Have you seen the "Overflow Hits the Streets" video??? 
Watch it here.

New Pics of Our Space

The ladies room

the men's room

from the back, toward the street (after dark)

from the door, toward the back (after dark)

the plug for the coffee brewer

the pipes for plumbing

the awesome open ceiling, painted black!

Thoughts of 2010 and for 2011

Reflecting on 2010, we're thankful the following events took place:

In January, we collaborated with Mission Year for the first Overflow event in partnership with a nonprofit organization.
In March, we had a “Going Green” event for Overflow.  It was partially to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, to fundraise, and to showcase Overflow’s mission.  It was a lot of fun, complete with live Irish music and a leprechaun.

In April, we purchased a portable espresso machine to use for catering and fundraising events.  We’ve used it at several events since and at parties in our home.  It has been a great help in practicing our latte art.

In June, 2 major events happened:
1.    We held our first event in the building where Overflow will be located.  We called the event CafĂ© Con Brio and had a great time with live performances from multiple artists and yummy food and espresso.  If this was any indication of future events, Overflow is going to really impact the arts.
2.    We moved from our 1-bedroom apartment to a 3-bedroom and acquired 2 roommates (and our cat got 2 new feline friends!).  We made this move to have a larger living room for having parties and to save money.  It’s been great living in community.

In July, we celebrated 4 years of marriage with a “staycation.”  We enjoyed the city and used the money we would’ve spent on travel/hotel taking advantage of July 4th sales.

Toward the end of July, beginning of August, Amanda completed a coffee shop marathon at the Common Cup in Rogers Park while the owner was out of town.  Through the marathon, we raised over $10,000 for Overflow’s plumbing and electric costs and Brandon cut his shoulder-length hair as a result of raising so much.

In September, we had an Overflow booth at the Bash on Wabash, a South Loop street festival.  We got to meet hundreds of our neighbors in the South Loop and share with them about Overflow.  In return, they shared with us how much they desire an independent coffee shop in our neighborhood.

Currently, Overflow is moving forward.  We are currently negotiating a lease and will have it signed by December 31.

We are very hopeful for 2011 and the opening of the physical doors of Overflow Coffee Bar in March.   

If you'd like to be part of Overflow's beginning, please consider participating giving a financial gift or making a purchase on our website.  Any gift or purchase is appreciated and beneficial.  Your gift will be used to purchase equipment and furniture and help us get started sooner and with less debt.  To give, look on the right-hand side of this page and click "ChipIn!"  To purchase a product go to

Update About Our Lease at 1550 S. State

Our lease is currently with our attorney.  She is preparing her thoughts.  On Monday, she and I will discuss her thoughts.  Then, we'll be back to negotiating but we expect there to not be any problems.  We have told the Lessor that we absolutely need to get the lease signed by the end of the year.

For some perspective if you've never dealt with commercial leases, the lease agreement is 25 pages long and very dense.  It'll be for a 3-year term.  Our lease is complicated by the fact that we're actually "space-sharing" with a collection of non-profits.  We have to determine details like splitting utilities and who's cleaning.  We have to work out the same things individuals do when having roommates.  But now things have been worked out and we're ready to move forward.

Keep posted to this blog, and for the announcement of our lease being signed!

As a teaser, here's a random photo of our cool black open ceiling that's already completed.  :)

Less than 2 weeks for Guaranteed Delivery by December 25!

Just a friendly reminder to check out for information about Overflow Holiday Gift Bags! 

Order by December 14 for guaranteed delivery by December 25.  That's 11 days from now so don't delay!

I thought you might also like some more information about the tea being offered for the holiday gift bags.  Our tea comes from Rishi Tea in Milwaukee, WI.  Rishi Tea offers award-winning, Organic and Fair Trade Certified loose leaf teas, fresh each season and direct from tea gardens around the world.  For all you tea lovers, we're sure you'll love how the blends we selected taste. 

Why Throw a Party for Your Neighbors this Season?

Much is said about nosey or noisy neighbors. Given the chance, would we really want to get to know our neighbors next door or would they just cause more trouble than they’re worth? Don’t we already have enough relationships to keep busy with, especially in our virtual communities? Who has time to talk with our neighbors or do a community service project when there’s a whole new set of status updates on Facebook? It’s so much safer behind our computers too.

Maybe I’m being overly optimistic but I see great potential in neighbors coming together socially and with a purpose.  Neighbors can do so much more together to benefit each other, their neighborhood and the world than a community that only exists online. Just as conversations can be more informative and productive when you can see everyone’s face and body expressions so too community dialogue and action can be more informative and productive when people gather together in the same room or on the same sidewalk.

Here’s a new phrase I picked up about neighbors: “Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor's noisy party than being there.” What if we got to know our neighbors so well that they invite us to their parties? Even better, what if we threw a party and invited our neighbors? Tis the Season.

To that end, if you're reading this blog and you live nearby, you're invited to our 3rd Annual Holiday Wine Tasting.  :)

What We're Thankful For

I'm listing them as I think of them (not in order of importance).
  • Friends, Family and Roommates - YOU are a huge encouragement as we take risks.  I can't begin to express how much you mean to me.
  • Our Customers and Donors - YOU are helping to make Overflow a reality.  Every little bit counts!
  • The South Loop - for inspiring me each and every day to live life on purpose
  • Coffee - I wouldn't be where I am without you.  :)
Comment and share things you're thankful for!  We'd love to hear.

Introducing: Overflow Holiday Gift Bags!

Support Overflow and give a gift that supports fair-labor and environmentally-sustainable practices!

CREATE YOUR OWN!  Select your own unique variety of coffee, tea, hot cocoa, chocolate and Overflow branded items.  You check off what you want in the bag and we'll put it together for you.  You can select one item, 5 of the items, or all the items, it's up to you.

First download the product descriptions HERE.

Then download the order form HERE.

Email us the order form and we'll send you an invoice within the next 48 hours.

New Pics of Our Space

From the entrance looking at the wall the counter will be along.

From the back wall looking at the entrance.  (I took this pic with my phone so the quality isn't good since there's lots of light coming in the windows along State Street.)

Why a Coffee Bar?

After oil, coffee is the 2nd most widely traded product in the world. Its impact on human cultures and the natural environment extends literally around the world. Every cup of coffee we buy and drink connects us with a web a hidden stories.

It takes hundreds of people to get each bean from plant to cup. The leading producers of coffee are developing countries in Latin American, Africa and Asia. A major source of income, coffee is critical to their economies. Yet, less than 15% of the revenues end up in their hands. The United States consumes over 18 million 60 kg bags of coffee per year.  We have the potential to change the circumstances for developing counties – getting more revenue directly into the hands of the communities that grow and harvest the coffee beans. Our choices as consumers make a real difference in their lives.

Organic, shade-grown coffee is emphasized for its environmental benefits over sun-grown coffee that requires more chemical pesticides and clear-cutting of forests. Shade-grown coffee also helps to protect wildlife, like North American birds while wintering in South America, chimpanzees near the Gombe reserve and tigers in southern India.

Coffee bars serve as “third place” where people go to get away from home or work and feel comfortable and connected with their neighbors. Historically, coffeehouses have been known for their political conversations. In the 1700s, coffeehouses were linked to the Boston Tea Party and the French Revolution. In the mid-1900s, coffeehouses were venues for convention-challenging art. Today, a coffee bar helps to connect those who live in an individualistic society. Neighbors who would not meet otherwise can become friends over a freshly brewed cup.

When Overflow Coffee Bar opens, South Loopers can change the situation for coffee farmers around the world, save the environment, and become friends with other South Loopers.  At Overflow Coffee Bar we will change the world one cup at a time.

Pics of Our Space Under Construction

straight on from the front door

from the front door angled to the right

from the front door angled to the left

Help us turn this into Overflow Coffee Bar.  Click ChipIn on the right of this page!

Clean & Green

Twice a year our Alderman does a Clean and Green in the South Loop.  There have been 3 since we've moved here.  We love these events and wish we could inspire more people to volunteer to clean and green our neighborhood.

The first one, Brandon and I went to and had a great time.  Afterward, we thought, "We'd love to do this again and bring others with us!" 

The second one, only Brandon could go because I had to work.

The third one was this past Saturday.  Brandon and I went and got 7 other people to go as well.  We got to clean & green an area in Bronzeville.  Plus, we also got to meet some neighbors and share about Overflow.

The next one is in the Spring so we're hoping we can get even more people to volunteer.  Overflow should be open by then so we should be able to multiply 7 several times over.  :)

On Fundraising

Fundraising... it's difficult for those who have to raise funds... it's also hard on those who are always asked to give.  A necessary evil perhaps?  I thought it would be good to review why Overflow Coffee Bar is raising funds.

1. Bank loans hard to come by, especially for people like us who do not own a home.  Without fundraising, Overflow would never be able to open simply because bank loans aren't plausible for us.  (Private loans on the other hand are more likely, if you'd be interested in doing one, please let us know.)

2. At many businesses, loan interests are often passed on to customers through an increase in prices.  We want to avoid this and keep our prices as low as possible.  Your gift to Overflow helps us keep our prices low when we open!

3. Fundraising is also a good way to test the ideas behind our business.  While fundraising, we talk with people who have great feedback about our ideas and ideas of their own.  Through implementing the feedback and new ideas, Overflow becomes better.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want to make sure people understand that our fundraising is a ONE-TIME OCCURRENCE.  Once the doors of Overflow open, fundraising to support Overflow will cease.  Instead, we will be able to support nonprofit work with the profits we make from selling food and drink.  In other words, we multiply your gift to Overflow and support many nonprofits over many years.

Be A Part of Overflow

Help take these...
And make this:

Help us take some swatches and samples of our cabinets and counter tops and make them into the actual thing!

Please consider giving a gift. Who knows, your small gift may help inspire someone else to give!

To give, click "Chip In" on the top left hand side of this page!

(Gifts are made quickly and securely through Paypal.)

Overflow Tumblers Now on Website!

Overflow Tumblers
Limited Time Free Shipping!

Our tumblers are stainless steel with a thumb-slide lid. Their foam-insulated double wall construction will keep your drink hot or cold. They have a 14 oz. capacity, perfect for the morning cup on the go.  Purchase at

Latest Update

We are currently working hard on getting our lease signed at 1550 S. State.  It shouldn't be much longer until we have all the details worked out.  If you're wondering why it's taking so long, just imagine having a landlord who's a school board.  We really excited about the collaboration we'll have with the school but there are other items to deal with, like making sure the entire school board is on the same page regarding the details of our agreement with them.

We are also currently working on an application for a loan from the SBA.  As you can imagine, this is lots and lots of paperwork.  I've been meeting with my business banker and a mentor from SCORE Chicago (a volunteer counseling program of the SBA).  They have proved very helpful in this process but there is still much to be done.

This Wednesday, we have another appointment with a cabinet and counter maker.  Cabinets and counters are the most important furniture in our space and will define Overflow's space and show who we are.  If the cabinets and counters are clean, well-constructed and fit our branding, Overflow's credibility will increase.  Plus the cabinets and counters will hold our equipment so its durability is important for keeping our equipment safe.  The maker is giving us a great deal.  He's a local guy and this business has been in his family for 3 generations.  The estimate for the cabinets and counters is $10,770. 

Over the weekend, we received $105 toward the purchase of the cabinets and counters!  We're trying to get as much money together as possible because we'll most likely have to purchase the cabinets and counters prior to getting approved for the SBA loan.  We're asking people to consider giving $15 toward the purchase of the cabinets and counters so that we can get moving quickly and open the doors of Overflow as soon as possible.  A purchase from our website also helps us get closer to opening the shop.  Please visit and make your gift or purchase an item.

Overflow T-Shirts

have now been posted on our website.  Purchase yours today with limited time only FREE shipping!  More information at

Christians and Coffee

So, I'm hanging out at Caribou today working on a teaching for our first Sunday gathering of "Vineyard South Loop" this Sunday.  I'm surprised... there are at least 2, 1on1 Bible studies going on here.  This got me to thinking... are "Christians" the biggest consumers of coffee???

Then, I'm reminded of part of Brandon's story.  Here's a copy of what he's written before... just for your thoughts.  ;)

When I first came to the Vineyard, I remember coming to church not knowing what to expect.  Much to my surprise, I was asked that day by the pastor if we could meet over coffee. Later that week, we met at Caribou Coffee [a different one than the one I'm at now], the typical hangout place nearby my house.   I remember thinking, “This pastor has a cool job.  He gets paid to have coffee and hang out with me.”  Over the course of the next few years, we met over coffee at Starbucks (a.k.a. St. Arbucks) or Caribou and I came to realize that his job was much more than just having coffee with me. 

As I looked around these coffee shops, I saw Bible studies happen all the time and also people building community. It was during these time of connecting with my pastor and later studying for VLI [Vineyard Leadership Institute] while sipping coffee that I realized God’s call for me to church plant. 

Fast forward a couple years later and you can find me as part of a team planting in the city.  We would try and get people to come to church but would not have much success but I saw that the coffee shops were always full. I started investigating and learned… 

Coffee shops are known as third places in their communities.  The third place used to be the church.  I began to think, “Why it is so much easier to get people (co-workers, neighbors, friends) to go to coffee with me than to get them to go to church?” Then, I began to think of all the money, we as leaders in the church spend on coffee.  Drinking it at church or drinking it out as we meet with people.  I thought, “What would it look like if we owned the coffee shop?  If it wasn’t a ‘religious place’ but a place everyone felt comfortable in and a place where ‘spiritual conversations’ could happen?” 

 That’s when I took God’s whispers and began to dig deeper.  As I researched I discovered the injustices that take place in the coffee industry - from the farmer to the barista.  If I was real about my faith, I had to do something.  I couldn’t release spiritual captives over coffee while enslaving the people who grew my coffee beans or knowing my favorite barista is receiving very little pay.  This was the collision.  Could I fight spiritual battles for individual souls and seek justice for those impacted by the coffee industry at the same time?  Was I even allowed to do both?
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