Collaboration over competition is more than just a trendy phrase for Josh Williams, founder of Mauldin Coffee Co.
It’s a key idea informing his business decisions for his newly launched venture to bring a coffee shop to his hometown of Mauldin. It’s so central to his business model that in order for Mauldin Coffee Co. to have a permanent location within the year, Williams is asking the community to pitch in via a Kickstarter that runs through April 28.
He needs to reach $30,000, which will help secure the 1,200-square-foot building he has his eye on, the location of which he will disclose after he’s signed the lease. Having already invested a significant amount of personal funds and lined up committed baristas, Williams is prepared to continue fundraising if the Kickstarter isn’t fulfilled.
But, he’s hopeful his particular skills with people and desire to launch a business he thinks Mauldin is lacking will resonate with others who want the same thing. To communicate his vision, Williams has developed core values for Mauldin Coffee Co.: Everybody has a seat at the table; Kindness is cool; Every drink is a work of art; We don’t have customers — we have family.
All of this was borne out of wishful thinking he routinely expressed while driving past Eddie’s Corner Market on the corner of East Butler Road and Bon Air Street, which was the first location Williams looked at but did not choose.
“I started telling my wife, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if a coffee shop was there?'” Williams says. “That slowly turned into, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if I opened up a coffee shop there?'”
After a couple months of discussion and spending time around other entrepreneurs while working for Showcase Marketing, Williams, who has worked as a church worship leader in human resources and marketing, began to think his crazy idea wasn’t so far-fetched. He tabled the idea after a couple job changes that helped add more management skills to his resume, but it kept creeping back in.
“That coffee shop just stayed there, and as I started putting all these new tools in my tool belt, I started going, like, ‘What would it look like if we could start this back up?'” he says.
Williams met with a couple friends who challenged him to push past his excuses — “It’s going to be hard”; “I don’t know if I’ll make money”; “I’m not a morning person,” he says.
But, he has the passion.
“I taught myself how to do coffee a couple years ago, and really fell in love with the science of it,” he says.
Williams experienced his first pour-over coffee preparation almost four years ago in Dakar, Senegal, while there leading worship for a missions conference.
“It was a game changer,” he says.
When he returned home, he started buying coffee paraphernalia and getting serious about perfecting the process. Soon after, Methodical Coffee opened in downtown Greenville, and Williams further developed his palate there. His plan, however, is not to be exclusive, catering only to those with his particular tastes, but rather, the exact opposite.
“What makes our shop different is that it’s not just coffee,” he says. “A big aspect is community. Comes back from my ministry background. I’m good with people.”
eSo whether his customers order tea, black coffee, lattes, or a little bit of coffee with their cream and sugar, they are all treated the same.
“My goal is to try to make them feel like they’re welcome,” Williams says. “I wanted to build a place that gave everybody a seat. So that’s where our first value comes from. There’s no judgment. You don’t get that weird look.”
After sampling locally roasted coffee, Williams has chosen instead to source the beans his shop will use from Steadfast Coffee in Nashville, Tenn., whose motto is “Everything Well Considered.” And that wasn’t because the local options weren’t excellent. Williams says he’d rather provide coffee that wouldn’t compete with local coffee shops already serving the same beans.
The coffee shop, as Williams envisions it, will be visually driven.
“Every angle is meant to be photographed,” he says.
That includes every aspect of the customer experience — from the way the tables feel, how the walls look, and how the light interacts. Every drink will be set down at the exact angle with the best presentation, like a high-end restaurant, whether it’s a cup of black coffee or a latte.
The aesthetic will be clean and modern with a prominent white quartz or marble coffee bar, and also use gray, white, and burnt orange accents as a nod to Mauldin.
“Everything matters,” Williams says.