For the love of coffee and community

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, September 11th. We’re so glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: another in our occasional series “What Do People Do All Day.”

Well, I’ll tell you what people do all day: drink coffee.

Americans drink 382 million cups of coffee every day.

EICHER: Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

REICHARD: Not at all, not at all. I think between Leigh Jones and me—let’s just say, we are skewing the numbers up.

EICHER: Well, OK, I’m doing my part here, too. That’s why we’re so chipper in the morning!

But let’s have some fun with numbers here. We’re talking cups: 8 ounces. I don’t know if you know this, but a grande at Starbucks isn’t a cup. It’s two-and-a-half cups.

And let’s talk population: There are 350 million Americans, even subtracting roughly 50 million kids, who shouldn’t be drinking coffee anyway, it wouldn’t be difficult to be the global leader in consuming virtually anything.

REICHARD: Right, we should note that we’re not the per-person leader. Other countries drink more per capita.

As you say, we just have lots of caps. 

Lots of coffee drinkers. 

So when you add it all up, and I looked up imports, we are the runaway leader! $5.7 billion  in coffee imports last year. That’s about 20 percent of the world total! Next is Germany, with only half that. 

But here’s the point: We love our coffee.

EICHER: We do. And WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg spent the day with a woman in Idaho Falls, Idaho, who feels the same way. But she considers love of coffee an opportunity to connect with her community.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Opening up shop doesn’t take Angie English long. 

ENGLISH: So this is it! I’m open. 2 min. 

Angie’s Queen Bean Coffee is a coffee shop on wheels—van wheels. To open for business, English parks the truck and climbs out the back. She lifts a metal awning covering a glass serving window on the van’s side and turns the generator on. 

 ENGLISH: Done. That’s the process! (laughs) 

She steps into her truck and takes her position behind the black and white checkered counter.

Each week, English parks her van at dozens of businesses around town. This is the first stop on English’s Friday morning route: A BMW car dealership. 

ENGLISH: A lot of these guys, they know I’m coming, so I don’t usually have to go in and tell them I’m here.

Soon, a dozen employees stream out of the building and into the truck’s shade. 

ENGLISH: How are ya? You doing your special? 

CUSTOMER: Yeah, two mediums. 

ENGLISH: OK. So this place the white chocolate mocha is called the BMW special because that’s all these people get! 

AUDIO: [Sound of espresso machine] 

Before starting her business five months ago, English worked as a dental hygienist for 15 years. She loved her job but then her hands started to hurt. 

ENGLISH: I started to get this condition called trigger finger. And I developed this huge knot at the base of my thumb and painful to touch… Just this tiny repetitive fine motor skill movement was not working for me anymore. 

English says she knew God was nudging her out of the dentist office and onto something else. But what?

ENGLISH: I loved that job. And about two weeks I sat home and I was dying of just like I was lonely. I was sad. I just left the career that I loved and now what am I going to do?

The answer came when English left town to visit her cousin, who also owned a coffee truck. 

ENGLISH: I came home and I told my husband, I said, I have to do this coffee truck thing. I thought that’s the perfect thing for me because I have to be around people. 

So she bought and renovated her van. Since she opened Angie’s Queen Bean Coffee five months ago, the learning curve has been steep. 

ENGLISH: My two daughters have both been baristas so, you know, we’ve done a lot of facetiming. I’ve watched a ton of Youtube videos. 

But today, Angie English looks like a well-seasoned barista. 

AUDIO: [Sound of serving customers]

ENGLISH: Yeah. $9.25.

Her next stop is another car dealership. As the customers line up, she somehow takes orders… 

AUDIO: [Sound of blender/serving customers]

…makes drinks and rings up customers all at once. While she talks, she’s never not moving. 

Sometimes that hustle gets stressful. Especially when things go wrong—like when the cash register runs out of receipt paper. 

ENGLISH: I’m so sorry you guys! My cash register won’t open until I change my tape and I don’t know how to change my tape. And I think I just broke it but it’s ok! Don’t even worry about it. 

English can’t remember how to load a new roll. And until she does, she’s locked out of the register. 

ENGLISH: Do you have a card by chance? 

Thankfully, one of her customers is a car technician. He figures it out. 

ENGLISH: You did it! He did it! OK, come back whoever gave me too much money!

English says it’s easy to lose sight of why she decided to start her business in the first place: the chance to connect with people. 

ENGLISH: I knew this was a way that I could go out and just be happy and bring happiness to people and spread just what it feels like to have Jesus in your life. Just show that to them, even if it’s just the way you hand them a cup of coffee. 

To remind herself of that mission, English painted Proverbs 16:24 in golden letters onto the van’s side. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the body.” 

ENGLISH: How we can use our words to just show Jesus Christ? That is perfectly what I want to show. And I have fallen short of that. Some days I’ve gotten frustrated and I’ve said a word that wasn’t gracious. I’m not gonna lie… and that helps me remember every day, if I’m driving around with a truck, with this giant Bible verse on the side of it that says, gracious words are spoken here, I better be speaking them.

Angie English says she’s seen that mission draw people in. After she served a young man coffee at his workplace one day, he began hunting down her coffee truck all over town. 

ENGLISH: We got into so many, just really kind of deeper conversations than you would think would happen in a fleeting, you know, interaction on a coffee truck. And sometimes he would buy something and sometimes he wouldn’t. He just wanted a connection, you know? 

English says each day presents new opportunities for new connections. People just want someone to listen to them. 

CUSTOMER: Angie I’m moving to Oregon. 

ENGLISH: No you’re not! Why? 

It’s Friday, so English is ending her route early today. After her last customer leaves, she shuts off the generator, folds down the metal awning and jumps in the driver’s seat. It’s time to wash off all that coffee and honey, and do it all again on Monday.

ENGLISH: So now I just go home and clean the truck and get ready for the next day!

MUSIC: The Java Jive

For WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting from Idaho Falls, Idaho.

(Photo/Sarah Schweinsberg)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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