This week’s Small Business Small Talk feature is Grounded Coffee in Madison. If you missed last week’s launch of this series, my goal through the Small Business Small Talk is to introduce local small business owners by telling their story and sharing what makes their business special. I believe in supporting local businesses if at all possible, and my hope is that through this series, I will be able to introduce small businesses in the North Alabama area to local readers, who will in turn show their support by “shopping small.” I have partnered with Elles Photography Studios to bring beautiful, professional photography to these features.
Chris Moore, the owner and founder of Grounded Coffee, was the speaker at a meeting I attended a couple years ago, and I was very inspired by the way he spoke about his business, his company’s mission, and how he and his wife, Katie, built Grounded Coffee from the ground up.
Chris and Katie both grew up in the North Alabama area – Chris is from Decatur and Katie is from Huntsville. They both attended Mississippi State, which is where they met. In 2011 they decided to open a coffee shop…and so Grounded Coffee was born. The coffee shop may have been their “first baby,” but actual babies followed shortly after. Chris and Katie now have 3 daughters, all under the age of 5!
Grounded Coffee is very close to my parents’ house off of County Line Road, so I run through there pretty often when I’m over that way to grab my coffee fix. This is where I found my go-to cold brew of the summer, which has been perfect in this Alabama heat. It is also a great spot to sit and get some work done while my kids are at school. It has a quiet, laid back atmosphere that’s easy to work in or have a coffee date with a friend. (I could easily do the same at Starbucks, but I would rather support a local family than a large chain whenever possible.)
One thing that stands out to me through my conversation with Chris is how he talks about people – the people who work for Grounded and the community they serve. His mission is centered around investing in his employees, which in turn spreads out to every person who enters their shop. (I think it’s a genius concept, that more companies would be smart to pick up.) Keep reading to find out more about Grounded Coffee, their mission, advice he has for aspiring business owners, and why you should give Grounded Coffee a try!
Small Business Small Talk with Grounded Coffee
Q: I’d love to hear your story! How did you get started in the coffee business? What inspired you to open your shop?
A: We were inspired to start a coffee business by the opportunity to invest in people. Often, people are in a work environment where going to work each day is characterized by frustration and bitterness; that’s not how work was intended to be! We wanted to be able to offer a workplace that is good more often than it is bad.
Q: What can people expect when they walk into your shop? What makes your business unique?
A: The people behind the counter are what make Grounded unique. We have really great drinks, we make our muffins from scratch, we have a comfortable atmosphere, but those things can be replicated. You can’t replicate the people working here, their relationships, their excitement to serve and help the community.
Q: What is your company’s mission?
A: Our mission today is the same that it has been since Grounded’s inception: build and encourage through service.
Q: What is your most popular item?
A: Our most popular drink is a flavored latte; it’s the gateway into the coffee world for most people, and many people never venture past it. And that’s totally okay; espresso loves milk. People also love our cold brew, and, not that you asked, my favorite drinks are the traditional espresso drinks: espresso, cortado, and cappuccino.
People also love our homemade muffins. Blueberry takes home the MVP award, hands down.
Q: How do you select your products?
A: How we select our products is easy in concept but hard in practice. We ask ourselves: what would we be happy to get from a shop? What would I be not just okay but excited to spend my own money on? Asking the question is easy, finding the answer can be quite challenging! And then once we have the answer, we have to translate it into a consistent product that delivers time and time again.
Q: What challenges have you faced as a small business owner and how did you overcome those obstacles?
A: Yes. Grit.
So much happens behind the scenes of a business, it’s really hard to understand until you are the one in the chair working on accounting at 9:30 on a Saturday night or until you are the one on your belly cleaning out a floor drain under the ice machine or until you are the one trying to manage a social media account with user comments and customer concerns.
How do you overcome these obstacles? Threefold: you must truly want to win, you must have the ability to win, and you must have the means to win. Desire, ability, and means. If you fall short in any one, you will struggle to succeed. But, don’t sell yourself short; ability and means have a lot of room for creativity.
Q: Is there anything new or exciting coming up that you’d like to share with your customers?
A: We’re halfway through a facelift! Keep checking in to see the progress!
Q: I can imagine that taking the leap to start your own business can be nerve-wracking. Is there any advice you would offer to someone who is considering opening a business of their own?
A: See the above Desire, Ability, and Means. But mainly, talk to someone who is doing it now. They will help talk you off the ledge, or, if you really have the grit, they’ll point you in the right direction if you choose to jump.
Lastly, it’s okay to fail, but fail for trying the wrong idea rather than for trying nothing at all. And learn from your mistakes. When you see a successful business, you don’t see the years of blood, sweat, and tears that went into building it. How many lightbulbs did Edison try before he found the one that worked?
How can you show Grounded Coffee your support?
Hop on in and give them a try!
Grounded Coffee is located at 12120 County Line Rd. Madison, AL 35756 (In the front of the Publix shopping center).
Monday – Friday: 6am – 6pm
Saturday: 7am – 5pm
*If you are a small business owner in the Madison/Huntsville/Athens area and would like to be featured, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of someone who may want to be featured, send them my way!
*All photos by Elles Photography Studios