This week on the podcast we’re talking with Randy Hardman, owner of Drinklings Coffee and Mugs in Wilmore, Asbury Seminary alum and adjunct professor at the Seminary. In this episode, we talk the intersection of faith, social mission and business, how Drinklings got started, how they are leveraging their space in the community for good, and ways you can join them.
At the time of recording, Randy mentioned a shift that was about to take place. A couple months have passed since we recorded and that shift has now taken place. You can read more about that change here:
Drinklings wants to leverage their space in the community for good and to do that, all you have to do is pick up a punch card. When you buy ten drinks, you get a free drink, of course, but you also leave your card with them. Each full card represents a dollar that will be used to support people in need in this community with gas cards, help with medical bills and things like that. So now when you buy coffee at Drinklings, you not only know that you’re getting ethically produced coffee, but your purchase will also help your neighbors, so make sure you stop in!
Randy Hardman, Owner, Drinklings Coffee and Mugs, Wilmore, Ky.
Randy Hardman founded and operates (along with a great team of individuals) Drinklings Coffee and Mugs, a missionally based coffee roasting organization located in Wilmore, Ky. Originally hailing from North Carolina, he attended Asbury Theological Seminary from 2009-2014 and graduated with a double masters in Biblical and Theological Studies. He also holds a Masters of Social Work from Asbury University. Randy serves as an adjunct professor in theology and social work. He lives with his wife and three kids, is an avid J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and enjoys Packers football.
Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast
Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.
Heidi Wilcox: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast where we bring you conversations with authors, thought leaders, and people just like you to help you connect with where your passion meets the world’s deep need. Today on the podcast is the first episode of season two, and I’m really excited to get to talk to Randy Hardman, Asbury Seminary alum and owner of Drinklings Coffee shop in Wilmore. In this episode, we talk about all the things, the intersection of faith, mission, and business, how Drinklings got started, and how they are using their place in the community to do good. Let’s listen.
Heidi Wilcox: So when did you start Drinklings?
Randy Hardman: So we started in October of 2016, and we actually started just as a mug company. I mean, the concept … we did proof of concept, all that kind of stuff, starting in February of 2016. In fact, I remember the day that I … a couple months earlier is just the … It was a weird … I was at home over Christmas, and I was trying to kind of figure out where … what to be doing with my life, stuff like that. I had gone through seminary and was kind of just in this weird post-seminary place that a lot of people wind themselves up in, strangely enough.
Heidi Wilcox: Where did you do seminary?
Randy Hardman: At Asbury Theological Seminary. And the PhD route just didn’t kind of … It wasn’t going to unpack itself for at least a while, and so I was just trying to figure out what directions to take. And strangely enough, I just kind of had this idea of mugs. The word mugs just kind of came upon me, and my dad was always a collector of mugs. I kind of adopted that, and so if you would open up my kitchen cabinet, you would see 30 mugs that fall out and stuff like that. And so somewhere along the line it was like, “I wonder if we could do this. I wonder if I could be … if I could make some mugs and just … even just as a side little hobby or whatever.”
Randy Hardman: And so I started looking into that, what it would take to actually do that kind of stuff. Now, I’m not an artist by any means, and I tried to do that kind of stuff, and it would be funny to look back at some of the first mugs that we kind of prototyped because they’re so bad. I mean, I’m not a graphic designist. I didn’t know Adobe Illustrator or anything like that. I didn’t know the machinery that we were using. So it was like a lot of startups where if you went back to the original startup, it … you would look at it and be like, “It’s going to be a complete failure.”
Heidi Wilcox: For sure. That’s how all of us have done everything.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. I mean, it’s like going back and reading your first seminary paper and you’re like, “They should have failed me and kicked me out of the school.”
Heidi Wilcox: Right? But thank God that they did not.
Randy Hardman: That started in December. February, we … it was like, “Okay. This is something that’s going to happen,” and so I threw out on social media, “Interested in starting a coffee mug company. What should we call it?” and we had two or three different people just say Drinklings. We had about 15 different ideas, but Drinklings became the thing, and I think we … I might have even said something about C. S. Lewis, Tolkien, kind of like that’s … there’s an influence there. And of course Drinklings … You can always tell who knows it and who doesn’t know it. People will come in and they’re like, “What does this mean?” and other people are like, “It’s … This is Tolkien and this is C. S. Lewis, right?” And that became just kind of like … It was an immediate like, “This is what we do.” So we-
Heidi Wilcox: For those who don’t know Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, tell us the connection between Drinklings and them.
Randy Hardman: Yes. So C. S. Lewis and Tolkien were part of this little writers group over at Oxford called the Inklings. I guess Oxford, Cambridge, but you know The Eagle and the Child there. And I think that Lewis in particular, but also Tolkien, just became so influential in my own spiritual growth, my own understandings of Christianity, a lot of existential growth and stuff like that, Tolkien especially on the latter, a lot of existential … how to kind of make sense out of life and so forth. But I think the really awesome thing was they took something just as basic as literature and they changed the world with it, and I think they would be surprised looking back at how different the world probably is with their stuff versus potentially without it. So they made a major social contribution. They did it out of creativity. They did it out of faith, out of their convictions, and they changed the world.
Randy Hardman: So for us, we’re not a literature society. We do have a Tolkien and Lewis writing group that meets, and we do reading papers. It’s like an old-fashioned kind of Inklings thing. But our hope was saying like, “We’re going to take something as basic as coffee and do something with it culturally, socially that means something.” And so there’s no direct correlation, really, outside of the name and the fact that we love them and we’ve put their faces on some mugs, but it’s just kind of like a homage throwback to this … They changed the world, and so that’s kind of what that is.
Heidi Wilcox: I love that.
Randy Hardman: But all I was going to say is we started off as a mug company in October, and then by December we thought it makes sense to be … if we’re going to make coffee mugs, to potentially think about making coffee to go in the mugs, and so we started doing that, and so that’s kind of grown over the time.
Heidi Wilcox: And our podcast guests, as you know, get free bags of coffee, as a gift for being on the podcast, that you make. So I’ve heard nothing but good.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. That’s good. Do I get a bag of-
Heidi Wilcox: Yes, you do. I was like, “I don’t know if you want it because-”
Randy Hardman: No, I’m good.
Heidi Wilcox: “… I feel like you’d get all the-”
Randy Hardman: I have enough coffee.
Heidi Wilcox: “… free coffee you want,” but yes. Yeah. So you said that you were thinking about what to do after seminary and the word mugs just kind of came to your mind. Is that how God normally speaks to you? With just words?
Randy Hardman: Oh, no. I’m one of those people that is cautiously optimistic about the way that God speaks to … In fact, when I came to seminary, I wasn’t even cautiously optimistic. I was pessimistic about that idea. And with some legitimacy and stuff like that, you see people all the time that go out and say, “God told me to do this. God told me to do that.” And I had studied sociology of religion, psychology of religion, and of course I was also somewhat of a doubter and a seeker and stuff like that a lot in my early 18, 19, through my early 20s. And so when I came here and people started talking about, “God spoke to me,” or, “God told me this is what …” regularly would say, “God’s telling me this …” And for the first several years that I lived in Wilmore, I would kind of shake my head and be like, “God doesn’t speak that way. Maybe God doesn’t speak at all.”
Randy Hardman: And that changed in my life in just a really … There was some life stuff that happened in my life that was major, and it was the first time I ever really felt very 100 percent confident that God was speaking to me. And in fact, I remember there was a point in a crisis of faith where I said, “Listen, God. You know, I need you to show yourself to me in a way that I can’t rationalize, on the one hand, and I can’t say, ‘Good people are just doing good things,’ on the other hand. I need you to do something that shows me that you care, that you’re provident, and that you love,” and he did, and … It was like six months later he did, and it was … For me, it was a game-changer.
Randy Hardman: So I still come with some suspicion any time somebody says, “God’s telling me to do this,” but … and I think that’s healthy sometimes. But for me, that has changed over time to, “God really does give direction,” and he does so in different ways. Sometimes it can be very explicit, so much as like mugs, and that just for me just felt like there was an … a guidance that was that area. And I don’t know where this is going to lead to. I mean, that’s the thing. Mugs may be a step in a completely different direction that eventually 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years down the line there will be this series of connections that goes all the way back to that word mugs, like this started it and the ball can roll wherever.
Heidi Wilcox: It’s cool how that happens and you don’t see it necessarily at the time until you are, like you said, looking back.
Randy Hardman: Looking back in reflection. I think most of us could probably do that at some point later on in our lives where we look back and we see how we might have thought God was just being this explicit, this simple about something but failing to really account for the fact that God’s ways of weaving the ins and the outs and the turns and the twists and all that kind of stuff are things that we could just never put together on our own.
Heidi Wilcox: So how does God speak to you now then? Because I’m curious about … Because he speaks to everybody differently.
Randy Hardman: Oh, man. Well, God knows that I’m a cautiously optimistic person when it comes to-
Heidi Wilcox: Aren’t we glad? Aren’t we really glad?
Randy Hardman: Yeah. And that’s good. I mean, that’s the … that’s one of the beautiful things, I think, about God is that he knows our personalities, and it’s not something we do really well. I think sometimes we think that Christians should be this kind of personality, be open to this, be open to this, be open to … and we kind of cookie-cutter that sometimes, and we don’t leave room for the fact that there’s different personalities and God might speak to people in a different way. Some people are very much more heady intellectual-ish kind of people. I’m a little bit more on that. My wife says I’m a four with a five wing.
Heidi Wilcox: Okay. So the Enneagram. Okay.
Randy Hardman: So I am one of those people. I will process emotionally and then I will rationalize it and pick and choose and figure out if it makes any sense at all.
Heidi Wilcox: What’s your wife on the Enneagram?
Randy Hardman: Oh, she’s a … she thinks she’s a nine. I don’t really know. But I’m skeptical of the Enneagram too, but that’s a very four thing to do.
Heidi Wilcox: That is, right? My husband is a four.
Randy Hardman: I used to think the Enneagram was cool.
Heidi Wilcox: Until everybody started doing-
Randy Hardman: Until everybody thinks it’s cool, and now I’m questioning.
Heidi Wilcox: I’m a six on the Enneagram.
Randy Hardman: There you go. And so …
Heidi Wilcox: Supposedly.
Randy Hardman: Supposedly. Theoretically. But you know, that’s the fact. We recognize there’s various different personalities, and just like we would approach everybody else in a different way depending on what their personality is, I think God speaks to us in different ways too. In some people it is going to be more explicit and it’s going to be more directional. For lack of a better term, it may be more simple. In other people God may take years to communicate the message. It may take a lifetime to communicate the message sometimes for some people.
Randy Hardman: And that’s just my own experience, because I think … I was voted … jokingly voted in high school most likely to become an atheist, and I’m not, and I’m grateful for that because God spoke to me in the way that I needed him to speak to me, and … And if we’re open to that, the fact that that can happen … Because I could have totally taken that life experience and said, “I’m going to try and rationalize this away,” or, “I’m going to try and make it up to coincidence or good people being good people or chance or whatever,” but I think God does give everybody at least several moments throughout their life, I think, where he’s going to speak to them in a way that they have to make a choice whether they’re going to accept it as a message from God or whether they’re going to find a way to wiggle out of that. And so that’s just some of my experience.
Randy Hardman: So mugs … That’s not something I would necessarily say was a big message, but I don’t know what’s a big message and what’s a small message in the grand scheme of things.
Heidi Wilcox: Who are we to judge?
Randy Hardman: Who are we to judge?
Heidi Wilcox: So tell me more about your mugs. How do you … You make them yourself?
Randy Hardman: Yeah.
Heidi Wilcox: How does that whole process work.
Randy Hardman: So we do make them ourselves. I’ve done several of our designs as well. I know you guys have had Winfield Bevins on the podcast.
Heidi Wilcox: Yes.
Randy Hardman: And he is a good friend, and he … Actually, probably about two months after we started we had a meeting at a coffee shop, ironically, and he said, “Well, why don’t I draw up a couple and just … a couple designs.” He said, “I’m a decent caricaturist,” and so he said-
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah, he is.
Randy Hardman: … “Let me draw up a couple designs and just freebies and throw them your way.” And so he did a Tolkien and he did a Lewis and he did a John Wesley for us, and that really launched us into what we’re doing now. And us and Winfield have a really great relationship. In fact, I just communicated with him today and he sent me a George MacDonald and a T. S. Eliot and a new Julian of Norwich, and so we’re like-
Heidi Wilcox: Oh, I love her.
Randy Hardman: And so we’re kind of redoing that one, but he’s done a lot of them that are really … sell really well, a Rowan Williams for the Anglicans. And we have a couple other artists that work for us, but they’ll send stuff in. And then I kind of took on learning how to do graphic design, things like that a little bit, and so I’ll go in and clean them up, do some colorizing getting them ready for basically print. And then we actually make the mugs in house through a process.
Heidi Wilcox: Okay. So what does that process making the mugs … Is it like throwing pottery? What-
Randy Hardman: No, it’s not. This is why I’m always surprised that this thing took off, because I’m like … We’ll go to craft fairs and we’ll sit next to a potter’s booth, and somebody’s got these really great little pottery stuff, and I’m like, “I know this took you a total of like 20 hours to complete this one design. This thing took us five minutes.” It’s basic printing like you would get on a T-shirt or stuff like that. We just happen to do it on mugs.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s cool.
Randy Hardman: It’s pretty cool. It’s called sublimation printing and it really launched us in what we’re doing. So that’s kind of the process. So they send us stuff. I work on it, design it. Sometimes I’ll design something myself. And then we get it ready for print. We print it, bake it, and then bring it out.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s awesome. And so you make your own coffee too, obviously. That’s-
Randy Hardman: Yeah. So like I said, we were making mugs, and I was like, “Why not put the thing into the mug?” And so it just became-
Heidi Wilcox: Right. Have something to put in it, yeah.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. And so one of my good friends … Some people here may remember him, some people listening to the podcast. I know people locally do. Jeremy Spainhour who’s also a grad of the seminary. I think he’s actually a PhD student now, but he ran a little coffee roasting company here called Kifu, and I did some just work with him and just learning what that looks like, how to roast coffee, what you’re looking for, what kind of beans you’re looking for, suppliers, all that kind of jazz.
Randy Hardman: And so I just recently told him, “Thank you for laying the fodder down for artisan coffee in Wilmore,” because years ago I don’t think this would have worked and I don’t know that we would have had a space for something like this to happen in Wilmore. Either that or it would have been extremely challenging. But he was really good about just kind of laying some of the ground work so people started to really appreciate good craft locally roasted coffee. And then when they moved to Washington, we immediately stepped in and started doing that, barely skipped a beat in doing that. And so it’s been really great to watch a place like Wilmore really … We have people that come in all the time that are like, “We used to drink this stuff over here, and now it’s terrible,” and they’ll only drink Drinklings.
Randy Hardman: Or, I mean, in the grand scheme of things we all … If you’re moving or you’re somewhere else, just artisan coffee that’s helping out small business people. It’s better for farmers across the globe. Things like that rather than the big chains where you get all sorts of like … It’s not fair trade. It’s not direct trade.
Heidi Wilcox: Right. Yeah. All your coffee is fair trade, right?
Randy Hardman: Yeah. All of our coffee is fair trade or direct trade.
Heidi Wilcox: Okay. Now, what’s … Explain the difference. I’m not sure.
Randy Hardman: So fair trade really kind of took off during the mid-90s, early 2000s, and basically its concern with fair trade was making sure that farmers globally are going to get paid fair wages. One of the difficult things here in the U.S. is when we’re importing stuff we’re not always asking the right questions about where did this come from, because we don’t connect the faces with it, we don’t connect the names with it. And most people when they brew a pot of coffee in the morning aren’t thinking, “What are the names of the people that grew this? What are their stories? Do they have kids? Were their kids …” all that kind of stuff. And when we import so much, we’re kind of blinded to the conditions of it, and I tell people, “Listen. The cup of coffee that you’re drinking took about three years to make.”
Heidi Wilcox: Really? I didn’t know that.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. I mean, by the time you plant the tree and you grow the tree and stuff like that it ends up being a three- to four-year process to go from seed to cup. And so there’s just a lot of stories that are there. There’s a lot of names that are there and faces that are there. And I think it’s incumbent upon Christians in particular to spend time reflecting, when they’re … when we are dealing with imports and we are dealing with things that are coming from across the country, what the conditions are that create that. Because they are still our neighbors, and if we are blinded to what conditions are, I mean, I think …
Randy Hardman: I don’t remember the name of the book. I think it was God in a Brothel. I don’t remember the name of the author though, and he talked about how most Americans own something in their homes that is the result of human trafficking. The problem is we don’t know what it is, and if we … I think most of us, if we knew what it was, we’d immediately cast it aside and get rid of it and not buy from whatever that supplier is. We just don’t know what that is. And we even have human trafficking in the U.S. and things like that, child labor, but that stuff happens a lot overseas.
Randy Hardman: So for example, one of our favorite coffees we … Whenever we can get it, we try and get it in … It’s usually a Sumatran or a Colombian women-produced coffee, and women-produced coffee … You can kind of make the connections immediately. It’s always fair trade, number one. But number two, the intent of that is to … In different societies it’s to kind of protect women from conditions that could potentially be exploitive or abusive or trafficking or anything along those lines. And so by giving these women jobs, and they’re doing the harvesting, they’re doing the depulping, they’re doing all that kind of stuff for the preparation for the coffee prior to export, it’s keeping them and maybe their families and maybe their kids out of precarious positions.
Randy Hardman: And so all of that is to say that’s what fair trade’s intent is to do. It’s to say we want to give people fair wages to live on, it has to be a livable wage, and so there’s … I don’t remember the exact number, but it’s close to $1.92 a pound or something like that. It’s going to immediately go to those farmers.
Randy Hardman: So the distinction between fair trade and direct trade though is that fair trade doesn’t take into account for certain geographical economic social variables. And so fair trade in a particular country may end up being fair for this country that maybe has like a dollar to whatever their currency is almost equivalent there, but there may be other countries in which our dollar is not worth the same as theirs or they have certain … they have other economic things and things like that that are stripping them of financial benefits or whatever. And you see it happen a lot, in fact, with fair trade that kind of your richer countries get the fair trade deals. Your more poverty-stricken areas can’t afford to purchase fair trade certification. And so when people buy fair trade and say, “We’re not going to buy not fair trade,” sometimes you’re actually doing harm to those farmers and those farmers’ families that, because of poverty, because of-
Heidi Wilcox: Because they can’t afford it, yeah.
Randy Hardman: … social conditions, they can’t afford the certification for fair trade. So that’s the point about direct trade is direct trade puts you in contact with the actual farm itself and the people of the farm itself. Rather than working through middle men and stuff like that, you get to sit down and ask questions and say, “What is … What are your needs? What do you …” and you get to arrange and negotiate a price that works for everybody, and so that’s … Direct trade is slowly becoming more of the go-to in the coffee industry where fair trade just has problems to it. But I will say, at the end of the day it’s better to buy fair trade than not fair trade most of the time.
Heidi Wilcox: For sure. How do you work out these deals with other … with directly with farmers? Because I know you’re doing direct trade.
Randy Hardman: So we are moving in that direction. We have been fair trade for a long time. We do have one direct-trade supplier that we buy from. Now, do buy from that … It’s a Brazilian farm and we know all about them, stuff like that, what their working conditions are, things like that. Right now we can’t import hundreds of thousands of pounds of coffee on a ship, so right now we’re actually working with a partner who actually sets up the direct-trade contract with them, and then we’re buying off the ship through that contract.
Randy Hardman: Eventually, and this is in kind of our one- to two-year plan, hopefully 2020 … What year is it? It’s 2019 right?
Heidi Wilcox: 2019. We’re getting toward the end.
Randy Hardman: So by 2021. 2020 will be the year that we’re kind of actually spending more of our time focusing on the preparation work, and by 2021 our plan … And that can change, but our plan is to actually be on the ground in different countries working on some of these contracts and setting up farms. You have to start somewhere, and working with a partner who understands direct trade, has good connections with the farms, stuff like that, and can vouch for those conditions is kind of that first step. And then take a whole year and do some preparation work and work with building partners.
Randy Hardman: And that’s one of the cool things right now in being in a place like Wilmore. We have so many people that come from different countries and or are going to different countries that we actually have some scouts for us in a weird kind of non-official way, people that are going overseas that have said, “As I’m doing this, I’m going to want to connect you with the people that I meet over there.” And so those are coming along the way and we’ve started to have those conversations, but that is in kind of the future to grow the direct trade.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s awesome. Well, when this podcast releases … It’ll release in Spring 2020, so it won’t be that far away from when you guys are going to be doing this.
Randy Hardman: So we’re excited about that and we hope that there’s some other things. We would love … We’re kind of in the early talks as well about potentially putting together a class on coffee and … It would be an interdisciplinary thing where we can talk about the economics, the ethics, the agriculturalism, it’s called agronomy when it relates to coffee, you talk about sociological stuff, and then potentially some mission stuff that’s important there too. And so my dream really with … by 2021 is not only to be going overseas and working, setting up some of these contracts, but be taking a team of students or people that are interested in that kind of stuff and-
Heidi Wilcox: I want to go.
Randy Hardman: … and taking them overseas and maybe doing some justice work and some building and getting hands-on training. If people need store houses built, we work with them to do that. If you need extra hands in harvesting, we help out with that kind of stuff.
Heidi Wilcox: That would be amazing.
Randy Hardman: So that’s my hope is to really say, “We will turn this into just being …” I mean, we’re a simple coffee shop that makes mugs right now, but we are putting the pieces together to say, “Our mission can be expanded into intercultural environments into those relationships,” things like that, and so that’s kind of where … We’re in the early stages of that.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s awesome. I had no idea, but that’s wonderful.
Randy Hardman: But like I said, it’s all in the … those are all plans, so things can change.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. But that’s still … You have to start with plans.
Randy Hardman: Yeah, absolutely.
Heidi Wilcox: So you roast the coffee yourself, right?
Randy Hardman: Yep. And I’ve trained a couple other folks to kind of help along with those lines, but we do … we are small-batch artisan roasted stuff.
Heidi Wilcox: Tell me about roasting, because you do different blends. How does that … I don’t know anything, so tell me about it.
Randy Hardman: So if you’ve never seen coffee in its original state, it’s interesting to do. Most people don’t recognize that coffee is actually the seed of a fruit, and so it’s weird to think about that.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. I didn’t know that.
Randy Hardman: Coffee comes from an actual cherry and grows on a tree. And so it’s pulled off the tree. It’s harvested. It’s depulped. So you pull that out of there. In fact, you can take the little cherries and make tea out of them and stuff. So it’s kind of cool. But then over a process of weeks to months the coffee is actually ended up drying out over time. Sumatrans tend not to kind of be that way often times, which is why it’s kind of a very different kind of cup, but most coffees are dried out for an extended period of time, then they’re bagged, and then they’re shipped. And we’ll bring in, I don’t know, 1,500, 2,000, 3,000 pounds of raw coffee beans into our shop. And then-
Heidi Wilcox: At one time?
Randy Hardman: At one time, and we will … Then we roast according to specifications, recipes, things like that. So it takes about 9 to 10 minutes. Anybody can do roasting, and that’s the crazy thing. Back before 19 … Really, back before World War II there’s two things that people did. I mean, I’m sure there was more, but there’s two things that I’ve been impressed on that people did that we’ve kind of given up to convenience. Number one, people baked their own bread. They didn’t buy the sliced bread, stuff like that. They made their own bread at home. Number two, people actually roasted their own coffee at home.
Heidi Wilcox: Wow. I didn’t know that.
Randy Hardman: And so that’s a cool thing too is we’ve seen more people that are interested and kind of saying, “I’d like to do this at home,” and it’s ended up being cheaper for a lot of people and things like that to do that. And you get good quality control, experimentation, all that kind of jazz, but yeah. I mean, anybody can learn it. Just because some place might have a big corporate sign or something like that, I’m not naming anybody out, that doesn’t mean that anything’s actually any better than a lot of the local stuff. So a lot of times you see the craftiness, the art that goes into locally produced stuff over against big-market stuff or big corporate stuff.
Randy Hardman: And so we really appreciate the way that we do roasting. We’re not doing 200 pounds an hour. We’re doing nine pounds at a time. So it’s always going to be fresh. It’s always going to be small batch roasted. It’s always going to have somebody paying attention to the detail of it. And so that’s the cool thing. And you just get to experiment with different flavors, different variances. We’ve seen more people go from dark roasted aficionados into light roasted aficionados over time because they’re recognizing, “Well, this stuff over here … Some of these places burn their coffee and that gives it a uniform taste. But when you make it on the lighter side, you get more flavor profiles,” things like that.
Heidi Wilcox: Wow. I didn’t know that.
Randy Hardman: So people have kind of appreciated that.
Heidi Wilcox: How did you learn how to roast coffee?
Randy Hardman: YouTube. YouTube and a couple articles.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah?
Randy Hardman: And, I mean, this is the thing. Just like with baking bread, you’re going to get a few flat loaves through the process. But the more that you do it, the better you’re going to understand what’s happening, the more things you’re going to learn to look out for, things like that, and you … But YouTube is definitely the start.
Heidi Wilcox: Don’t we love it?
Randy Hardman: And I love following new roasters because they almost always burn their stuff.
Heidi Wilcox: How do you burn it? Because I remember … Because you make the coffee for the podcast, and you called once and you were like, “It’s not going to be … I’m going to have it to you on a certain day because I need a fire extinguisher,” or something like that, and I was like, “Oh, my gracious.”
Randy Hardman: Coffee is roasted upwards of usually between 400 degrees and 465 degrees.
Heidi Wilcox: Okay. Yeah. Definitely need.
Randy Hardman: Now, our roaster ends up getting a lot hotter than that so we actually work on a roaster that runs at closer to 650 to 700 degrees. And that time, I hadn’t experienced that before, so I was kind of in a little freak-out mode. But there’s oils that come off of coffee. Most of us don’t think about that either, but there’s oils that come off of coffee, and I just hadn’t changed my pipes out in the time that I was supposed to. And so more of the oils kind of caught in it and so got burned through something, but it was not a big deal.
Heidi Wilcox: I didn’t think that it was. I was just curious about how the process worked.
Randy Hardman: It’s very, very hot stuff, and so … And that’s the crazy thing is you can move … within 30 to 40 seconds you can move from a light roasted cup into a burned cup. So that’s one of those things that it’s good to have that small batch, attention, personal attention, and stuff like that, because once you know what to look for you can create a specific kind of cup and not just … Like I said, newbie roaster and so forth … They’ll always … almost always burn it because they’re not paying quite enough attention to the process.
Heidi Wilcox: Where do you roast at?
Randy Hardman: We roast in Wilmore. We have a little shop that we started at 325 East Main Street in Wilmore, and-
Heidi Wilcox: That’s where the Drinklings is, like your store.
Randy Hardman: And that’s where the Drinklings shop is, so we are … Drinklings Coffee and Mugs is our … kind of our working name. This is called the Drinklings Roastery, which is where we do all of our roasting and we’re just … We just happened … God put a shop in front of us and we were going with it, but that’s kind of … We do all the roasting there. We’ve done it in different places before, but that’s kind of where we set up shop.
Heidi Wilcox: Is the roastery in Drinklings?
Randy Hardman: It is in the shop. So anybody can actually come and watch us do it. Often times if you’re nice and we like you, we’ll … you can come back behind the counter and watch us-
Heidi Wilcox: Am I nice? Can I come and watch?
Randy Hardman: Yes, you can come watch. We’re actually working on a new build out, so we’re going to actually be able to bring it out so we’ll be more of a public thing. Right now it’s kind of behind the counter and stuff, but we want to get more involved in the community and so forth. But anybody can come in and watch us do this and ask questions and we can talk through it all.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s so cool. That’s awesome. How do you see coffee as mission? Has that grown from when you first started? Or did you always kind of see it as a way to do good in the world of your business?
Randy Hardman: When we initially started, for me, what’s called social entrepreneurship has been a big factor in what we do. In fact, it’s just part of my convictions in life, vocation, so forth is that if you’re doing something, you should always be concerned about what social good it’s doing. A lot of our … I think, our social problems, economic problems, stuff like that kind of come down to just people not paying attention to the ways that their business might harm people, implicate other people, or just fail to contribute to the betterment of society in general.
Randy Hardman: So when we initially started, we weren’t coffee with a mission because we weren’t doing coffee for those first few months, but we wanted to leverage off some of our mugs and give to different social mission causes. I chose the term social mission rather than social justice because that’s often plagued with some controversy. I also chose the notion of social mission because I think it’s … I think it translates well in the broader culture. If you get deeper into our stuff, you realize, when we’re talking about social mission, we’re talking about kingdom mission, kingdom work. Most people don’t know what that means.
Heidi Wilcox: So tell us what you mean by social mission versus social justice. You don’t have to get into all that, but what do you mean by social mission?
Randy Hardman: I mean, social mission, like I said, is just … It’s going back to asking more kingdom of God kind of questions rather than just picking a particular issue and saying we’re going to stand for this issue, we’re going to fight for this issue. My background, for example, aside from theology is social work, and you see social justice all over social work, and you see it in all sorts of different faith traditions, non-faith traditions. You see it as … in political and partisan camps. You see it attached to a lot of stuff. And a lot of the time, that can be really good, but it doesn’t make the connection into kingdom work, like “Why are you doing this?”
Randy Hardman: Social justice, for example, can be very humanistically driven, and so I think we’ve seen throughout history, wherever humanism might attach its point of progress or its ideals or anything like that, social justice aims at that. It says, “This is the human ideal. This is the progress. We’re going to take these issues and we’re going to stand for them.” And often times, that works out great and that’s really necessary. I mean, you talk about civil rights, women’s suffrage, so forth.
Randy Hardman: But there’s other things, like we contributed, I think, close to a thousand dollars to crisis pregnancy centers that were local. Now, often times, that might be seen … Depending on your partisan camp and your personal views and where the culture stands on some things, it’s not going to be seen as a social justice thing. Often times, it will be seen as a non-social justice thing, like we’re actually … And we chose that one very specifically and very carefully because, for me, I am a … I have pretty significant criticisms of the way that we’ve kind of partisaned out this issue in particular, and it’s an issue that is also very personal for me in my own life, but … just through a number of connections and a number of people that I’m very close to.
Randy Hardman: But, for us, it was like that’s a kingdom thing. It’s not a social justice thing. It’s not holding up a humanistic ideal or anything like that. Social mission is about mission. It’s about accomplishing something with an end goal, and that end goal is biblical, it’s Christian, it stands for those ideals and against humanistic ideals or whatever we think is fanciful at the time. All of that to say we’re not usually opponents of social justice. We’ve just realized usually the culture and Christianity often times take similar concepts, but we parse them out a little bit different. And for us, we just want to parse that out.
Randy Hardman: We’ve done a decent amount in that area, not as much as I would like to, because we started off, like a lot of companies do, with a percentage of profits go towards such and such. One of the challenges we’re facing is that, as a … Moving from just being a coffee roaster to a shop comes a whole lot of other dynamics that are there and very expensive dynamics, and we’ve been realizing, we talk about social mission, but because of the way that the expenses and revenue streams, especially in a small town and things like that, that sometimes the profits can be fleeting in this kind of high-turnover world where you’re reliant upon people coming in, people coming back again, and so forth.
Randy Hardman: And so we are actually in a position of re-strategizing what that means. I think we’ve landed somewhere between moving into revenue, giving away portions of our revenue and just needing to kind of step out on faith and say, “We’re giving ahead of it. We’re not waiting until everything’s in the bucket and we get a little bit reaped over.” For us, now it’s like we’re stepping out on some faith that we’re going to be giving away some profits toward particular ends and really trusting that God’s going to bless that ahead of time. And for me, that’s a challenging thing. It’s a scary thing.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. Because you’re a business owner with the faith.
Randy Hardman: Yep. Yeah. And it’s like it is a little bit like giving out of your … giving 10 percent of your tithe without knowing this isn’t going to really hurt you later.
Heidi Wilcox: Right. Most of us tithe after we get our paycheck. Yep.
Randy Hardman: Yep. And this, for us, there’s just the strong conviction that profits may be, in this kind of world, especially in startup worlds, and we are kind of at a new startup phase with all of this, is that profits may be fleeting for three to five years. That doesn’t mean we hold off on our mission for the next three to five years. We are called to do this now, and we need to do it with whatever capability and means that we have now rather than waiting for those means to be available later.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s a good word for all of us whether we’re starting a business or wherever-
Randy Hardman: It’s terrifying. Trust me.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah, I can imagine.
Randy Hardman: I mean, that’s just been this conviction over the past week is we’ve gone through rewriting business plans and stuff like that and rewriting missions and goals and values and so forth. And I think the other part of that that has switched for us is we’ve given to different global causes, we’ve given to certain … Really, causes have been our big thing. So we’ve given to crisis pregnancy centers. We’ve given to an addiction recovery center. We gave to a human trafficking center. We’ve worked with … I don’t know if you’ve had Jacob Guot on your-
Heidi Wilcox: No, I haven’t, but we do Voices, because I talked to you for Voices before, and he’s been on our Voices page.
Randy Hardman: Yep. And so we’ve given through African Sunrise ministries to building some schools. We’ve done some … just some other stuff through maybe like World Vision and so forth. But for us, we’ve also started to see a shift and to say like … And this a lot comes from my time at the seminary … is that we’re here and we often get told to go out across the world and change things in different places, and I think one of the things that some students, grads, especially those who stay around, recognizing is that our mission should be starting here. If you walk out your front door and your focus is 10 hours that way or in a completely different country that way but you’re not looking at the neighbor that actually legitimately lives right next to you, you might be missing something.
Heidi Wilcox: Right. Like Jerusalem. We’re told to start in Jerusalem first and then branch out, yeah.
Randy Hardman: And so we don’t fully know what this looks like yet, but … because it’s just a matter of figuring out some of the details, but my … I mentioned a little bit of my own journey a while ago and kind of getting to a place where I was struggling with faith and so forth. We had tragedy happen in our family, and we had this church down the street, and you’re familiar with it, Southland, and they have a program that they run called the Dollar Club. And with that, they look outside their immediate periphery and say, “Where are the people that are hurting, and what … how can we help?” And so they raise money, and they go out and help in very practical ways.
Randy Hardman: That is the direction that we’re actually now taking our company, and for nine years since me and my family were the recipients of the Dollar Club, I’ve had that on my heart where God is not letting me shaken like, “This happened to you. It really saved your life.” In a lot of ways, it also has helped save my faith, and I’m supposed to not just move on from that. I’m supposed to do something with that.
Randy Hardman: And I’ve always thought this would be really cool to see not just Southland do this, but lots of other churches do that and watch businesses do that. If a business was able to give away … Not all are, but most probably aren’t. But if a business was able to give away money towards the practical needs of its community, how would we change? If we can go out and buy a gas card for somebody, how much is that going to change? If we can go out and pay rent for somebody, how much is that going to change in the scope of the kingdom?
Randy Hardman: So like I said, we’re shifting in this process. We kind of are doing this interview at a different time, but we’re shifting more in that direction from saying we’re not going to be looking overseas right now. Maybe we’ll go back there. That is fair trade, direct trade. We are doing that in that way. But as a small-town coffee shop, as a small-town roaster, and as small-town people who have pitched their lives here, our heart is for our community and saying that social mission can begin here. So we’re excited. I mean, maybe whenever this podcast gets released we’ll have a couple stories to tell about that, but we’ll be beginning that actually this month and looking what, specifically at the end of November, at the end of December, how we are contributing towards our little town of Wilmore.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s beautiful. I love that. Because I’ve been thinking about that too. Because giving overseas is great, but I’m like, “There are people who live right next to me, and what am I doing about them? Because they’re my literal neighbors.”
Randy Hardman: Yeah. Wilmore’s an interesting place, and I think a lot of small towns are like this in that … I worked for a year at the community service center when I was doing my social work internship, and I didn’t realize how much poverty our area has. And that may have been shielded a little bit because I was a grad student and middle … fairly middle class and lived in a community people here, you know Kalas, and so forth. We lived there. And we do have these invisible gates not just here, but most of us do in our lives where we have these invisible gates that become barriers to us seeing over the … for lack of a better term, over the railroad tracks.
Randy Hardman: Here, that’s actually literal, seeing over the railroad tracks. And for us, that’s just become a big conviction is we are on one side of the railroad tracks. Drinklings is on one side of the railroad tracks, but we hear that train go every single day. We can look out our window. We can see the railroad tracks. And every single day, we got to cross over those railroad tracks to get back to our home. That’s our mission first. If the church is changing a little bit and we’re thinking in terms of businesses as mission and mission as business and church engagement in the marketplace … Businesses that have that calling and that conviction to be … I’m putting quotation marks in church … to be actively the church, this is their parish then too, and that’s just what we’ve been convinced of is our … this is our parish. This is our parish, and so we really want that here.
Heidi Wilcox: You’re engaging in redemptive living now.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. Hopefully so.
Heidi Wilcox: Hopefully, yeah. That’s awesome. What advice would you give to someone who’s wanting to, I guess, for lack of a better term, use their life for good and through business?
Randy Hardman: Well, I think one of those things is just kind of what we talked about. This has been a challenge, but realizing God said mugs years ago. I didn’t know what that meant, and it’s required a lot of adaptation and just continual listening and challenging and stuff like that. And so we are kind of in that phase of re-adapting instead of saying, “No. Putting my stick in the ground, and this is what God called me to do, and I’m not moving from here.” We may stop … I don’t know what we’ll do, but mugs 30 years from now … That whole continuity of strings may be something completely different. So I think Christian entrepreneurs … When God’s giving us an idea to do something, we have to be willing to follow him where he’s going to go with that
Randy Hardman: I say this enough that Drinklings didn’t plan on a coffee shop. We weren’t supposed to have a coffee shop in that sense. This wasn’t the original plan. We were just a coffee roaster who did mugs.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. You weren’t planning on a brick and mortar-
Randy Hardman: And we had an online store. That happened, and it just happened in a very kind of God-like way. We feel like we’re supposed to go down there. We scoped out the town, came back. A day later, somebody called us and said, “I’m buying this building. Would like to have you guys in here,” and it was like right after we had come back and said that there’s no place to go in Wilmore. So there’s kind of that God stuff there. But God may call us out of this, and so I’m having to recognize we are here for a season. God may change that at some point, and I think it’s important for Christians and businesses to not get so hung up on whatever they’re doing now that it stops them from seeing the ways that God might use them or change things later. Because I think God does call things into living, but he also does call things into dying too and changing
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. There’s a season for everything, yeah.
Randy Hardman: There’s a season for everything, and so we have to be … we have to recognize when God is opening a season and when he’s closing a season. The other part of that is I think it’s important for followers of Jesus to … I think the social entrepreneurship idea is really important to look at. So if you are looking at business or you’re looking at entrepreneurship, to really be asking those questions, “How does this not just benefit me?” … Because the reality is money is enticing even for Christians. Money is enticing-
Heidi Wilcox: We all have bills.
Randy Hardman: … when we start to get it. We all have bills and so forth, and I think … I really, really continually believe that when Jesus said it’s hard for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven he wasn’t just giving us a euphemism. It is really hard, once we start saying … And it’s not just money. I mean, money can be metaphorical there for success, for reputation, for power, for whatever, and I often think … We got a lot of celebrity Christians, but I’m often times think, “Hey. Nobody’s approaching you at the airport saying you’re so and so. You are nobody to most of the world, and you may be successful in your own little venture, in your own little neck of the woods, but you are still nobody in the rest of the world. You are somebody in the kingdom of God, but don’t get so hung up on yourself that you’re not willing to follow God where he’s leading.”
Heidi Wilcox: When did you guys open up your storefront?
Randy Hardman: In late March of 2019, so just a few months ago.
Heidi Wilcox: Oh, wow. It feels like you guys have been there forever in a good way. You’re just part of the scene in Wilmore now.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. It’s only been seven months. We’re still actually, that’s what I said, rewriting the business plan, all that kind of stuff, because just going from being a coffee roaster and mug producer with an online storefront to an actual storefront where we have employees, staff, hours, whatever … It’s just big change. So with that change is coming some change in our mission stuff that we’re really excited about.
Heidi Wilcox: You alluded to it a minute ago when we were talking about how you even got into this space, because you said this wasn’t supposed to happen. So how did it happen?
Randy Hardman: So anybody that’s familiar with Wilmore for more than a year probably remembers there was a little Mexican restaurant down there called Jose’s. Before that, if anybody’s listening, of course it was … there was a pizzeria in there, there was a little café that was in there. It was really cool with some of the deconstruction of the place to kind of see just some layers of history and stuff like that. That goes into the long view of things too is that eventually somebody else is going to buy our place, and they’re going to see this used to be a coffee joint. There’s chaff in the wall.
Randy Hardman: But it was a Mexican restaurant. Jose was a great friend of ours, and he was just such a minister too.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah, he was.
Randy Hardman: Anybody that went down there just for tacos or quesadillas or something like that-
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. It was good food.
Randy Hardman: It was really good food, but he did that out of conviction and a following. He didn’t do it because he was making big leagues of money. In fact, I know that he wasn’t, and he passed away from cancer about a year ago this time, maybe a little bit less than that. And for us, this is a huge honor, because we actually started some of the initial conversations about Drinklings in Jose’s never knowing that we were going to be back there and living in the space. There’s also some very personal connections with me too that I love about the space too, some just long history stuff.
Randy Hardman: And that’s the great thing about the space is that spaces do mean something. God put spaces in our life for reasons, and I think they can be confirming. And so for me, the personal connection that I have there historically and then some of the initial conversations about Drinklings being there and just the friendship with Jose and feeling like … knowing him rather than just some outsider who didn’t know him and just took over the building or anything like that, for us, it’s an honor, because I remember Jose so well, those conversations. And I worked with on his going away party and stuff like that before we even knew there was going to be a Drinklings there, and just to see him blessed through that time was awesome.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s really cool.
Randy Hardman: So spaces are good. God gives us spaces, and this is … God’s given us this for a time. We want to use it well, and hopefully we are.
Heidi Wilcox: Well, it’s a great place to visit. So how can people connect with you?
Randy Hardman: Of course, if you live in Wilmore, just anybody can kind of walk down the street and hang out with us there. We have Facebook. Facebook.com/drinklings. We have an Instagram account, drinklingscoffee. I’m not big on social media personally, so that’s about the extent of our social media activity. But if people shoot a message over, we’ll catch them. We do have a website, drinklings.coffee, www.drinklings.coffee, and they can check us out there.
Heidi Wilcox: All right. And we’ll link to all of that in the show notes too so people will be able to find you.
Randy Hardman: And we love to hear from people, so shoot a message or anything like that.
Heidi Wilcox: What’s your favorite blend of coffee?
Randy Hardman: Oh, man, the ones that we do. That’s a really hard question. Our most popular is our Oxford blend. That is hands down our most popular in the shop. I’m probably going to say that that’s also my favorite as well. And it is our house coffee for a reason. We did just come out another homage to the Inklings. The Oxford blend homage to Oxford. C. S. Lewis was a professor at Cambridge for a while, and so we just did come out with a Cambridge blend as well. So we got these little nerd things too. But I think the Oxford’s probably the better of all of them.
Heidi Wilcox: All right. So have you always liked coffee?
Randy Hardman: I have. Well, not as a baby.
Heidi Wilcox: But like when you were five you started drinking coffee?
Randy Hardman: But I remember I had my first cappuccino at 10, and I thought it was disgusting. And I was at Disney World, ironically, so it might have not really been a good cappuccino either. I think it was off of a cart somewhere, but yeah. I started really getting into coffee at like 15 or 16, and of course college came and-
Heidi Wilcox: And then it was a necessity?
Randy Hardman: Yeah. I mean, I’ll be honest. Ever since starting this, I’ve been far more into coffee than I ever was before. I mean, I was really into coffee, and I would go through a pot a day myself, but learning the art of it has been something that this has kind of pushed me into in getting to know really well. And so I’m learning like crazy too through it all. So it’s a joke in the roasting or coffee-shop community that if …you can always tell who owns a coffee shop by going in their kitchen and seeing what kind of coffee stuff they have, because coffee-shop owners … We don’t have an auto drip. We have a Chemex, a french press, a manual espresso thing where it’s like obviously we own a coffee shop.
Heidi Wilcox: Tell me about the Thrive blend. What is that like?
Randy Hardman: One of the things we love about this community is just being able to work with the schools that are here and some of the churches and so forth, and so when you guys kind of approached us about doing a coffee, we know it’s not going to be a big turnover kind of thing. And I think that’s part of the awesome thing about small-batch artisan roasted and the local coffee scene is we can do some experiments on blends, whereas big coffee roasters that might be in big cities and stuff like that … They’re going to want to … I guarantee …
Randy Hardman: I remember when we were starting because we’d thought for a while about not doing our own coffee but just outsourcing it. We talked to a company that said, “Well, if you can guarantee us $2,000 a month in revenue, we’ll be glad to custom … we’ll be glad to give you a custom blend,” and we were like, “Well, we can’t promise $2,000 a month in revenue,” and that’s … I get where they’re coming from, but for us, it’s like we … Asbury and Asbury Seminary have been so formational in us that, for us, it’s like, “You know what? We would love to do some custom stuff.” And so we have the Thrive blend for you guys. We do another one for the ESJ School that’s kind of a custom blend. We do have an Asbury blend that we do locally, and we sell a lot of that through the university and so forth. We really like doing the experimental kind of stuff with that, and so-
Heidi Wilcox: Well, we appreciate it.
Randy Hardman: So the Thrive blend is just … It’s a specific bean that we kind of prototyped on a particular roast, and we just thought we were going to reserve this one for you guys. So we hope you guys do like it-
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. It’s awesome.
Randy Hardman: … and your guests like it and so forth.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. It’s awesome. I’ve heard nothing but good, like I said.
Randy Hardman: That’s good. It’s one of our ways of just kind of giving back as an appreciation. We love to do that for people, for churches, for organizations.
Heidi Wilcox: And it’s really great to have a place that you can purchase something, know where it came from, and do good in the world through what you’re buying, because we’re going to buy coffee anyway, but we just … It’s nice to do good with our purchase.
Randy Hardman: I mean, that’s the big overarching thing, I mean, when you’re talking about social entrepreneurship is what good are you doing, and I think that means … Not just from coffee. I mean, coffee is simple. Fair trade chocolate, fair trade coffee. Those are the things that people attach to trading, but everything that we do, the shoes that you’re wearing, the shirt and the pants that you have on, the food that you’re eating, the blankets that you wrap yourselves up in at night, even the movies that we watch. Are we watching things that have been harmful or better for people across the scope of things? And for us, this is the small little way that we can say we’re doing this in a way that is good, and so buy smart coffee. It is the second most imported item next to crude oil in our country.
Heidi Wilcox: Oh, I didn’t know that.
Randy Hardman: And depending on how you like your coffee, it may be crude oil itself.
Heidi Wilcox: It might be. Both help you run.
Randy Hardman: Yeah. Espresso, crude oil, just throw it in the gas tank and you’re good. But for us, I mean, something on that level. I think it’s one of those things that … I really hope people see what we’re doing, and maybe through some of the education stuff that we’re hoping to do, that we can say this is a really, really, really fast area, very open area for Christian ministry to start to happen, and we push people into churches, community, social justice, all that kind of stuff.
Randy Hardman: But for us, more Christians should be involved in the coffee industry, because if it is the second most … it is the second biggest industry in our entire country and it is something that the vast majority of us are impacted on on a daily basis not just biologically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually … I’m like, “How many times do you sin before your cup of coffee compared with how many times after?” We should be spending more attention on what is something like that, at that level, doing for social good for people around the world.
Heidi Wilcox: For sure. We talked about this a little bit, but you talked about rewriting your business plans, looking at your mission. What is next? And probably by the time this releases, it will be in the what’s next, so yeah. What’s next?
Randy Hardman: I mean, the hope is to really wrap a lot of that up over the next two to three weeks. So I mean, really what is-
Heidi Wilcox: If it’s too soon to talk about it, we can-
Randy Hardman: Yeah. No, no. I mean, we … It’s all there. It’s just a matter of working out kinks and details and so forth. Really, what’s next is … In the startup of anything, it’s always a little bit chaotic, especially when you’re doing high-velocity turnover, things like that, and you’re learning on the go. And that’s one thing that I want to encourage Christians, if they’re interested entrepreneurship. Don’t be afraid. You’re going to learn as you go. Nobody’s born knowing how to read profit and loss reports and make sound judgment calls for business and … So there’s a lot of learning on the go.
Randy Hardman: It’s been really cool, but for us now that we’ve kind of stabilized out, we’re here for a while, we’re recognizing who are customer base is, our clientele and all of that, our attention is to say, “Let’s talk about identity more. Let’s talk about mission more,” and that can get lost in businesses. And I think probably, honestly, for the first little while we moved into this restaurant space, that probably did get lost, because it was like 90,000 things moving, and the question of mission, the question of identity, the question of values, stuff like that … This is all in full transparency. That wasn’t always on the top of our mind.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s fair.
Randy Hardman: There was a lot of this conviction that was like, “This needs to be on the top of your mind. You guys have done some good stuff. Don’t rely on that. That’s whatever it is. What are you doing now that’s important?” And so for us, leadership’s a big thing in an organization. They say your institution, your system is only as healthy as your leadership in an organization, so that’s a really important thing to us. And then institutions and organizations are symbols of the community that’s around it and often times affect the health and maturity and the mobilization of a community and so forth.
Randy Hardman: And so for us, a lot of this next step is saying … For a lot of people, so far we’ve kind of just been this third-wave coffee shop that’s come in. We want to really communicate the coffee is the front door to everything else that we’re doing, and so mission sometimes is going to be fair trade, direct trade. Mission is going to be having a lot of local emphasis through however this kind of Dollar Club thing works out in our organization. That’s going to be important.
Randy Hardman: We also run this thing called Thinklings, which is local conversations around different issues, like December we have somebody coming to talk about homelessness and what that looks like. We’ve had conversations about creation, cure, and ecology. We’ve had conversations about … In fact, Jacob and Medine Keener came and talked about what the refugee thing is like from the position of a refugee. We’ve done a lot of those kind of things too, and so we really want to continually be known for that so that it’s not, “It’s a coffee shop, and then they got this 10 percent missional thing.” We wan to be 90 percent mission, 10 percent coffee shop, and so that’s kind of the next change is …
Randy Hardman: That’s really important for Christian entrepreneurs. We’re increasingly learning our mistakes along the way and the things that, in hindsight, would have been better. But that, for us, is kind of an area of just course correction and to say our … we need to be known for our mission, 100 percent, needs to be explicit, and we need to be known for that. Otherwise, what are we doing here? Pack it up and go home, because there’s other things to do and other ways to better use that space. Some of this is aspirational. Some of it’s in rolling. Some of it’s behind us.
Randy Hardman: And again, it just goes back to this continual, “Are you actively listening to God?” because God will continue to … At least he has in my life. God will continue to prod you. He will continue to poke you, continue to give you course corrections. He will continue to tell you where to go. That’s that guidance. And so mugs, when he said that, that may be a big voice in my head, but there’s the small voices that, unless we’re paying attention to, we’re liable to miss. And so mugs is a big word, but God is speaking every day and every moment, and I can’t just be listening for the big ones. I have to be listening for the small ones too.
Heidi Wilcox: For sure. Well, thank you-
Randy Hardman: Thank you.
Heidi Wilcox: … for being on the podcast today. As we wrap up, we have one question that we ask everybody who is on the podcast. So it’s called the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast, so what is one practice, it can be spiritual or otherwise, that is helping you thrive in your life right now?
Randy Hardman: Oh, man. So time, like time is right now. And again, this is one of those I’ve learned in hindsight, because when you’re starting something, often times, whether you’re … This happens with a lot of people who step foot into the pastorate and they get a big church or so forth, or business leaders who start off something and you don’t set good spaces in your time. You’re maybe paying a lot of attention to this space that God gave you while you’re detracting away from these other spaces.
Randy Hardman: And for me, God has really convicted me over the past month that I’ve been spending more focus on this space than I am on some of these other spaces, like my family, my faith, my own just stepping away and finding some personal time for me, and I think the irony of all that is, if you’re not paying attention well to these spaces, you’re not paying attention well to this space, the big space, and so … And ironically, you flip that around too and you recognize that all the other spaces that you have, your family, your … all those things that, at your end of your life, really are the ones that matter, those are the big spaces. The vocational step, those are the small spaces, and we get confused by that.
Randy Hardman: So for me, I have … am learning the art of slowing down and putting … I dislike the word boundaries because it gets used so often as a deflection, boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. So I like the word space, which I think actually puts it in a more positive framework, because it’s you’re creating space for other things to be there, and I’ve seen myself go from a very overwhelmed, even depressed at a couple points, but very overwhelmed entrepreneur in a business to somebody who is now finding good grooves for that and appreciations for that and being able to step away and realize, at the end of the day, a roaster might catch fire for a little bit, but it’ll get out, and you go along your day, and it’s not … Unless it burns up the whole building. That is a big deal. That happens. That’s why we have insurance, but if that happens, that happens, and then you move on into your other spaces, and for me, that’s …
Randy Hardman: Maybe that’s the other part of this is realizing things are worth trying once. Don’t get so attached to them that your identity becomes fused with it, because God may just as well call you out of it as he called you into it, and I think God calls us out of those certain spaces every day into other spaces that we need to pay attention.
Randy Hardman: So for me, space with my family, with my kids, and with my wife, with my faith, things like that, even my body physically, getting … making sure I’m getting exercise, eating right. That’s important.
Heidi Wilcox: I don’t know if you noticed, but I like how you’re referring to the art of slowing down, the art of making coffee, and I just like the kind of the way it shows that you’re thinking about things as a creative process. I think that’s beautiful.
Randy Hardman: I’m not a very rigid guy. I don’t like boxes very well as a four.
Heidi Wilcox: Is that your four? I was going to ask.
Randy Hardman: And my five sometimes makes me go into boxes, but I despise boxes. So if life can be an art, it should be treated as such.
Heidi Wilcox: I think we’d all live a lot easier if we saw it more as a flowing process rather than-
Randy Hardman: That’s the crazy thing about God is he’s an artist, he’s a creator. That’s the first thing that we meet about God is he is a creator, and he’s continually creating. He doesn’t stop creating. He might rest for a little bit, but he’s continually creating. And so if we’re made in his image, we should be artists, so continually creating, continually changing.
Heidi Wilcox: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. You-
Randy Hardman: Thanks for having me.
Heidi Wilcox: Yeah. You changed the way I look at my morning cup of joe, so thanks for coming by.
Randy Hardman: I appreciate it. Thanks.
Heidi Wilcox: Hey, y’all. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s conversation with Randy. It definitely changed the way I think about what’s in my cup of coffee each morning. I hope you enjoyed it as well, and if you’re in Wilmore, make sure you stop in at Drinklings.
Heidi Wilcox: In the podcast, Randy mentioned a shift that was coming. Well, it’s been a couple of months since we recorded, so I wanted to update you and tell y’all all about it. Drinklings wants to leverage their space and their business within this community to do good, and they want to make it easy for you to do the same. To do that, all you have to do is pick up a punch card. When you buy 10 drinks, you get a free one of course, but you also leave your card with them. Each full card represents a dollar that will be used to support people in need within this community with gas cards, provide help with medical bills, and things like that. So now when you buy coffee at Drinklings, you not only know that you’re getting ethically produced coffee, but your purchase will also help your neighbors.
Heidi Wilcox: So that’s it for today, y’all. I hope you guys enjoyed this conversation. I know I sure did. Hope you have a great day, and go do something that helps you thrive.