We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Grove and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up on a third generation dairy farm on the outskirts of a small town in Pennsylvania. Most folks in the town, and many of my high school peers, were struggling financially to make ends meet. Many of them still are, possibly even more so these days. However, in many ways, I was gratefully removed from the fact that, as farmers, my family may had even less spending money, because the farm and the land was our domain. Tucked between other, mostly mennonite, farms, the outside world was a long way away. Our struggle to work the land, pour all our energy, even as kids, to take care of the many animals and their survival, which equated to our survival, was what drove all of our hard work. I didn’t know there was something called an 8-hour work day for many adults growing up. My dad worked until the job was done, or until it was too dark to be planting or harvesting any more. My siblings and I all worked from a very young age: learning to problem solve, use our body’s ability’s to their fullest, and to laugh and make any task as positive as possible. And, now, owning my own business, I have directly seen how this work ethic and this determination to survive despite all odds has been the backbone of my company’s success. Small business is never an 8 hour work day. It’s often double that, if not entering into your dreams, and in the corner of all your thoughts as well. Learning from such a young age what hard work looks like, but also positivity, how to laugh and find friendships and companionships through difficult times is what has kept Elementary Coffee powered through the thick and thin.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Similar to so many other small business owners, I’m sure, I fell into developing Elementary Coffee Co. because I was passionate about something and wanted to share that passion with the community. For me, this was coffee and coffee roasting and how it connects so many people across many walks of life. However, entering into small business because I held a passion about something was not the easiest approach to business ownership. I had a lot of learning, so much risk, so much work outside of my depth, and this is still the case. Most days are spent running around doing such strange tasks to make sure the business continues to run. But it is all worthwhile, and to now look back after years and realized that Elementary has developed a community, a voice, and its own internal and external family is a moment of pride and a determination for continued responsibility. Business isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about simply selling a product. It’s about realizing the amount of human lives that we have responsibility for as they enter into our space and the need to do right by them, take care of them, help them, and amplify them. Though our medium of selling coffee, we have the ability to truly take the time to care for each other. This is simultaneously the greatest challenge and the greatest reward and something we will be reworking and re-envisioning through every moment of our company past, present, and future.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Pre-COVID or post-COVID? These are indeed strange times we are living in! For the age we are in now, I would showcase all the beautiful outdoor activities our city has to offer. We would first, of course, get coffee at Elementary Coffee Co. on North St. With our coffees in hand we would stroll along the river walk and take in some of the city’s history. Around lunchtime we would visit the Broad Street Market, perhaps getting another coffee there, but also grabbing some lunch from one of the amazing 40 vendors in that historic space. We would check out the indie bookstore, the Midtown Scholar, across the street, and grab some baked goods from also local P & R Bakery or Raising the Bar. Then we would rent bikes and hop on the Capital Area Greenbelt as it loops around the city, checking out Italian Lake, Wildwood nature preserve, Reservoir Park, and more! Perhaps we would finish up the day with a cocktail and food from Note, wine bistro or Rubicon. Then head off to Zeroday Brewing Co. for beers. If we wanted to take a night stroll, walking the grounds and gardens of the Pennsylvania State Capitol is always impressive. And from there we can plan our next day that’s full of hiking one of the trails of the Appalachian Trail and kayaking down the Susquehanna River!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Honestly, there are so many folks that have helped our little company grow through the years, down to every single customer who has stopped by and purchased a drink that has made them smile. But, I would like to dedicate Elementary’s continued success to the Broad Street Market family. The Broad Street Market is the historic marketplace in which our original espresso bar has continued to flourish and everything we are now wouldn’t have been possible without it. The Broad Street Market has the ability to draw such beautiful folks from many walks of life and connect them through food. I have met most of my mentors through varies aspects of the Market, including the incredible Market director’s who helped Elementary through conception and into a realization: Ashlee Dugan and Beth Taylor. However, we have also have had endless support from our fellow vendors at the Market and owe so much to the other small businesses who help and inspire us as much as we try to help and inspire them. Small business and community is about meeting folks and realizing you may have different backgrounds, different products, different ways of doing business, but there’s still so much to learn from each other and so much good food and laughs to share. This is what the Broad Street Market is to us.
Facebook: Elementary Coffee Co.
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