PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Why have just a cup of coffee when you could have a Holy Mocha, a Grace Latte or a Cup of Job?
Those are a few of Biblically-named drinks you’ll find on the menu at Holy Beanz in Northeast Portland, where a local woman’s struggles, successes and faith are lifting up the neighborhood coffee shop in more ways than one.
“To have a business on 26 Alberta, right in the middle of Northeast Portland, it’s very empowering. it’s very impactful,” Holy Beanz Owner Shalimar Williams said.
Williams says coffee comes with so much more when you’re at Holy Beanz.
“All of the coffee names are actually named after books or people in the Bible,” Williams said
What’s important to Williams is reflected here: her faith, her connection to the neighborhood and her positivity.
“So, literally this is a community destination where you can come and it feels like an old school family cookout. And it’s just comfortable for everybody,” Williams said.
That welcoming feeling expands just outside the shop too, with events like a brunch collaboration with William’s uncle, Talemage Ellis, who’s hoping to bring in even more customers.
“Because Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen’s been around for three years now and for her to be a new business that, you know, a Black-owned, a young black lady coming up that wants to do something different. I support her in that,” Ellis, co-owner of Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen, said.
Williams’ friend Kimberly Amerson Stephens explained “I actually met Shalamar at Coffee Creek facility and I’ve known her since 2008.”
The women met in prison and their friendship is still strong.
“It’s like if she can open up her own business, I wanna look to opening up a business myself one day and I do know who to go to. I can go talk to her and she can show me the ways that she opened up her business cause she is actually the definition of change,” Stephens said.
Those changes really began to take shape even before Williams got out of prison nearly 14 years ago.
“I went to church to get outta my cell. I was never the same after that. So, I remember sitting on my bunk and reading my Bible, and I still have that Bible,” Williams said.
At Holy Beanz, Bible discussions are welcome — but so are people of different faiths.
“No matter where you’re at and what your belief is, you can come here and you don’t have to be a Christian to come here, but you definitely come here and you experience an energy that is safe. Safe, wherever you come from or whatever you look like,” Williams said.
Williams, an empowered business owner, is sharing her strength with her community.
“I knew I needed to be in Northeast Portland. One: it was the neighborhood that I ripped and ran in and probably caused a little bit of a chaos, but it’s also the soul of Portland. I’m just really, really trying to spread a lot of love in the city,” Williams explained.
Williams uses beans from Portland-based K & F Coffee Roasters, but she’s working on having her own Holy Beanz coffee beans.
In the meantime, she’s got many more community events on the way, including live jazz concerts, youth poetry nights and more brunch collaborations.