This article appears in the February issue of 400 Life.
It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t have an intrinsic need for their morning cup of coffee. That bold-roasted, steaming cup of joe is a must-have for many, whether enjoyed quietly on the porch, to-go in morning rush hour, or sipped slowly (and reheated) throughout the day. But for Jalynn Barr, it’s a little more than routine — it’s her passion.
No joke. She “hearts” coffee. She’s been a coffee drinker since high school. She can’t wake up without her regular cup every morning. After years working in every other area of the food service industry, she decided it was time to use that passion for the benefit of her community.
As a result, she opened downtown Cumming’s Community Cup in April of 2018. Now, the Northern California transplant is a self-taught barista serving up (way) more than that morning routine coffee to her neighbors, and it’s with a heathy dose of community that not only gives the shop its name, but is the reason she wakes up loving her job as much as she does that everyday cup.
“I have worked in the food service industry ever since I was 15 years old, and have always just loved the interaction with people, and how I can spend the whole day on my feet,” said Barr. “My father and grandfather were both entrepreneurs themselves; so I knew firsthand what that meant: sacrifice, long hours, strong work ethic, no secure income. I also knew that I wanted to open something that was in my county, and could be a true part of the community, while still being a cute place where people would feel good entering our doors.”
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With her (new) roots here in Cumming, it was the perfect place to do it.
“My husband, our general manager Allison Dekle, and I spent a lot of time checking out various locations in Forsyth County,” Barr explained. “But, the building on Tribble Gap really spoke to us. As we all stood in the empty space with natural light pouring in on the exposed brick, we all looked at each other and said, ‘Yes!’”
It wasn’t just good bones that made downtown Cumming the right spot. Barr could see Cumming’s city potential, and knew that playing a role in its evolution could further her goal of community. She envisioned many more local and unique businesses that could add to the city’s walkability and attract more visitors. Now we know she was onto something, but growing Cumming’s reputation as a destination city was only one of her goals. In addition — and rather simply — she just wants it to be a place that does a lot more than sell coffee.
“Anyone can brew and serve coffee,” Barr said. “And there are plenty of other great coffee shops that do amazing things that we definitely do not. But at the end of the day what we want to provide is an experience — a happy place, with fun and positive energy, that has unique and unexpected offerings, and most importantly, gives back to our community. It makes going to work every day feel great when you know that you are doing something fun with great people, and hopefully making a positive difference.”
Making an impact is also the reason behind her motto, “every drop counts.” Well — part of it is because a coffee lover would never leave a literal drop behind, but beneath the surface, this phrase stands to encourage community members that everyone can help make a difference, and that no amount of giving is too small to do so.
“Every drop of kindness, every penny that someone can give — literally every drop can work together with all the drops from everyone else to make a huge difference in the world,” said Barr. “So many times people stop themselves from doing or giving because they feel like what they have to offer is so small, like just a drop. But every drop truly counts.”
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You’ll agree to take it literally, too, once you’ve sampled the menu. Her customer favorite is the peanut butter and vanilla latte, mostly because it’s made with real peanut butter whipped into the espresso, but also because they don’t skimp topping it with whipped cream and Reese’s Pieces candies.
Community Cup also serves every kind of coffee drink you can think of (obviously), including iced, cold-brew, nitro, espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and more. Plus, use any of the above to wash down locally made scones, pies and pretzel bites, local gluten-free and vegan treats, hydroponically-grown lettuce salads, yummy sandwiches, and (have we said this, yet?) more.
And what does a self-taught coffee shop owner do when she’s not conjuring new, tasty brewed beverages? She’s at home with her family, loving that her new hometown offers cul-de-sacs, friendly neighbors and room in the schedule for fireside s’mores, potluck parties, bike riding, and … well, a true sense of community.
That’s something else we’ll add to our routine’s must-haves.
For more information about Community Cup, visit www.communitycupga.com.
Story by Jennifer Colosimo for 400 Life.