Updated: Sep 12, 2018
How I went from Criminal Justice to Coffee Business Owner, Whitney Caudill
It’s the truth. I have a Master’s Degree in the Analysis of Criminal Behavior. My dream was to become an FBI Agent. I worked for an ATF Agent for two years and I knew I was going to be a Federal Agent. I love a good mystery, so working as an investigator was the best internship ever. I mean, my go-to show is Law & Order SVU. Olivia Benson and I are straight up besties.
During my college years, I learned to love coffee. What makes it even better is that one of my elective classes in undergrad was a coffee class! Yes, it was legit. Not only did I learn to love coffee, I began to appreciate it. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Every Monday when I walked into class, we tasted a coffee from a different country. We learned about the coffee farmers, their families, and the coffee growing process. We learned about Fair Trade and Direct Trade; what it looks like to highlight the best attributes of each individual coffee and how to represent the farmer, his family and his organization in the highest regard.
"I had no idea how much went into getting that delicious cup of coffee! I was intrigued."
After that semester, I ended up transferring schools and moved to Indiana to finish my undergrad studies. This was my first time being away from my home and my family for an extended period of time. The local coffee shop became my home away from home. It brought familiarity, warmth, and comfort. The people who gathered there were loving, creative people who wanted to make a difference in the world. I always left inspired.
As the years went by, I became more aware of the social injustices all around me. In the last 8 years, human trafficking has skyrocketed, addiction has become an epidemic, and racial and cultural prejudices continue to divide our country. When you actually research the numbers on these issues, it becomes numbing and overwhelming, which is probably why most people read about it and move on with their everyday lives. That’s what I did anyway.
I finished school and moved back home. Every morning, I woke up with a delicious cup of coffee and thanked God for a new day. I started praying for opportunities to help people. I was in a weird phase of graduating college and still wondering what I was doing with my life. How does that happen??? I thought once I finished college, I’d have it all figured out. Nope. I went back to school to finish my Master’s at the University of Cincinnati, hoping my shot at an internship with the FBI was still within reach.
Fast forward to this year, 2018. I worked on a big project with Danius Williams, Founder & CEO of Ignite Our City in Columbus and now, co-owner of The City Coffeehouse. I literally just met her like 7 months ago. We worked really well together and became instant friends. I was so impressed with her leadership and project management skills. I was like, dang, I’ve really gotta get my crap together! Haha. For real, she is amazing. She unknowingly pushed me to do better at my work and showed me what solid character and integrity looks like in times of adversity. I felt like a student, trying to learn all her ways. They call it Danius Fever. It’s a real thing! LOL.
Long story short, after a few months of working on that big project, I was presented with the opportunity to open up a coffee shop. What?! I prayed for opportunities to help people but never thought it would actually happen through a coffee shop! I went home and cried. Haha! Like, is this really happening?? I was so excited. Then my excitement quickly turned to fear. All of these questions started flooding in. This is great and all, but, what do I do? Where do I start?
Of course, the first person that popped into my head was Danius. I wanted her to be my business partner. I already knew how she worked and I would trust this woman with my life. She was basically my new hero and gave Olivia Benson a run for her money. Sorry Liv. I knew there was like a 1% chance that she would go for it though. She lives in Columbus, she’s a successful business consultant, runs a nonprofit, and oh, she has two kids and a husband. There’s no way. But I asked anyways.
She said YES, y’all! What in the actual world? It was happening. It is happening!
I had no idea but Danius had always wanted to open a coffeehouse. One that isn’t just about great coffee (which is important!), but one that gives back, that welcomes all people with open arms and intentionally sees people for their intrinsic value and worth. Hands down, she is my partner-in-crime and one of my dearest friends. God is so good!
Just like the local coffeehouse I went to everyday in college, we want to serve each guest with the utmost care and hospitality in a space that was created to feel like a home away from home. Our passion for justice is coming to life, by partnering with local nonprofits who are helping create positive change in our community.
So here we are, building the foundation of our new business and life mission.
There is a lot more to this story but I have already written a book. We will continue to write about our journey. It’s been quite the adventure already!