Nonprofit Coffee Shop Funds Students' Education
Thrive Coffee and Creamery has the aesthetic of any Instagram-able business on the outside: tiffany blue adornments, flowers on the counter, homemade ice creams. But the similarities end there. Thrive is a 100 percent nonprofit corporation with the goal of giving every dollar earned back to the community.
Thrive opened in the summer of 2019 after president of the board Clayton Kreisel and his fellow board member and wife Amanda bought and renovated an old woodworking shop. Kreisel is a pastor for students attending Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri and has been for ten years.
While leading the campus ministry, Kreisel noticed there was a greater need going unfulfilled in his community. Students weren’t able to travel abroad for their mission trips.
“The number one prohibiting factor is always what about the funds? What about the resources?” Kreisel said.
That’s why 50 percent of the profits go to grants for students wanting to give back to the global community through mission trips. Kreisel said through Thrive’s funds, one student has already been able to serve in Guatemala.
The other 50 percent goes back to the local community. This included a science experiment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Kreisel and the board invited the public library and a professor from Central Methodist to demonstrate Alka Seltzer rockets.
“We’re wanting to bring to Fayette sort of a cultural experience that you couldn’t just get at a Starbucks,” Kreisel said. “That’s just to say we want to kind of separate ourselves and be a little different.”
To keep up with differentiating themselves from other shops, the board of Thrive decided to use all local and homemade products. All coffee served is from Missouri and the ice cream is made in shop.
Sarah Howell, the culinary lead, said she likes to have fun with the flavors—like chili mango lime.
“I love getting the freedom to have fun with the flavors but now I think we’re basically fine-tuning everything because we have some pretty good flavors in our book,” Howell said.
The Kreisel family has a special place for ice cream in their hearts and bellies.
“A saying of ours, which you’ll see in the shop a lot is: ‘There’s always room,’” Kreisel said. “And it didn't matter if we had just had a meal at CiCiS back when it was downtown or McKenzie's or a nice expensive restaurant or, or a smaller place if I was full or not full, if it was the middle of the day, it did not matter.”
That saying eventually evolved into a business model for Thrive in the sense that there’s always room for the
community, no matter what background or identity.
Customers Nick Hartney and Dylan Deeney came in to the shop for a quick fraternity meeting. They like the vibe at Thrive, but the price of coffee is even more attractive to senior Deeney and fraternity adviser Hartney.
“It definitely compares to Starbucks but at a lower cost, if not a little better than Starbucks. So I really enjoy it,” Hartney said.
Thrive recently installed an espresso machine for customers to enjoy authentic Italian-like coffee. Kreisel is still learning how to use it, but from the looks of things, he says he’ll pick it up soon. The authentic coffee and artisan ice cream will, in Kreisel’s outlook, provide the perfect setup to strengthen a community.
INTRO: Welcome to Exam, the show on KBIA all about education. I’m Kassidy Arena. This week I went to Fayette, Missouri to an artisan coffee and ice cream shop that isn’t all what it seems. From the outside, it looks like your regular Instagram-able coffee shop, but turns out, that’s not the only thing that makes Thrive Coffee and Creamery stand out.
The shop is sort of the hidden treasure of Fayette. It’s tucked away on the side with no huge advertising on the streets, but that hasn’t stopped customers constantly going in and out. [coffee grinder sound] This is great news for Clayton Kreisel, the president of the board for Thrive.
Kreisel: “When we first started this shop, there’s no way to say this without sounding like a snob: I wanted to do it with excellence. I also wanted to do it right, I wanted to do it with integrity.”
Kreisel and his wife Amanda opened Thrive this past summer as a place for the community and college students to relax. But here’s the kicker, Thrive is one-hundred percent nonprofit. [voice in background: that’ll be two dollars] Every dollar earned at Thrive is intended to go back to the community to fundraise programs like backpack-stuffing or educational projects with the local public library. But one of Thrive’s biggest goals is to send students on mission trips around the globe. They’ve already sent one student to Guatemala.
Kreisel: “We have had more students become interested in that. The number one prohibiting factor is always what about the funds? What about the resources? This shop is just another means by which we can those funds available and make it possible.”
Kreisel doesn’t just want to give money back to the community, but he also wants to make a good product—which is why everything in the shop is either homemade or from local Missouri businesses. Sarah Howell is the culinary lead and ice cream expert at Thrive.
Howell: “I love getting the freedom to have fun with the flavors but now I think we’re basically fine-tuning everything because we have some pretty good flavors in our book.”[laughter]
Candied pecan wins the tastiest flavor according to employees. And Thrive’s customers seem to agree with Howell—all the flavors are good, but the price is pretty attractive too. Nick Hartney passed through the shop for a coffee on his business travels.
Hartney: “It definitely compares to Starbucks but at a lower cost, if not a little bit better than Starbucks so I really enjoy it, for sure.”
Thrive has a motto: there’s always room. At first, this simply applied to an ice cream dessert after eating a big dinner…
Kreisel: “It didn’t matter if we had just had a meal at CiCi’s or a smaller place, if I was full or not full, if it was the middle of the day, it did not matter.”
But Kreisel now applies it as a business model. As in there’s always room for community.
Kreisel: “This is the place that we want people to come and have life changing conversations and build relationships and maybe even meet someone that you never would have dreamed of talking to before in your life.”
Thrive recently installed an espresso menu with a focus on quote real coffee like that of Italy or Spain. Kreisel says he’d like to create a cultural experience right in the middle of small-town Missouri.
That’s all for this week on Exam. I’m Kassidy Arena, KBIA news.