Separation of Church and Coffee

Separation of Church and Coffee

Espresso in progress at Remedy Coffee.

How many of us would be lost without our regular coffeeshop? In the age of wifi and telecommuting, cafes have become more than purveyors of lattes and cappuccinos. They’re the office, the community hub, and the conference room as much as the provider of our caffeine fix.

Are they also becoming a surrogate for the church?

In cities and towns across the South, an increasing number of the folks offering up latte art and high-end pourover brewing are devout Christians. Is it an unlikely and subtle tool for proselytizing? Or a more nuanced expression of 21st Century Christianity, intertwined with social events and professional endeavors.

Calvin Dillinger, one of the owners of The Blue Mason, a new coffeeshop in Knoxville, says “I wouldn’t say we’re a Christian business. I would say that our three owners are believers.” And that’s an important distinction to him. “If somebody walks into my business and feels comfortable and safe, and has a smile on their face? That’s all I need. I don’t need to put a fish on my business card.”

Calvin Dillinger, an owner of The Blue Mason, in his shop.

But Eric Sublett, a patron at a secular coffeeshop in Knoxville, Old City Java, is wary of mixing faith and coffee. “I’m not so big on evangelizing. I avoid people that try to put their beliefs down my throat.”

Eric Sublett, a patron of Old City Java.

We sent writer T Cooper to explore the coffee scene in the famously bible-minded city of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Listen to the full story here.