NORFOLK, Va. - It's not every day someone describes their job at a busy coffee shop as being full of joy. Then again, Katie Dininny doesn't run an ordinary coffee shop. At Norfolk's Coaster Coffee, the mission is to serve more than just a caffeine fix.
"We are trying to pay our bills and give the money away," Dininny said. "The coffee is just an avenue to get us into the community."
The shop takes profits from every cappuccino and cold brew and pours that right back into the community. The shop sponsors events like the Affordable Christmas Store, where families in need can buy gifts for up to 90% off the regular price. This Easter, they helped assemble and deliver 750 baskets full of books, candy, and stuffed animals.
Coaster Coffee's community outreach expands beyond the four walls of the coffee shop. In fact, right outside there is a community garden area, with fresh herbs, fruit and vegetables, all available for free.
"It's a little sparse right now but it's still feeding people, and that's important," Dininny added.
Feeding people -- their mouths, and hearts. It's a mission never more important than over the past year or so. When COVID-19 hit, the coffeehouse became a lighthouse.
"What we were finding was that people were coming in for their coffee, they were coming in for a conversation," she said.
A beacon for a weary neighborhood to come in for a refill of caffeine, of community, and yes, a little joy.