Downtown Credo is a coffee shop in College Park where customers can decide for themselves what they want to pay for their drinks and food. (Photo by Brek Dalrymple.)
COLLEGE PARK – At the coffee shop that Sarah Heiberg works at, there’s a unique deal between customer and server. If you want some coffee, tea or a baked good, fine, but there’s just one thing to keep in mind first.
You pay whatever you want.
That’s right – there are no prices on the menu to memorize. You just order your coffee with a piece of Apple Spice Crumb Cake, and then tell Heiberg what you want to pay.
That begs the question, do people come in and offer a nickel for everything? Heiberg shrugged and said more often, it’s the exact opposite.
“We say name your price,” Heiberg said. “We have suggested prices.”
Sometimes it seems like customers feel like they’ve been put on the spot, and are almost being asked if they’re cheap or not, she added.
“I feel like they get nervous sometimes,” she said. “They say, ‘What’s the average price?’ But we also have people come in and offer us way above the average price because they support what we do.”
What they do is operate Downtown Credo. It serves two purposes.
One mission is as a coffee shop at 706 W. Smith St. in College Park, right off Edgewater Drive, in a spacious storefront that used to house College Park Yoga. That wide open space that was ideal for yoga sessions has given Downtown Credo plenty of room for tables that attract customers – many of whom spend their entire working day hanging out there.
“It’s super spread out,” Heiberg said. “It’s a great space.”
Ideal, in fact, for people who own laptops and want a cup of coffee, a wi fi connection, and a relaxing environment to get some work done, she added.
“We have a lot of freelancers who come in here and spend all day here,” she said. “We see all types here. We’re creating a life here – and having an impact on the community.”
That’s Downtown Credo’s other mission. It was founded by Ben Hoyer as a nonprofit, a creative community committed to making an impact. When they use the word creative, Heiberg said, that doesn’t just mean the coffee shop is a hangout for artists, although they’re more than welcome to come by.
“it’s not just artistic,” she said. “It’s anybody.”
Downtown Credo is a concept with a mission: to work with others, to create an outreach that helps individuals and the community alike. As part of that mission, Downtown Credo has formed partnerships with a variety of groups, including the Boys & Girls Club, Green Up, Keeping Orlando Beautiful, and the New Image Youth Center.
They’ve also used the coffee shop to assist poverty-stricken farmers in South America, by purchasing their coffee beans directly from Guatamala.
“Ben knew a friend who works in Guatamala,” she said. “These farmers will go to the markets and bring their coffee beans, but they won’t get paid for them, they were get a fair trade for something else. We pay 50 percent more than fair trade, so we’re giving them more money. We call that a relational direct trade.”
Downtown Credo features a medium roast, bold flavored Guatamala brew, roasted locally.
“We have really quality coffee,” Heiberg said. “We have really good teas here as well, and we do iced teas. And we have real quality baked good, and with everything, it’s name your price.”
The menu includes coffee, Espresso, Café Mocha, Café Latte, Cappuccino, tea, hot chocolate, and baked goods that include spice poundcake, pumpkin bread, and Apple Spice Crumb Cake.
The coffee shop first opened on a part-time basis a year ago in October 2010, then started operating its current full time hours on Jan. 1.
“When we started in January, it was a little slow,” she said. “But we’ve picked up since then. We’ve done no marketing or advertising, really, and we’ve seen a steady increase in the past few months.”
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