The creation of Cup of Joy Cafe in DeMotte, Indiana was no accident. In fact, according to Owner Crystal VanNieulande, the coffee shop was in the works long before she was involved in the plans.
VanNieulande had always wanted to own her own business, but that dream had never come to fruition until she walked into a coffee shop one day. The atmosphere was perfect, the smell was divine, and VanNieulande could feel the pull to open a shop of her own.
In early February, VanNieulande began trying to piece together the process of starting a business, and by mid-March, Cup of Joy Cafe was open for business.
“Everything just lined up. Every call I would make, every question I had, every person I needed–it just lined up. By March 16, we were open,” said VanNieulande. “It's been not my work, really. I feel like the Lord just had this planned and had everything ready for me. I just needed to move.”
VanNieulande has always had a gift for gathering. Before opening the shop, she spent her time hosting Wednesday morning small groups from her home for other moms of small children. She later became the small group leader at her church. Although she had to give up her position at church once she opened the cafe, she has been able to reap the benefits of creating a place to gather.
For years, VanNieulande worked to encourage others to host small groups inside of their homes, and she now has the unique opportunity to provide a space for others to gather. Whether it be for Bible studies, study groups, or individual focus time, Cup of Joy Cafe serves as a calm environment for people to dive deeper into whatever they’re pursuing.
“When my kids were younger, I used to have women over every Wednesday morning for coffee. I've just always loved to gather people, so this has turned out to be a really great place to do that. The only thing I wasn't counting on is that I would be working while everybody else was gathering,” VanNieulande laughed.
Since opening the cafe, VanNieulande has established a solid relationship with the community. The shop features artwork for sale from local artists and scenes from farms within the community, adding a hyper-local and personal touch to the decor. In return, the people of DeMotte have established Cup of Joy Cafe is a must-see for guests and visitors alike.
“I didn't realize how much Demotte really wanted coffee. The community involvement, community support, and just being from here and having a business here feels good,” said VanNieulande.
VanNieulande feels that God’s hand has been in the midst of her business since day one. Though she did have to move on from a few passions in one aspect of her life, those same passions were reimagined in her new venture.
One of VanNieulande’s passions–leading the Celebrate Recovery group at her church–made a reappearance in her business when she learned about Rescue Coffee Roasters in Elkhart, Indiana. The roastery puts 50% of all proceeds toward the Adult & Teen Challenge Northern Indiana (ATC) facility in Elkhart, and the other 50% of proceeds are directed toward the ATC facility in Liberia. ATC and Rescue Coffee Roasters work to provide aid to people struggling to overcome addiction.
“I didn't know what God was doing in bringing this into my life,” said VanNieulande. “When I began this I already had two other jobs that were passions that I loved, and I didn't plan on giving them up. Normally, as we grow and live, God leads us in these directions. I've always had to give up something before he showed me what was next. This time he gave me what was next and then had me give up those other things. I probably wouldn't have started this if I knew I was going to have to give them up. I know that the Lord has brought me here, and I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. He's given me a little bit of each thing to be able to continue on here, and it’s just really cool.”