For many of us (myself included), coffee is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Washing the dust from my mind with a torrent of sizzling bean brew is often the secret to a productive day’s success.
But coffee can also fuel friendships, spur community outreach, and so much more—so long as it has a vessel. And Leaves ‘n Beans is a vessel that has been enriching Peoria Heights since the 1980s.
What role has Leaves ‘n Beans carved out within the community over the past few decades? I talked to manager Katy Ward to find out.
Warm Drinks, Warmer Words
It was a balmy Monday morning, and the house-turned-café was abuzz with people enjoying conversations and caffeine.
As I sat down to begin my conversation with Katy, a lady at the table behind us spoke up.
“I’ve traveled the world, and Katy is the best barista I’ve ever met. She remembers faces, names, and orders,” the woman said.
Katy smiled, and the two exchanged a few affable words before I began asking questions. But in a way, that interaction had already told me everything I needed to know.
Coffee Is Thicker Than Water
Katy has been in charge at the Peoria Heights Leaves ‘n Beans location for five years. But before running a coffee shop, she managed a restaurant.
“I was regularly working 60-hour weeks, and I couldn’t take off for holidays,” Katy told me. The job’s demands were all-encompassing… to the point where she even had to work a shift mere hours before giving birth.
“I needed more flexibility, and I found it at Leaves ‘n Beans.”
But while work-life balance is important, Katy’s love for Leaves ‘n Beans extends far beyond her schedule.
I asked her how she views the café’s role in the community. She began telling me the story of an elderly lady who’s been visiting the store since it first opened.
This woman has been a staple of Leaves ‘n Beans for decades. In recent years her health has prevented her from visiting as often as she’d like, but the fellow coffee aficionados she’s befriended over the years haven’t forgotten about her.
“Customers will regularly ask about her. Sometimes we’ll stop by her house to check on how she’s doing or to deliver her a meal,” Katy told me. “The strength of our community is one of the best parts of my job.”
When I asked how she fosters this type of caring comradery in her shop, her answer came quickly. “I surround myself with people I trust.” If you’re friendly and willing to see trust as a two-way street, the Leaves ‘n Beans community will welcome you with open arms.
A Cup of Sunshine
As the conversation wrapped up, the lady at the table behind us interjected once more. “Katy was my barista, but now she’s my friend.”
That’s the perfect encapsulation of what Leaves ‘n Beans brings to the community. It’s more than just a coffee shop; it’s a fellowship dedicated to making Peoria Heights a brighter place—one sip at a time.