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Value Restoration

Church Designer

Mar/Apr 2015 |
By Carolyn Heinze

Storytelling lies at the heart of a California church-based coffeehouse designed with a cause

We all have “a-ha!” moments when it becomes clear how we’re going to overcome what sometimes seem like impossible challenges. For Blake Ryan, everything became clear during a visit to a coffee roasting facility.

As volunteer director of the Corona Norco Rescue Mission in Corona, Calif., Ryan’s challenge was to help the homeless in a meaningful way. As principal at PlainJoe, a design firm also based in Corona, his aim was to build a facility that would serve as the vehicle through which the program’s homeless—“students” in the rescue mission’s language—would gain the tools to rediscover their value, and reintegrate into society.

At Rabih Sater’s specialty coffeehouse, Dripp, in Chino Hills, Calif., Ryan’s “a-ha!” moment produced a number of connec- tions: Coffee must go through a transformation—a restoration—before we consume it, much like people must transform and restore themselves to recover from trauma and construct healthy, fulfilling lives. Coffee in general, and specialty coffee in particular, is a hot commodity in the U.S., requiring skilled baristas to process and serve it the way it was intended to be consumed. One of the most meaningful ways to help the homeless is to provide vocational training that actually positions them for employment. And hey, if they’re trained as baristas, rather than just glorified coffee-pourers, there’s a chance they’ll be po- sitioned to earn a bit more than the average server in a diner. And thus, Restoration Roasters was born.

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