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A new Clemson coffee shop: An interview with Grace Coffee Co.

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Photo Credit: Emily Reichard, Senior Writer

At the end of last semester, you may have seen the name Grace Coffee Company floating around downtown, and this semester, you may have seen the name featured in your friends’ Instagram stories. I love coffee shops and was so excited to see a new one in the Clemson area. Grace Coffee Company is located in downtown Clemson, underground across the road from ITSURWEINER and Mr. Knickerbockers. I had the honor of interviewing the owners recently, Emma Grace Beyer and Caroline Horn. In our interview, we discussed the origin of Grace Coffee Company and the journey to making it a reality in Clemson.

 Emily Reichard (ER): What’s the backstory on Grace Coffee?

Emma Grace Beyer (EG): So when I was in high school, my dad started GCC. He is an entrepreneur, and so he just started Grace as another venture essentially. I started working there when I was 16, so it opened in November 2016... Less than a year later, in about June 2017, I ended up having way more of an ownership and that mentality where I was responsible for hiring and training and all the ins and outs and found out that I really loved doing all that. Fast forward to where we are now. The past five years we have taken everything that we learned from Columbia, SC.  We started doing some research and decided that we were going to take everything that we learned in Columbia and move it here and be all-in at our very first brick and mortar.

ER: When did you start pursuing a location in Clemson?

Caroline Horn (CH): Last fall we just started talking about the idea of ‘is there any way we could get Grace Coffee in Clemson since we’re both Clemson students, we love the Clemson family, and we love to have a community in that way.’ The real estate market is crazy right now and we just got online and had no idea this was down here. We knew Entourage was available but had no idea this was down here and it kind of just became into this and we moved forward with it.

Grace Coffee Company Barista

Barista serving drinks at Grace Coffee Company

When you enter Grace Coffee Company, there is an immediate warm and welcoming atmosphere. The baristas are incredibly patient, helpful and welcoming. The coffee shop is buzzing with energy from people chatting and keyboards clacking, which makes for a great location for people who can’t work in complete silence. Although for those who enjoy a quieter setting, there is seating in the back which seems to be quieter. 

I loved the décor as I was walking into Grace Coffee Company. There is a trendy, earthy and warm feel to the coffee shop with subtle and tasteful nods to Clemson. Beyers discussed the inspiration they had for the décor. 

ER: Was there any inspiration behind your design of the coffee shop?

EG: Yeah, we wanted to incorporate a Clemson feel. That’s why we have tiger wallpaper and one of our best friends who is a visual arts major painted the mural. I think the biggest thing for us is that we wanted, no matter who walked in here, no matter what their story or background to feel welcome and that this is a place where they could come and sit down, read a book, get a coffee or a frozen hot chocolate, and hang out with their friends. We just wanted to cultivate that environment, set the scene for whatever to happen, and be available for whoever.

Grace Coffee Company Mural

Mural at Grace Coffee Company

While interviewing Beyers and Horn, I was sipping on one of their iced shaken espressos with peppermint. It was smooth and had a nice mellow taste. In the portion of our interview below, we also discussed the origin of their coffee beans, the different types of roasts available, specialty drinks and how their recipes are created.

 ER: Where do you get your coffee beans from?

EG: We actually roast our own coffee. It’s locally roasted in Columbia, SC from a roast master that we contracted out to, Beach Loveland. All of our coffee is organic and fair trade. Every few weeks we get a big order from Columbia two hours down the road.

ER: How many roasts do you have available?

EG: We have our dark roast which is Brazil, Guatemala which is our lighter of our mediums, Columbia which is the darker of our mediums, and then we have what’s called Tiger Blend which is a blend of Guatemala and Columbia. We blind tasted and chose that exact ratio which is really cool. We haven’t served these yet in person, but we have Peru, Sumatra, Ethiopia (kind of like a tea blend; it’s very light), and we’ll probably implement some new blends. Some blends are seasonal so we can’t get them year-round.

ER: Do you have any seasonal or special drinks in the works?

EG: We released our new caramel apple butter macchiato. It’s really good; it’s topped with caramel drizzle and cinnamon sugar. We also have a pumpkin pie latte. In the winter we love to do not only a peppermint mocha, but also a peppermint bark latte which is white chocolate and peppermint and topped with whipped cream and candy cane shavings and is my personal favorite seasonal item.

Grace Coffee Flavors

A look at the flavor varieties offered by Grace Coffee Company

ER: Who comes up with your drink recipes?

EG: Caroline and I do and in addition we love our staff and we encourage them to be creative.

Grace Coffee Company isn’t only buzzing around the Clemson community because it’s a new coffee shop, but rather because of the amazement that comes from telling people that the company is run by two juniors at Clemson. Beyers and Horn graciously gave insight below on what it looked like when they began their business and how they’ve seen the fruits of their labor.

ER: Since Grace Coffee is entirely run by you two, how do you divvy up the work?

CH: Emma and I are really big about what we like to say, “being in our big zone”— what we’re good at. So, Emma and I sat down and had a very open and honest conversation before Grace opened and said, “Hey this is what I’m really passionate about and want to do and be the best in.” So, we kind of just went over all the tasks we had to do and went from there.

ER: What do you think the biggest reward has been from opening Grace Coffee Company?

CH: I would say that when Emma and I were talking last fall that we wanted to do it in downtown Clemson... We wanted to give back to the Clemson family. Obviously, we took a risk; we didn’t know how it would go, but it has been really rewarding. We’ve had individuals come up to us just saying, “It’s such a great addition to downtown Clemson.” So, I think seeing that other people are enjoying it and loving it as much as we wanted to do it for Clemson has been super special.

EG: Every decision that we made opening this location—where the chairs are placed, what pillows we picked out—all of that was to create the environment that Caroline talked about. So to have all of these strangers come up to us and say, “Thank you so much for doing this for Clemson,” there’s nothing greater than receiving that feedback because that was the ultimate goal. It’s been really encouraging.

ER: Any last words that you would like to bestow upon me?

EG: I think I would just say that we’re so thankful we’ve been given this opportunity to serve the Clemson community, and we are blown away by the love and support we have received by everybody, and we are committed to everyday getting better.

Both Beyers and Horn are passionate about Grace Coffee Company and its impact on the community. Being able to hear from them firsthand about their vision and seeing it come to life was inspiring. They took an idea they had to serve the Clemson community and made it happen through their perseverance, business-savvy brains and love for the Clemson community. I can’t think of a better way to honor Clemson than drinking coffee in a shop run by two Clemson students. 

Interview responses are edited for formatting and clarity.

An earlier version of this article misspelled Caroline Horn's name as "Carolina." The Tiger regrets this error and it has since been fixed.

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