Before we’ve even sat down to start our interview, I find myself holding a glass of Phoenix Roasters’ newest and arguably most unique offering. As I watch the beverage being delivered from a keg, my eyes are drawn to the cascade of caramel color and the thick, frothy head, quite akin to other keg-dispensed beverages.
But unlike the others, this particular beverage is actually coffee. A cold-brew infused with nitrogen and a hint of chocolate and caramel, Phoenix Roasters’ nitro coffee is delicious, and quite possibly the quickes
t burst of energy I have ever experienced from a drink.
Much like this exciting coffee concoction, Phoenix’s founder is also pure energy. It could be the copious amount of coffee he drinks throughout the day. But my theory is his energy level really stems from his passion for what he does.
The Man Behind the Mug
Brian Holland sits and sips his nitro, and the Phoenix story begins to pour out.
For Brian, those dreams started brewing while he was working on staff at a church in the metro Atlanta area. In his heart he felt a desire – some might even say a call – to reach out to those who are struggling.
Sitting in one of the rooms of Phoenix’s Duluth, Georgia (USA) warehouse and meeting space, the dreamer’s story unfolds, and I can both hear and feel the passion Brian has for those connected to the Phoenix Community, and those the Community wants to impact.
Holland found himself reflecting on his experiences, both professionally and personally. And he thought about his primary passions: Jesus, helping the hurting, and coffee. And in the process, he saw something coming together.
In 2007, Brian took the first steps towards seeing a dream to fruition. Making the decision to walk away from his role in a traditional church, he began building Phoenix Community of Atlanta.
‘Broken up, burned up, need to rise up’
Those words are how Brian explains the dream he felt in his heart. He recognized so many around him who were scarred from various life experiences, and needed a place to come, first for healing, and then for moving on.
Around 2010, Phoenix Roasters began churning out beans in a Duluth, Georgia warehouse space which also served (and continues to serve) as Phoenix first Community meeting space.
This Crazy Dream
As our conversation moves to and fro, I hear Brian refer to Phoenix Roasters and Phoenix Community of Atlanta more than once as ‘this crazy dream’… a living picture of the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes… a place where people come together and feel loved and supported… an organization who roasts coffee and uses the revenue as a way to support recovering addicts, single parents, homeless, those in prison, and those struggling in and around Atlanta… a coffee roaster paying fair wages to coffee growers, teaching them about growing quality coffee, and helping them to support their families in the process.
As Brian shares about what is now known as Phoenix Community of Atlanta, his passion is continually evident: a heart burdened for those who have experienced true brokenness. His dream is to see people move from brokenness to transformation. He desires to see a shift from isolation to community. Those concepts are the essence of the environment Brian and the rest of the Phoenix team are seeking to create.
Becoming a True Community
Call it coincidence or something else, but the “impeccable” timing of an economic downfall several years ago shifted the team’s plans from purchasing land and a building for more traditional Sunday morning meetings to creating a model which truly lives up to the word Community in Phoenix’s name. Now Phoenix has several groups gathering in multiple cities. These faith-based groups are a place where transformation is beginning to take place in lives. It’s a community where people can share their hurts, and both hear and share stories of redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation, through the lives of those attending, and through the Bible.
‘This crazy dream’ has morphed into reality just nine years after Holland’s initial move to do something. The stories behind the faces within any given Phoenix Community gathering are stories of brokenness, hurt, defeat, and despair. But many of those stories also have new chapters, with such themes as healing, transformation, belonging, community, reconciliation and redemption.
A community throughout Georgia and through Central America that is full of stories. From the recovering addict who is now preparing to lead one of the community groups, to the single mom who was taught how to grow coffee and paid a better-than-fair wage so she can support her children: it’s people who were broken up and burned up,
But now, much like the legendary phoenix, they are rising up. And ‘this crazy dream’ that Brian felt percolating in his heart not so many years ago seems to be catching and spreading.
Learn more about Brian and Phoenix: www.phoenixroasters.coffee http://phoenixatl.org