Is new coffee shop in Indian Land causing a ‘coffee war’?

Coffee shop builds community connection

INDIAN LAND, S.C. (WBTV) - There’s a unique 250 square-foot shop that has opened in Indian Land along Hwy 521 - Burr and Berry, a drive-thru and walk-up coffee shop.

Co-owner Jason Cowan, who opened up the shop along with his wife, knows about the coffee business. Cowan worked several years in the corporate world including about eight years in Seattle for Starbucks.

“I thought, ‘here I am creating a lot of value for these big corporations, but I am not doing that for myself,' and I thought it’s time to go do that,” Cowan said.

Cowan says exclusive drive-thru and walk-up coffee shops were popular in Seattle. He thought it would be a good idea to bring that type of business to South Carolina. Customers are loving the concept.

“I actually have two young boys” customer Amanda Thom said. “So getting out of the car can be a hassle.”

Cowan says there are other drive-thru coffee shops in the area, but he hopes his business will offer something special and memorable - something that would make customers keep coming back.

“What’s great about coffee is when you have a good product and you have good relationships - people want to maintain that connection throughout the week," Cowan said. "So coffee can be even a solid thing - even when the economy is down - because people have a sense, ‘oh, I want to make that connection with my barista.’”

The shop has only been open for about a month and Cowan says it has already exceeded expectations. He says he has heard stories from customers and made connections that will go unbroken.

“We have just the most amazing stories,” he said. “I won’t go into them because they are almost personal stories, but those connections from people have been just unbelievable and really exciting.”

Burr and Berry is located on the property of Transformation Church. The pastor and co-owners knew each other and decided having the coffee shop on church grounds would work.

“When we built Transformation Church, our vision was: if our community does not get better because we exist - we shouldn’t be here,” Pastor Derwin Gray said.

Gray believes the community is better because of Burr and Berry. He says the shop brings energy and jobs. The church leader also believes having the shop makes good business sense.

“We believe in the next 25 to 30 years that it’s going to be important for churches to have other streams of revenue to not only bless the community, but who knows, the tax exempt status maybe gone,” Gray said.

Cowan says despite the fact his shop is on church property and the church is his landlord his business is independent. Burr and Berry is one of a few coffee shops opening up within miles from each other. A Dunkin’ Donuts and a Starbucks are located down the street. A new coffee shop named Sweetwaters is also set to open up.

Cowan does admit his independent shop can have a disadvantage.

“Competing with people who have lots of resources is always hard for a small business owner like myself,” Cowan said.

But he also realizes the advantages that come with being independent.

“We can move quickly,” Cowan said. “And we can adjust on the fly very quickly. We are working on adjusting our menu.”

Cowan says his location will help his business grow. He says Burr and Berry is on the right side of morning traffic, it is in a high-volume area with about 30,000 cars passing it daily and the connections that will be created will be priceless.

The owner hopes to open other walk-up coffee shops throughout the area.

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