Flint pastor goes beyond church walls to build neighborhood coffee shop

It’s not just about the coffee. It’s also about the community. 

This is Chill Coffee Café, a new coffee shop on Beecher Road, near the overpass where cars speed by on I-75. This is the place where Pastor Martez S. Warren Sr. is building his business, investing in his hometown, and setting the stage for even bigger dreams. 

This is just the beginning.

The ultimate goal (along with selling as much coffee as possible) is to take make a profit that will allow Warren to further invest in the city — building baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and a mentoring program as well as donating to mental health research. 

Really, though, the real beginning goes back much further than the coffee shop. Warren grew up in Flint, watched the city change, saw his neighborhood decline, and himself turned to a life of crime and violence. He was in a gang and was dealing drugs and distinctly remembers being told in the 11th grade that he soon would be either dead or in prison.

In 1992, he decided to make a change in his life. Now he is a clinical social worker, senior pastor of Church Without Walls International, founded Five-Fold Outreach, and operates his own lawncare business. 

A decade later, Warren first pursued this dream of opening a cafe. He tried to start one in the church, but it featured only a basic espresso machine and floundered. His dream of a coffee shop was stalled, at least for the time being.

Located at 3426 Beecher Road, Chill Coffee Café features a large open space, comfortable chairs, coffee roasted in Flint at Fireside Coffee, a full drink menu and competitive prices. In the next two weeks, food — including sandwiches and paninis — also will be added, Warren said. It also offers private space for meetings and conferences, free of charge.

“It’s more personable when you come to Chill Coffee Café and I’m back there. I will, after we get done making a drink, if you have time to sit down, we’re going to talk about the football game last night. We’re going to talk about how the kid’s year is going in college,” he smiles.

The impetuous to open Chill Coffee Café came after the Tim Horton’s on Ballenger Highway suddenly closed and people in the neighborhood (including nearby McLaren Hospital and a neighboring apartment complex) lamented loss of their local coffee shop.

“In between the day you’re born and the day you expire, there’s so much you can give the world. It’s not about how much money you can make, it’s about how much you give this world,” Warren says. “When you have joy, it supersedes money.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/chillcoffeecafeflint/
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Read more articles by Tim Galloway.