I’m sitting by myself, the steady thrum of others’ voices around me, and I’m looking at a white sign with neat black lettering: “WHERE HOT COFFEE AND WARM CONVERSATION FLOW.”
I’ve got the hot coffee part—it’s steaming pleasantly in a glossy brown mug—and I can hear the groups talking around me. There are some college students in the corner of the room. (I can tell they’re in school because of their tired eyes trained on the laptops perched in front of them, even as they continue to hold conversation with each other.) In the middle of the room, two employees on their breaks sit at a long table and chat with smiles on their faces. There’s an older couple visiting by the counter, and, of course, behind the counter, the baristas glide back and forth with pitchers in their hands. Everyone is talking to each other in The Coffee Shop, except for me. I’m waiting, saving my voice for a very specific warm conversation.
After a few minutes of sipping my coffee, I spot Tammy Causey. She’s grinning as she approaches me and extends a hand.
“I was up to my elbows in dishes!” she exclaims.
Tammy and her husband, Guy, are the faces behind The Coffee Shop on Main Street in Humboldt, Tennessee. Currently Guy is working behind the counter, cleaning a machine. The Causeys are the kind of business owners that work, day in and day out, in every part of their business: from dishes, to lighting, to management, to basic maintenance. To look at them now, you’d expect they had years of experience running coffeehouses. Yet, before a few months ago, neither of them had ever run a business.
“Our story dates back to God bringing us both to Humboldt, in different ways,” Tammy muses.
They came to Humboldt in the 1980s from different circumstances; Tammy’s parents had just divorced, while Guy had recently completed two years of mission work in West Africa.
“We met and fell in love immediately. . . . We knew we wanted to serve the Lord in full-time capacity,” Tammy says.
The words come steadily and confidently from her lips; Tammy is a natural storyteller with an inspirational message. She talks candidly about her different jobs through the years, whether she was in the medical field, banking, or an overseas missionary. Throughout her life, Tammy has strived to be where God wants her to be, and therefore she has been many different places and traveled down various career paths. Guy has done the same, as an educator and missionary.
As the years went on, Tammy and Guy began to think about what the future might look like for them. They’d lived in West Africa, France, and other interesting places, but they came back home to Humboldt in 2006; in 2015, they started talking about retirement options.
A few ideas came to mind, and the Causeys talked and prayed about what their next step should be. It was then that Tammy attended a missions conference at her church, where she chose to learn about “transformational business” in a breakout session. The core of it, Tammy shares, was to just “be where you are. Just look for opportunities to share the love of Christ as God would present it.” The speaker mentioned doing this through a coffee shop.
Tammy considered what she had learned from the transformational business session. She considered further as she watched the documentary The Insanity of God, the true stories of missionaries and how they persevered in faith even through persecution. Tammy felt that God was asking her and Guy to do something new with their lives.
Soon, she was ready to mention the idea to her husband: “I think God wants us to open a coffee shop.”
Tammy had brought other ideas to Guy before, but he hadn’t felt the same convictions yet, which she understood. They would joke about it occasionally, and they agreed that if it was from God, then they would both hear the message. Yet this particular idea wasn’t going away.
“So I got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and I said to God, ‘If this is of you, show it to me,’” Tammy reflects. “It came about that it was supposed to be a coffee shop on Main Street. . . . It felt very immediate, that it needed to be a place that was spacious, that folks could feel comfortable sharing intimately with one another . . . just a place where people would feel welcomed and feel loved. . . . These were just the things that God had me write on paper.”
From there, Tammy began to ask realtors and business owners about what starting a coffee shop would look like. After doing her research, she returned to Guy and asked him about the coffee shop again; they hadn’t spoken about it since her initial idea after the church conference. When his response was “We can talk about it,” Tammy knew that her husband was hearing the same call that she was.
The couple prayer-walked down Main Street, visiting with neighbors and continuing to ask questions about starting their own business. They ended up meeting the owner of a building who wanted them to use his space for The Coffee Shop. On December 21, 2018, they bought the building and began renovation a few days later. Their children, Garrett and Tabitha, jumped on board and helped design the space. As a family, the Causeys worked together to make The Coffee Shop the friendly and popular business it is today.
The Coffee Shop not only relies on Tammy and Guy but also a team of cooks, baristas, and other helpers to keep it going.
“I told our team that we won’t be perfect,” Tammy says, “but we do strive for excellence.”
Of course, The Coffee Shop would not flourish without the support of the community. Tammy gets excited as customers come from all over West Tennessee, as well as from the other businesses in Humboldt.
Tammy also tells me about “Tip It Forward,” the shop’s initiative to donate to three charities: Birth Choice of Gibson County, A Mother’s Love, and The Boys and Girls Club of Humboldt. While the community certainly supports The Coffee Shop—as you can see by the crowd lined up for drinks and ice cream—it’s good to know that the business gives back to Humboldt as well. As patrons come from other towns nearby, they can rest assured that their money, when given to The Coffee Shop, will also go to local charities.
Throughout it all, Tammy and Guy have relied on God and each other when making the major decisions that come with running a business. It hasn’t always been easy learning the ins and outs of their business (Tammy doesn’t even drink coffee; she prefers the shop’s Blue Bell ice cream), but the two have teamed up to make The Coffee Shop a warm and successful environment.
I start tearing up when Tammy tells me about the love and support that she has with Guy. My husband and I have been married for one year, and I know that we can learn countless lessons from the Causeys’ thirty-two years of teamwork. For Tammy and Guy, dividing tasks came naturally as they applied their strengths to The Coffee Shop. Early on, Tammy leaped into the hiring process, focusing on the people that they needed, while Guy busied himself with ordering equipment and planning the menu. From there, they have continued each doing “a little bit of everything” while working side-by-side.
There are tears in Tammy’s eyes, too, when she reflects on their relationship.
“We support each other when we’re strong, we uplift each other when we weep, we start our day with prayer and Bible reading together, and we end our day snuggled in each other’s arms.”
Armed with their solid relationship with God and each other, the Causeys seem ready to take on the future of The Coffee Shop. As with the rest of their lives, Tammy and Guy want to move in the direction that God has for them, whenever and wherever that may be. In the meantime, Tammy is excited to host groups in their private room, which can be reserved online for birthdays, baby showers, and other special events. She’s ready to show guests the delights of Blue Bell milkshakes and Guy’s own “smash burger.” But most importantly, Tammy works toward her goal of “bringing the Lord honor.” She desires for her customers to feel God’s warmth and love. The Coffee Shop is here to stay, and the Causeys will continue working each day as they watch their visions become reality.
The Coffee Shop is located at 1405 Main Street in downtown Humboldt and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. To learn more, visit their website.
Originally from Medon, Tennessee, Olivia Chin is the Circulation Manager at the Union University Library. Her best Halloween costumes (so far) have been David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. Her favorite hobbies include drinking local coffee, reading true crime novels, and going to emo concerts with her husband.
Photographer Mattanah DeWitt's passion is telling stories that connect people and empower them to live on purpose. She is currently earning her B.A. in journalism at Union University, where she serves as Editor-in-Chief for the school's magazine and online newspaper, Cardinal & Cream.