Food & Drink

Shrine Coffee’s ‘Soul Purpose’ Is Welcoming Everyone

New coffeehouse seeks to create community connections

The nonprofit Shrine Coffee, slated to open March 19, will serve up Cat and Cloud coffee right across the street from the surfer statue. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

There’s a new spot to chill-out and perk-up coming soon to Santa Cruz’s Westside. 

Shrine Coffee, a nonprofit coffeehouse nestled among the gardens of the Shrine of St. Joseph on West Cliff Drive, will officially open its doors March 19. 

The coffeehouse is the result of a multi-year community-driven capital campaign and assistance from the campus’ affiliated ministry, the Oblates of St. Joseph. The coffeehouse is a place to welcome everyone, says Rev. Paul McDonnell, director of the Shrine of St. Joseph. The warm, bright vibe will feel familiar to fans of local coffee powerhouses Verve and Cat and Cloud: The Verve team provided advice and design tips, and Shrine Coffee partnered with the Cat and Cloud team for staff training and their signature products. 

What sparked the idea for Shrine Coffee? 

Rev. Paul McDonnell: This is the culmination of about a six-year journey. It started when I came to Santa Cruz from the East Coast and a person said to me, “We’ve thought about having a coffee shop here.” … The overwhelming majority of people were like, “That’s a great idea. Why didn’t you do this sooner?” But there’s always going to be the few who are saying, “Why are you doing this?” 

What did you tell people who were hesitant about the idea?

My response to them was it is exactly what the church is about. … It’s amazing what can happen over a simple cup of coffee. All we want to do is through kindness and welcoming and hospitality to be able to welcome the stranger, as that’s a direct invitation of Jesus in Matthew 25. So it’s very gospel-based. It’s very Jesus-driven. … The sole purpose of it is not profit-driven. It is soul-driven, so that we can bring people closer to an experience with the Lord, however that may play out in the life of a person. 

How did the first day of the soft launch go? 

It was the litmus test, to see how people were just gathering. Complete strangers are coming in, “Hi, how are you doing? Where are you from?” All of this stuff is just all happening so spontaneously, just so beautifully. That’s what I was trying with these last couple of years to get people to see, like, “Do you see the potential here?”

Shrine Coffee, 544 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. shrinecoffee.com.

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