By Danielle Debley
Coffee shops. Dozens of these tiny, artsy shops can be seen popping up all over the place and often become beloved meeting places in our communities. There are so many different places to try out and relax in…so what makes The Cracked Pot Coffee Shop in Mechanicsburg unique? While this coffee shop has a heavy focus on community, it was established as a small non-profit with a dream of making a difference.
How It All Started
The idea of owning a coffee shop started in the heart of Emily Schmidtt at a very young age. “As a little girl, I had a love for coffee, and serving, and people. By age twelve, I had a dream to one day have my own a coffee shop.” She went on through life, got married, and started thinking about things like adoption before ever having children of her own. While these two ideas don’t seem to be related at all, you’ll see why this part of her story is so important. Emily’s coffee shop dream, and thoughts of adopting, were placed on the back burner as she transitioned into married life and raising her growing family of 3 kids.
After moving back to the Mechanicsburg area, Emily was driving and saw the house which is now home to The Cracked Pot Coffee Shop.
“It was almost like God just turned my head and was like, that’s the place. I never wanted a coffee shop downtown, I wanted it in a peaceful setting. So that’s kind of when the coffee shop started coming back around and I started feeling strongly about that again after years of just letting it sit,” says Emily.
At the same time, she and her husband, Chris, started talking again about adoption and that process. After exploring some ideas and doing some research, they learned more about the foster care system and older kids who were transitioning out of the system and needed homes. Emily says she knew that she wanted the shop to be a ministry, but hadn’t had any ideas as to what that would look like. Through learning so much about adoption and foster care, she finally decided this would be the shop’s focus.
No Ordinary Coffee Shop
Not only does this coffee shop serve a great cup of coffee (and if you like Chai Tea Lattes you’ve gotta’ try theirs), but The Cracked Pot Coffee Shop is unique in that it offers a program for youth who are aging out of the foster care system.
The team at the shop invests in these young people, giving them a formal interview, hiring them, and then mentoring them through a nine to twelve month program. The program has three phases and during each phase, the individual sets a phase goal, and weekly goals. They have weekly chats and sit down and talk with Emily or another mentor, discussing where they were, how far they’ve come, setting goals, and sometimes just talking through feelings and what they’re going through.
“Each phase becomes more and more serious with the goal of at end of the last phase, the kids having an idea of where they’re headed whether that means getting a vehicle, transitioning into new job, or renting an apartment,” she adds.
One of the two youths currently in the program has the goal of becoming a journalist and shooting a documentary.
“I really like this program, it’s a good job, my favorite job I’ve ever had. It definitely is helping me as a person, and I love the environment here, working with customers. Especially when I’m really upset, this place is really nice to come to,” he says.
Community, Connection, and Coffee
Not only does the coffee shop connect with youth transitioning out of a very hard lifestyle and system, but it also reaches out to connect with the local community. Every first and third Friday of the month they have a music night where local artists can showcase their music and sell merchandise. The Cracked Pot gives the option to reserve and rent out rooms for all types events, and they also feature an artist of the month every month. These individuals showcase their wares and art on the back wall of the main room, and have an opportunity for a meet and greet day. Their upstairs is dedicated as a kids’ space with a teaching aid, so moms can come in and enjoy a cup of coffee and know their kids are being attended to upstairs.
“This is not my coffee shop,” says Emily, “this is the community’s coffee shop. I’m the owner, but there’s so many more people behind it. A lot of them are a part of the community.”
Emily says, “There’s no specific customer base. Senior citizens from Messiah Village, moms with their kids, Messiah College students, pastors, and more; everyone has a place here.”
People have become patrons of the shop as well, donating money and earning a small plaque with their name on it, which is then placed on pieces of furniture all around the shop. Many people also volunteer. About four or five people come in each week and help bake everything, prep the food, run the registers, wipe down tables, and much more. To Emily and her team, it is a huge blessing.
The Heart and History of The Cracked Pot
One of the most interesting things that Emily shared about the location of the shop was the history behind the home and its previous owners. Rosalie Roland, the chair of the shop’s board, was actually raised in the home that now holds the shop!
“She and her husband, Lee, always wanted to have a coffee shop; they actually penciled drawings in the garage for a coffee shop one day. They’re Christians, love the Lord and just jumped on board with the idea of doing this,” says Emily. “They were just retiring from their business at that time so it was just perfect timing. We actually named our salad after her, and our sandwich after her mother; her mother was very into hosting and having people over. So the history of this building is very cool.”
The name, “The Cracked Pot” comes from the 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 which says, “but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” As it says on their website’s mission statement page:
“We are just clay pots, but we are designed to hold something valuable inside. As Christians, it is Christ living within. Our purpose, as Christians, is to display His light living within us. God delights in using us, imperfect vessels, Cracked Pots, so that it may be made clear that power comes from Him and not from us.”
Whether you are interested in partnering with them through volunteering or patronage, or just looking for a great place to connect, relax and enjoy an amazing cup of coffee, The Cracked Pot Coffee Shop is the place to be. Community centered and truly making an impact on youth in tough situations, this shop has so much to give and is a unique and irreplaceable local treasure.
130 Gettysburg Pike, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
Monday – Friday: 6am – 2pm
Saturday: 6am – 2pm