Walking into Agora Downtown Market, shoppers are sure to notice two things: the upbeat music and unmistakable aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Next to Lineage sits a coffee shop called Broad Porch Coffee Co., where cortadas, lattes, locally blended teas and cold brew are popular staples. The shop opened this past June and has been providing service to Agora shoppers ever since. From looking at the storefront, it would be hard to guess that the little shop started with a Google search and 1963 Shasta camper.
As a JMU student, alumnus Phil Duntemann (’12) never had a single cup of coffee. It wasn’t until after college when he started working in restaurants that he began drinking it every day. Coffee roasting came to Duntemann in 2014 after he randomly conducted a Google search on how to do it. Shortly thereafter, he began roasting coffee on the front porch of his house on Broad Street, later selling it to longtime friend and fellow JMU alumna Jill McMullan (’15).
McMullan always knew she wanted to be self-employed and start a small store. With experience in the restaurant business, her original idea was to open up a truck. She and her father purchased a 1963 Shasta camper and gutted it with that intention. After discussing it with Duntemann, she decided she wanted to sell his coffee out of the truck.
“The mobile thing just kind of seemed to be something that was a really good way to start because it’s — for the most part, it’s pretty easy, successful,” McMullan said. “Then coffee became part of the conversation and when I started thinking about coffee, I was like, ‘Well, I really like Phil’s coffee, so I want to sell that out of the camper.’”
Everything changed when their friend, who’s a property manager at Agora, told them she had a spot open in the market. Changing their original truck plan, they moved to a storefront as a starting point for their business.
“The more we started thinking about it, it was like, we need a place to roast … we’d need some sort of like brick and mortar for storage, for roasting, for anything, so we started thinking more and more about this space and it was like, ‘This just kind of makes sense as a launching pad because it kind of provides everything that we need in a small enough space for a pretty low price,’” McMullan said.
Duntemann and McMullan opened their coffee shop, Broad Porch Coffee Co. They pulled inspiration from Duntemann’s humble beginnings roasting coffee on his porch for the name. While they’ve opened the storefront, the coffee truck isn’t off the table. They hope to bring it back as the next phase for the small coffee shop.
Since opening, they’ve met people in Harrisonburg who have ties with coffee farms in Costa Rica, Honduras and Colombia. Although nothing is set in stone yet, McMullan and Duntemann eventually want to start broadening their connections.
To Duntemann and McMullan, sourcing is important. They currently obtain all their coffee through an importer who has a relationship with family farms.
“We’re not sourcing from these massive farms that just kind of collect coffee beans from all over the place,” McMullan said. “It’s like, a lot of them are sustainable and organic farms and associations, which is pretty cool, so we feel pretty good about where we get it from.”
One thing that sticks out about Broad Porch is the fact that it’s the only small local storefront besides Shenandoah Joe’s that roasts its own coffee. Duntemann roasts all the coffee Broad Porch sells and places emphasis on freshness.
“It’s all about small batch, fresh roasted,” Duntemann said. “I roast usually a couple times a week, so the coffee is always really fresh and that’s kind of the thing, because when you go to a grocery store, the coffee could be months to years old — you don’t really know most of the time.”
Broad Porch also encourages customers to bring their own cups. When people bring their own mug, Broad Porch will fill it for a discount. Guests can also get a discount if they bring their own canisters to fill with whole coffee beans. Duntemann says they aim to “save the environment one cup at a time,” and McMullan adds that they try to cut back on waste in any way they can.
“We really want to put emphasis on not creating waste because coffee shops create a lot of waste, just in like cups and lids and sleeves and stirring sticks,” McMullan said.
JMU alumnus Bernard Fauntleroy (’79) is a regular at Broad Porch. He enjoys the shop because of its environment.
“It’s good coffee,” Fauntleroy said. “The coffee’s very good, very fresh.”
The pair’s favorite part of owning Broad Porch is the learning aspect. McMullan also says it’s freeing to be her own boss. Most of all, they enjoy being a part of the community.
“It’s really cool to be a part of just the downtown Harrisonburg environment and community,” Duntemann said. “This market alone has 11 different vendors. We’re our own little community … we just joined the Friends of Downtown for [Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance], like the whole market did, so we’re going to be much more involved in just downtown events, which is kind of just fun to meet other people doing kind of similar stuff we’re doing.”
Contact Abby Church at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.