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The exterior of Molly’s Coffee Company, a new coffee shop off of Macon Highway in Athens, Georgia is pictured on Sunday, July 26, 2020. The shop opened July 13th with drive-through service only and offering coffee made from 1000 Faces coffee beans, pastries from Kiki’s Bakeshop and other specialty drinks. (Photo/Caroline Barnes, caroline.barnes3710@gmail.com)

The grand opening of Molly’s Coffee Company on Macon Highway looked a little different from the owner’s vision as Georgia continues to battle the COVID-19 outbreak. Owner Molly Stokes elected to keep the lobby unopened to the public and operating on a drive-thru-only basis. The coffee shop offers pastries from Kiki’s Bakeshop and coffee brewed with 1000 Faces Coffee’s beans.

Stokes came to Athens in 2011 as a student at the University of Georgia. Like many before her, she fell in love with the Classic City and couldn’t bring herself to leave after graduation.

“A lot of my family lives in the area, and my Athens friends have become part of my family as well,” Stokes said. “Athens is home.”

What is your experience with coffee?

I started my coffee career as a barista at Jittery Joe's. I spent a few years there and eventually worked as both a trainer and manager for them. After my time with Joe's, I worked for both SIPS Espresso Cafe and 1000 Faces Coffee. I learned so much from each of these local Athens companies, and I'm grateful to have been able to work with people with such valuable knowledge and experience. In addition to these companies, I've spent some time studying coffee with the Specialty Coffee Association over the years.

Why did you create Molly’s Coffee Company?

I remember calling my mom after my first day of work at Jittery Joe's and telling her that I could do this forever. My feelings never changed, and I have spent most of my adult life trying to figure out how I could make my coffee experience into a lifetime career. There's something so special about building community through the ritual of drinking and sharing coffee that captivates me every single day. I hope that my community finds a welcoming home at Molly's along with delicious and beautifully crafted coffee.

Why did you choose to open in Athens?

It's all about community. My home is Athens, and I hope everyone finds their home at Molly's! I would never be able to leave all of the beautiful relationships I've created through serving coffee in Athens.

What difficulties have you faced opening during COVID-19?

Thankfully, my staff and I were able to prepare for COVID-19 before we opened. That means we didn't have to do nearly as much adjusting as I'm sure so many other companies have had to do during this time. We have systems established to protect ourselves and our customer base. We wear masks and gloves every time we are in the shop, maintain distance, use a plexiglass barrier between us and our customers in the drive-thru, conduct contactless transactions and wash hands well and often. I think the most difficult thing has been establishing ourselves as drive-thru-only for now. We love our space so much, and we can't wait to have everyone enjoy it with us.

Can you tell me what your favorite part of owning a coffee shop is?

My favorite part about owning a coffee shop is curating a space for others. I love helping others find their favorite way to drink coffee and offering them a comforting space.

Why did you choose to source your coffee beans from 1000 Faces Coffee and pastries from Kiki's Bakeshop?

I'm so happy to have the opportunity to partner with these two awesome local companies. 1000 Faces Coffee sources their coffee ethically and tries to connect the coffee producer to the coffee consumer. Not only do their roasts taste delicious, but I love their commitment to both sustainability and creating and serving coffee with kindness. As a fellow female business owner, I'm so happy to support Kirsten’s bakery. She makes the best baked goods. Her scones are my personal favorites.

When do you plan to open the inside to customers?

For now, we have decided to wait until we see how COVID-19 cases look after the students come back to town. I want to make sure that I keep both my staff and customers safe during this uncertain time.

What is your go-to caffeinated beverage when you need a pick-me-up?

I love grabbing just a cup of Aldo's batch brew throughout the day!

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