Coffee shop owners make a difference
By Jodi Anderson // Photography submitted
Opened in 2014, Coffeehouse Five is already an institution in Greenwood, and its sister location in Franklin — launched just as COVID shut everything down in 2020 — is well on its way to achieving the same status. Its value to the community can be attributed to the unique business model and vision of its owners, Brian and Michelle Peters, who started the business with the goal of providing marital, premarital and addiction counseling with their profits.
“The coffee shop part of it, there’s no real magic to it,” claimed Brian, “other than my family all love coffee.”
Brian and Michelle have been married for 37 years, but they almost didn’t make it. Brian, then working as an attorney, suffered from alcohol addiction; ten years into their marriage, they were on the verge of divorce. Fortunately, they got help.
“After a couple of years, when we finally felt like we were going to survive, we literally had people come to us and say, ‘Help us,’” Brian explained, “and we didn’t know what to do at that point, other than sharing what we’d been through.”
Their experiences with other struggling couples led Brian to change professions: In 2000, he earned a seminary degree and joined the staff of Community Church of Greenwood. He began doing more marriage and addiction counseling but started to notice a pattern of “barriers,” where couples waited far too long — for reasons such as cost — to seek help. He and Michelle decided to found a business that would help fund their vision of offering free counseling services.
Christine Turo-Shields is a psychotherapist and co-owner of Kenosis Counseling. Michelle had been working with the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JALAP), a mental health organization supporting those in the legal profession, for over a decade when she reached out to Christine through an intern at Kenosis.
“I was intrigued,” said Christine, “the fact that they are such faith-filled individuals, and this is such a ministry to them.”
While Brian does most of the counseling at Coffeehouse Five, he and Michelle recognize that they may not be equipped to handle every issue presented to them. Christine said she and Michelle have each other on speed dial. “We use each other for referrals.”
Brian does a lot of work around sexual addiction recovery; Christine and her staff offers specialized services, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), for trauma survivors. And because Kenosis uses graduate student interns, they can keep client costs down, costs that Coffeehouse Five covers for those they refer.
“The connection was kind of based out of mutual regard, mutual reputation, mutual appreciation of services,” Christine stated. “Service is part of our mission, as theirs is.”
On the evening of July 17, 2022, a young man walked into Greenwood Park Mall, and shot and killed three people and injured two more. By early the next morning, Michelle was texting Christine, advocating for taking action; people were asking for help. Coffeehouse Five used their social media and a radio spot to advertise a gathering, held in their Greenwood location, aimed at helping people cope with their trauma.
“It was literally see a need, fill a need,” said Christine.
This event just increased Christine’s admiration of the couple and their vision. “Every time Michelle texts me and says, ‘Hey, I need this resource,’ it’s gratifying. These are just wholesome, good people, who have a vision and resources.”
Striving for Excellence
Although their philanthropic mission came first, Brian and Michelle wanted to be successful business owners.
“From the beginning,” Brian declared, “we wanted to put the emphasis on [making] Coffeehouse Five…the very best coffee shop we can make it.”
This led them to bake their own pastries and biscuits, which were culled from family recipes. Brian’s favorite baked good is their Parmesan-chive biscuit, a recipe with which their daughter won a ribbon at the fair. They now have a couple of dedicated bakers on staff, but Brian still gets to the shop at 6:30 a.m. to do some baking.
On top of counseling and baking, Brian roasts beans. They currently source their direct-trade and certified fair-trade green beans from importers, but he wants even more control.
“That’s the next step I want to take is to do our own sourcing, which would require some travel to the coffee-growing regions.”
Even though Coffeehouse Five offers unique drinks like the Maple Caramella — with golden maple syrup and caramel sauce — and a peanut butter mocha, Brian prefers his coffee black.
“That’s kinda what drove me to roasting,” he said, “to explore the different flavors beans can give you.”
Brian, in whatever spare time he has, participates in sim racing, a racing game software that attempts to replicate the real-world physics of auto racing. His passion goes all the way back to his Indiana roots.
“I’ve been an auto-racing fan since I was a kid. I just love all kinds of motor sports,” Brian said.
Brian also enjoys being a grandfather to a toddler, who also loves racing, and he has two more grandkids on the way.
“It’s completely blown my mind how fun [being a grandfather] is,” Brian beamed.
But Brian does not see retirement on the horizon.
“A big part of recovery is giving back,” he said, referring to the last of The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. “It’s just a vital part of my ongoing recovery process to be involved in helping other people.”
Besides, he has so much to do, like opening a third location in Bargersville.
“I am a person who likes to build things, likes to create things. I always like to have a challenge in front of me.” Brian concluded, “I still have the energy and the desire, and as long as I have that, I’ll keep going. Being active, being involved with others keeps me sober.”