Something new and exciting is brewing in Wittenberg’s Thomas Library. Coffee Expressions, a locally owned and operated coffee shop, will be offering a full-service menu starting this fall.
A community partnership that will make the library an even more inviting place with the smell and warmth of fresh coffee and home cooking, Coffee Expressions Witt, as it will be referred to, will offer most of the same products that the coffee shop at 1111 N. Plum Street in Springfield serves up.
“We won’t have quite as many sugar-free choices at Wittenberg due to storage limitations, but all of the basics will be available,” said owner Ken Steele, who along with his wife, Judy, started the business just over 15 years ago here in Springfield. “Every type of drink will be available as well – hot, on ice, and frozen/blended. In the not-too-distant future, we plan to introduce pour-over coffee for those who enjoy that option or want to try it and find out the amazing, clean flavor each cup brings.”
In addition to coffee, tea, and smoothies, Coffee Expressions Witt will offer gourmet desserts made locally by Unbelievable Bakery. These will include, but will not be limited to, brownies, blondies, dipped pretzels, cookies, carrot cake, and a variety of other delicacies, including some new creations just for the college crowd.
“We will not sell sandwiches, salads, or any other food items that might take away from your wonderful food service on campus,” Steele said. “You will still want to get your meals there, but we will be here for all of your coffee and sweet-tooth solutions.
“The vision for the Thomas Library was to make it a place that would be inviting in more ways than just to study or read a book,” Steele added. “We met with Doug Schantz (director of Student Financial Services at Wittenberg), and we both pretty much knew that this was going to be a big deal. We are both looking for this to be a long-term relationship between Wittenberg and Coffee Expressions. I appreciate the enthusiasm we have sensed from everyone and are so anxious to get to know the students, faculty, and staff members. We may have specials for on-campus events as they come along, but I know we will all come to know and love to see each other often – even daily is just fine with us.”
Ken and Judy Steele have lived in Ohio for about 30 years, 28 in Springfield, where Judy taught music at Reid Elementary School, and then in the Springfield City School District at various elementary schools, including Horace Mann, Warder Park/Wayne, Lincoln, Snowhill, and Fulton. Ken taught choir and general music at Schaefer Middle School in Springfield and has also taught at the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center (CTC), before retiring in the 2018-19 school year. He taught band when the Steeles lived in Georgia and played trombone professionally in Nashville, spending three years doing live shows at Opryland.
“For many years, I had been interested in owning my own business, but due to my involvement with the music ministry, then teaching school, I found it impossible for me to take action at that time,” he said. “When I decided it was time to begin my own business, I knew it was going to be a specialty coffee business. First, my love for quality coffee has been a driving force within me. Next, there was no place in Springfield at the time where I could purchase coffee and the specialty drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, etc., so deciding to provide that for the community, I began my research. For one year, I researched the coffee business in general, then specifically in order to find the very best coffees, teas, and all other products, training, and services necessary to begin. Now, 15 years later, we are enjoying not only providing the best coffees, teas, smoothies, and gourmet, locally made desserts, but we have made many friends and loyal customers who bring joy to our lives daily. Now, we are equally excited about adding a full coffeehouse selection at Wittenberg in the Thomas Library. We consider it a tremendous privilege to have been invited.”
The Steeles have one son, Kenny, who graduated from Northeastern High School and holds an associate’s degree in electronics technology. He recently completed his service in the U.S. Army, where he served in Afghanistan and attained the rank of sergeant with the Army’s 1st Armored Division. He will be managing the new facility at Wittenberg and is the general manager over the entire business, bringing a new level of consistency and quality for all to enjoy.
“He has been the overseer of the project, responsible for ordering all equipment, hiring employees, etc.,” Ken Steele said. “All of Wittenberg will get to know him well as he will be spending lots of time in the new coffeehouse, especially in the early days. Be sure to get to know him. He really is a wonderful man, and you will enjoy his humor and good nature.”
Coffee Expressions will offer a 10 percent discount to all Wittenberg students, faculty, and staff, at both locations when they show their campus I.D. Gift and drink cards will also be honored at both stores.
If you’d like to contact the Steeles, email firstname.lastname@example.org.