Before he even developed a taste for coffee, Donkey Coffee and Espresso owner Chris Pyle knew he wanted to create an establishment that would connect students with locals.
“We wanted to set up a community space that focused on social justice, art and music,” Pyle said. “It seemed like a coffee shop was the best way to do that.”
And now, 10 years later, the coffeehouse is celebrating a decade of “caffeine with a conscience” with a week of drink specials and even a miniature donkey.
Pyle said that, although he initially didn’t think the coffee shop would make it past the six-month mark, running it for the past 10 years has been a blessing.
Kari Beall, a 25-year-old Athens resident, said she visits Donkey about once a week.
“I like that they have a comfortable atmosphere to sit and to research, lots of seating, good coffee and are open late,” Beall said.
Though Donkey opened only a decade ago, Pyle has facilitated several changes to the coffeehouse, including a recent modification to its menu.
“Before, we used to get all of our goods baked locally,” Pyle said. “Now we bake about 80 percent here (in the store).”
Pyle said he still orders goods from Crumbs Bakery and Happy Belly but will continue to sell more goods baked by the Donkey staff.
Sean Phillip, a barista at Donkey, said the drink menu also has been slightly revamped.
“We have changed in becoming more espresso-focused and more coffee-focused to compete with the more higher-end coffee shops,” Phillip said.
Pyle said that changes he looks forward to in the future focus less on Donkey itself and more on giving back to the community that has sustained the coffeehouse.
“(We want to create) a social-justice umbrella group that would connect people to different organizations in town like, for instance, Habitat for Humanity or UCM or the local Amnesty International Chapter,” Pyle said.
Pyle said Donkey’s 10th anniversary celebration will serve as a way for the coffee house to give back to the community by offering special deals on treats throughout the week.
“Donkey wouldn’t be here unless people really liked it and came back,” Pyle said. “… I feel like a blessed man. I mean, my dream came true.”