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Hidden gems of Oxford: The Oxford Coffee Company

Where can one get fresh, quality roasted coffee beans in Oxford?

Well, you don’t physically have to go anywhere.

The Oxford Coffee Company was once a roastery and coffee shop, but has since closed the physical store due to complications from the global pandemic.

It has never been doing better.

Now, the Oxford Coffee Company is dedicated to purchasing coffee beans from around the world and sharing them not only with Oxford, but with the whole country.

Robert Thurston is a professor emeritus of Miami University and an expert on coffee — he has contributed to coffee magazines and has written two books on the subject. Thurston is also the founder of the Oxford Coffee Company, a venture that was started in 2012.

“Starting in 2000 or 2001, I taught a course on the history of coffee and how it is produced around the world,” Thurston said. “As I thought more about it I was like, ‘Well gee, I wanna get my hands dirty into the business, so I found some Miami graduates and professors to help start the Oxford Coffee Company with me.”

The company specializes in procuring and roasting coffee beans from all around the world, with beans from Kenya, Indonesia and Brazil regularly featured as products for prospective coffeemakers. The company also has a diverse clientele. Ever since it transitioned to an online roastery, the Oxford Coffee Company has gotten orders from across the country.

“We’ve picked up customers around the country: people from Texas, New York and Washington D.C.,” he said. “Going forward, we hope to expand that.”

The transition to an online business led to the company’s coffee shop closing, with a reduction in employees from six to two. Today, those two employee’s daily operations consist of roasting coffee beans for customers and working on promoting the company digitally.

Lara Thurston is one of the employees currently working at the company. The daughter of Robert Thurston, she roasts coffee and manages orders as well as the company website and the Facebook page for the business. She recognizes the benefits that came with the closing of the physical location.

“The barista work and managing has been replaced with managing our website which has really been improved,” she said. “Before, we only served a little bit of coffee online nationally, but now we sell to a dozen states every week.”

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Tom Bellany, the other employee at the business, agreed that the move to an online format had helped overall.

“I now have some more free time instead of always being around the coffee shop in case there were any issues,” Bellany said. “It has liberated us to do some bigger projects with the business.”

Thurston also described the pure financial benefit of moving the company completely online.

“The pandemic is so horrible, but we don’t have to get up at 5:30 [a.m.], we reduced employees, we were able to get a rent reduction and we got several government loans and grants from Oxford,” Thurston said. “It was almost as if people were throwing money at us, and it looks like our business is running better this way.”

The Oxford Coffee Company’s products can be purchased through its website, and delivery is free. The roasted coffee can be in full bean or multiple ground forms, and it has more than a dozen varieties of coffee to choose from. The pandemic has also enabled the company to launch new products that appeal to both new and veteran customers alike.

“We now have a coffee of the month club, where customers pay an upfront price to have unique specialty coffee delivered to them each month,” Bellany said. “We’ve had varieties like Vietnamese Lotus, Mexican Finca de Estancia or Brazilian Daterra Peaberry, all delivered to the doorstep of members in the program.”

While the company is doing well in an online format, it has not forgotten about how things used to be. Especially poignant moments that were lost by the online transition include a devoted community of regulars and the live music that played in the shop every Saturday morning.  

“I regret the loss of everything that happened in the shop, but we couldn’t proceed as a business,” Thurston said. “If we open again for coffee service, it’ll probably only be on Saturday mornings when we have music as an experiment.”

While the future of the physical Oxford Coffee Company is not set in stone yet, it is very much alive through the internet and still providing quality coffee to customers across the country. So next time you think of making some coffee, the Oxford Coffee Company is only a few clicks away.