“The main thing is we are not trying to make a profit, we are trying to make an impact,” said Debra McKnight, Executive Director for Urban Abbey.

Urban Abbey opened in November of 2011. McKnight explained First United Methodist Church was in the process of exploring what it meant to be a church in the world. At the same time, Soul Desires Bookstore (in the Old Market) was considering its future. McKnight said they received a grant, with churches across the state of Nebraska contributing to Urban Abbey’s mission.

McKnight leads worship services on Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. She also works with staff to connect with other non-profit groups and help them through fundraisers. McKnight said Urban Abbey has donated over $32,000 to date to partner organizations like Nebraska AIDS Project and the Big Garden Project.

“We are trying to contribute to the greater good of our community,” said McKnight.

The staff of Urban Abbey is dedicated to creating a space of hospitality. McKnight said they want people to know when they step through the doors that they are welcome and that they too can participate in Urban Abbey’s mission.

She said everyone is welcome to support them in the efforts they make in terms of social change within the community.

Coffee, too

The coffee the Abbey sells is sourced as directly and fairly as possible. McKnight said a lot of it is fair trade but they also obtain coffee through direct trade with smaller farms that don’t qualify for the fair trade standard. Additionally, she said Urban Abbey is also greatly supported by local roaster, Beansmith Coffee.

The Urban Abbey offers a full service coffee bar, serving both iced and hot drinks including espressos, cappuccinos and smoothies. And for the non-coffee drinkers, like McKnight, the Abbey offers Tea Forte tea. She said the Abbey has three different iced teas all the time as well as a tea service that comes on a nice tray.

“We hope people will have a relaxed experience when they come in,” she said.

Made with love

McKnight’s mom makes most of the treats. And it’s all made with love. She said Urban Abbey serves sandwiches and soups in the fall, winter and spring as well as more typical coffee shop treats like muffins, cookies and bars.

No matter how prefer your coffee brewed, the Abbey can make it happen. They are offer French Press, Chemex as well as traditionally brewed coffee.

McKnight attributes the high quality of the Abbey’s coffee drinks to their roaster and the way he has trained the staff to make the coffee. She said their milk comes from a local dairy and doesn’t have chemicals in it.

The tables in Urban Abbey were created from wood that used to make up the roof that sheltered a family on a farm in Iowa. Volunteers cleaned up the wood and now it can care for people in a different way.

Volunteers welcome

In fact, volunteers are always welcome, especially those who have a yearning to be a barista or those who used to be baristas and miss it. Volunteers help Urban Abbey raise more money for important things. Each month, the Abbey has a non-profit partner. That particular organization receives 10% of all coffee bar sales and 100% sales of the “Urban Abbey Blend” of whole bean coffee.

“I really want people to feel a sense of welcome and warmth when they walk through the doors,” McKnight said.

Urban Abbey is located at 1026 Jackson Street in the Old Market. Hours are 7-10:30 Monday through Friday and 8-9 on Saturday and Sunday.

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