OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Reflecting over a good cup of coffee, Andi Parnacher and Tim Herbel first met a couple of years ago when she walked into the Midtown ‘Not Your Average Joe’ coffeeshop location to ask for an application.
“Coffee brings people together,” says Andi.
As Executive Director of the store chain, Tim saw that she already had barista experience.
She had a great rapport with the other staffers he likes to hire, people who have intellectual or physical disabilities.
He recalls, “Andi took a chance on finding a summer job that, literally, changed the direction of her life.”
Herbel actually hired Parnacher on the spot.
“I just wanted to jump in and help wherever I could,” she states.
Both employee and employer already knew that coffee, both brewing and roasting, is a near bottomless subject.
“I just didn’t realize how deep things went,” Andi admits.
But that chance meeting proved a deep cup as well.
Andi was an Americorps volunteer.
She grew up steeped in Kiowa, Chickasaw, and Choctaw culture.
Andi kept drinking up whatever Tim could throw her direction, including intensive classes in New York City where she graduated a challenging course to become the world’s first certified Native American, woman coffee roaster, as recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association.
Herbel assures us, “It’s a big deal. She broke a barrier.”
Already a certified barista, Andi started taking her knowledge straight to the beans themselves.
A couple of times a week, she’s right at Joe’s Lead Coffee Roaster Mike Weeler’s elbow learning how each machine acts with each type of bean, and even in different types of weather.
“It eventually turns into something like this,” she says as she takes the lid from a plastic bin full of dark, roasted beans.
From the coffee she watched her grandparents drink, to the brew served at just about every pow wow she ever attended, good coffee, she realized, is the key.
“Nobody ever wants to have a meeting over bad coffee,” she laughs.
Inclusion is her message, which is putting a lot in each cup of dark brew.
“In whatever I do and whatever I learn, I want to bring back to my community.”
Andi is currently a senior at Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City.
She started working at Not Your Average Joe in May 2022.
Great State is sponsored by Oklahoma Proton Center