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For the Love of Coffee
by Cody Moore, photography by Tifani Black

Since its inception in 2005, Shadrachs Coffee has become a favorite among the coffee-loving locals of the Jonesboro community. Owners Larry and Risa Billing have responded to the success by continuing to expand the business over the years by broadening the menu and by adding several locations throughout the city.

Before moving to Jonesboro in 2004, Larry, a California native, and his wife, Risa, resided in her home state of Oregon, where they were searching for teaching jobs. Larry went on to work as a substitute teacher, as finding a permanent teaching job in the area wasn’t easy at the time.

“During my two years of being a substitute teacher, a childhood friend of mine had opened up his own coffee roasting business,” said Larry. “It was also during this time that it was apparent that finding a local teaching job was going to be very tough.”

A graduate of Harding University in Searcy, Larry found himself visiting the Jonesboro area while in college because his sister and her family lived in the city. After continued difficulty finding work in Oregon, Larry and Risa decided on a whim to pursue the coffee business. The two packed up their belongings and moved to Jonesboro at the recommendation of Larry’s sister. The two ultimately decided that this was where God wanted them to set up shop.

“If you would have mentioned to me in 2002 that I would be living in Jonesboro slinging coffee, I would have thought you were crazy,” said Larry. “I never had a desire to start my own business, nor did I intend to ever move back to Arkansas, and Risa definitely had no desire to move so far from home.”

After moving to Jonesboro, Risa got a teaching job while Larry continued to pursue his newfound coffee business. A few months after their arrival and after finding an available kiosk location on Nettleton Avenue, Shadrachs Coffee opened and began serving locally roasted coffee.

“I assumed in my arrogance that all I had to do was open up a shop and that I would be instantly successful,” said Larry. “It was a hard lesson and a brutal reality shock. I quickly learned that I was in it for the long haul. If this was going to work, I would have to grind it out, so to speak.”

Shadrachs Coffee grinds and roasts 100 percent of the coffee it sells to its customers from its “fiery furnace,” also located in Jonesboro. Each week, Shadrachs receives green coffee beans in 150-pound sacks; the Shadrachs team then uses a 25-pound roaster to roast each of the unique and flavorful blends the business offers to the community.

“Life is more than just a good cup of coffee,” said Larry. “Our passion for excellence in the coffee industry pours over into our growing desire to serve our community, within our kiosk and beyond. With encouraging attitudes and a passion for making each day better for someone else, we are constantly striving to use Shadrachs as a gateway to positively impact the world around us.”

After years of hard work and positive feedback from the Jonesboro community, Larry was convinced that he could pull off opening several different locations. The Billings currently have four drive-thru Shadrachs kiosks located on East Nettleton Avenue, Southwest Square, Red Wolf Boulevard and, most recently, the Caraway Road location.

“To open multiple locations feels very rewarding,” said Larry. “Again, everything is a gift. Shadrachs’ success doesn’t come from any great natural abilities of mine. God has blessed me with workers and managers that have contributed their own talents to the success we have today. It takes multiple abilities to be successful.”

Not only has the number of locations grown, but the menu has expanded, as well. In the beginning, customers could order different coffee roasts and blends, available either iced or hot. Today, Shadrachs not only offers delicious coffee, but also flavor add-ins, fresh fruit smoothies, steamers, teas, ice cream shakes, Italian sodas and the new Ragin’ Red Bull. Each Shadrachs location also sells an array of fresh coffee roasts by the bag, available in light, flavored, medium, dark and decaf.

“Over the years, we have added many other drinks that are not on the traditional coffee menu,” said Larry. “Our very own Campfire Mocha and Alpine Mochas have been big hits over the recent year. We are always pursuing new and creative drinks. We just recently added Red Bull to our menu with an added kick of flavor to make it unique and refreshing. It has been a great success, and it allows other options for people who may not be coffee drinkers or just want some other options. We want to be a place that can serve the needs of all.”

Shadrachs has even added fresh muffins and Umpqua Oats to the menu so that its customers can enjoy an on-the-go breakfast.

“Coffee and mornings traditionally go hand-in-hand,” said Larry. “We want to be a place that offers quick, easy bites to complement coffee.”

Shadrachs’ best-selling menu items include drinks such as the White Mocha, White Snickers, Frozen or Blended Salted Caramel, Iced Kahlua Kicker, classic pour-over Columbian coffee and the Blue Raspberry Ragin’ Red Bull.

“We are pleased that our top sellers include drinks from across the board,” said Larry. “They are either hot, iced or blended. And if you’re a first-time customer, I would hands down recommend the White Mocha; it’s a great place to start if you are not very familiar with lattes and such.”

For the month of February, Shadrachs will offer its Sweetheart Mocha drink along with its popular Valentine’s Day box sets, which include a new retail item.

“We are so excited to present our Shadrachs scented candles,” said Larry. “They are salted caramel scented and are available in a very limited quantity, so get them while you can.”

Although Shadrachs has seen many changes over the years, one very important thing has remained the same – the support and love the Jonesboro community has shown to Larry, Risa and their locally-made coffee business.

“We at Shadrachs are grateful for the unwavering support from the community,” said Larry. “It’s been such an encouragement to see them show up through the seasons, whether it’s at a new location or the launching of a new product.

“The community has really responded in helping us give back to the community, too. On a monthly basis, we pick a local organization that deals with pressing needs in our community and give 100 percent of all drink sales from 2-5 p.m. to the featured organization. This month, we will be donating money to The HUB and will announce an exact date on our social media pages soon.”

As for the future of Shadrachs Coffee, Larry adds that the company is anticipating the next phase for the business and will make an announcement on its social media pages very soon.

“The most rewarding thing about owning Shadrachs is knowing that our impressions go deeper than just a coffee item,” said Larry. “It’s rewarding to know that both customers and employees feel loved. It’s gratifying to see the bigger picture that God has given me in a career that I had no idea existed in 2002. It’s a privilege to wake up each day happy to do what I do. God has given me far more than I deserve. At any moment, He might have a different plan, but for now, we will continue to brew up new ideas.”

Shadrachs Coffee has locations at 3326 E. Nettleton Ave., 2501 Southwest Square, 2930 Red Wolf Blvd. and 2916 S. Caraway Road. The East Nettleton Avenue, Southwest Drive and South Caraway Road locations are open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Red Wolf Boulevard location is open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. To keep up with the latest specials and news, follow Shadrachs Coffee on Facebook and Instagram.