ST. LOUIS — The day stay-at-home orders were announced in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County to weather the storm of COVID-19, Patrick and Spencer Clapp were signing the final paperwork to open their coffeeshop.
You could say it was on the short list of worst possible times to start a business, but Patrick said it turned out to be a blessing.
"It was a lifesaver," Patrick said. "In a time when everything was so depressing and uncertain for everybody and nobody knows what's happening, we were lucky to be able to work 10 to 12 hours a day, keeping our mind on the prize."
The Clapp brothers moved to the United States from Honduras eight years ago. Spencer said he first lived in New Orleans before moving to St. Louis to work as a carpenter.
He said he saved little-by-little working construction with hopes in investing in his dream.
"We always talked about doing something with coffee," Patrick said. "But with time and money, it just wasn't possible back then."
Three years ago, a family friend and Honduran coffee bean farmer brought batch of coffee beans to the United States for the Clapps to roast.
"We roasted it, and it sold out," Patrick said.
The past three years has been a process of investing in a roasting machine and churning out bags of coffee to be sold online and in their booth at the Soulard Farmers Market.
Last month, during a global pandemic, the brothers were able to open their first brick-and-mortar location right below the space where they've been roasting coffee for the past three years in south St. Louis' Fox Park neighborhood.
"I love St. Louis," Patrick said. "Then you get to know people and know your neighbors and just see how united everyone is."
Patrick said they've received an outpouring of support from people in the neighborhood, other coffeeshop owners and in the form of other businesses working with them to collaborate on menu items.
"We never expected this," Patrick said.
Their coffee comes from Nicaragua, Zambia, Ethopia, Brazil, Uganda and – of course – Honduras.
Their goal is to expand the global reach of where they get their coffee while also creating a directory, so their customers really understand where their coffee comes from. For the Clapps, that connection makes all the difference.
"We buy coffee from our friends," Patrick said. "So, we've picked cherries from that farm. I know how much the farmers get paid. I know how much the pickers get paid."
He said that paves the way for ethical, sustainable business practice and influences every decision they make for their business.
There's also the factor of representation, which Patrick said he rarely sees in the coffee industry.
"I don't know any other Honduran coffeeshop owners or roasters," Patrick said. "It's rare, but we did it. Other people can do it too."
Coffeestamp features some traditional pastries, but also Latin cuisines like empanadas (their most popular item) and their take on tres leches cake.
The brothers may not have envisioned opening up shop with socially distant floor markers, mask requirements or patio-only seating, but they said their vision for the future is bright and persistent.
They plan to grow their business, including opportunities for roasting classes and providing coffee education.
For now, they said every customer who comes and grabs a cup, or a bite just adds to their gratitude for the community they plan to continue to serve.