New coffee shop in Albion a place ‘where we can be people again’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jim Nowaczewski sits on the couch at HeBrews 5:9, a coffee shop he opened at 59 North Main St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2020 at 10:13 am

HeBrews 5:9 serves more than coffee – prayers and praises embraced

The coffee shop displays prayer requests and praises.

ALBION – Jim Nowaczewski moved to Albion two years ago drawn initially by the low-priced real estate.

He liked the small town feel, and the diversity of the community, and he said he has been blessed with friendly neighbors.

Nowaczewski, who grew up near Buffalo, was working for a safety company about a year ago, a job promotion that took him to southern California. He worked out there until May, when the Covid-19 pandemic prompted him to live more simply. Southern California “was insane” with the traffic and the fast pace.

Nowaczewski, 37, thought one day he would run a coffee shop. He was thinking that would be years in the future.

But Nowaczewski said he felt a calling and passion to open the shop now – in the midst of a pandemic in downtown Albion.

He opened the doors of HeBrews 5:9 on Nov. 28 during the “shop small” celebration of small businesses in Albion and across the U.S. The coffee shop soon picked up positive reviews from community members on social media.

“It has exceeded my expectations so far,” Nowaczewski said. “I didn’t grow up here but I’m already feeling the support of the community.”

He isn’t running the normal coffee shop. HeBrews has a Christian flavor, with a bulletin board to display prayer requests and praises. Even the name is a book of the Bible, and Hebrews 5:9 is a Bible verse that states: “and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

The name “HeBrews” for the Albion coffee shop also sends a message that men are encouraged to stop by. Nowaczewski said many coffee shops seem to cater to women. He wants everyone to feel welcome at HeBrews. The 5:9 in the name comes from the business’s address at 59 North Main St.

Nowaczewski said he became a Christian five years ago and wants HeBrews to be a ministry for the community. He wants the location to be edifying, but he doesn’t want people to feel like religion is being pushed “down their throats.”

The prayer and praise board already is filled with notes from customers, with most of the messages left anonymously.

“I believe prayer does something,” Nowaczewski said. “It brings the community together to bear one another’s burdens. And the praises show a grateful attitude.”

Jim Nowaczewski serves up coffee at the HeBrews 5:9. He offers a monthly subscription for coffee and curbside service.

He sees a downtown coffee shop as an important metric in the quality of life for a town. He wants college students and teens to feel welcome to stop in for conversation, to plug in their devices and use the internet.

“It can be a change of scenery from their room,” he said about the increasing number of students who are doing remote learning at home.

Other professionals or people needing a charge – caffeine or WiFi – are welcome to stop by.

“Coffee shops are a litmus of the vibrancy of a community,” he said.

He also has offered the space inside to book groups and others looking for a group discussion.

Nowaczewski senses that people are increasingly polarized and stressed. He wants HeBrews to offer a safe place to relax and have candid, but non-threatening conversations.

“This is just a place where we can be people again,” he said.

Nowaczewski is experimenting with the hours and the menu. Right now he is open 6:30 to noon, and then 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

He has a monthly subscription for coffee where those customers can text their order and Nowaczewski will bring their coffee out for curbside service. He also makes tea and hot chocolate.

He sells baked goods from Pretty Sweet Bakery in Albion and soon will be offering homemade bagels from Papa Thom’s Rockin’ Bagels.