Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City opened July 15 in Norris City, Illinois. The shop at 107 South Division Street joined hundreds of independent coffee shops in 30 states that have opened with support from award-winning coffee roaster Crimson Cup Coffee and Tea.

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 21, 2021 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Connecting friends, family, and community, one cup at a time – that’s the goal of Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City.

The independent coffee shop opened July 15 with support from award-winning coffee roaster Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea.

“We’re excited to welcome Owner Rachel Gray and her team to Crimson Cup,” said Founder and President Greg Ubert. “We love helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of opening independent coffee shops serving the unique needs of their local communities!”

Gray said she has always wanted to open a coffee shop, but didn’t know how. Her earlier career included 16 years as a full-time public school teacher, with some waitressing on the side.

“I loved the interaction in waitressing,” she recalled. “I needed my customers as much as they needed me.”

An elderly man who had lost his wife became an inspiration. “He would come in every day, and I could see the improvement in his emotions through the daily interaction.”

“I learned it makes me happy to make other people happy. And what makes people happier than coffee?”

With a goal of creating a community gathering place serving terrific espresso-based beverages, home-baked goodies and light lunches, Gray began looking for a coffee partner.

She was almost ready to sign with another company when Penny James, owner of Penny’s Perks in Dowell, Illinois, introduced her to Crimson Cup.

“As a long-time Crimson Cup customer, Penny introduced us to the product and shared her experience,” Gray said. “That’s what sold us. I loved the Friend2Farmer program, and the concept of coffee + community.”

“I also liked that Crimson Cup is a one stop shop for everything from amazing coffee to hands-on training and coffee business consulting.”

Through its 7 Steps to Success coffee shop startup program, Crimson Cup has guided over 200 independent coffee shops in 30 states to long-term success.

Based on Ubert’s book, Seven Steps to Success: a Commonsense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee, the program transforms specialty coffee newbies into competent coffee shop managers.

“We give new coffee shop owners everything they need to succeed,” Ubert said. “Our customers receive everything they’d get from a coffee shop franchise – and more – without expensive franchise fees or royalties.”

7 Steps Sales Lead Scott Fullerton, 7 Steps Trainer Steve Bayless and their team provide months of consulting on everything from writing a strong coffee shop business plan and choosing a high-traffic location to purchasing the right equipment and designing an efficient shop layout.

With Crimson Cup’s guidance, Gray purchased a historic building in downtown Norris City. During building renovation, she and her team discovered several mementos of the town’s 150-year history tucked into walls and ceilings.

Bayless spent the week before the July 15 opening at Cornerstone training Gray and her baristas in drink preparation, customer service, store management and more.

“I don’t think we could have done this without the training,” Gray said. “There’s so much to learn even with the training program. We would have wasted so much time and money without it!”

Norris City coffee lovers are enthused about the coffee, which is roasted by Crimson Cup. “So far the feedback has been super positive!” Gray said. “We get text messages saying they can’t wait to come back, and people were already coming back in the first few days we were open.”

Crimson Cup coffee ranks among the best in the nation. Among other honors, the roaster won 2020 and 2017 Good Food Awards, which recognize the country’s best-tasting and most sustainably sourced coffees.

Asked to give advice to other coffee shop entrepreneurs, Gray said, “If it is in your heart, don’t let the fear keep you from doing it. Just have faith over fear and go for it.”

“On a personal level, if I’m going to be spending a lot of time, I need to make a place that reflects me and what I want to express for my community,” she added. “I’m focused on making my customers feel welcome and comfortable and at home in my shop. People seem to feel at peace in my space and want to stay and hang out here.”

With a love of coffee and a passion for people, Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City hopes to connect friends, family, and community at 107 South Division Street in Norris City. Follow their Facebook page to learn about the shop’s hours, menu, events and other happenings.

About Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea

Columbus, Ohio coffee roaster Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea is celebrating 30 years of Coffee + Community. Since May 1991, Crimson Cup has roasted sustainably sourced craft coffee for consumers and wholesale coffee customers. It is a 2020 Good Food Award winner, 2019 Golden Bean Champion for Small Franchise/Chain Roaster and Roast magazine’s 2016 Macro Roaster of the Year.

Through its 7 Steps to Success coffee franchise alternative program, the company teaches entrepreneurs to run independent coffee houses in their local communities. By developing a coffee shop business plan, entrepreneurs gain insight into how much it costs to open a coffee shop.

Crimson Cup also supports life-enriching projects through its Friend2Farmer® initiatives, promoting the education, health, sustainability and economic growth of small-plot coffee farmers and their communities.

Crimson Cup coffee is available through over 350 independent coffee houses, grocers, college and universities, restaurants and food service operations across 30 states, Guam and Bangladesh. The company also operates several Crimson Cup Coffee Houses and a new Crimson retail flagship store. To learn more, visit, or follow the company on Facebook and Instagram.

Media Contact

Cheryl Claypoole, Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, 614-361-5023, [email protected]


SOURCE Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea