We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon, Sarah and Andrew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandon, Sarah and Andrew, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
The three of us, Brandon Runk, Sarah Runk and Andrew Mueller have all worked in coffee in various ways over the years! All of us have traveled domestically and internationally trying other roasters and our passion and interest grew. Andrew and Sarah are cousins and Brandon and Sarah are partners. When we started talking and combining our dreams, the idea of a business to support other businesses with coffee, having a tasting room to feature and serve our coffee and building relationships/supporting farms internationally became the focus of starting our own business. Brandon Runk, owner and Roaster, had been hobby roasting for several years before we established the business in 2017. We started at the St. Charles Farmers Market, which assisted us to gain customers and friends! We are going into our 5th year at the farmers market, as we desire to continue to be a part of the community and support the organization that gave us our start! While selling at the farmers market, Brandon did start to build relationships and gain commercial accounts. Those businesses are valuable to us and we continue to grow in this area. We love being in partnership with other businesses in the community. We opened the coffee bar in January 2020 and have endured, expanded and found our place in Frenchtown.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
By trade, Brandon works at SLU hospital in STL and Sarah works as a mental health therapist in Florissant, MO. At the heart of what drives us is seeing people grow, be healthy and have a place in this world to belong and discover themselves. We still work these jobs as well as run the Course coffee bar and business, but the bar is meant to continue this presence and place for people. Coffee shops for years have been a place where people hang out and meet people. We want Course to be a step further as a place to find help, connect people and other business with one another, to be a neighborhood spot and to be a resource in our neighborhood. We are grateful and love to see John and Rad barber shop come in to the shop each day, Pastor Chris down the street at the local church, Bakeries and car dealers all gathering on a break and one of our regulars playing guitar out back simply to express himself! This has not been an easy journey. We started out just the 3 of us, very small, selling at the St. Charles Farmers Market. There were a lot of moments that felt as though we could give up and there was a lot of personal sacrifice with friends, family and even health. However, our family and people we met in St. Charles believed in us and we neve considered giving up! We would not stop until we saw the vision we believed in come to life. We all had moments of heart ache or doubt, but we pulled each other up, covered for each other and prayed when we met challenges of many kinds. We also did not compare ourselves to others. We knew the vision and mission we had, we knew we were and are different from other coffee scenes and shop in the area and we stayed true to who we are as a roaster. This helped overcome challenges. If we would have adapted our identity to compete or match others, I do not think we would be where we are. We are SO very grateful for out community, especially during COVID-19.
One of the most important things we believe is do right by people. A $ is not worth someone having a bad experience or not being seen or valued. Stay true to your purpose, no matter what others think will work better. Endure, because anything worth having takes patience and time and stay humble. All of us are who we are today because of others around us, positive or negative. Be a positive impact for someone else.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We love STL and St. Charles! So many fun things to do! In St. Charles, first Mr. Meowski’s sourdough bakery! His creativity and skills are top notch!
Cork and Rind are wine, cheese and spirits experts and their tasting room and boards are a highlight in St. Charles!
Wineology is a new wine tasting room featuring only Missouri wines, beers and spirits.
Mead Hall is a new up and coming meadery in St. Charles
Rootbound is a Kava and cold pressed juice bar on Main Street in St. Charles! Beautiful atmosphere and some unique, clean options!
Our bar is in the upcoming area of “Frenchtown” in St. Charles. Cafes, shops, B and B’s and historic homes encompass this beautiful neighborhood.
In STL, The National Blues Museum is one of our favorites!
Soulard Market in STL is an open market containing some of the best eats and artisan goods in the city!
The coffee roasting scene in St. Louis is plentiful! Some of our favorite roasteries in STL are
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We want to dedicate this shoutout to my family, who stood with us through this dream in our most difficult times. To our international friend who have taught us so patiently about coffee and what “living” coffee is really about.
And to Frenchtown, St. Charles and the St. Charles Farmers Market. Thank you for seeing us, our vision and for supporting us every step of the way!
Photo credit: Maria Sanchez