The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 52
Published 5/22/13 | Log In
Mochas in Magnolia
By A. ROBIN KING, Features Writer
Published: November 27, 2002
Just what exactly is that bright blue "Q" building located right off the Magnolia exit? It's the Quest Café, a delicious little secret soon to be discovered not only by Magnolia, but by the greater Seattle area as well. Its story begins 11 or so years ago with the bright vision of a passionate, recently converted Christian.
Business entrepreneur and church pastor (among other titles) of Quest Café and Quest Church, Eugene Cho doesn't come across as an insipid, everyday guy. He is someone with life and vitality, a man with a huge secret he's just dying to share. He's an approachable fellow who enjoys lounging on one of the many plush couches scattered throughout the spacious one-room coffee shop that doubles as a sanctuary for Sunday services. The room is designed with a purpose: Cho wants to tell the world about the little secret he likes to call God.
From his infancy as a Christian, Cho had a vision of creating a place where people could come and relax, feel safe and not be "preached at." It hasn't been an easy task to go about. Most of the resistance to this new outreach has been from other Christians who just don't understand Cho and the church's intent, or choose not to. Most are critical that he is starting a business that doesn't blatantly proclaim its Christianity. "I've received reproaching e-mails, letters, even tracts .... We're not worried; we're in it for the long haul."
The café opened just over a month ago; it is staffed by Christians but is not a "Christian coffee shop." The opening occurred right around the time Quest Church (an offspring of Evangelical Covenant Church) celebrated its one-year anniversary. Through the hard work of 60 people sacrificing their time, effort, energy and money, the dream became a reality.
Leah McCann is the manager of the coffee shop and shares Cho's vision of reaching out to the all members of the community, students, homeless and senior citizens alike.
Though the café exudes a relaxed atmosphere, working here is no picnic. Both McCann and Cho left successful jobs to start out on something that any sensible person would consider risky. But they are quick to add that it's been worth it. Cho admits that from a financial standpoint, it's been tough. Starting a business of your own is difficult enough; coupled with the criticism of other Christians, the odds are against them. They emphasized "business that demonstrates excellence" has been their focus in starting a non-profit coffee shop.
Quest Café is open and welcoming, with a variety of pastries and beverages, espresso at its finest, loose tea, chai tea, soy and natural syrups. "When you order a peach Italian soda, you get real natural peach syrup ... not fake sugary flavoring," McCann stated. She takes pride in her barista artistry, suggesting a different drink according to each customer's personality.
The café is cheerily arranged with tables, couches and chairs and a piano and drum set. There is a kid's corner, computers with free wireless cable and a raised stage area in the corner. The café has already hosted local artists such as Dandelion Method and Evan Florey Barnes.
Music isn't the only thing that Quest has made a part of its atmosphere. Pieces by local artists in photography and ceramics are currently on display.
A refreshing aspect of the café is that the workers don't feel that they need to be "preaching" to everyone who enters their doors. There are no big signs proclaiming "Jesus Saves," or "Christian Coffee Shop," or tracts carefully tucked in couch cushions or on the backs of toilets. There are no pictures of the idealistic highlighted brown-haired, blue-eyed Jesus watching over all who enter. They don't even have ... gasp ... Christian music playing softly in the background to intice potential parishioners.
Instead, Quest Café has already become a haven for those who may not view Christians and the church in a positive light. "A lady came in here one day and admitted that she wouldn't have had our sign said we were a Christian Café," McCann said. But their outreach is by no means limited. "Our hours in the evening were scheduled such that college students (specifically from nearby SPU) can come here and hang out, study, whatever," Cho said. Another great thing about this little joint is that, while you get a decent price on pastries and beverages (minimal next to Starbucks prices), it's going to benefit a non-profit organization.
Though its start has had its share of challenges, Quest Café promises to bring to Magnolia and the surrounding area quality coffee, food, music and art while reaching out with the love of Christ to a distinctly different crowd.