City Light Coffee serves up piping hot “coffee with a cause.”
“We buy coffee that does more than just line the pockets of somebody — for every blend that we buy there’s a certain cause that’s supported,” said Brandi Hefley, a manager at City Light Coffee. “So, for example, we buy a blend called the freedom blend, and [the money is] used to fight human trafficking. We have another one that that helps educate women in Arab nations, another one fights extreme poverty.”
Located at 254 Washington St. in Downtown Binghamton, the coffee shop is affiliated with the church across the street, First Assembly of God. City Light Coffee was opened and is managed by Hefley and her husband J.J., the associate and outreach pastor at First Assembly of God. In addition to supporting global causes, the shop also aims to support the student community in the city, offering free coffee to all students. Last finals week, the shop was open late for students to study.
“We were [at the church] from 4 in the afternoon till 1 in the morning,” Hefley said. “We gave cookies and free coffee and we had Wi-Fi for students to come study. We had done that for two or three semesters.”
Molly Hatch, a junior majoring in English, lives down the street from City Light Coffee and said she enjoys their coffee.
“I really like the [cozy], but spacious, atmosphere and the friendly staff, but the best part is the free coffee for students,” she said. “I would wholeheartedly recommend City Light to other students.”
Filled with the aroma of warm coffee, the shop features a fireplace, an exposed brick wall and a wood-paneled bar. Displayed above the coffee bar, on a Pinterest-worthy chalkboard, is City Light Coffee’s menu — a short list of sweet, brewed coffee drinks and tea. They also sell baked goods from Chroma Cafe and Bakery.
“We are all about being in our community,” Hefley said. “Our community is college students, and we want to support local businesses. We decided [Chroma’s] stuff was good and we don’t have time to bake and make our own stuff here and we wanted to do something local to promote and help support a local business.”
Next to the baked goods sits a donation jar.
“All of our donations go to an area within our community,” Hefley said.
City Light Coffee also participates in First Friday, a monthly event that promotes the art scene Downtown.
“We’d like to feature art from the students,” Hefley said. “That’s kind of why we left our walls blank, because we hope that we could get some [student] artists that we could feature. We would really like our First Friday to be driven by the students that come in here. We hope that this becomes a community for the students. We left this a blank slate in hopes that as time goes on, students get more and more comfortable here, that they would run a library from our empty bookshelves.”
Hefley said that their No. 1 goal is to be an asset to the community.
“We’re here to give,” Hefley said. “I’m the parent of a college student. It would give me great peace if she goes off somewhere and I knew she had a place to go where she feels at home.”