Christy Deen founded, owns and operates Drip-Thru Coffee in Metro Atlanta, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She has worked for over 20 years in the food and beverage industry, managing restaurants from Disney World to the Atlanta Airport.
Q: Where are you from and what led you to open a business in College Park?
CD: I was born and raised in Jonesboro, Georgia. Native to the area, I took my first job scooping ice cream at age 14 in a neighboring city - Stockbridge, Georgia.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about Drip-Thru Coffee®?
CD: Drip-Thru Coffee® was formed in 2015, and we opened our first store in Stockbridge in December 2016. The Pacific Northwest inspired us to bring this coffee stand concept to Georgia. It is specialty coffee at the convenience of a drive-thru. Shortly after opening our first location, a Woodward Academy parent asked that we consider expanding to College Park. We certainly did, and opened our second location in College Park in December 2018.
Q: What did opening Drip-Thru Coffee® in College Park look like?
CD: As we’d previously experienced with our first location, some issues arose with a lack of understanding of what our drive-thru only concept was. Local government was at first reluctant until they understood our plan. It was definitely easier having gone through the process once already.
Q: Did you have any specific goals for Drip-Thru Coffee® before opening? If so, what did that look like, and has it changed along the way?
CD: We really only had a guess of what we would be doing in College Park based on assumptions and local traffic counts from our Stockbridge location. However, we were blown away by the community embrace, and we quickly doubled our staff and expanded hours to accommodate the volume.
Q: What sets Drip-Thru’s coffee apart from other coffee shops?
CD: We’re a specialty coffee shop with drive-thru convenience. However, we do not use headsets or speaker boxes. We want people to have the personal experience of getting to know our baristas, and we want to get to know them as well! We want everyone to leave with a five-star experience.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about your local suppliers and vendors?
CD: Partnering locally is something we love! We’re a small business and pay it forward by sourcing local, whenever possible. We currently offer Daylight Donuts four days a week, SQUOZE craft lemonade throughout this summer, and we’ll be launching Jake Rothchild’s of Jake’s Ice Cream (who is planning for a project in neighboring Hapeville) hot chocolate this fall!
Q: Can you tell us more about your Georgia roaster delivering freshly roasted coffee to Drip-Thru each week?
CD: Our roaster, Cafe Campesino, was founded in 1998, becoming Georgia's first and only 100% fair trade, organic coffee company. All of our coffee and espresso is fresh roasted and delivered to us weekly. It’s the freshest, 100% organic, fair trade cup of coffee you can get at a drive-thru! Our partnership with Cafe Campesino allows us to keep our supply chain short and even gives us the opportunity to meet our farmers. How many coffee shop owners can say they have met their farmers? It’s important we pass that on to our customers over the course of operating, and it’s important to convey that people know their farmer, roaster, barista and coffee!
Q: How do you hope to grow Drip-Thru Coffee® in the future?
CD: We have plans to expand our brand around the metro Atlanta area by opening a couple more locations. We are currently scouting for future sites.
Q: How do you believe Drip-Thru Coffee® contributes to the College Park community?
CD: First and foremost, unlike the big box coffee chains, we took the first leap of faith to set up shop in College Park with a coffee drive-thru. We are a small business focused on customer service and food safety. Employing youth and adults from the tri-cities allows us to be engaged in local needs. I serve on the College Park Main Street board, and on behalf of the community, we applied for and were granted a Little Free Library that will be installed soon. Also, we have hosted a number of free coffee events and continually look for ways to serve and develop our staff. We like to say we are “more than coffee.”
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a part of this community?
CD: The small town vibe nestled against the cosmopolitan Atlanta. I often think of Cheers, “where everybody knows your name.”
Q: What is a business accomplishment you’re really proud of?
CD: We successfully opened two locations in two years. Even while faced with the current global pandemic, we’ve managed to modify operations and have kept the coffee flowing!
Q: Did you have any mentors or people you admired when starting Drip-Thru Coffee®?
CD: A majority of my career development took place at Walt Disney World. There are a series of leaders who mentored me into management, and we’ve stayed connected all these years later. A special nod to Connie, Carrie, Deborah, Jackie and Mim.
Photos courtesy Noel Mayeske