Hidden Gems: Nehemiah's Coffee House offers a positive relaxing environmentBy Bailey Shoenberger | 10/13/2015 7:44pm
CW | Jonathan Daniels
Out of tragedy, the roots of great coffee grow. When the Forest Lake neighborhood of Tuscaloosa was damaged by the 2011 tornado, the pastor at Forest Lake Baptist Church saw an opportunity to make a positive impact on the community. The church purchased this property with the vision of building a coffee house next to the church where they could share the gospel message.
“It doesn’t feel like a business as much as a safe place. There’s a clear difference between a Starbucks and a place like Nehemiah’s where the people are not in it for the money, they are in it just for the well being of other people,” said Carrie Eaton, a junior majoring in Theatre.
The name Nehemiah’s comes from a biblical prophet who was given the task from God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after an enemy attack. Similarly, Nehemiah’s coffee shop has worked to restore the Forest Lake community after the tornado. The staff at Nehemiah’s is made up completely of volunteers, and their commitment to the cause is not unnoticed by regulars.
“The service at Nehemiah’s is fantastic. They will call your name out first, but if you’re listening to music, or you’re in the study zone and can’t get out, they’ll bring you your coffee, which I really appreciate it,” said Joe Barletta, a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
The interior is spacious and filled with small tables and couches, with a full coffee and pastry bar against the back wall. They have a bookshelf full of every board game you can imagine, as well as tables with permanent checkers and chessboards for those who need a study break.
“The inside of Nehemiah’s is very relaxed, and it’s really cool because they have different areas that are useful for multiple settings. You can sit down to talk with a friend, but there are also tables to study. There’s a full game area, and they have a TV with a couch and you can watch TV if you want to,” said Lauren Talley, a junior majoring in Nutrition.
Nehemiah’s is located at 101 18th street and is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 3pm to 9pm on weekends. It is one of the few locally owned coffee shops that remain open on Sundays. Free Wi-Fi is available to all customers.
“It’s a good place if you really need to get away and just decompress, because it’s far enough from campus that you’re not surrounded by the bustle and hustle of school,” said Eaton.
The shop hopes to bring more activities to the space as their customer base continues to expand. Plans include live music nights and other events that will tighten the community feeling they strive for.
“It’s heaven, and everybody has to go – except not everyone so that I can still get a table,” said Talley.
Nehemiah’s serves Seattle’s Best Coffee and occasionally sets out free cookies for guests. More than just a coffee shop, they serve sodas and snacks, catering to any groups particular tastes.
“To those who have never been to Nehemiah’s," Barletta said, "I would say two words: go now."