College Students Start Coffee Business Inspired by Prayer and Saints | National Catholic Register

When Madeleine Sri and Caden Bennett met as students at Benedictine College, little did they know they would end up engaged and co-owners of a thriving business that helps people grow in faith through coffee. And they haven’t even graduated yet.

Sri and Bennett started their business, Little Way of Perfection, shortly after meeting during their freshman year at Benedictine, a Catholic liberal arts college in Atchison, Kansas.

Originally known as Religious Roast Coffee, the soon-to-be couple’s business has expanded into clothing, accessories, stickers and more in addition to the popular roast coffee, which comes in a variety of flavors, ground or whole bean.

The two began dating in the week before the country went into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and like many others, they were bored at home. One day Bennett came up with the idea of ​​starting a Catholic coffee shop. And the next day he had the website, logo and business plan ready.

“Caden is a big go-getter, [an] Idea person, and I’m good at executing a plan and working out all the little details to get there, so we’re a pretty great team,” Sri said in an interview with CNA.

Bennett shared how he felt the Lord was calling him and how his own morning routine inspired the idea for Religious Roast Coffee.

“I was inspired to start this company through my own prayer. Jesus kept leading me to become more aware of Him and to let Him meet me in every moment of my day so that I could give every moment to Him,” he said. “As I grew in this invitation from our Lord, it revolved around starting my day with a morning sacrifice so that the first thing I did each day was talk to Jesus and give everything to Him.”

“One morning, while I was making coffee and praying the morning sacrifice,” he continued, “I had the idea of ​​combining the first thing we all do in the morning—making a cup of coffee—with being in the first few moments also invite God our day. This gave rise to the idea of ​​religious roasted coffee.”

In the fall of 2020, the two released several labels with the image of a saint on them, along with a morning offering asking for the intercession of that particular saint. The idea was to let people pray while their morning coffee is being brewed.

Early church, early morning Saints Peter and Paul Roast.  Credit: Madeleine Sri / Little Way of Perfection

Early church, early morning Saints Peter and Paul Roast. | Madeleine Sri / The Little Way to Perfection

“No one else had this idea back then – now some have jumped on the idea – so it was so much fun naming all the different coffee flavors after different saints and inviting our customers to get closer to them in their own mornings,” explained Sri . “Ultimately, we started this company to be a tool to help people grow in a deeper intimacy with Christ.”

“One of our favorite professors here at Benediktiner said of prayer, ‘In order to be able to pray at all times, you must first pray for yourself a Time,’ and that’s really at the heart of our business,” she continued.

“We don’t want people to just stop and ‘tick’ their morning prayers by praying the morning sacrifice on our bag, but we hope it’s a tool to begin a period of longer and deeper contemplation to be the whole day in dialogue with God.”

Bennett added: “Just as the Saints lived so beautifully united with Jesus in every moment, from the early mornings to the washing up, the joys of the day, and even the chores of the world, so we too are called to walk with Christ in every moment . ”

The couple will graduate in divinity this December and marry soon after.

Little Way of Perfection coffee shop
Caden Bennett and Madeleine Sri started their own company, Little Way of Perfection, while still undergraduates at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. | Madeleine Sri / The Little Way to Perfection

Recently they had other ideas for reminding people to pray throughout the day – like stickers with prayers to put on a bathroom mirror – and so the company expanded from Religious Roast Coffee to Little Way of Perfection.

“We then changed our brand name to Little Way of Perfection because ultimately we want to invite people to attain spiritual perfection by being brought further into God through prayer, but also to embrace the ‘little way’ of allowing God’s grace and mercy to always work through you,” said Sri.

The name and purpose of her company is also significant in that it is inspired by two female saints: St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Ávila.

“St. Teresa of Avila speaks about the “Way of Perfection” and how it is possible in this life to attain spiritual perfection, but this comes from detachment from the sinful pleasures of the world and striving for humility and pure love of God,” explained Sri. “St. Thérèse of Lisieux is famous for her “little way” in which we are far too small to reach holiness alone and we must surrender ourselves entirely to the merciful love of God.

“We want our customers to be inspired by the reality that they can becoming a saint by loving God with all your heart and choosing him above all else, but also by staying small and doing small things out of love and humility for God.”

The different coffee flavors are also inspired by the saint depicted on each bag. For example, Little Flower Cinnamon Hazelnut is said to have a floral scent – hence St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a medium roast with a sweet, buttery caramel flavor. Other roasts include Holy Family Hazelnut; Love and Roastsponsibility St. John Paul II Medium Roast; Early Church, Early Morning Saints Peter and Paul Roast; and Monte Caffino Benedictine breakfast mix.

Each bag also includes a morning offering prayer which reads, “Heavenly Father, I offer you everything I think, do, and say as an offering today. May everything I do begin with your inspiration and continue with your help, uniting everything in the Holy Spirit and what has been done by our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

“Making morning coffee is something we wouldn’t normally think of as an opportunity to pray, but in fact, every simple moment is a perfect time to converse with God,” Sri said. “We hope that our products will remind people that God is present in every moment and offer Him a sacrifice every moment.”



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