Brian Holland pours a cup of coffee for one of his regular customers at Phoenix Roasters, but when the man pulls out his wallet, Holland waves him off. “Don’t worry about it.” Behind them are shelves of burlap bags filled with unroasted coffee beans, and above them is a banner bearing an emblem of Holland’s church and missional company—a phoenix encircling a branch of coffee cherries.
If you ask Holland what he does for a living, he’ll tell you he’s a full-time pastor and a full-time coffee roaster. Indeed, he spends about 60 hours a week in the warehouse, overseeing production, coordinating shipments, and meeting with partners. But every Sunday morning rows of chairs are set up to face a wooden platform in the far corner of the warehouse, and it’s here that Holland lives out his first calling—standing up as the unlikely pastor to lead a small congregation of unlikely people: the broken and overlooked in his community.
Long before starting the coffee company and opening a church, Holland had spent 11 years as a well-paid youth pastor. It took a chance meeting with Dr. Stanley for him to finally make a leap of faith. After Holland shared both his God-given dreams and his fears of what he might lose, Dr. Stanley asked him, “Don’t you know God will take responsibility for all the consequences of a heart that is fully devoted to Him?”
That question guides Holland’s ministry philosophy to this day. Instead of buying coffee as needed, Holland pays 10 times more than fair trade upfront for an entire harvest. Doing so helps to support missionary farmers in Central America and ensure a living wage for their migrant workers. This means Holland runs Phoenix Roasters by faith, trusting God will provide enough customers and local partnerships for the company to sell its coffee and make enough profit to survive. Yet even then, most of the money Holland makes goes back into planting churches, and the missional farmers use their profit for local ministry.
Now, because of Holland’s obedience to God’s call, three campuses have been established in the Atlanta area, and many marginalized people in rural villages of Central America are being served with kindness, led to faith, and discipled through the Messenger. All the while, Holland keeps his eyes fixed on the future, where the harvest is ever plentiful. He knows the only thing required is faith the size of a mustard seed—and maybe a few coffee beans.
Photograph by Joseph E. Miller