Coffee Times owner Terri Wood. Photo by Amy Eddie
Ed Thurman developed a taste for high-quality coffee and espresso while traveling through Europe for work. Kate Roberts, a recent high school graduate, said she learned to rely on coffee to keep her up at night to study. Leo Brown uses the local coffee shop to conduct meetings with clients, and he likes to try new blends at each visit.
For the past 30 years, Coffee Times coffee shop has filled a myriad of roles in customers’ lives — providing specialty coffee by the pound, original blends and a low-key atmosphere.
“I really like being able to provide coffee for every part of your life,” owner Terri Wood said.
Wood, along with her husband, Jeff, and parents Bob and Gloria Walker, celebrated the Coffee Times’ 30th anniversary in July. The coffee shop and the family’s wholesale coffee business, Lexington Coffee and Tea, began in the Woods’ garage on Armstrong Mill Road in Lexington. At the time, Terri Wood said, she did not anticipate opening a coffee shop but hoped to eventually sell customers freshly roasted coffee by the pound.
“We were just trying to get enough customers to warrant buying a roaster,” Wood said.
As a self-described lover of coffee and natural businesswoman, Wood said that when the opportunity to combine the two presented itself, it seemed like a natural fit. By 1983, Wood had built an ample customer base of local retailers and was able to set up shop on Regency Road. Lexington Coffee and Tea also offers a coffee service for offices.
When the retail space opened, Wood said the focus was providing customers with what they needed to make quality coffee at home, including coffee and espresso machines, to go with their own roasted coffee. The coffee bar began as a way to sample different flavors.
“Coffee by the pound is the driver in this business,” Wood said.
In 1990, Coffee Times expanded into a full-service coffee shop, and customers began viewing it not just as a place to buy coffee, but as a destination in itself.
“We end up covering all the bases. People love the environment,” Wood said.
Leo Brown is a DJ at Real Life Radio and operates his own mobile DJ business. He has been a friend of the Woods for 20 years, and Coffee Times has become an integral part of his life, providing coffee for the radio station, fresh coffee on the go and a meeting place.
“It’s all top notch,” Brown said. “You’re not going to get that at a corporate place.”
Ed Thurman said his travels around the world have helped him develop a taste for the best quality coffee, something that can be hard to find. He enjoys buying different coffees to try at home, and he can often be found at the shop. When his work as a mining engineer took him to remote locations where coffee would be hard to find, he carried Coffee Times blends in his suitcase.
On a recent Wednesday, customers of all demographics were seated around the shop, some working on laptops and others talking in friendly groups. Brown sat in a corner working with a client. Customer Kate Roberts shared coffee and dessert with her mother, Sandra Roberts, and a friend, Jenny Lowe, before heading to church.
“It’s my meeting place of choice,” Kate Roberts said. “I used to work across the street, so I used to come here for two hours every day.”
While a student at Clays Mill Christian Academy, Roberts convinced the principal to let her go to Coffee Times and get an order for the school. She has become friendly with the staff and likes that they know more about her than her coffee order.
“I cut my hair, and they’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s different,’” Roberts said.
Success is something Wood said she does not take for granted, even after 30 years.
“It was hard when I started, and it’s still hard today, but it’s what I love to do,” Wood said. “I’ve tried to hold up my end of the bargain.”