Midnight Oil is taking steps to expand their business and promote new ideas such as a portable coffee cart, manually brewed drinks and social media competitions that encourage community involvement.
Zak Kelley, manager of Midnight Oil since July 2014, said the business has grown astronomically in the past few months.
“We’re serving better products, we have the best staff ever and we’re finally reaching out to the community of Searcy, beyond Harding,” Kelley said.
With success comes a need for innovation, and Kelley said he has big plans for the future. A portable coffee cart, designed by Kelley himself, is being built for use at football games, parades and other outdoor events. Kelley said the coffee cart is an example of God’s plans for Midnight Oil and the Kibo ministry.
“If we’re given a task that is bigger than us, we rise to meet that task,” Kelley said.
The coffee cart is currently being built by Joey Myers, the Armstrong dorm dad. Myers said he hopes to have the cart completed before Oct. 25.
“Midnight Oil is catering to the people,” Myers said. “Everything is going mobile, so why not coffee too?”
One of the purposes behind the coffee cart is to push manual brew methods. While this would require more time, attention and qualifications from employees, manually brewed coffee promises to bring out the actual profile of the coffee, according to Kelley.
“Not all coffee is created equal,” Kelley said. “Manually brewed coffee allows us to take control of the variables. It pulls out the integrity and the flavor of the coffee without taking anything away from it.”
The coffeehouse has been working hard to promote themselves on social media, particularly Instagram, by encouraging people in the community to Tweet and Instagram pictures with different hashtags like #MOadventures and #MOshadows. The winning pictures are displayed on the #InstaHallofFame at Midnight Oil.
Local artists are also being supported by the coffeehouse in an endeavor to serve the community and compliment the coffeehouse’s environment, according to Kelley. Jewelya Williams, a senior graphic design major at Harding, will have her art displayed at Midnight Oil by the end of the semester.
“(Midnight Oil is) pretty particular about the kinds of things they want on their wall,” Williams said. “But they’re very supportive of local artists and love to have talented students’ work featured.”
Kelley said that, despite the current plans for expansion, Midnight Oil is ultimately about so much more than coffee.
“What sets us apart is that our baristas are working towards something so much bigger than ourselves,” Kelley said. “We love what we do, and we do it here because we believe in Kibo and believe that Kibo is changing lives.”
Kibo is a mission organization tackling poverty and injustice in East Africa. Kelley said Kibo is dedicated to ministering to those in Africa without taking away from their culture.
“It’s not a band-aid,” Kelley said. “It’s a long term solution to a life-long problem.”