Walking into The Life House in Rockwall, Texas is like walking into a friend’s house. Here I was a stranger, from a strange land—California, and as I walked up to the counter I was welcomed so heartily that I took a step back thinking maybe I knew the girl behind the counter! I didn’t, but that is great customer service!
Now, living in the Bay Area of Cali and frequently visiting the Seattle area, I have cultivated a love of coffeehouses and all the different coffeehouse vibes. Yes, even the pretentious ones that treat you like they are doing you a favor by serving you, what sometimes end up being sub-standard coffee, closer to Folgers, than the Starbucks they all disdain. But, in all my visits to fantastic coffee places in this great country I have never come across one like The Life House.
Located in an old house, on a main thoroughfare in Rockwall, a suburb of Dallas, TX, this coffeehouse/bakery/café is so cool it doesn’t need to be located in the quaint city center to attract patrons. The warm, weathered wood floors provide a platform for the comfortable clean lines of the furnishings and bright, edgy art that hangs on the walls.
The coffee is off the charts. Seriously, nothing compares in my opinion. They are self-proclaimed coffee-nerds and you can taste it. They roast it, they drink it, they know coffee. The homemade pastries and baked goods…well let’s just say Katy is an artist with white flour and sugar! If you’re ever in the neighborhood stop in and grab one or two, or twenty-five, of the apple cinnamon empanadas and then thank me for making your life just a little bit sweeter.
I could tell you about their drive to buy local organic, and making everything “in-house” like even their ketchup. I could tell
you about how the owner’s father is a leather artist and makes each employee a wrist cuff with their names on it instead of a ridiculously old fashioned nametag. I could tell you about the screen shots that flash up on a TV that hangs over the espresso machine, introducing each staff member in a rock-style manner. I could mention how they won’t do extra hot drinks, no matter what, because it scalds the milk (180 F) and ruins the integrity of the drink. And that would all be true and make a place worthy to visit.
BUT, what makes Life House patrons into fanatical fans, is the people that work there, of this I am sure. I got the honor to sit down with Founder/Head Coffee-Nerd Jeremy Standifer. I asked him to tell me his story and the story of The Life House, and 2 ½ hours later (in Texas they don’t seem to care about the clock as much as they care about the people) I was inspired and humbled and wanted to get a job there!!
Jeremy was a skater from the wrong side of Dallas. He held down menial jobs here and there, got in trouble here and there, partied it up here and there, and eventually worked his way into being clean and sober and a youth pastor of a local church. He did that for a number of years until he felt led by God out of the church and into “being” the church. (I have run into quite a few people who are doing this, leaving the organized church to meet in homes and coffee shops. Most of those people are in the Pacific Northwest and not the Bible Belt of the country, but hey, it seems to be a movement, and you can let me know what you think of this down at the comment section.)
His story includes a boy meets girl moment–a girl from Jersey, and she bakes like a fiend and loves Jesus more than anyone he has ever met. He marries this girl. His story also includes falling in love with roasting his own coffee beans. He loves it so much he converts his barbeque into a coffee roaster!! And so begins his love/obsession with his Jersey-girl and her baking and well-roasted coffee.
Then, Katy with her passion for baking organic, and Jeremy with his love for coffee, started talking about following their hearts. Three years ago they took a flying leap of faith to leave their paying-the-bills jobs and open a coffeehouse/bakery/café. “It’s a ton of work, but everyday I’m glad we did it. So much better than any 9-5 job I could ever have.” Jeremy told me.
They have created a place for people to come together and do life. To celebrate, to cry, to talk, to relax, to read, to study, to live. The Life House is not a “Christian coffeehouse”, you won’t find a cross, or scriptures painted on the wall, or Michael W. Smith playing on the sound system, but you will find people who love Jesus and love each other and love the people they serve coffee and food to each day, and in my estimation that is awesomeness!