Acola Coffee Co.

Acola Coffee Company is located at 300 N. Tenth Street in Suite 100. The owners, Autum and Nick McKague, are doubling the shop’s size by taking over the Root Cellar space next door.

Stationed at the corner of Tenth Street and Park Avenue, Acola Coffee Company offers a welcoming environment for college students, business people and everyone in between. On April 1, the business previously known as Three Story Coffee underwent a name and ownership change to become Acola Coffee Company owned by husband and wife Nick and Autum McKague. The couple hopes that each customer that comes into their shop feels comforted by the space and the baristas.

“For Nick and I, our biggest thing was having a place that people felt welcome because we live in a world where that’s not always the case,” Autum McKague says. “Regardless of your background or religious preference or ethnicity or whatever, we want everybody to feel loved. That was our biggest driving factor when we wanted to become a part of Three Story and continuing that on with Acola Coffee.”

The newly renamed shop will continue selling Three Story coffee, but it will be doubling in space. The couple hopes to have the extended area open at the beginning of May.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What does “Acola” mean?

Nick: “Acola” in Portuguese means “there.” With the lowercase C (in the logo), which is tied into my name, it’s a play on words. “Ola:” 'Hello, there,' is kind of our thought. We want to be a welcoming space for all people, no matter who you are.

Are you both from Columbia?

Nick: I originally grew up in Chamois, and Autum grew up in Jamestown. Our family also owns the Parker-Millard Funeral Home. I came here for school in 2007, and I was in and out for a little bit but then ended up settling back in Columbia.

What are yours and Autum’s favorite drinks?

Nick: Autum gets a 16 ounce, either hot or cold, caramel latte with skim milk, and I typically stick with a cappuccino or a cortado.

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Nick and Autum McKague

What inspired you, both business-wise and personally, to buy this space and take it over?

Nick: When we were Three Story, I was going through a lot of challenges in my life, and I always wanted a coffee shop to have a place for people to celebrate occasions ... be with their friends in a setting that was warm, inviting and welcoming. In my relationship with the funeral home, I wanted a place for people for when it was time to preplan. When things were going to come around full circle, and they needed to talk about things, sometimes going to the funeral home is uncomfortable. I wanted a place that we could meet over a cup of coffee and talk about things. It’s a lot more of an informal setting, and it makes things a little more comfortable. We created this environment, and we had a lot of Columbia College students and business people using it. We outgrew our space, which is why we rented the Root Cellar space and we’re doubling our size.

We still sell Three Story coffee because we had partners and bought them out, but Autum’s first husband passed away to cancer, and they owned a coffee shop where they served Three Story. I was going through a divorce, and (Autum and I) met at Coffee Fest. We both were from (Missouri), but we met in Denver. And we felt that there was this fun side that we should provide this environment that actually allowed us to meet and hopefully help other people to meet as well.

What are you changing within the shop?

Nick: (The Root Cellar) space will function as more seating, but also there will be a 14-foot tree in there that creates a really warm environment. There will be a lot more what I call “nooks and crannies” that you can tuck into to read a book. We’re also bringing our flower shop, Busch’s Florist, from Jeff City, so there will be a flower shop upstairs. You’ll see fresh flowers on the table and stuff, to help create that home-y environment with coffee and flowers. Normally we have flowers everywhere out front, so Busch’s is going to help us maintain those and help put fresh flowers on the table.

What does it mean to you to own this space?

Nick: This place brings me joy — my other job has a lot of sadness sometimes. Not that I don’t get joy there. I love helping people through hard times. I feel like that was my calling, to help people, but this place gives me energy because of the plants and the sun and the welcoming baristas. We wanted to be a place that was an energy filler, not a taker. I always tell our baristas that it’s not about the coffee, but it’s about the coffee, meaning when they come in, they don’t know what the person on the other side of the counter has went through that day. If you’re kind to them, the rest takes care of itself.

Sometimes I’ll have a family that comes in (to the funeral home) with one of our cups, and they would go to make funeral arrangements, but these guys here don’t know that. They’d come in and the families would say “we went to this place Three Story, (now Acola Coffee), and it was so welcoming, so comforting, people were so kind.” They don’t know that I own it, and to me, that’s how I know we’re doing something right. We want to be a staple to the community where everyone feels like they can come in here.

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