CHARLES TOWN—Sibling Coffee Roasters, a business less than a year old that opened its doors just as the pandemic began, is doing so well it’s moving to a larger space.
“This is incredible. And happening a year during COVID-19. I never would have expected this,” said Sibling’s owner and roaster/baker Libby Powell.
Powell started the business at 304 W. Washington Street in February. The original location had its last day of business Oct. 25 (Sunday) so Powell could get ready to move two blocks down the street to Mad Monks Coffee Shop at 109 W. Washington St. The tentative new opening will be Oct. 31 (Saturday). Mad Monks is owned by the monks of the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem monastery at 219 S. George St. It opened in 2016.
“This is a collaboration between the monks and me. They will no longer be making very much coffee, but will continue to offer baked goods. I’ll be handling things up front. We were just too cramped in our first location,” Powell said.
Father Alban Baker, Mad Monks manager, approached Powell in September about a move. Mad Monks initially opened to feature the bread made by Father John Tonkin.
“We also wanted to get to know all members of the community, not just the Catholics, and provide a place for everyone to relax,” Baker said.
However, the business demanded more and more attention, taking time away from the monks’ congregation.
“We’ll be able to serve meals again. Libby will make use of the patio, too, when the weather gets warmer,” Baker said.
Mad Monks has couches and provides a bigger area for customers.
Sibling’s first spot was an older home located between several other businesses. A few seats were available by a window overlooking the main street. There was also a long pew against the wall and a large front porch. Powell had a small coffee roaster in an area visible to customers.
Powell learned about coffee roasting and purchased her own roaster. She is a self-taught Barista, a person whose job involves preparing and serving different types of coffee.
She said she never closed the shop when the pandemic hit.
“Customers were served outside so they could have their coffee on the porch,” Powell said.
Sibling offers a variety of items besides coffee, including cold drinks and baked goods like blueberry and cherry pop tarts, pumpkin crumb cake, pumpkin cinnamon raisin scones and whoopie pies.
Sibling also has mugs, shirts, hats and loose tea for sale.
Customers can find the day’s specials on Sibling’s Facebook page. Powell also posts daily videos on Facebook to keep customers up to date on what’s happening at the shop.
All of this is a new venture for Powell, who has been a nurse for 24 years and continues this work part-time in a radiologist’s office. She worked in an emergency room and drank a lot of what she referred to as “bad” coffee. She said she knew shift work wouldn’t allow her to open up her own business.
“I also couldn’t maintain shift work through retirement. I was a full-time established vendor at the Berryville Virginia farmers market. I wanted to bring my coffee from Virginia into my home town. I wanted to help others appreciate the finer coffee in life,” Powell said.
A native of Summit Point, Powell said the name of her business has a special meaning for her. She was an only child until her brother Benjamin was born when she was a teenager.
“I really wanted a sibling to do things with. I was so happy when he finally got here. I saw the gift of having a sibling and the importance of family so Sibling seemed the right name for the business,” Powell said.
She is the daughter of Mike Withem, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Ranson. Withem helps out in the store along with Powell’s daughter Sierra and a student intern Siobhan Ross.
“We hope to hire additional people once we move. In January, we will be expanding our hours, too,” Powell said.
The shop’s current hours are Thursday 8 a.m. to noon; Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Mad Monks is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The hours are subject to change.