Hebrews Coffee owners Jeromy (left) and Crissy (right) Swindall welcome customers to their new shop.
By Katie Bohannon, News Editor
After four years of unprecedented success and paramount growth, Hokes Bluff rooted café Hebrews Coffee is welcoming the community to visit its new home. Located at 5686 U.S. Hwy. 278, the local favorite’s owners Jeromy and Crissy Swindall continue to serve their customers hope and happiness with each heartwarming drink.
Raised in south Gadsden before moving to Georgia during fifth-grade, Jeromy later returned to his childhood home in the City of Champions around the age of 15. A final move to his mother’s hometown of Hokes Bluff sent the skateboarding city boy to the country for his teenage years, where he met the person who would forever change his life – Ballplay native Crissy.
Shy, quiet and laidback Jeromy collided with personable and social Crissy at Hokes Bluff High School, connecting with one another over cafeteria conversations. If Jeromy noticed Crissy not eating during lunch, he would offer her a recipe she could not refuse: tater tots and ranch dressing. When Crissy asked Jeromy to sit behind her in class one day to shield her from a student who picked on her, a friendship blossomed. Before long, Crissy asked Jeromy out on a date, and the rest is history.
“Two months later we were engaged,” said Crissy. “Nine months later we were married. We’ve been married 26 years.”
“We’re almost inseparable,” said Jeromy. “If you see us in town, we’re usually together. We’re really part of each other. If we’re home, we’re home. If I’ve got to run to the store to get something really quick, she’ll probably jump in the car and go with me. That’s just how we work.”
While the initial bond that united Crissy and Jeromy remains strong, much about their relationship changed over the decades. They learned from one another and grew up together, raising a family in Ballplay where Jeromy adapted to country life, discovering the difficulties of driving through plowed fields. Yet as life carried the couple from era to era, a shift occurred in their marriage and a realization that would lead to complete transformation.
“I was that teenager running around thinking that I was saved at 14 because I said the prayer,” said Crissy. “But my life never changed – it got worse and worse. I’m so thankful when me and Jeromy got married we kind of saved each other from ourselves…from just doing more destruction. We might’ve done it to each other, but we didn’t do it to others. I’m glad God did the things He did to get my attention.”
Both raised in challenging households where negative influences were present, Jeromy and Crissy experienced damaging behavior at a young age that seeped into their adulthoods. Though they attended church and participated in works, their lifestyles were not reflective of Christ. One Wednesday evening testimony altered the course of their personal pathways forever, speaking directly to their hearts. In that moment, Crissy and Jeromy both grasped an alarming truth – they were lost.
“Neither one of us followed God at all,” said Jeromy. “We were following ourselves and what the world instilled in us. But for some reason, we pushed through it. I give all that to God because He knew what He was doing, where we did not know.”
Within hours of hearing that monumental testimony, Crissy dedicated her life to Christ. Jeromy followed the next day, the couple surrendering themselves solely to God’s divine purpose for their lives and committing themselves to outworking His will on earth. God’s transformative power washed over them straightaway, with hours of study and prayer culminating in a mission trip to South America, which served as another catalyst in Jeromy’s life.
Though Jeromy understood God’s purpose for him in sharing the gospel, he wanted to know how he could help his neighbors, those surrounding him each day. How could he and Crissy serve God and their community at the same time?
God’s answer manifested in a unique manner, something neither ever imagined: a coffee shop.
Though both admitted they knew nothing of making coffee or the process behind running a café, Crissy and Jeromy shared a passion for serving Christ that propelled them forward. Fans of Mom-and-Pop shops, the couple stepped out on faith, purchasing equipment little by little until they discovered and renovated their first brick-and-mortar store on Main Street in Hokes Bluff.
God placed the right people in the Swindalls’ path to guide them in their venture. God’s favor and kindness resulted in partnerships with business professionals like Hokes Bluff native Sarah Barnett Gill, who owns Mama Mocha’s espresso bar in Opelika. In exchange for the Swindalls selling her coffee, Gill trained Jeromy and Crissy in handling equipment and honing their skills.
While they both knew the café, lovingly coined Hebrews Coffee, was God’s plan, the first year proved a test of their faith.
“From [the point I dedicated my life to Christ] I got the hint that God was saying, ‘If you’re going to follow me, life is going to be uncomfortable,’” said Jeromy. “It’s not going to be a bed of roses. It’s not going to be easy. It was very uncomfortable the first year and a half. There was a point when we wondered if we were going to sell. [Then] everything fell into place. God just kept sending people.”
The pair’s persistence paid off. What began as a hidden gem nestled in a corner, only serving hot drinks, soon flourished into a community favorite and local hit. Expansions occurred over time, with Hebrews Coffee growing to offer an entire cold drink menu to accompany its original signatures, adding seasonal creations and irresistible treats to its continuously evolving options.
From lattes and cappuccinos to signature iced coffee and smoothies, the Swindalls cater to every palette and preference. Crissy noted that she creates personalized drinks for customers often, tailoring specific recipes to ensure they enjoy every sip.
“We learn our customers and know what they like,” said Crissy. “We know what recipe it is, and we know what their recipe is. If we tweak your recipe, remember it, because Jeromy might come in and not know your recipe!”
Working together, she and Jeromy channel the same unity Crissy witnessed in her grandparents, who did everything together, from helping with their dairy business to developing Christmas lights.
“When we became saved, things changed for us so much,” said Crissy. “It’s not that we don’t battle with things sometimes, but we’re not active in the things we used to be active in. One of the biggest things is learning to love each other’s flaws. We enjoy life with each other now. If we disagree, we know how to get it right. As we’ve grown and come to know the Lord, ours is a different marriage.”
In just a handful of years, Hebrews outgrew its hole-in-the-wall shop, moving to its current location at 5686 US-278 in Hokes Bluff. The new shop carries with it the same peaceful atmosphere of the first, creating a pleasant and calming environment where customers feel at ease. Greeting each individual who walks through their doors with a smile, the Swindalls’ friendliness and welcoming natures extend love to all who visit.
“I think God is creating the atmosphere,” said Jeromy. “Every customer that’s come in has always said there is something different about this place. It’s not us creating [that difference], it’s God creating it. We’re real. We have our ups and downs, we have our flaws and things we’re having to work on. I think if people can see we’re real, then they’ll know we have no reason to judge anyone else.
“Every day we have a choice whether to follow Christ or follow the world. When my feet hit the floor every morning, my choice is to follow God and try to do better every day, to take what I’ve learned today and apply it tomorrow. I think each day makes the coffee shop much more alive when we come in here. There are mornings when we pray over the shop, either separately or together; we pray that God builds a hedge of protection around the shop. If God gives us tomorrow, He knows the people He’s going to send for us to meet. Whether it’s one or two or 100 people, we just trust Him on that.”
While Hebrews Coffee provides its community with delicious brews and fresh recipes each morning, it also gives them something more – nourishment for their souls. With testimonies that walk hand-in-hand, the Swindalls have witnessed incredible moments where God affected others through their story, feeling blessed to share His goodness and mercy with anyone interested.
With no formal business experience prior to Hebrews Coffee, Jeromy recalled how God influenced all their decisions. When a Jacksonville State University student interested in beginning his own coffee shop visited the Swindalls for advice, he presented a checklist given to him by his professor. He asked Jeromy where he should begin, but Jeromy did not address the list. Instead, he told the student to seek God first, the foundation upon which Hebrews Coffee witnessed its success.
Crissy and Jeromy reflected on unforgettable memories forged in the café, from healing in their own marriage to individuals coming to know Christ at their counter. They commended their customers for their graciousness, noting times when a person was ready to receive Christ and another walked in. When Crissy or Jeromy asked the latter to wait for a moment to give the former some privacy, they were always met with understanding and acceptance. No complaints or rudeness ever occurred – it was as if God stopped the world for a moment, to save that one person.
“One of the things being here in the coffee shop and working with the public is learning to love them where they’re at,” said Crissy. “I think that’s our main goal. Instead of pointing a finger, love them where they’re at and show them Jesus. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been or where you’re at at the moment, Jesus meets us where we are. We don’t have to change to meet Him, He meets us where we are. I want people to know that no matter their background or who they are, they’re always welcome here. That’s our heart – being able to share with others.”
Through Hebrews Coffee, Crissy and Jeromy shine as bright lights in their community. While they desire further growth for the shop, they never wish to become too large that they cannot share hope and spread joy with their customers. Together, Crissy and Jeromy represent God’s transformative power and His wondrous blessings for those who chose to follow Him – exemplifying to all who know them the righteousness and grace that affected their own lives and changing others for the better, one comforting cup at a time.
“We’ve connected with the community really well here,” said Jeromy. “Not just Hokes Bluff, but Glencoe and Jacksonville [and surrounding areas]. I can’t tell you how many friends we’ve made sharing the gospel. We’ve seen people come to know Christ in the coffee shop. Implementing God in this whole coffee shop [makes all the difference]. He’s just using us and showing the world how He loves us and blesses us. He can use two people like us to show how powerful He is.”
“We want to get to know our community,” said Crissy. “I want to get involved in the community, to know the people. There are so many new people moving in. It’s not about us making money, it’s about us getting to know what the community needs and loving on one another. We want to be able to help in the ways we can.”