An Honest Attitude | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

An Honest Attitude

The Coffee Roastery

308 E. Pearl St.


Debra Griffin has an honest attitude when it comes to past business failures.

After two decades as a hospital administrator, Griffin decided to open The Coffee Roastery in 2002 in the then-just-blossoming Dogwood area in Flowood. Although demand was high, the business ultimately wasn't successful. "I did it as a sole owner who had had some success in health care but maybe underestimated what it took to run a retail business," she says. "There was money to be made, but I had business flaws: My space was too large; I was too trusting with employees."

That original coffee shop closed in 2007 after five years, when the lease was up. "I was grateful for it. I exhaled," Griffin says.

"I've learned when something doesn't work out, I don't focus on it. It's just yesterday. The milk is spilled. Get a towel, wipe it up; try to pour another glass or get something else."

The experience helped Griffin realize that she wanted more independence in her work. When Humphreys County Memorial Hospital terminated her from an administrator position in 2007, she decided to pursue other venues of employment.

Although she hadn't necessarily plan to open another coffee shop, developer Ted Duckworth reached out to her, looking to add something to his downtown Electric 308 Building (308 E. Pearl St.).

"He knew my business in Dogwood and wanted a coffee shop in this space," Griffin says. "To tell the truth, he helped me to get this space open."

These days, the Coffee Roastery remains as dedicated to a quality product as it was in its previous incarnations, albeit at a lower volume of production. The shop roasts organic Camaroon Boyo beans onsite, as well as a decaf beans.

"I would say the reason I am committed to coffee is because I appreciate a good product," Griffin says.

"The reason I roast is because I can control the inventory levels, but also the inventory freshness. Coffee is like a produce: Anything that has been on the shelf for a certain amount of time, the characteristics and flavor profiles are going to deteriorate."

The Coffee Roastery remains a low-profit endeavor, but it's also a low-cost one. Griffin has no plans to expand, but rather wants the coffee shop to become a part of the downtown ecology. "My hope for it is to let it marinate and get integrated into the local downtown culture," she says.

Griffin says the most important thing she's learned is to balance personal enthusiasm with the professional 
business necessities.

"I think people that want to do something, they should move forward on it. The business plan is so important—it's a blueprint, and if you don't really understand your blueprint, you've got hodgepodge," she says.

"I think some people get jaded where they want to be the sole proprietor and get the profit.

But I say: You want to be the sole proprietor, you'll have to bring up all the capital. So I urge people to partnerships, because there are strengths and weaknesses in various people. What you can't bring to the table, someone else can. And spend a little money with an attorney and get a really good agreement."

Although she is the sole owner of the store, Griffin's day-to-day employment remains in the health-care world. She is an independent health-care consultant and co-owns Physician Hospice Care.

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justjess 7 years, 1 month ago

Debra Griffin is one of the smartest women I have ever met. She gives real meaning to Johnny Cash's song because:

She knew when to hold 'em She knew when to fold 'em She knew when to walk away and when to run......."

Hang in there Debra; your coffee is GREAT!!!!!!!!


tsmith 7 years, 1 month ago

That's not a Johnny Cash song.....


justjess 7 years, 1 month ago

Johnny Cash wrote the song while traveling on a train and talking to a stranger. It is called "The Gambler". I know that Kenny Rogers also has history with singing it and this might be your point of reference.

LOOKIT: The article is written about a smart, honest and hard-working African American Female who is a part of the struggle of bringing Jackson's Downtown business community back to life. Let's celebrate that. Please - Can WE?


tsmith 7 years, 1 month ago

The song was written by Don Shlitz, performed by Kenny Rogers, didn't have a thing to do with Johnny Cash.">


justjess 7 years, 1 month ago

.....and oh, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

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