The first time Jason Russell laid eyes on a coffee plant, he was over two hours north of Managua in the Nicaraguan mountains.
With the final day approaching of his Central American mission trip, Russell and a friend decided to stay a few extra days, in part to continue mission work, yet also to tour the many coffee farms that dot the mountainous landscape. Face to face with over 800 acres of lush coffee trees, he knew right then and there that he planned to bring his love of coffee back to Seymour.
“I realized at that point how blessed I was, and I wanted to bless other people,” Russell said. “There’s no happenstance anymore. There is no coincidence.”
Standing seemingly alone in a lot to the side of Boyd’s Creek Highway, 434 Coffee is the culmination of Russell’s nearly two decade long dream to bring quality coffee to the Seymour area. Originally the owner of another coffee shop in Seymour during the early 2000’s, Russell was forced to close that particular location, yet had it in his mind to the new shop even before the lot became available.
After purchasing the shop’s structure and hauling it nearly 1,200 miles roundtrip from Flint Michigan, Russell was able to open his doors to the public earlier this month. Currently, 434 Coffee only operates as a drive-thru, 6:30 – 10:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, yet he also has bigger plans for the future. He hopes to expand the drive through and connect it with Boyd’s Creek, offer more drink options and utilize the entire acre property for his business. Though he’s just starting out, Russell believes his past experience, as well as his love for the community, will translate into a successful business model.
“I want to make this to where you don’t have to drive so far to get something that’s exciting,” Russell said. “You don’t have to go to Knoxville or Pigeon Forge or anywhere like that. Seymour has some great things to offer.”
With a menu specializing in espresso drinks yet including choices ranging from fruit smoothies to lattes, Russell said that while coffee shops in the area are scarce, the public’s knowledge and appreciation for the drink has increased since his first business venture over 15 years ago. “This was before Starbucks was here, so it was like educating the area with what even espresso was.”
With a modest but increasing number of customers showing up every day, Russell said his main hope for the future lies more in giving back to the community than turning a profit.
As our interview inside the coffee shop came to a close, an elderly couple pulled up to the side of the shop, no doubt curious about the new business. Though technically closed, Russell took the time to explain what the new business was to the passersby, shook the driver’s hand and watched him drive away, nothing purchased, but something gained.
“That’s why I’m here,” Russel remarked.

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