Carmelite Monks of Wyoming roasting Mystic Monk Coffee. From their monastery nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, the Wyoming Carmelites (a small group of Carmelite Monks) were looking for a way to support their growing community.
After much discernment and prayer, the monks had the inspiration to start roasting coffee and selling the beans online. The first samples were roasted on a cast-iron skillet in the monastery kitchen and in 2007, Mystic Monk Coffee, a catholic coffee company was born.
The quiet meadows echo no sound but the occasional movements of a few antelopes in the sage brush. A delightful song of the meadow lark welcomes the rising sun that touches down on the mountain glen where a lonely stone Gothic monastery sits. The mountain peaks begin to twinkle orange in the bright morning sun. Suddenly a gentle breeze pushes what appears to be a mountain fog across the field before the monastery that speaks peace with its each movement. But it is not a fog. It is the delicious smoke of this morning’s dark coffee roast.
Every morning after prayers and a chanted mass are complete, a few of the Carmelite monks file down the hill to their roasting barn whose red walls glimmer in the sunrise. They are ready to roast the coffees for today’s blessed recipients. You may wonder how the monks know what they are doing with their four roasters at an altitude of 7500 feet in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming. But their dozens of awards for their roasts remind the coffee connoisseurs of their immense experience selling coffee over the past fifteen or more years.
How can a Carmelite Monastery in the middle of Wyoming become a premier coffee roasting company when most of the people they sell to live hundreds or thousands of miles away? What would push these monks to become the premier catholic coffee company? Who would think to do such a thing and why?
The Wyoming Carmelites had a problem. Very little funds, no income, no way to build a monastery and dozens of young men wanting to enter with no place to put them. The then five Carmelite Monks in 2006 lived in Clark, Wyoming, renting a house. Clark is a flat desert in Northern Wyoming. The monks were inspired with great desires and great dreams. They loved the soaring arches and vaults of Gothic architecture and wanted to chant their Latin Carmelite chants in a tall Gothic Church in the mountains. They live in the equivalent of a double wide trailer. They hoped for a monastery with 24 individual cabins or hermitages built in stone, while they had not a single one. And these five monks had almost nothing. The Wyoming Carmelites pondered, prayed and hoped. How can they achieve such a magnificent goal?
But The Carmelites are also realists and very practical. If they were to see their goal realized, they would need to be industrious. God helps those who help themselves as they well knew. What could they do in their solitude that would actually help them to raise funds for their monastery? You see the monks are cloistered. This means that they do not go out but live their entire lives behind cloister walls in the monastery. How can a cloistered groups of Carmelites sell to people in the world without leaving their life of enclosure?
As all the monks prayed and thought about it, one of the monks had a sister that moved to Costa Rica. There she bought a small coffee plantation. This brother has also been a barista at a coffee in shop in his past days, and loved good coffee. During his morning hour of mental prayer and meditation, he was inspired with an ingenious plan. This brother went immediately to their prior, who is in charge of the monastery, and excitingly told the prior of his inspiration. They could roast coffee in their cloister and use this new thing called the internet to sell it to people throughout the world. Father Prior was excited too and thought it was a great way to protect the cloistered life while raising funds for their dream monastery.
The monks gathered most of their funds, said a prayer and hoped in God. In great daring, they then bought their first roaster with most of their money they had saved. Fr. Prior prayed about what the Carmelite Monks could call their coffee that had a special ring to it. He was finally inspired with the name that we all now know very well: Mystic Monk Coffee.
The monks had to figure out some roasts even before their roaster was delivered. So they bought a variety of green beans and a black cast iron skillet and roasted the first batch on their stove top. After trying a variety of blends, brother roaster cleverly combined four different beans into something that he thought tasted delicious, ground and brew it, and brought it to Father Prior. They both sipped in amazement. Fr. Prior said to the brother, “I think we will call this one Mystic Monk Blend.” And so our number one seller was born.
The monks received their roaster in 2006. But then they needed a website to get to people so that thirsty and tired coffee lovers could find them. The monks were familiar with dial up internet, remember that? But could an online coffee industry be maintained and actually bring in funds for the monk’s dream monastery?
Fr. Prior and the other Wyoming Carmelites consulted professionals for their service on how to make it work. The professionals thought that the shipping would be too expensive and no one would ever buy enough to help the monks build a Gothic monastery in the mountains. This was not easy for the monks to hear, but they believed this industry would be the best way for them to maintain their hidden life of prayer and build their monastery.
Thus, the Mystic Monk Coffee website was born. The monks would roast their coffee in their garage and ship it out to people wherever they might live through the country. At first, the monks barely brought in enough to pay the roaster off within a few years. But they stuck to their coffee roasting courageously until more and more Catholics regarded Mystic Monk Coffee as the catholic coffee company.
The incredible reviews began to flood the Wyoming Carmelite’s website. Brother roaster wondered if possibly the monk’s coffee was good enough to be reviewed by a professional coffee taster. They sent in their Christmas Blend Coffee and it received a 92 from world famous Kenneth Davids. The monks now have dozens of high 90’s reviews and are well known for their gourmet roasts and blends.
After a dozen years of persevering roasting coffee, the Carmelite Monks obtained mountain property in the beautiful Rockies of Wyoming. They also broke ground and started to build what they had dreamed of from the beginning, an authentic Gothic stone monastery near to the natural cathedrals that God created in the mountains. The monks built their 24 hermitages for each monk to dwell and pray in. They also have a refectory building where they eat, a Chapter House for their clothings and professions, a guest house and . . . of course a red coffee roasting barn.
Today the Wyoming Carmelites have about half of their monastery finished, but are still roasting coffee in order to finish their Gothic Church, which has been begun but is not complete yet. Every bag of coffee that is sold through Mystic Monk Coffee helps the monks in their daily life and also in completing their Gothic monastery.
When a group of hopeful monks desire a monastery and church for the glory of God, they will pray and hope, but will also be real and practical. God blesses their courageous efforts and brings it all to fruition. And the means of coffee happens to taste really good too.
The Wyoming Carmelites continue to roast and sell Mystic Monk Coffee to complete their monastery buildings and to support the daily living of their monastic life. Their delicious roasts have made them the premier catholic coffee company of our time and their roasts will only get better. The Carmelites continue to reach people through their website, through which people throughout the world order their delicious roasts and blends. The monks hope to increase wholesale sometime in the future by getting Mystic Monk Coffee into more grocery stores near everyone who wants to drink it daily.
As for the monks, they are headed deeper and deeper into their life of prayer and hiddenness, for which the coffee was first envisioned. The Carmelite’s vocation is hidden prayer and union with God for the sake of everyone throughout the church and the world. Mystic Monk Coffee is the fruit of this great labor of monasticism. The Wyoming Carmelite Monks are pleased to share with you their fruit of their life of dedication and service.
The Wyoming Carmelites continue their hidden cloistered life of prayer in the mountains. It is in the midst of prayer that the monks develop their roasts and blends for Mystic Monk Coffee. The Wyoming Carmelites are proud to provide you with a taste of the mystical life of a monk.