Coffee Shop Owners Expand, Hope to Grow to Donate $100,000 a Year

A local coffee enterprise that began by roasting a pound of beans at a time on a popcorn popper is now about to occupy the length of an entire city block, right in the heart of downtown Newport.
Five years ago this month, Emily and Justin Carabello, owners of Carabello Coffee, began roasting and selling their own beans as a way to raise money initially for Jardin del Niños, an orphanage in Nicaragua.
Now, having established their coffee as one of the region’s go-­to brews, the pair opened their Ninth Street storefront in Newport and with the newest expansion in the works, the Carebellos are able to give far more than they had ever imagined.
“We never really saw this coming,” said Emily Carabello, co­owner, who explained that the expansion, which will consist of acquiring the property adjacent to their current location, is not just about having more space for more customers. It’s also about growing their mission.
“Our goal is not, ‘We need more space,’” Carabello said, “It’s that we can’t give more if we don’t get bigger.”
The couple have set themselves a long-term goal of raising and donating $100,000 a year to various causes. Over the last two years alone, they have donated roughly $20,000.
This expansion stands to move the philanthropists closer to their goal.
Over their five-­year run, and even though they are not a non- ­profit organization, the Carabellos have been able to add to their list of philanthropic beneficiaries an HIV orphanage in Kenya, I Can Fly International, which rescues child brides, and local organizations as well, like the Ohio Alley Cat Rescue, church programs, and others.
And the Carabello’s attention to community extends beyond their philanthropy. In the new space, Carabello says their plan is to become a source of education for those who love coffee. “Education about coffee is a big passion of ours.”
In addition to adding a new roasting space to their facility, the new space will offer a training lab with barista classes, a “slow bar,” which will feature lesser­-known, alternative ways to experience coffee, along with more seating for customers.
“The impact customers have is real,” Carabello said, emphasizing how central visitors to the store are to the coffee makers’ mission.
The Carabello’s reach throughout the Greater Cincinnati region is already starting to swell, with a recently announced partnership with Jeff Ruby’s restaurants, as well as partnering with local breweries like the Party Source in Bellevue to develop coffee­-flavored brews.
On the front lines of their expansion, though, will be a Kickstarter campaign, which will begin on Black Friday. The campaign’s goal will be to raise $40,000 before the turn of the year, to fund the building’s renovation. The Carabellos have already consulted the owners of Braxton Brewing Company, coming to Covington next year, who saw record­-setting success with their Kickstarter in October.
“We will also apply for every grant possible,” Carabello said, also adding that the city of Newport has committed to matching up to $15,000 for facade repairs to the building.
The Carabellos estimate the rehab project will probably total around $100,000, for interior and exterior updates. The Kickstarter is meant as just that — a start — with a plan to begin rehabilitating the building's inside first.
As they prepare to launch the Kickstarter, the Carabellos are optimistic: “All along the way, people have been excited about what we’re doing, and they want to help,” Emily said.
Ultimately, staying on mission and becoming a community anchor in Northern Kentucky remain the Carabello’s top priorities.
“We want to be a place where people think, if you come to Northern Kentucky, you have to go to Carabello,” she said.
Story & photos by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor
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