Positively Richmond: Coffee with purpose

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — John Eshler hurries through the tight quarters of his coffee truck.  He is busy filling orders, and each one of them is a labor of love.

“Did you want whipped cream on the hot chocolate?” Eshler asks one customer standing outside the window.

These days, Eshler spends his days serving up hot drinks with a message to anyone who needs some inspiration.

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“Anything is possible as long as I stay sober today, and that’s what I know,” he states simply.

Last year 8News first met Eshler during his involvement with CARITAS.  He was enrolled in The Healing Place to overcome his dependence on alcohol.  As he completed steps of the program, he set a goal of opening his own coffee shop.

John Eshler prepares a breakfast sandwich for a customer.
John Eshler prepares a breakfast sandwich for a customer.

In September 2016, Eshler opened his own business, thanks to support from CARITAS and UnBound RVA, which puts individuals from low-income communities on a path to entrepreneurship.  Eshler’s coffee truck is called Groundup, which is both a figurative and literal name.

“Starting over and starting my life back up from the ground up,” he explains the name’s significance.

Coffee shops became a special part of Eshler’s life during his recovery.

“Going out with friends and talking about how to change my life and another social aspect, instead of going to bars like I used to,” he remembers their hours spent together over cups of coffee and conversation.

e659d34cda8848aea3bb096a4149551eEshler just secured three spots around town where he can park his truck and operate:  Richmond Riverfront Plaza, Kanawha Plaza and the University of Richmond men’s basketball home games.

Eshler is using his business on wheels to reach others who may be struggling.

“No matter the ups and the downs, anything is possible,” he tells them.

Eshler also has big plans once business picks up down the road.

“I would love to either give back to CARITAS or have some of the gentleman as they come out of the program work for me and give them an opportunity to work in a healthy environment.”

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