Before Kendal and Justin Harden opened Harden Coffee on Main St. in Campbellsville, Kentucky, the town didn’t have much to offer for community spaces or places to meet up with friends. The couple’s passion for great coffee and love of their hometown has been the foundation of their downtown shop. But it had an unlikely start.
“I despised coffee,” Kendal says. “I was a tea drinker.”
“My family actually didn’t drink coffee,” says Justin. “I was told that if you drank coffee too young, it would stunt your growth.”
But that all changed when Justin started to learn about the intricacies of the coffee roasting process.
“I started trying all these different coffees and at that point, I’m like man, this is really cool,” he says. “It’s like wine in the morning. It’s something I can like have fun with in that culinary sense but it’s just something I drink every single day now.”
The Hardens expanded their fledgling coffee roasting business into a coffee shop in 2014, buying a building on Campbellsville’s Main St.
“[The building] was a pawn shop when I was a child,” says Kendal. “I do meet people that grew up with this building and it is a neat experience to hear their stories. I like hearing those details of history and there’s no handbook on the building, so we only learn things from people’s stories.”
Justin had previously worked in home construction, and he used his knowledge from that line of work to update the 19th-century structure for its new purpose.
“It’s been huge,” says Laura Mitchell Wilds, owner of Mitchell’s Men’s Wear in downtown Campbellsville. “It’s been so successful and it has brought a whole new crowd to town that we haven’t [seen]. The younger generation are very supportive of other businesses in the town and just a breath of fresh air.”
In addition to the house-roasted coffee, Hardens Coffee offers a selection of baked goods—something the Hardens hadn’t planned on including originally, but has proven to be popular with their customers. They also showcase local art on the walls of the shop, such as paintings by kids at the nearby Method Art Studio.
“It’s been just kind of a hub of experiencing the art culture that I think is here, it just needs some breath on it,” says Kendal.
“We didn’t need the big city,” she says. “We decided that the things that drew us to a big city, we could actually create, so we decided to go that route.”