Java Experiences: The Coffee Ethic

Learn how a love of coffee ultimately translated into a career change and a thriving addition to Springfield’s coffee scene.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

Kansas native Tom Billionis never guessed he’d own a coffee shop, let alone one in downtown Springfield.

Billionis is co-owner of The Coffee Ethic. Nearly five years ago, Billionis was living in Arizona and looking for a career change. One day, when speaking with friend and future co-owner Jim Hamilton, Billionis casually suggested he might like to open a coffee shop. Hamilton then tossed out Springfield as a good location. At the time, Billionis was familiar with the city but still had some things to learn. “I didn’t even know that Springfield had a downtown,” says Billionis.

However, mere months later, Billionis was on his way back to the Midwest, with the intention of bringing Springfield’s coffee scene to a whole new level.

When The Coffee Ethic opened for business in December 2007, Billionis and Hamilton decided to primarily focus on serving coffee and craft beverages. The niche was one yet to be filled in Springfield’s coffee scene, and the public paid attention.

“We found an audience almost immediately,” says Billionis.

However, Billionis stresses that the shop isn’t necessarily better or worse than other shops. It’s just different—a difference that ties to the shop’s name.

“Your ethic is your theory of living,” says Billionis. “We had a very specific way we wanted to do things when it came to coffee.”
The Coffee Ethic’s brewed coffee (made-to-order by the cup, mind you), traditional espresso sizes and overall genuine attitude about coffee made the budding business stand out.

Want more foodie news? Sign up for Table Talk here!

The relaxed atmosphere also plays a role in bringing back customers again and again. “We tried to create an overall experience that was in a creative environment,” says Billionis. In addition to coffee, The Coffee Ethic also offers a small and focused selection of craft beers. Billionis says that the selection is comprised of beers that aren’t typically available in 417-land, and they’ve resulted in a different demographic of customers.  

The Coffee Ethic’s existence benefits more people than just those in 417-land. The coffee house serves coffee sourced from direct trade relationships, which means that the coffee growers are paid well above market or fair trade prices.
It’s a win-win situation: Great coffee benefits everyone.

While Billionis is concerned with providing quality products to customers, he also wants to promote education. That’s why The Coffee Ethic offers a variety of classes and special events for the public to attend.

These gatherings include Imbibe events, which Billionis describes as “celebrations of taste,” and cuppings, which are formal coffee tastings that include coffee brewed from different types of beans.

“You really start to understand the nuances from one kind to another,” says Billionis.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Articles Like This

Mother's Day Brunch

Celebrating Mom is a stellar reason to gather up the fam and head out for a leisurely brunch and great eats.

7 Good Things

These seven dishes or drinks have passed our taste buds this month and made us rave. They are ranked by level of yumminess.

Top Doctors 2017

Our annual Top Doctors list features winning physicians in 72 medical and surgical specialties throughout 417-land.
Edit Module
Edit Module
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Sign up for our newsletters Follow us on Instagram

Edit ModuleShow Tags

  1. Top Doctors 2017
    Our annual Top Doctors list features winning physicians in 72 medical and surgical specialties...
  2. Heroin Hits Home
    Heroin use in Springfield has moved from being an almost nonexistent problem to a full-blown...
  3. Best Dressed 2017
    This year’s Best Dressed class started with nominations from readers like you. There are suits...
  4. 16 Great Trails
    The Ozarks are a wonderland of trails, both hidden and super-accessible. All you have to do is...
  5. Inside Dr. Swann's Home
    Dr. Michael Swann’s home was renovated to create a space that reflects his family’s...
Edit Module
Edit Module