Wyoming Community Coffee’s (WyCoCo for short) recent expansion was about more than just adding new square footage.

The project, which wrapped after a six-week stint in mid-November, allows the shop, a much-loved community hub, to roast its own beans for the first time and expand its food menu of light bites and breakfast eats. Still, there was an even bigger picture at play, owner Sara Aschliman says, one that puts the WyoCoCo staff top of mind. The moves mean she can pay it forward in more ways than one, from the servers behind the bar to the women who source the product from the very start.

“When we opened (in 2018), I absolutely said I’m never going to roast. It seemed daunting enough to open a business I didn’t know anything about at the time,” Aschliman says. “But five years later, I have a staff that’s really talented and really motivated, and it felt like something we could accomplish. If we’re roasting our own beans, we’re increasing our return on investment, and I can roll that back. I can pay my employees more. I can give them more opportunity and a reason to stay — this can be a career versus just a transitional job.”

WyCoCo is now roughly 30% larger, thanks to a 650-square-foot addition, which allows room for roasting equipment and a commercial kitchen. The coffee shop was also able to add more seating inside, and new windows open up to an outdoor coffee bar and patio fronting Springfield Pike.

Food-wise, the expanded menu includes breakfast burritos and more grab-and-go options from the reach-in fridge, filled with “café fare,” like chicken salad, chickpea salad, quinoa, and fruit. The drink menu remains largely unchanged, but Aschliman says WyCoCo has been approved for a full liquor license. The shop will expand its alcohol selection beyond craft beer and wine soon.

In terms of coffee, Aschliman is being intentional about where WyCoCo sources its beans for roasting. The shop is working with Cafe Femenino, a collaboration of small female-owned coffee farms in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, and Sumatra. Cafe Femenino works to end the cycle of poverty affecting women coffee farmers and provides them with direct compensation.

It’s also working with Katia Duke, a fourth-generation Honduran coffee farmer, considered a trailblazer in the female coffee farming and producing business.

“We’re a woman-owned business, so the idea that these are women farmers, women-owned businesses, women roasters, it’s providing opportunities that haven’t always been there,” Aschliman says. “We want to be able to share those stories more directly.”

WyCoCo was aided in the expansion effort with $30,000 in capital from Main Street Ventures, an Over-the-Rhine nonprofit that supports women and minority entrepreneurs, in the form of a “Leap” grant.

Much of the construction work was completed by Wyoming resident Jeff Meyung.

Aschliman says she hopes WyCoCo will continue to serve as a community hub. The coffee shop, coupled with the neighboring Work+Shop, a coworking space housed in a 127-year-old home Aschliman acquired last year, offers unique spaces for patrons in this part of the region.

“The weird silver living about COVID is we realized what a loyal community we have, and that they wanted to make sure we stuck around and told their friends,” she says. “We actually came out of the pandemic with more customers than we had before, and meeting people outside Wyoming who’ve heard of us, and having them go, ‘I love your shop,’ it’s super gratifying. People want to be here.”