Most people don’t end up owning the business they worked for during college, but then again, Blake Stevens isn’t most.
As a Samford student in 1996, he spent hours studying over a warm drink at OHenry’s Coffees on 18th Street in Homewood, well before there were coffee shops on every corner. Over coffee there he began building relationships with both the employees and customers, so the shop seemed like the natural choice when he needed a place to work. Anyway, coffee had been a part of his life since he was a child when his grandmother would fix him a cup with condensed milk.
Blake remembers spending time with OHenry’s founder Dr. Henry Bright during his first few weeks on the job, filling coffee bags and working on the Christmas blend at their roasting facility in Homewood. Even then, he realized how passionate Bright was about the shop and its coffee. “He loves what he does, and it shows with what he started,” Blake says. “It made an impact on me, how he went about his day, how he talked about the coffee and cared for it.”
Blake later worked with the second owner, Randy Adamy, learning from his restaurant expertise. After five years with the shop though, he took a job with Starbucks, helping the chain launch stores across the Southeast. It was during that time he met his now-wife, Anna, at the Opelika Starbucks drive-through. But after 14 years with the company, Blake was ready to come back home, taking a job with a staffing company in Birmingham. He’d kept up with Adamy during his time away, and one thing led to another for him, and he ended up purchasing OHenry’s in November 2019.
What’s new since he’s been at the helm of the coffee company is the latest OHenry’s location in Hoover’s Stadium Trace Village, adding to their coffee shops in Homewood, Brookwood Village and Highland Park, as well as license locations at Samford and Protective Life. A Berry High School graduate, Blake has deep roots in Hoover and says the community felt like the natural choice. “It’s a beautiful location in a great spot,” Blake says. “We’re starting to see regulars throughout the day, and the chairs are filling up — even though they are 6 feet apart.”
While the Hoover location fosters the same homey atmosphere that has kept customers coming back to OHenry’s for more than 25 years, this shop has an open, bright feel that sets it apart. Towering bookshelves with faded books cut into the exposed brick wall, helping to create a southern-industrial setting.
And though the paint might still be fresh, there’s a richness to the new location that makes it seem like it’s been part of the community for generations. Part of that is thanks to the black-and-white photos shared by the Hoover Historical Society that line the walls.
Customers can also slip notes about their OHenry’s stories into a box on the mantle and read a few from others that have been framed, including a doily note that captures a couple’s love story. Their messages span five years, covering their engagement, first child and then how they spent their anniversary at the coffee shop.
At both the new shop and the others, Blake wants to continue adding to the legacy the Bright and Adamy families left, focusing on three things. “It starts with coffee, community and connections,” he says. “People need connection and their community now more than ever, and we see ourselves as an important part of that. We provide them with a great place to come and meet and enjoy a cup of coffee.”
As for the coffee, it has the same roast profiles and recipes that Bright started with in 1993, continuing his commitment to quality, top-grade coffee. “We know what connecting around a great cup of coffee can do for people,” Blake says. “We’re staying true to who we are.”
As a part of the third focus, connection, a large community table sits in the center of the new Hoover shop for guests to gather around. There’s also a table nestled in the corner on a wooden stage if they’d prefer something a little quainter. Or, they can enjoy their drink outside on the covered patio.
Behind the counter are more than a dozen coffee bean options—espressos, hot and cold coffee options, frappes and freezes. The iced coffee royale is especially popular during the summer months, and they serve different flavors of their brewed coffee each day. There’s even a Buccaneer blend (Go Bucs!), a dark roast coffee similar to their house blend.
All the beans for these are roasted right off I-65 in West Homewood and sourced from coffee-growing regions, including Brazil, Costa Rica and Kenya. They also purchased a whole crop from a farmer in Columbia.
It isn’t only their coffee that creates life-long customers, though. For breakfast, it’s hard to beat their Conecuh cheddar biscuit or bacon, egg and cheese on a croissant. Customers can also enjoy dishes like a chipotle lime chicken bowl, deluxe grilled cheese, chicken salad and veggie wrap for lunch.
What’s next for Blake and the OHenry’s team? They’re looking at expanding into other communities around Birmingham and the Southeast and adding more people to their team they can invest in. But for now, they’ve been focused on extra steps to keep both employees and customers safe during the pandemic. The shop is now offering home deliveries within a 30-mile radius and plans to continue to so continue that service. Residents can find their coffee across the street from the shop at the Publix at Trace Crossings too.
What has remained the same in all of Blake’s time both behind the counter and in front of it is watching many relationships and connections form between people who would have never come in contact at any other place. “We bring people around a great cup of coffee,” he says.
The Hoover shop is located at 1024 Marble Terrace, Suite 110 in Stadium Trace Village. It’s open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit ohenryscoffees.com.
More Stadium Trace Village Eateries
- The tavern-style Big Whiskey’s serves up all of the classics like buffalo chicken dip, ribeye, tacos, pasta and more, making it more than just a sports bar.
- Cajun Roux Bar & Grill brings the tastes of the bayou to Hoover with everything from oysters and gumbo to po’boys and crawfish.
- Famous for its strawberry cake, Edgar’s Bakery is a full bakery that also serves breakfast and lunch.
- Melt is the king of comfort food with its grilled cheeses, tomato basil soup, deep-fried Oreos and more.
- Mooyah is the stop for anyone craving burgers, fries and shakes.
- At Smoosh, customers pick two baked goods, an ice cream flavor and toppings to create their ultimate dessert — or choose from a shake, cone or sundae.
- The casual chicken joint Super Chix has everything from sandwiches and tenders to salads and custards.
- Baumhower’s is known for its wings, beer and being the place to watch the big game.
- Everything about Taco Mama is fun and funky, from its atmosphere to menu items like tacos, burritos and margaritas.
- Described as game-day food with a taste of Lousiana, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux serves dishes like shrimp and grits, catfish, pasta, po’boys and more.