At 19 years old, Faith McDonald has a lot on her plate. Not only is she finishing up a degree in health science from the University of Missouri, but she’s getting ready to launch her very own coffee truck, Flower Coffee Collective, in Flint Hill in St. Charles County. The project is the culmination of a lot of work, and McDonald is excited to get to share her dream with the community.
McDonald grew up in Lincoln County in Missouri, not far from St. Louis. Her interest in opening her own coffee shop was sparked when she got a job as a barista. “I like the way the people who serve you coffee can set your day up,” she explains. “When you think about it, if you start your day by encountering a grumpy barista, it can be bad. My goal is to serve people joy. I want the first person customers meet in the morning to be someone who is happy to see them. I also love that with a coffee shop you have a lot of regulars, so it’s about building relationships.”
While McDonald knew her passion was in opening her own coffee business, her father wanted her to explore her career options. They struck a deal when she was around 16. If she finished a college degree and still wanted to open a cafe or food truck, she would have his full support. While on a spring break trip with friends this year, McDonald realized it was time to pursue her dream. “We took a spontaneous road trip down to the most southern beach in Texas,” she says. “It was one of the funnest things I’ve done, but I started thinking about what I needed to do to finish my degree, and I was not excited. My friends suggested that instead of looking for a full-time job, I work on opening a coffee truck.”
Looking online, McDonald was able to find a converted 1960s Nomad camper for sale. She and her father made the long drive to pick it up in Maryland. The camper was already branded: Flower Coffee Collective. “I was originally going to call my truck Sips of Sunshine, but this was perfect,” she says. “The trailer was joyful, colorful and bright. I knew I couldn’t change it to anything better than it already was.” Keeping the outside of the trailer the same, McDonald rearranged the internal infrastructure to better suit her needs and got to work creating her menu.
Trial and error were key to figuring out what to serve, according to McDonald. The process took around a month, with two weeks of development and two weeks of testing with friends and family. “I trialed around 1,200 drinks to perfect the recipes,” she notes. “I have my favorites, but I’m super biased!” When it comes to coffee, one of McDonald’s favorites is the Golden Hour Latte, a white chocolate mocha with salted caramel drizzle and vanilla cold foam. Flower Coffee Collective also will serve drinks made with Lotus Energy concentrate. McDonald says her guilty pleasure is Smile in a Cup, which is flavored with strawberry, coconut and peach.
To make Flower Coffee Collective a reality, McDonald also had to find community partners to work with. Pastries and donuts are provided by Friendship Farms. “I am a terrible baker, but I can deliver fresh donuts to my customers every morning,” she says. “They also make our gluten-free granola, including custom flavors for us. The quality is outstanding, and I love that Friendship Farms works to source local ingredients like honey. Half of what makes Flower Coffee Collective successful is getting to work with these local partners.”
To source coffee, McDonald turned to Electric Fountain Brewing in Quincy, Illinois. She had previously sampled their coffee at a local cafe and was impressed by the flavor, but what stood out to her even more was their commitment to ethically sourcing beans. “Electric Fountain Brewing’s mission is amazing,” she explains. “They work directly with small and family farms throughout the world and pay them sometimes as much as three times the international fair trade price to ensure they have a living wage and their children can attend school instead of working in the field. These beans represent so much more than just coffee.”
With Flower Coffee Collective’s official opening on the horizon, McDonald is excited about what the future holds. “Right now, we can’t travel,” she notes. “I’ve made it a goal of mine to have a Flower Fleet that can go to different locations. It’s been a lot of fun sharing my plans with family, friends and the community. They’ve shown me a lot of support, and it means the world to me.”