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‘My friend’ barista goes viral as she serves up coffee and the joy of the Lord

Caitlin Campbell (’19)

When she opens up the window to her Street Brew Coffee trailer in her hometown of Toronto, Ontario, Liberty University graduate Caitlin Campbell (’19) is ready to share more than that morning’s dose of caffeine. With a cheerful greeting of “Hello, my friend” to every customer, she passes along the love of God as she passes the cups across the counter.

But she’s not just a friendly face in Toronto; her social media videos showing these daily interactions with customers have made her a familiar face to followers across the world. Her videos have recently gone viral, leading to 1.1 million followers on her TikTok account and over 276,000 on YouTube and 59,000 on Instagram. The Canadian headquarters of TikTok, Google, and Facebook have all invited her for a visit. Almost every morning, Campbell livestreams from her trailer as she serves her customers or makes a cup to feed her own fervent coffee appetite.

“Every day I wake up with one goal in mind, and that’s to spread some joy and positivity and make someone smile,” Campbell said. “Pretty much my entire life I’ve been told by people about how naturally happy and joyful I am, and how I have that sort of presence, and I don’t think I really realized that until recently when I started my business and was able to share my joy with people. It really is the joy of the Lord that I have inside of me, it’s ingrained in me, and getting to spread that is one of my biggest purposes. I truly believe that’s who I am and why God has put me here on this earth.”

@cc.campbell A day in my life running my coffee trailer and we got hot coffee back #coffeetrailer #dayinmylife #coffee ♬ Makeba – Jain

The idea of running a coffee business had been brewing for years. She didn’t realize it at the time, but her plan began to take shape when she was a Master of Divinity student at Liberty. While writing a paper about nonprofit work, she outlined a business model for a coffee company that would help the homeless population. She said her professor, Dr. Tim Chang, encouraged her to make it a reality.

“I pretty much wrote a full business plan and was really passionate about it,” Campbell recalled. “At first, my professor thought the company already existed, and he told me, ‘You need to go work at this company; I can clearly see how much you care about it, and I think it’s something you need to pursue.’ At the time I wasn’t sure if I would do it, but what he said stuck with me.”

She also didn’t know at the time how God would use a setback in her life to develop the endurance, fortitude, and an upbeat outlook on life that would serve her well in her current endeavors.

While working as an assistant coach with the Lady Flames Division II hockey team in 2016, she slipped on the ice and fractured her skull. Even though she was promptly treated, Campbell struggled for the rest of the semester with constant headaches, dizziness, and sleep issues. It was eventually determined that she had suffered severe brain trauma from the accident. She moved back home for treatment in February 2017 but returned for the fall semester, pushing through to ultimately graduate on time in May 2019. (Liberty’s news team told her story in a special graduate feature.)

Campbell said she continues to have chronic migraines and some hazy “bad brain days” from the accident, but she is grateful for the Lord’s work in her life.

“I think it instilled a quiet confidence in me that I can overcome almost anything that is thrown my way with the support of my family and the Lord,” Campbell said. “It taught me about the importance of adapting; that things are going to come your way and you have to change. It’s not going to be easy, but you have to take it one step at a time and keep rocking through it.”

After graduating and making plans to attend Dallas Theological Seminary in preparation to become a youth pastor, Campbell decided to return to the coffee concept. She created Street Brew Coffee on Oct. 3, 2019 and for the next several months sold packaged coffee grounds from her booth at local fairs and trade shows.

When the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions caused her to put aside her plans in Dallas, she continued to sell coffee through her online storefront. That’s when she picked up her smartphone and started to share about herself and Street Brew on TikTok. Her friendly demeanor shone through in her videos, instantly attracting fans — and customers. In 2021, she purchased a trailer and took her business out into the Toronto area, where she now sets up shop at farmer’s markets, weddings, festivals, and other events.

“I think a lot of it comes down to my content being authentic and genuine,” she said. “Yes, I own a coffee company and want people to come to the trailer for coffee, but I’m not trying to sell people on anything beyond that. I’m putting myself out there, and I want to build up and encourage others in any way I can. There are a lot of lonely, hurting people out there, and I think they see the positivity and decide to follow it.”

Staying true to the original dream she had while studying at Liberty, Campbell donates a part of Street Brew’s profits to local charities that serve the homeless population.

“We didn’t want to be just another coffee company, even though our coffee is very good; we wanted to be good coffee that does good in the community,” she said. “Not only do the consumers get to have a great cup of coffee, but they also get to know that their dollars are going back into the community.”

And she hopes to take it one step further.

“Our long-term goal is to open up a café and employ people who want to transition out of homelessness,” she said. “A lot of them are just one chance away from changing their lives, so that would give them an opportunity.”

Campbell said her time at Liberty helped to spark the fire that now allows her to shine for the Lord through Street Brew.

“I’d describe it as the biggest growing season of my life,” she said. “In my last year at Liberty (after the injury), I feel like I grew leaps and bounds in my faith and my confidence. My professors were amazing, they set me up to succeed in every way they possibly could, and I felt so confident in who God had made me. I obviously still have a long way to go, but my skills and growth I gained at Liberty have translated into what I do today. I left Liberty with a fire to accomplish my dreams and do whatever I had to do next.”

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