Many businesses have closed their doors for good over the past year. The boom-and-busts of the oil field make Artesia notoriously difficult for businesses to take root in.
Add in some government regulation and fear, and it spells disaster for a lot of businesses that were already struggling. Rob Morrisey of Kith + Kin didn’t shut down, however. Instead, he grew, expanded and rebranded.
My first question was about the name. Jahva House was a staple of Artesia for years, and to change it was a big step.
“I felt like it was a new beginning for us,” said Morrisey. “We weren’t the same business we were before. I wanted a fresh, new identity for us, so I decided to start with a new name that had genuine meaning to it for me, and that was Kith + Kin Roasting Co.”
Artesians will call Rob’s shop Jahva House for the next 10 years. Just like K-Bob’s, Jahva House is blessed with the curse of being such a memorable place.
But the Jahva House was just the foundation. Kith + Kin is the vision made concrete after years of planning.
With a little divine intervention, Morrisey opened his new business a year before the entire world shut down. It gave him time to lay out the roots of Kith + Kin. Its official birthday was Aug. 12, 2019.
The first time I sat down with Morrisey was in the Jahva House. We talked about his new espresso machine — a single piece of the whole puzzle. He vaguely said he “had some ideas” when I asked him what his expansion plans were. I have a feeling he knew exactly what was coming but didn’t want to spoil the surprise. He makes sure every detail is perfect before revealing much news about his shop, and it shows.
Looking back, the espresso machine was such a tiny detail in what his grand plan was. While still being an impressive machine, it pales in comparison to what he’s accomplished.
Under the new name, evolved a new motto: “The Constant Search for Better.” That means an entire area of the shop is now dedicated to in-house coffee roasting. That also means an upgraded bakery dedicated to in-house, from-scratch pastries and loaves of bread for his sandwiches.
Rob and his team are constantly creating fun syrup flavors that they make in-house, including their vanilla bean syrup, caramel sauce, and a Hatch+Honey syrup featuring Hatch green chile. It defeats the purpose to perfectly roast his own coffee and then use a generic syrup in it. Unfortunately, some things can’t be made in-house and have to be bought. Even then, he looks for the best quality instead of the best deal.
“Kith and kin” is an Old English phrase meaning “friends and family.” To Morrisey, friends and family have always been the foundation of his business. It was built, piece by piece, by local people and family afar.
It seems like a sudden change to people on the outside, but this has been a dream long imagined.
The new name is closer to his heart than the old one. Jahva House was just a coffee shop he tried to start. Kith + Kin is more personal than that. Morrisey’s father helped him pour the concrete that would be the foundation of this business. Something as plain and simple as the concrete in the floor is deeply sentimental to him. Every part of this business is like that.
As beautiful as this story is, it hasn’t been easy. Morrisey has seen his fair share of difficulties in his time at Kith + Kin. For a long time, his shop was the place to get coffee in Artesia. Recently, however, corporation coffee moved into town, creating drive-through competition during a time that dine-in service was closed.
Morrisey’s opinion of his competition was surprisingly positive. He gives them credit for helping create the industry of coffee and appreciates what they’ve done. However, it’s very clear that he doesn’t appreciate this corporation’s move toward speed, convenience, and sugar-loaded drinks at the cost of craft. That’s the void he wants Kith + Kin to fill, a need for quality and craft coffee that can be enjoyed in a great atmosphere.
Kith + Kin is the place to have a fantastic cup of coffee with someone. Or to not have a cup of coffee. That’s the great thing about Kith + Kin. No purchase necessary for some good, old-fashioned human connection.
Morrisey isn’t worried about big corporations coming to Artesia. They can never replicate what he can offer, and he can offer everything they can and more. Local businesses are
made from local ingredients. Not just the beans and sugar; the people, too.
Artesia is a unique place, to say the least. Kith + Kin is our uniquely Artesian shop. It seems like it’s going to continue to be our little coffee shop for a little while longer.
Once Morrisey was able to reopen his doors, he saw a surge of people needing to coexist again. Even if the surge dies down, he is perfectly content being able to serve good, local
coffee to good, local people.