by Kathy Sax
The word ‘balance’ is defined as: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. When thinking about the circumstances and events in life, we all strive for the balance in life between making money to live, supporting ourselves and our families, and maintaining a healthy life complete with all the things that make us happy – like hobbies, sports, travel, and such. It can be very difficult to maintain that delicate balance – too much either way can easily tilt the scale. Marshall M, owner of Balance Coffee and Tea, has found a way for balance in his life.
Marshall grew up in Columbia, Illinois and attended school there and in Belleville. After graduating from high school, he took a job with the railroad while working part time as a fishing guide. An opportunity with AMTRAK led to a job offer in Seattle, which he accepted – moving his young family 2,000 miles away to start a new adventure.
While Seattle offered him many of the interests that he enjoyed, such as mountain biking and skate boarding and yoga, the job with AMTRAK didn’t allow for the flexibility to balance his scale (providing for his family and pursuing his interests). Marshall left the railroad and took a job as a courier – riding his bike through the streets of Seattle. Most of his break time during business hours was spent at a coffee shop called Café Ladro. It was there where Marshall met and became friends with the owner and employees.
The delivery business took a turn and Marshall was left looking for another job. As luck would have it, Café Lardo had a full time opening and he was offered a job. He thought, ‘why not?’ – he knew and liked the people there. He took the job thinking that he would be trained to work as a barista, maybe a coffee educator. The experience provided so much more than that…
Marshall enjoyed learning about the roasting process and the business end of the establishment. He started seeing the potential of the coffee business and the possibility of owning his own business down the road. That way he could help others by offering employment, provide for his children’s future, and have some flexibility to maintain that healthy work/life balance.
Marshall returned to Belleville to do just that in the fall of 2015. Serendipitously, the old train station building that used to house the Green Depot came up for rent that summer as he was looking for places that might be ideal. Drawn to the large door and storage area which was originally the old baggage room, he saw it as a perfect fit for his new adventure. Balance Coffee and Tea opened on February 20th, 2017.
Marshall roasts his own beans using a DIEDRICH IR 12 ROASTER, which was handmade and shipped from Ponderay, Idaho. It can roast 12 kilos at a time and each batch takes approximately 13-15 minutes, depending on the roast profile and level. The roaster utilizes conduction as well as conventional heating, using natural gas and infrared burners. His five-year goals include buying the property and expanding the warehouse and roastery on the back lot.
Balance Coffee and Tea is located at 732 South Illinois Street in Belleville (IL). It is a warm inviting space complete with large comfy couches and window seating. The décor is charming and features local artwork as well as pictures depicting the history of the building. They offer a full menu of hot and cold coffee / tea beverages along with sandwiches, soups, pastries/muffins including some vegan and gluten free options. For those desiring an alcohol beverage, there are coffee-infused drinks, several classic cocktails such as lemon drop martini and a rotating beer on tap from the White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery, located in Sparta, Illinois. On the weekends, a Bloody Mary and Mimosa Bar is available from 8am-2pm.
Personally, I have been to Balance Coffee and Tea several times and I love it. The ‘Belleville Blend’ coffee is some of the best coffee I have ever tasted, and the environment provides a perfect atmosphere for one to find the balance that is needed in our lives. I invite all to support this wonderful local business and enjoy an amazing experience.
Photo credit: Kathy Sax
Photo notes: woman serving two customers at counter, Jackie Rolek. In front of the coffee roaster, Marshall Morris and wife Alli Morris. Allie Morris is also the barista in one of the other photos.
Balance Coffee & Tea
732 South Illinois Street
White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery at whiteroosterfarmhousebrewery.com