When God Calls You to Open Up a Coffee Shop [Photo Journal]

Trent and Christine spend their days smelling like coffee and dreaming of the day when they will open up their first missional coffee shop in Manila, Philippines.

For the past year, Trent and Christine* have lived in Manila learning everything they can about Filipino culture and coffee in order to open up their first missional coffee shop, Narrative, later this year. Scroll through their photo journal to see how, in a city of millions, they are making disciples one cup of coffee at a time.

Meet Trent and Christine (and Gordon, too)


trent and christine rollings

Mabuhay! We are Trent and Christine and we’ve lived in Manila, Philippines, together for just over a year (Trent since 2010). We have the best job in the world: setting up a specialty coffee shop in one of the major business districts of Metro Manila. 

This has been a year of “new” for us: a new marriage, a new home, new friends and a new profession.



This handsome little guy is our beloved 6-year-old pug, Gordon. Born in the Philippines, he achieved world traveler status when Trent brought him to Canada and then the U.S. for our wedding. His favorite activities include eating and sleeping. He is a great cuddler as well, so he has become a form of stress-relief therapy after a long day.

Serving in a Coffee Shop


christine rollings coffee shop ministry

We arrived in Manila with freshly roasted coffee beans from Vancouver and an Aeropress. A year later, we’re baristas certified through EDSA Beverage Design Studio, where we now intern in order to hone our skills and interact with the community. For me (Christine), it’s been a challenge to learn a new skill in a new language, but it’s also teaching me valuable lessons like the need for constant practice and being okay with failure.


If you come into the shop on a hot day, I’ll recommend you try EDSA’s dirty white latte — milk and a shot of espresso over ice, topped with ground coffee beans from our specialty blend.


trent rollings coffee shop ministry

For years I (Trent) was on a journey to discover that one thing that I was passionate about and skilled at doing.  Ten years ago, I would have laughed hysterically if you told me that I would eventually become a specialty barista and open my own shop.  I could barely stand the smell of coffee let alone the taste. Now coffee has become the canvas on which I create, and I suppose you could say that milk has become the paint.

Currently, I am in love with Geisha coffee from Panama, one of the rarest and most costly coffees in the world.  I’ll prepare this coffee slow-brewed by hand using the Kalita Wave brewer.  This is the only type of coffee that can literally cause me to see colors (orange and purple) with each sip.


coffee shop ministry cupping

It’s no wonder that Wednesday mornings are the most photographed time of the week in the coffee shop where we intern.  This is a time when coffee aficionados come together at EDSA Beverage Design Studio for a cupping (coffee tasting).  Usually, we will taste and evaluate six to seven coffee samples. Sometimes we cup coffee to sharpen our taste buds and build our taste catalogs. Other times, it is to choose the coffees we will serve in the shop or assess the quality of a roast.

The best part of cuppings for us, though, is the opportunity we have to interact with people of all demographics who are all at different points in their specialty coffee journey.  Cuppings are the most tangible expression of community happening (quite literally) around coffee.


david coffee shop ministry

David (pictured far right) has been one of the biggest blessings in our lives over this past year.  Beginning two and a half years ago, I (Trent) started praying that if we were indeed going to go ahead with opening a missional coffee shop, David would be a key member of our leadership team.

One year ago, he got in contact with me to see if we could meet to talk.  At the time, he just offered to volunteer, but after only a few months, it became clear that we needed him on a more permanent basis.  In a step of faith, David quit his job with a large corporation to join Narrative, our future coffee shop, as our business developer.  

Since then, David has become one of our closest friends and is now growing as a leader. Once Narrative opens, David will be a barista and trainer.


ortigas center coffee shop ministry

This is a view of Ortigas Center from one of the upper floors of our church. I (Trent) have loved this view so much that ever since our church opened its doors a few years ago, I take any chance I get to stand in the giant floor to ceiling window and gaze at the skyline. It’s pretty fitting, then, that this business district is the area in which we anticipate opening the first location of Narrative in just a few months. 

Now, I no longer just gaze at Ortigas, but I take every chance I get to pray over it, too.

Our Life in Manila


coffee shop ministry Philippines

In a city of 20 million people, there are countless new smells, sounds and experiences! This is the view from our condo’s balcony — the aspect that sold us on the unit in the first place. We both grew up in suburban North America (Trent in Alberta, Canada, and Christine in Connecticut, U.S.), and this outdoor space has become our urban oasis where we read, talk with friends and pray over our city. Read more about how we made our home here in “How to Create a Home Overseas.”


coffee shop ministry manila Philippines missions

The week we arrived, our team leader took me (Christine) on a jeepney and taught me the Tagalog phrases I need to know to ride it. She fed me the words quietly as I put them to use: “Bayad po!” (“Payment sir”) and “Para po!” (“Stop sir”). Now I use the jeepney, along with the Manila Metro Rail Transit, at least twice a week to and from language school. Just this month, I learned the phrase, “Sa tabi lang po!” which asks the driver to stop along the side of the road, rather than in the middle.


language learning manila missions philippines

Twice a week I (Christine) commute to language school, and this is the view that greets me when I walk through the front gate. First thing we do is trade out our street shoes for these “tsinelas,” each teacher and student with their own designated pair. This community has become a lifeline to me. Even when I’m discouraged (which happens often), I don’t want to give up because of the love, patience and friendship I have here.


scout's honor milkshake manila philippines

Manileños like ourselves love to eat!  In the past few years, we have seen the city become more and more of a foodie’s paradise.  Everyone is on the search for the next great gastronomic experience. One of our favorite sweet treats here is Scout’s Honor, where you get to craft your own cookie and have it baked fresh right in front of you. Their milkshakes are an experience in themselves as they come covered with your choice of signature craft cookie.


coffee shop ministry friends manila missions

God has provided us with an incredible group of deep friendships from the start of our time here. It’s been such a key part in keeping our marriage healthy — making sure we have time with other people who know us, love us and keep us accountable to God’s Word. We usually meet with these friends every Friday.


ccf manila church missions

Mentors of ours lived in the Philippines for over 20 years, arriving in the mid-1960s. They have shared stories with us of the resistance to the gospel and how, in some areas, the Bible was forbidden to be studied. Now, decades later, the church we attend in Metro Manila has an average of 30,000 attendees weekly. This is just one of many larger churches in the city, and God is doing many big things through these bodies of believers. We see this as a key place to work with the churches to mobilize God’s people toward global missions — reaching the unreached in Asia and around the world!

There are more than 100 ways you can use serve through business and entrepreneurship, like Trent and Christine. Click here to explore how.

How We Serve: Entrepreneurial and Business from TEAM on Vimeo.

*last name withheld for missionary security

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About the author

Christine Elizabeth

Christine is a co-founder of a specialty coffee shop in the central business district in Manila, Philippines. Along with living on mission with her husband, she loves connecting people and resources. Wherever she finds herself in the world, she'll always call the US and Canada home.


Leave a comment
  • Hi Bro and Sis,

    Greetings in His Wonderful Name!

    My wife and I together with our Christian brothers here in Jeddah KSA are planning to put up a coffee shop in Manila as our business venture when go back to Philippines for good in couple of years.

    Highly appreciates if you can provide us information about the business..

    God Bless.


  • That is so sweet and what a wonderful adventure to go on as a married couple! Those milkshakes look delicious! I’ll have to stop in and try those and your coffee too.

  • Hey Christine,

    Thanks for this article. I feel God calling me to open a mission centered coffee shop, it’s scary and exciting at the same time. I have no idea what I’m doing, but knowing that God is on my side gives me comfort and peace. I’d love to connect and possibly learn from you and your husband about this type of calling.


    – Zack

      • Just jumping on the band wagon here… my wife and I opened a coffee shop in Mexico nearly 2 years ago for this same purpose and handed it over last year to a local family. The nature of that shop in a small town was super simple, but now we’re embarking on another shop in a bigger city in southern Mexico, so lots more details, legalities, and vision. So I’d love to hear your experience with all this too! Would love to connect.


  • Christine,

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have always wanted to open a coffee shop, but I push the idea away because I was not sure how I could glorify the Lord through a coffee shop. Recently, God has shown me and put it heavy on my heart to open a coffee shop. I know I can glorify Him in anything I do in my current/future mission field. I have lots and lots of ideas, and I am always searching for more when it comes to coffee and coffee shops (which is how I stumbled across this article). I would love to connect and ask questions. It is encouraging to see people faithfully trusting Him wiith their calling. I hope to hear from you soon!


  • Hi Christine

    My heart leapt when I read this! I would love to connect with you. My daughter and I have been missionaries for 5 years now and a coffee shop has been on my heart even longer but I had no idea where to start. You’ve inspired me! Please would you contact me 🙂

  • Hi Christine,

    Thanks a lot for your article! I thought I am on my own with this calling for coffee & the mission field! God put it on my heart to open up or to work with others in a coffee shop with the aim of evangelism and being near to the people. Right now I am waiting for a partner, with whom I can gathing for this calling. May we can get in touch with each other, so I can learn form you and your husband and who you both started to realize you’re calling.

    Greetings & Blessings form Germany

  • Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your experience and God’s calling. I am also asking guidance from the Lord on how will I start my own business that will bring glory to Him. Your article reminds me of Provers 16:3.
    Declaring blessings upon blessings to your family. ♥️

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