The Power of Transformation

Following the ravages of Hurricane Harvey, Pastor David Bendett talks rebuilding Coffee Waves in Port Aransas – and making the Coastal Bend a better place.

By: Dayna Mazzei Worchel

When business owner and church pastor David Bendett saw what Hurricane Harvey had done to his Coffee Waves coffee shop in Port Aransas, he wept. It wasn’t just because the shop had been a major source of income for him and his wife, Amber Bendett, since opening the shop in 2010. There was another reason.

“It was because that shop was so special to so many people. Coffee Waves Port Aransas was a community gathering spot for so many locals and out-of-town visitors. So much of my life in a lot of ways was in that shop,” he said while drinking coffee inside his Coffee Waves Flour Bluff location in late September.

Bendett, the pastor of Rock City Church in Flour Bluff, has overcome many obstacles throughout his life. And there is no doubt he will overcome this one, too. Twenty-five years ago, he was buried alive during Hurricane Andrew in South Florida, fought his way back from alcohol and drug addiction and served a one-year prison sentence for drug possession. With all of that behind him, his faith is even more determined to rebuild that store in Port Aransas.

“We’re moving pretty fast to rebuild,” he said. “And we are going to build the shop even more beautiful than it was before. In the meantime, I’m working to raise money to cover lost equipment not covered by insurance.”

The pictures Bendett showed of the destruction tell the story. Nearly 3 feet of sand, debris and seaweed cover the floors of the once beautiful 2,500-square-foot store. His walk-in freezer was blown across the street, and his costly gelato equipment was ruined. Of his two shops, it was the Port Aransas shop was the most successful. And now, he has several employees without work and a lot of money to raise, Bendett said.

He didn’t have flood or windstorm insurance on his equipment due to how expensive it was. But fortunately, the building is covered by insurance and will be rebuilt. And not everything was a loss. Espresso machines, brewers and other equipment were salvageable. However, many of his largest-ticket items were ruined. “I’ve got great faith and great confidence we will come back stronger than before,” he said about the rebuilding efforts.

In 2008, Bendett opened the first Coffee Waves at 5738 S. Alameda with partner and friend, Douglas Johnson. It quickly became successful and grew popular with TAMUCC students. In 2010, Bendett opened his Port Aransas store because of his love for that city.

“That store took off so fast and was so busy that I needed to focus my full attention there,” he said. “Thus, I became a silent partner on the Alameda store and let my partner and his wife, Cora, run that.”

Regarding the success of his Port Aransas location, Bendett said, “We pour artisan-level espresso and latte art rosettes into our drinks, we make exceptional handcrafted gelato just like they do in Italy and we slice fresh-cut Boar’s Head meat and cheese panini sandwiches daily. All of which we have been doing for nearly eight years in Port Aransas.”

In speaking about Rock City Church, a non-denominational church located at 10309 SPID (on the corner of Waldron Road and SPID), Bendett said, “All of these businesses in the shopping center (including my own coffee shop) pay the church rent, which enables the ministry to focus on what matters most: giving back to the people in our community.”

Bendett is determined in every way, and is a true testament to overcoming difficult challenges in life. “Hurricane Harvey is just another opportunity to reflect confident faith and overcome another obstacle in life.” And this is typical for Bendett, who grew up abandoned as a child, not going to church, and who didn’t even taste his first cup of coffee until he was 33.

Regarding going to prison for one year, He says it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. Bendett became a tutor to illiterates, teaching others how to read and write, and ultimately taught both his students and himself how to read the Bible during that time. “It was priceless time,” Bendett said. “I spent one year learning about the Bible, I got super fired up for Jesus and my life completely turned around. It really was a great year for me.”

Bendett would go on to earn his earn a bachelor’s degree in organizational relations from Oral Roberts University and get his record expunged while living in Tulsa, Okla. And it was there as a student that he began his love affair with coffee after drinking his first macchiato from Nordaggio’s Coffee.

Nordaggio’s Coffee would become his inspiration for starting coffee shops in the Coastal Bend. And it wasn’t just the good coffee he loved; it was the community he had there. He would spend time with friends and family at that coffee shop daily. Similar to what his shop in Port Aransas had become before the ravages of Hurricane Harvey.

What Bendett wants the most, though, is to help make Corpus Christi and Port Aransas better places, and for residents to work together to do it. Through the marketplace business and impactful ministry to those in need, he believes we can accomplish the task. “The name of the church is ‘Rock City’ because we are the city built on the rock, which is the Body of Christ, Texas, which is Jesus,” Bendett said.

“We want to see this city be transformed. We want to drive back human trafficking, we want to drive back drug addiction, we want to drive back gang violence and we want to bring justice to injustices. So my heart is to see this city really become transformed and to really become healthy.”