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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Pellum creates grounds for success at The Coffee Depot

Noah McCord
Starkville native Sarah Morgan Pellum founded The Coffee Depot May 2023 and has managed the business since.

The Coffee Depot drive-thru line spans into the road on South Jackson Street, and the parking spaces are filled as baristas rush to get orders out. In the midst of the chaos, 25-year-old Sarah Morgan Pellum, owner of The Coffee Depot, wears a contagious smile across her face with her brown hair pulled up under a baseball cap.

“You are very welcome,” Pellum says, passing over a vibrant, purple-colored acai bowl topped with peanut butter and strawberries to a young woman dressed in Sunday church attire.

From a young age, Pellum envisioned herself going to college and becoming a physical therapist. As a Starkville native, Pellum graduated from Starkville Academy and went on to major in exercise science at the University of Mississippi. In the back of her mind, though, she dreamed of owning a coffee shop.

“I think this has always been a dream of mine but I didn’t think it was like a realistic dream,” Pellum said. “So it was always in the back of my head like, ‘Oh that’d be so fun, like I love coffee shops.’ That it’d be fun to like, create my own one day but didn’t think it was feasible at all.”

Pellum’s journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur began when she moved to New York after college to work at a Young Life church summer camp in Glen Spey. She found herself living in the area for the next two years.

“While I was up there, my summer rotation was retail and coffee, and just like I fell, I’ve always loved coffee, but up there I fell in love with coffee and the service side of it. So when I was ready to move back closer to home I was like, ‘What can I do? Like what do I want to do?’ and came up with a coffee shop,” Pellum said.

Pellum’s time in New York has influenced her life heavily and brought her where she is today with The Coffee Depot. With its rustic cabin-in-the-woods feel, The Coffee Depot welcomes customers with a display of freshly baked scones, muffins and cookies by the register. Above the bar seating on the left, a metal sign reads: “DEAR COFFEE, YOU WERE IN MY DREAMS.” On the right, customers can sit at tables with chairs and bench seating to look out of the windows lining the wall.

As the youngest of three, Pellum cherished her time growing up with her family, whether it be on beach vacations or during quick gas station runs to grab hot Cheetos and blue Powerade. When Pellum started the process of making The Coffee Depot a reality, her family was the key to her success, especially her dad, Doug Pellum.

“I think some of it is growing up with my dad owning a restaurant. Before we opened this I knew what it took to be successful, and I knew how much work it was going to take so it didn’t like throw me by surprise. I was willing to put in that work,” Pellum said. “I also think I’ve stressed to our employees a lot like I want this to feel like I want our customers to feel like family and I want them to want to come back. We’ve talked a lot about the service side of I want every person to be greeted when they walk in and just like this vision of service that I had that my employees have really brought to life.”

Since its opening in May 2023, The Coffee Depot has grown accustomed to a busy drive-thru and a full shop of customers waiting to order from the vast menu. With gluten-free bakery items, smoothie bowls, milk alternatives and a wide variety of drink choices, The Coffee Depot has something for everyone.

“It’s been really fun to see my dream come to life but also it’s been really fun to see the community like surround me and support me in that and so honestly all the people keep me going,” Pellum said.

On a typical morning, Pellum is up and at the shop by 6 a.m. Whether it be baking early in the morning with only the birds chirping to keep her company, or waiting to step in wherever her employees need her, Pellum is always present at the shop. Her high school and college-aged employees, she said, are some of the best things about this business.

“They’ve taught me a lot. Some of them have worked in coffee shops before so they’ve like brought their knowledge in which has been really fun and then some of them honestly have just taught me to laugh at the inconvenient things and the small things and just to find, they’ve taught me that work can be fun and doesn’t have to feel like work,” Pellum said.

Eliza Foss has been working at The Coffee Depot since January and has quickly taken notice of Pellum’s leadership qualities.

“She’s a leader. I think I would use that word. She is nurturing like a leader and she’s kind and she wants to be involved in our lives, but she’s also stern when she needs to be, when it’s appropriate and I really appreciate that. She doesn’t take B.S. She runs the place how she wants to run it and I really admire her for that,” Foss said.

Foss has watched Pellum’s genuine love for the community remain constant through of her interactions.

“Her interactions with the customers are so awesome and she knows so many of them personally and also has gotten to know so many of them personally. It’s just, it’s fun watching her kind of joke around with her regulars and them asking her about how things are going and she asks back how their lives are going. So it’s really awesome to see how like starting this has kind of grown her,” Foss said.

Pellum has created a community through coffee and has inspired many of her employees as a successful business owner at 25 years old. Taetum Sinclair, an employee since August 2023, described Pellum as an inspiring go-getter.

“I think that it’s really awesome that she owns this place so young. That’s crazy to me. I also just think that she is intentional about who she hires and just about reaching out and making sure that we’re all kind of doing everything that needs doing,” Sinclair said.

Pellum, who did not start drinking coffee until college, never imagined her dream would come true, let alone the amount of success and creativity that has come with it.

“I would say my favorite is the creativity that I get to have in it and the people I work with which is really fun. Honestly, I don’t think I have a least favorite,” Pellum said.

In Pellum’s eyes, there is never a bad moment while living out her dream, even if it may sometimes take her away from watching her comfort show, Gilmore Girls.

About the Contributor
Grace Sullivan
Grace Sullivan, Staff Writer
Grace Sullivan is a senior communication major. Grace is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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