Community through Coffee: Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse Thrives in Gifford Park Neighborhood

It all started with one word: community. 

In the Gifford Park Neighborhood, which is tucked between Cuming and Dodge streets, from 30th to 38th streets, the community has long thrived in the warmer months. A neighborhood market is held every Friday. There’s a community garden, holiday festivals, and book and movie clubs. 

But it was missing one thing: a place to gather during colder months. 

“We felt that need pretty deeply,” said Eric Purcell, one of the owners of Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse. “It was a common conversation amongst neighbors, that it would be great if there was a coffee shop.” 

The idea that he and his wife, Lisa Purcell, and Brandon and Megan Sperry, would open a coffee shop didn’t manifest until a conversation Purcell had with his daughter Nora over ice cream. 

“Nora asked what kind of business I would open,” he said. “We daydreamed about a little coffee shop. Then I told my wife and she said, ‘That’s a good idea, let’s talk to Brandon and Megan.’” 

From left, owners Eric Purcell, Lisa Purcell, Megan Sperry and Brandon Sperry. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
From left, owners Eric Purcell, Lisa Purcell, Megan Sperry and Brandon Sperry. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Purcell, always the business-minded realist, ended up being the only one unsure of the idea that he undoubtedly started. After a month of contemplation, Purcell was the only one still having doubts. 

“I had to kind of realize that we have a heart for community and creating spaces in this neighborhood, and that’s kind of what a coffee shop is,” he said. 

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And with that, Myrtle & Cypress Coffeehouse began to grow its roots. 

Community Affirmation

As any entrepreneur knows, starting a business can be expensive. A coffee shop is no exception. From the upfront costs of goods to equipment, it’s a tall order. 

Affirmation of the community’s support came when the team decided to launch a capital campaign via ifundwomen to purchase an espresso machine. 

They hoped to raise $12,000 to purchase a La Marzocco Linea, which they touted as being “a “heavy-duty workhorse that performs reliably as high-volume settings.” 

A myriad of donation levels was available with ‘rewards’ from a cup of coffee all the way up to a corporate event for up to 25 people. They ended up raising $12,628, with 68% of funders selecting the ‘no reward’ option. 

“It was very humbling to have people willing to invest money into a business without really getting anything back,” Purcell said. 

The community has continued to support the coffeehouse, keeping it open even when the space was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coincidently, the coffeehouse gained even more patrons during the pandemic. 

“A lot of people found us because they were out walking around,” Purcell said. “There was a couple who came by every single day for the same drink before work.” 

Brandon Sperry pours latte art. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Brandon Sperry pours latte art. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Building a Foundation

Contributing to the coffeehouse’s elusive nature was a lack of signage indicating that the shop, which is in a residential home, was in fact not a home, but a business. 

While there was a sign reading “Myrtle & Cypress” the addition of a sign proclaiming “Omaha’s only air-roasted coffee” didn’t appear until this May. For reference, Myrtle & Cypress has been open since 2018. 

“There was a bit of imposter syndrome,” Purcell said. “We didn’t know anything about coffee when we opened. We opened because we cared about the community.” 

The team’s approach was centered on being inclusive and welcoming to all individuals, starting with the coffee itself. Purcell spoke about how air roasting, rather than drum roasting, can make coffee smoother and lowers acidity. 

While Brandon Sperry is behind the coffee roasting, Lisa Purcell has become the “scientist” behind the bar, crafting the drink and food menu.  

Co-owners Eric and Lisa Purcell.(Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Co-owners Eric and Lisa Purcell.(Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

Drinks are only made with natural ingredients, some of which are more common such as honey and maple syrup, while others are less known, such as date syrup and sucanat. Pastries are either gluten-free or grain-free. 

“Our bakery opened about a year and a half ago,” Purcell said. “It was really hard to find bakers in town that could meet our food values. 

“One of the most surprising things to me was the first year, how many people drove from very far away on a regular basis to come here because of those things.” 

Emphasis on Local

In addition to a “clean” menu, 65% of ingredients are sourced from within a 500-mile radius. 

Maple syrup comes from Davis Family Sugar Shack in Ringle, Wisconsin. Twin Springs Pecans, a family farm and orchard in Lincoln supplies the pecans. Tea comes from Omaha-based Artemis Teas.

Co-owners Brandon and Megan Sperry with goods made in-store, including gluten-free pastries. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
Co-owners Brandon and Megan Sperry with
goods made in-store, including gluten-free pastries. (Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

“If we can’t buy locally, we want to buy from someone who is investing in their local economy,” Purcell said. 

He points to their coffee importer, De La Finca, as a perfect example. The founder, Nelson Amador, is a fifth-generation coffee farmer from Honduras. De La Finca is a direct-trade company, which means that farmers pocket more money because they’re not selling wholesale to a distributor. 

Idea Space

Since opening, the space has added patios and changed decor several times, thanks to Megan Sperry’s eye for design. What hasn’t changed is the emphasis on community, which shines through in the event calendar, and the willingness to open the space to interested parties. 

(Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)
(Photography by Debra S. Kaplan)

“We hosted a sorority outing and there were 80 girls here,” Purcell said. “[Recently] we did a teambuilding event where they came in and Brandon roasted up a couple of batches of coffee and explained the roasting process and did a tasting.” 

From renting out the space for wedding proposals to workshops and hosting local artists and musicians, the spread
is endless. 

“That’s probably one of the funnest things for me, is just being able to be a space that says ‘yeh, you can do that,’” he said.

402-720-4873 • 517 N 33rd Street, Omaha 68131


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