Syracuse welcomes new coffee shop that sends a message about mental health

Local News

From Cazenovia to Syracuse, Peaks Coffee Company just opened up downtown and the owners are sending a message about mental health.

When she was just a teenager, Kelsey Bender, co-owner of Peaks, felt paralyzed by anxiety and depression. It got to the point where she couldn’t leave her home. Deciding to make a change, she began traveling a few miles from the house each day, stopping at coffee shops along the way.

“I would set an intention for myself, so I would say like, ‘Okay you’re going to drive for five minutes’ and then I would extend it. And then it was, ‘You’re going to go to this coffee shop, you’re going to get a cup of coffee and then you can leave,'” Kelsey said.

Through this journey, Kelsey met her now husband and business partner, who struggles in similar ways. 

“We bonded over that and then we bonded over our love for coffee. And we just really wanted to hopefully create an environment where that could possibly help somebody else someday,” Kelsey said.

The two opened up a coffee shop in Cazenovia three years ago and since they’re both from Syracuse, it felt right to bring their business back home this year. 

“It’s nice to get to know the community and get to see my wife doing what she loves,” said Sam Bender, co-owner of Peaks Coffee Company.

The couple is now hoping to put a smile on strangers’ faces with a cup of coffee. For some, coming to the shop does just that.

“Big city kind of vibe. Big city but with like, small town friendliness. They’re so helpful, so friendly,” said Abbe Weiser and Alexandria Smith, customers at Peaks.

The Benders coming so far, but never forgetting where they came from. The name of their company serving as a reminder of why they’re here.

“I remember I had had a really bad day and I hadn’t left my bed all day and my dad came in to check on me and just let me know that he was there and on his way out, he had said, ‘Life is about enjoying the peaks and enduring the valleys,'” Kelsey said.

The coffee shop officially opened last week after serving Cazenovia for three years. They also sell their beans to different shops across Central New York.

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