Pounds and Grounds and Compounds

I deeply admire religious communities who make and sell things to support their life and apostolates.

Take for example the Carmelites behind Mystic Monk Coffee.

How many pounds of coffee do you have to sell in order to build this?

This is a projected design for a new monastery which the intrepid Carmelite monks in Wyoming want to build.

Go and look at the pictures of the place.  Amazing.

That, friends, is for the brick by brick file.

Buy coffee.  Build a monastery.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, Just Too Cool, SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. joshua.n says:

    If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can make contributions directly to the building fund, which are tax deductible, since it’s organized as a 501(c)(3).

    How I hope the construction is complete in my lifetime!

  2. jlmorrell says:


    I’m not a regular coffee drinker, but I’m going to up my intake if this is what they’re building.

  3. rakesvines says:

    Shouldn’t they go with a more contemporary design? I mean that castle looks like it fell right off the middle ages. ;)

  4. très très ‘gothique chartreux ‘! :P

  5. ghlad says:

    Absolutely beautiful and appropriate for one of the bastions of Christian prayer!

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Will they put on the cornerstone, “26,678,990 lbs of coffee built this Church and Monastery,including what was given to the construction workers”.

  7. doanli says:

    Love me java—where do I buy the coffee?

  8. doanli says:

    Love the Gothic design of the building too.

  9. Nathan says:

    The coffee is tasty, though a bit expensive. I remind myself that I’m helping the monks when I pay for it.

    Perhaps if enough WDTPRS-ers ask for it, the good monks might come up with the “Fr. Z Ineffable Espresso Blend,” naturally to be enjoyed after a gourmet dinner that you made from scratch.

    In Christ,

  10. Jack Hughes says:

    I hope it’s built in my lifetime as I’m currently in the first stage of discerning with them!

  11. Nathan says:

    Doanli, try http://www.mysticmonkcoffee.com. I really like the “Midnight Vigils Blend,” and my wife likes their Christmas Java when it comes out.

    In Christ,

  12. “Fr. Z Ineffable Espresso Blend”!

    I like that. If people who gave donations to the monks suggested that, perhaps they would create a limited edition (limited to WDTPRS readers, of course).

    A Fr. Z Blend would have to me be very meek and mild, don’t you think? Low acid?

  13. robtbrown says:

    That, friends, is for the brick by brick file.

    Or cup by cup.

  14. mibethda says:

    Is this an eremitic congregation? The organization of the cells resembles that of the Carthusians.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    How about a “smooth and sophisticated blend for the discerning taste” for your namesake?

  16. SonofMonica says:

    Hmmm…. wish they had a Keurig cup version! Since I switched to the individual pods for coffee, I haven’t looked back.

  17. SuzieQ says:

    SonofMonica – Keurig has a brew cup you can buy so you can use your own coffee in the machine. I think you can pick one up anywhere you get the pods.

  18. Athelstan says:

    “Fr. Z Ineffable Espresso Blend”!

    “Drink the black. Do the red.”

    Which I would be very happy to do if it helps build such a beautiful and Catholic vision.

  19. EXCHIEF says:

    Their coffee is excellent and while a bit expensive, if THIS is what they intend to do with the profits we’ll keep on buying it,

  20. Liz F says:

    lol, everyone! It’s good to laugh. Love these monks!

  21. MaryW says:

    Excellent coffee!!

  22. czemike says:

    Cornerstone: “The House (of prayer) That Coffee Built.”

  23. TomG says:

    Does anyone know if their Sumatran blend compares well with Starbucks’ Sumatra?

  24. ambrose says:

    Are these monks celebrating the traditional mass?

  25. czemike says:

    Are these monks celebrating the traditional mass?


  26. Rose in NE says:


    And (here comes the shameless plug) if you buy their coffee through the link on my parish (FSSP) website http://latinmassomaha.org/ a portion of the proceeds will go to help our parish. We are currently restoring the sanctuary back to it’s former traditional glory (it was ‘renovated’ in the 1960’s) and hope to install a new high altar/side altars.

    I believe we have two young men formerly from our Omaha Latin Mass apostolate who are now with these Carmelite Monks in Wyoming. Wonderful!

  27. Paulus Magnus says:

    Absolutely beautiful, but that looks like an enormously large building to have a maximum capacity of only 40 monks. Is there a scale issue with the images perhaps?

  28. aemmel says:

    Beautiful, simply beautiful.

  29. Joshua08 says:


    The monks celebrate the Carmelite Rite of Mass, rather than the standard Roman. While the discalced Carmelites adopted the “Tridentine” Mass in the early 17th century or so, the regular Carmelites kept their own rite. It is the 1934 Missal they use (the last revision before the Council). Hence the picture where a triple branched candle was being held…which was part of Holy Saturday and abolished in 1955

    There are some very beautiful elements to the Carmelite rite. If you even get a chance to go to Wyoming I suggest a visit

  30. Iconophilios says:

    I wonder why this isn’t on Novus Motus Liturgicus?

  31. Leonius says:

    “Absolutely beautiful, but that looks like an enormously large building to have a maximum capacity of only 40 monks. Is there a scale issue with the images perhaps?”

    Most of the building is not accommodation for Monks, I count only 29 individual cells. The church building looks to be taking up about the a third of the space and there will also be space for workshops, libraries, etc.

  32. AnAmericanMother says:

    Fr. Z blend: apparently meek and mild, it then tiptoes up behind you and clocks you over the head with the largest candle available, a la Don Camillo . . . . .

  33. gloriainexcelsis says:

    It is great coffee. St. Stephen’s (FSSP), Sacramento, carries it in the gift/book store. Choose yer flavor. The monastery will also be a place for retreats, by the way. Another plug for FSSP: The seminary has Carmelite seminarians studying there.

  34. Gorgeous! My husband’s parents bought us a five-pound bag for Christmas. It’s almost gone. It is one of the best coffees I have ever tasted. I am not buying coffee from any other source from now on.

  35. Random Friar says:

    Dear Joshua08:

    Are these monks O.C.Discalced? I notice they wear sandals and reference OCD saints, but you mention the discalced gave up their rite? Are these regular or discalced with the older rite?

    In Christ,
    Random Friar

  36. Craig says:

    actually the coffee price is on par with most gourmet blends, and I really find these blends to be a bit more clean in flavour. The Midnight Vigil blend and Hermits blend are excellent, and the Sumatran is outstanding. I love giving bags as gifts, and have yet to hear one complaint or criticism. One of the members of Old St. Patrick’s Oratory in Kansas City, MO is currently a member of the community, we still pray for his vocation.

  37. Gail F says:

    I didn’t realize they were the same monks that sold the coffee! I will have to buy some.

  38. New Sister says:

    Oh that looks sooo wonderful!

    Who likes those Keurig things? I like the look but am dismayed by the coffee…how on earth do you get your coffee appropriately strong in it?

  39. Random friar (and correct me Joshua, if I am wrong): The Discalced Carmelites have celebrated the Roman Rite from their foundation; the O. Carms have the tradition of the Rite of Jerusalem.
    I read that on several blogs. If I am wrong: I stand corrected.

  40. Sorry.
    I didn’t read both comments.
    I believe the community from which the founder of the Wyoming Carmel came is affiliated with the O. Carms (from Lake Elmo, MN).
    This may be the connection; they may be in the O. Carm tradition. Again, I might be wrong.

  41. Lauren says:

    Their coffees are excellent. I have bought coffee from them several times and if I am offered free shipping I send a donation to them. This way I make certain they keep as much money as possible.

    The price of their coffee is reasonable to me. Many other brands are at the same price range and this coffee is not only delicious but the cause is so worthy.

    Send them money!!! :)

  42. wanda says:

    Starbucks supports Planned Parenthood. Buy from the Monks.

  43. tioedong says:

    And maybe if they were Benedictines, I would okay it. Their charism is work and education and hospitality, and they have a tradition of building churches and abbeys to enhance the local economy, if Pillars of Earth is a guide to their history.

    But when I see Carmelites, whose spirituality is desert/poverty based, and whose charism is the home in Nazareth living in a beautiful expensive building, I shudder…

    Wouldn’t simple adobo church be better in this environment? maybe built by the monks themselves? and for individual “cells”, how about used mobile homes, similar to what working class folks in Wyoming actually use.

  44. tioedong: Taking the chance I’ll be pillaried: I second your reflections.
    God will be the last Word; as in all charisms and apostolates. He will make it happen, if, yeah, it is to happen.
    St. Teresa wanted her monasteries to be simple and poor; she even said she hoped that anything ostentatious would topple down; I make no judgment here.
    It is a great work to be accomplished.
    If it is to be, God will make it so.
    But I have thought similar thoughts; but then, again; I live in Nazareth. We have literally nothing but Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And that’s the way it should be. Always. For us.

  45. New Sister says:

    Wanda – thanks for warning us!

  46. lmgilbert says:

    Much of this sounds great, but these men are not affiliated with the Carmelite order, although they are endeavoring to implement a version of the Carmelite charism:

    “The Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel were founded by Bishop David L. Ricken as a Public Association of the Christian Faithful in the Diocese of Cheyenne on October 15, 2003.”

    Carmelites are friars, not monks. As they note on their website, they are the only monastery of Carmelite monks in the world. It seems much more like a Carthusian or Benedictine endeavor. Great! God bless them for all they are doing.

    My understanding is that this site is so remote and high that the monks have to learn how to ride horses in order to be able to get to it. When I look at a site map of the terrain I see elevations of 8500, 8000, 7000 feet! Perhaps those are only of nearby mountains, but nevertheless they seem awfully high up, at least at 5000 feet. Correct me if I am wrong!

    When Boniface Wimmer, OSB came to this country circa 1875, he spent the next 25 yrs setting up 25 monasteries- now the American Cassinese Congregation. There was no talk of building one monastery to last a 1000 yrs. He had vocations and set up monasteries. If they’ve had 500 inquiries, that sounds like they could do something similar, but not if they are locked into building anything so grand.
    Poor and simple this is not!

    At one point their master plan showed space for a Carmelite convent of nuns on one corner of their property. Sounds great! But Carmelite nuns are a mendicant order and need a nearby community of faithful Catholics to support them with donations.

    For that matter, I think the Carmelite friars, like the Dominicans and Franciscans are mendicants also, so it seems this endeavor is departing from the Carmelite charism at several points. Certainly they have a grand vision and it may be the Lord will prosper and bless them in it.

    I’ve heard from a very reliable source that this is a very joyful band of brothers, whom she thinks of as The Merry Monks- and the photos certainly bear that out.

  47. Imgilbert: I am in accord with your comments; this is not to be a criticism, at all, but just an observation.
    The history of the Carmelite Order which goes back to Palestine, with the hermits on Mt. Carmel, who were driven from the Holy Land by the invasion of the Moslems(?) and who had to flee to Europe (a very brief description, here!), had to become mendicants (in the likes of the friars of Francis and Dominic) in order to continue to exist…in other words, from a hermit life, they evolved into a life of contemplative/active service to the Church; many settled around universities, became teachers/professors…in England, we have the famous St. Simon who received the Scapular vision; the Nuns became affiliated with the Order in the 1400’s (many convents of women living the ‘beguine’ lifestyle…in other words, women who were consecrated to celibate chastity, poverty and obedience but within a very loose kind of affiliation in common life, were then Nuns of the Carmelite Order). St. Teresa of Avila entered such a convent in Avila; she reformed the life of the Nuns to the life of the original Hermits with the Discalced Carmelite Nuns which were small groups of consecrated women religious living a very strict enclosure and ascetical life; the division of the Order of Carmel was made definitive before her death.
    The Discalced Carmelites are from St. Teresa’s Reform and include her Nuns, Friars (who live an active/contemplative life) and Third Order.
    The Order of Carmel, from which St. Teresa first entered and then left, as well as St. John of the Cross, continues in many varied forms: strictly contemplative Nuns and apostolic Sisters, and Hermit friars and this Community of Monks, active/contemplative Friars, and a Third Order.
    And now, if your head is really spinning….the charism of Carmel is lived in many different ways.
    But this, is, indeed, a different form; they are living more like the strictly cloistered Nuns, in fact, as some have said as Carthusians, in fact, the physiognomy of the drawings looks Carthusian to me, from my study and knowledge.
    But, who’s to say this is not a “new form”? If I was a nineteen-year-old, I’d certainly look into it. God has other plans for me, as I have found out(!), but God bless them all.
    If they persevere in their charism, they are faithful to the Church, they love the Lord and His Holy Mother, all will be well.

  48. And, as a footnote: The Carmelites of Alahambra, CA, are active Carmelites of the Discalced Carmelites, Third Order, as well as the Carmelites of the Divine Heart of Jesus, in St. Louis, MO. These are examples of Third Order Discalced Carmelites who are not strictly enclosed but live the prayer life of St. Teresa within an active apostolate.

  49. Martial Artist says:

    I have to agree with EXCHIEF, and others above, on the quality of the coffee. Although I decaffeinated my diet 25 years ago out of medical necessity, their decaf is as good as their caffeinated, and both are much superior to most other coffees I have drunk.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  50. Nan says:

    I bought a sampler pack for my anti-Catholic sister before Christmas last year. She hasn’t bought any other coffee since.

  51. After a read of their site, here is my impression of what this group is and now they relate to the historical OCD and OCarm traditions.

    At this point they are an association of the Christian faithful (as noted above) attempting to resurrect a Carmelite form of monastic life. As noted above, Carmelites have not been categorized as “monks” since the high middle ages (if even then), and before that (in Palestine) they seem to have really been hermits, probably mostly laymen (ex-crusader knights). This Wyoming group has combined a number of diverse elements:

    1. the traditional Carmelite Rite (which the OCarm used but OCD did not)

    2. a habit that resembles the OCD (i.e. sandals)

    3. a style of life that is eremitical, seemingly like the Camaldolese Benedictines.

    4. A spirituality based on the major OCD mystics.

    5. A building that seems to resemble early modern Carthusian or medieval Cluniac structures (e.g. a very large church not open to the pubic) with private hermitages for the monks.

    The combination is a bit eclectic, but that is no reason to criticize it.

    To make it work, they will have to have a fairly large number of lay brothers to do the domestic work for the hermits (e.g. cooking and bringing them food) as was typical of the Carthusians and Camoldolese. Thus a community of 40 with only 30 cells. The rest of the large building would logically be the dormitory and workshops of the lay brothers.

    Although it is suggested that they are “part of the Carmelite Order,” I think they mean that spiritually rather than legally. The only legal status they claim on their site is as an “institute of the Christian faithful” under the bishop. I suspect they are Carmelites the way the Society of St. Vincent Ferrer are Dominicans: a congregation that draws on many elements of the “parent” order’s practice and spirituality, but is not formally part of it.

    May God bless their undertaking.

  52. P.S.

    The founder of the Wyoming Carmelite monks was originally an OCarm and a member of this experimental hermit community among the OCarms: http://www.decorcarmeli.com/Hermits.htm So there is a personal link to the Carmelite friars (Ancient observance).

  53. KAS says:

    Historically, the original Carmelites were eremitical. Each had their own small hut and ate and prayed alone only coming together for daily MASS.

    When the muslims took over the majority returned to Europe but a few remained, those few were slaughtered at Mass thus ending their presence on mount carmel.

    Once in Europe, the hermit lifestyle wasn’t feasible and so they began to live in a building with separate cells each with his own door kept closed.

    The reason they quote St. Teresa of Avila and other is that they are CARMELITE saints. St. Teresa intended a reform to exist within the Carmelites not separate from it, sadly, politics got involved and the only way to prevent the suppression of the Discalced reform was to separate it. However, modern O. Carm. carmelites embrace ALL the Carmelite Saints from both traditions. Also in recent years there has been much more intermingling of Carmelite studies between the two ways of being Carmelite and a greater openness to dialog. Mutual respect is more common now than in some periods in the past.

    I see this design as a return to the ancient practice of having hermit’s huts. I think there is also to be a building with cells as well. St. Teresa of Avila build her monasteries with cells and then added a few huts in the gardens for a few to get away into greater silence for periods of intense prayer. We need these people of deep and constant prayer!

    I think I shall, when again permitted coffee, to seek out their decaf……..

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    It looks as if this organization is a separate organization trying to adopt the charism of the Carmelites, rather than an explicit group belonging proper to either the O. Carms or the OCDs. Nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes, and as long as they are up front about that. [And of course, as long as they don’t run into internal contradictions if some other course of charism is also present.]

    The Franciscans have done this for a millennium. There are the OFMs, Conventuals and so on for men and then all the many associated groups sharing part of the charism. Along with reform groups such as the one that Fr. Groeschel belongs to. And more. Same thing, but even more so for the women. There are even several different types of Clares: PoorClares, Colletines, etc. And then there are the seculars, in all their historical and contemporary diversity. In addition, many groups branching off the Franciscans are now defunct, including some who were ended by the Holy See. They branch for a myriad of reasons, some more positive than others.

    It is true that prominent branches of the Franciscan Order try to control the proliferation (and it can get reasonably nasty, actually), but they’re not generally very successful. This is going on now with the SFO (Secular Franciscan Order), but again it’s not particularly successful.

    For some reason, the Carmelites haven’t been as prolific in this branching respect as the Franciscans, nor have the Benedictine Oblates. I’m not exactly sure what the reason for this might be, unless it’s something either in their Rules & Constitutions that affects it OR something in the understanding of the practice that inhibits it. Perhaps it’s been both, I’m guessing, from my understanding of the Carmelites. [You know, the key and maybe only viable indicator of holiness is “virtue,” understood in the religious sense. Emotional fervor may not have a lot to do with it most of the time, so say the Carmelites.]

    At any rate, here’s a Franciscan joke bearing on this topic:
    Q: What are the only things even God doesn’t know?
    A: How to make a rock He can’t lift, and how many kinds of Franciscans there are.

  55. catholicmidwest says:

    “some other course of charism” = “some other SOURCE of charism”
    Sorry, didn’t mean to be confusing.

    If stability is in their charism, and it looks as though it might be, this might be a hybrid charism. Again, nothing wrong with that, but they’d better check deeply for contradictions and make sure they “know what they’re about.” Real difficulties can be caused if they don’t really know and can’t state it and act on it coherently & consistently in tough situations. People vow their lives to these things, after all.

    PLEASE note that I’m NOT being “critical,” but I am suggesting some logical thinking take place, that’s all.

    The Franciscans have had some real issues with some of this stuff, and in some historical eras those issues seem inconsequential and in some eras they become very serious. Currently, they are very serious, very serious indeed.

    Disclosure: I’m an SFO with some experience in these matters.

  56. catholicmidwest says:

    And by the way, may God bless their undertaking and help them with the details. The world changes and yet stays the same. Perhaps they will come upon an new way to express what is timeless and true. May something beautiful arise from their labors and faith.

  57. Elizabeth D says:

    I am an OCDS Secular Carmelite (Discalced) novice. I see a general level of interest about these monks from many different quarters, but I don’t know what to make of these guys, to be honest.

    My understanding is the founder was an O.Carm (Ancient Observance) Carmelite friar (the Carmelites are a mendicant order and although the original Carmelites were lay hermits, the men Carmelites have never been “monks” like the Benedictines or Carthusians) belonging to an unusual hermit monastery, where they had been studying the Carmelite Rite liturgy for a number of years and using parts of it with the Tridentine liturgy. This founder got permission from a Bishop in Wyoming to start a new thing as the sole founder and apparently sole formator of the young men (“young vocations only”), as “monks” (hermit-type cenobites) living the spirituality of the St Teresa and St John of the Cross and the Discalced Reform, and taking a Benedictin-ish turn toward liturgical spirituality. And their monastery is reminiscent of the grand and imposing style and individual hermitages with gardens, joined by a cloister to one another and to the other buildings of the monastery, like the Carthusians or Camaldolese.

    It is a monastic hodgepodge that the founder associates with the Discalced Carmelite tradition and says follows their charism, but really makes little sense in relation to that. That was not his own tradition of origin (though it’s very common for the O.Carms to draw from OCD spirituality because we have 3 Doctors of the Church). And St Teresa notably preferred plain liturgy (the Office chanted in one note, for instance, and warns with threats of divine judgement that the Discalced monasteries should never be rich and imposing looking, but preferred to be poor. And it was St John of the Cross who opted to let go of the Carmelite Rite in favor of the common liturgy of the Latin Rite.

    In short, the “Carmelite Monks of Wyoming” are not Discalced Carmelites, in fact they are not exactly part of either branch of the Carmelites. They are an independent congregation of diocesan right, founded by a single founder with a grand vision syncretized from a variety of different families of religious life. What it may mature into remains to be seen, right now it’s one priest and a bunch of very young men.

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