How do you change the world with a cup of coffee? Whether it’s fair trade, ministry, or a philanthropic business model, a number of Seattle Pacific University alumni are finding creative ways to positively contribute to a flourishing world through the coffee business. Meet just a few people who are using the small bean to make a big difference.
Pura Vida owners (left to right) Jeff Hussey, Jeff Martin, and Donna Martin bring high-tech coffee service to the breakroom at Tempered Networks in Downtown Seattle.
The more churches incorporate espresso stands and coffee hours as ministry, the greater the chance the coffee they serve bears the Pura Vida brand. Founded in 1998 and now owned by Jeff Martin ’82, Donna Martin ’83, and Jeff Hussey ’82, Pura Vida was established as a social venture to not only pay coffee growers a fair price, but to use most of the net proceeds of the business to help at-risk children in coffee growing communities.
Both are good reasons why the aroma of success wafts around the enterprise and energizes the company’s fastest growing market: churches of all denominations.
“Their staffs and the members of their congregations appreciate great coffee,” says Pura Vida President Jeff Martin, “and the fact our mission is aligned with their local and global outreach programs.”
Since inception, Pura Vida (“Great coffee. Great cause.”) has paid its growers $13 million above commodity prices and an additional $3 million in royalties as a result of those growers being Fair Trade certified. As well, Create Good Foundation, Pura Vida’s public charity (funded by the ownership group and customer sales and contributions, including donations made through the online store), distributes an average of $150,000–$200,000 each year to three NGOs that raise the living standards in countries that grow coffee.
Pura Vida’s support of the Sister Schools organization brings education and basic life necessities to children in Uganda; clean water to school children in Guatemala through Ecofiltro; and community centers of hope and opportunity to inner city youth in Costa Rica through FundaVida.
Both Jeffs, who hold MBAs, say that professors and classmates at SPU helped shape values that bring purpose and meaning to their work. Pura Vida coffee is now served on campuses, including Dartmouth and Vassar colleges, and at offices and businesses throughout Puget Sound, including all Dunn Lumber stores.
Daniel Frederick helps create a homey, welcoming atmosphere at Bremerton's Coffee Oasis.
The Coffee Oasis doesn’t just serve coffee; it serves the community by providing a safe space for the homeless youth in Kitsap County. Among their five locations, Coffee Oasis’ programs offer shelter, mentorship, juvenile outreach, and job-skills training. For Director of Community Development and Seattle Pacific Seminary student Daniel Frederick, it’s a job he was born into and called into.
While Daniel was a child growing up in Bremerton, Washington, his parents frequently served as foster parents. Quickly, the Fredericks began to see firsthand the pain and drug abuse afflicting many young people in their neighborhood.
In 1997, Frederick's father, who was also a pastor, opened a coffee shop that could also be a place for homeless kids to have support—the first Coffee Oasis location in Bremerton. Almost immediately the business started to take off.
“[My family] wasn't at that time experienced with business, and yet this place became full of kids who just were longing for acceptance,” Frederick says.
The Oasis continues to flourish today, recently adding locations in Port Orchard and Poulsbo. At the drop-in center, a young person can do laundry, take a shower, get a meal, and get connected with other needed resources.
Beyond basic needs, Coffee Oasis helps youth develop their job skills. After taking classes, they’re placed in an internship in one of 75 different businesses in Kitsap County. Meanwhile, kids work with case managers who help them seek out and apply for jobs. In 2015, 100 percent of the youth were placed in jobs within six months of completing their internship, Frederick says.
“God's put us in this really unique place,” Frederick says. “We get probably more support from outside the church than inside the church still because the community has really been blown away by the evidence they've seen of how the kids are getting helped.”
As he pursues his seminary education and his work with youth, he asks for continued prayer support for the ministry of Coffee Oasis.
Kristi Shepherd Drake greets a regular customer over coffee at Le Panier.
At Le Panier Very French Bakery, they call their vibe “Bakery Life.” Everything from scratch. Everything fresh. Everything world class. It is also the daily interactions between the loyal regulars and the bakery sales staff. And the making of a positive atmosphere in three parts: affability, great coffee, and ethereally light pastries made just that morning.
Co-owner and manager Kristi Shepherd Drake ’83 says that at the heart of bakery life at Le Panier in Seattle’s Pike Place Market is the good of the community. “I think of the dear aging couple who used to come in together. She passed away, but he still comes to keep alive that cherished memory of their earlier lives. I think of the young children who came in with their parents every Saturday morning. We’ve watched those kids go off to college or get married.”
She thinks, too, of her employees who have been trained well and paid fairly (with benefits), and her bakers who have made regular trips to France to study with the masters.
The coffee is a key ingredient of bringing the good together. Le Panier has served the Caffe Umbria brand from the day the Seattle-based coffee roaster began almost 25 years ago. “They strive for quality coffee and share a similar philosophy of giving back,” says Drake. Caffe Umbria seeks to end child hunger and support small businesses globally.
Consistently strong business reviews, heavy local and tourist traffic, and a solid 33-year reputation have allowed Drake and her Le Panier business partner, Thierry Mougin, to be generous with their resources. Having helped establish the Shepherd Family Endowment at Seattle Pacific, Drake, a food science and nutrition major, chose to support SPU student scholarships and to serve on the executive leadership team for the School of Business, Government, and Economics.
“Christians aren’t called to be apart,” says Drake, who is married to Kenneth Drake '82. “We are called to demonstrate Christ’s love.”