SPU Pura Vida
Pura Vida is all about “creating good.” So what does that mean? Good coffee? Good muffins? Good times? Well, yes and more. The company is focused on using organic growing practices to benefit the environment, purchasing the coffee at fair prices to benefit farmers, and creating programs to give back to coffee communities. Photos by Nick Onken.
An Ethical Addiction
Pura Vida seeks to “create good” through fair trade coffee
A chorus of sputtering milk and dripping espresso mixes with the rich smell of coffee in Seattle Pacific University’s Weter Hall. The Pura Vida coffee shop is like many others in Seattle, the coffee capital of the universe: Students sip lattes by the fireplace or grab a caramel macchiato after class. But, there’s a difference — and that’s the mission behind the mocha.
Pura Vida serves poor farmers in developing nations by purchasing exclusively fair trade coffee. The concept behind fair trade is simple: Pay farmers a reasonable wage. While coffee is a multi-billion dollar industry, many coffee farmers live in extreme poverty, making less than 50 cents a day.
“At Pura Vida, we educate people on how the way you spend your money affects others around the world,” says Erin Leach, an SPU grad of 2000 and a Pura Vida customer service representative.
Pura Vida filters its earnings back into the coffee growers’ communities, using 100 percent of their net profits. The company sets up funds in coffee countries — such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Ethiopia — to provide health care and education for at-risk children. Pura Vida also sends U.S. teams to the same countries on short-term service trips, which explore organic farming and its impact on the environment.
Pura Vida CupJohn Sage, a Christian who co-founded Pura Vida in 1998, serves on the Executive Advisory Council for Seattle Pacific’s School of Business and Economics. Sage has spoken to the student body on issues such as capitalism and justice, and SPU students staff the campus coffee shop, which caters to the entire campus community.
It’s Pura Vida’s attention to java ethics that makes Ingrid Steele, an SPU undergraduate academic counselor, feel good about purchasing coffee in Weter Hall. She says, “It’s a perfect fit for SPU’s mission to engage the culture and change the world.”
By Joe Kent
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