Coffee With A Cause

Posted on: May 11, 2013

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“Kenyan coffee is exquisite, world-renowned, the champagne of coffees.”

So we’re told by Josh and Jess Steffy of Square One Coffee. Both business partners and partners for life, this duo shares two beliefs: that coffee is liquid hope (wink, but seriously), and that people matter. And they don’t take either one lightly. Square One’s coffee is arguably the best in the region, roasted in-house at their storefront in Downtown Lancaster, and treated as nothing less than a true culinary experience. While their wholesale business expands, their buying philosophy remains the same; a commitment to be a part of the success and growth of every coffee farmer with whom they partner, requiring fair labor conditions and wages, transparency, and environmental sustainability.

Their passion for coffee, combined with their deep social conscience, carries the power to make a serious difference in lives and communities around the world. One of the ways Josh and Jess have committed to doing such is through partnership with Horizon.

In October 2011, Jess visited our flagship micro-community in Kitale and experienced the country’s raw culture and beautiful people firsthand. It is always difficult to know how to return the love that is received in one’s short time at Baba Nyumbani, but Jess innately latched on to every opportunity, waking up early to witness the beauty of Kenyan mornings, brewing coffee from home for everyone to enjoy in the morning before helping the children get ready to school, and then sharing the two mile walk down the dirt path with them, hand in hand. On that trip, Square One and Horizon joined hands in partnership. Since then, Josh and Jess have committed to giving one dollar to Horizon for every bag of Kenyan coffee sold, sharing the mission of Horizon with those who frequent their shop, and integrating this sense of purpose in their culture.

Although coffee is the second highest commodity in the world, the philosophy of Square One is that coffee should not be treated as such. “Much like how we aim to elevate coffee to artisan standards, we must also elevate the relationship we have with the producer. It’s a powerfully symbiotic opportunity, similar to Horizon Initiative’s vision. It goes so much farther than ‘you give me what I need,’ rather is a mutually beneficial, holistic experience. Instead of contributing to the disparity, let’s help others build a better quality of life,” explains Jess. Could the common thread between us be any more evident? While the nature of our work is entirely different, our greater visions are clearly aligned. So how will we tie them together on the ground?

Just this past September, Jess and Josh returned to Kenya as a couple. The experience was validating for them both, confirming their vision, passion, and partnership with Horizon. Plans are now underway for a fully functioning coffee plantation on our current micro-community within the next several years, which will produce thousands of pounds of coffee annually, serving as a continual revenue stream for the business and micro-community as a whole with Square One as a guaranteed buyer.

The difference a coffee plantation can make in a community such as Kitale is immense, from the communal benefits of joining the local co-op, to the training and job opportunities for community members and the micro-community’s own children down the road. And while this sustainable wealth generation opportunity a perfect fit for Horizon’s micro-community model, it is also fitting to the buying philosophy of Square One. “Customers want to spend their money with us because they trust it’s going to good ends. There is a huge level of awareness in this industry since coffee-producing regions are the poorest. What’s more, great coffee without a great story is becoming empty. Everyone wants to know the source. We want to respond by saying we’ve been to the source, and not only is it good, it’s making a positive difference in people’s lives. We are excited to have orphans as the benefactors of the high price we will pay for the artisan experience Square One offers.”

Learn more about the opportunity to fund a micro-business at one of our micro-communities, and share your business skills and passions to facilitate self-sustaining communities and individuals.

“If you have come to save me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because somehow your liberation is wrapped up in mine, then let us work together.” – Lila Watson, Aboriginal Activist