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Rainbow City Coffee. Photo courtesy of Rainbow City Coffee
Eat and Drink

8 Coffee Companies that Give Back

This holiday season, give the Java Joe or Joelle in your life something they can feel good sipping.

When it comes to gifting a caffeinated token to your favorite coffee enthusiast, go beyond shopping local and consider Colorado artisans who brew with purpose. Here’s what to buy from mission-focused java companies and why their missions are worth supporting.

Kebon

Kebon grew out of founder Winter Wall’s greatest passion: championing women. “After twenty years in international development, I know one thing to be true,” she says. “The most effective way to promote economic stability and sustainable livelihoods in emerging markets is to invest in women. When women do better, communities thrive.” Pairing that mission with her love of “impeccable coffee,” Wall launched Kebon in 2020 with the purpose of offering the highest- quality coffee possible directly to consumers and wholesalers from exclusively women-owned coffee producers in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uganda, and Honduras. Then, each batch is roasted at its peak freshness to highlight the origin’s signature tasting notes. The Cloza Farms Costa Rica, for example, offers up delectable hints of green apple and caramel.

Gift idea: Whole bean Cloza Farms/Costa Rica coffee, 12-ounce bag for $20

Wild Barn Coffee

The recent “People’s Choice Award” winner of Naturally Boulder’s 17th annual Pitch Slam, this Boulder-based, women-owned canned coffee company wins with an outdoors-oriented product with an infectious, “cheeky” attitude (yes, those are butt cheeks illustrated on the can). But while the brand’s vibe is playful, co-owner Jennifer Verrochi gets serious when it comes to sourcing beans from forest-friendly farming systems and ensuring growers are paid a fair wage. “Climate change is affecting the cloud forests, making it harder each year to grow coffee beans,” she says. “And cultivating coffee beans takes a lot of human power, but often workers are paid insufficient wages—not cool.” So in addition to ensuring those who grow the company’s beans treat the earth well and are treated well themselves, Wild Barn also donates on a project basis to the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, which helps empower female growers to “achieve meaningful and sustainable lives,” Verrochi says another reason to love Wild Barn: Its smooth nitro cold-brew features goji berries and organic cacao nibs for a touch of superfood sweetness.

Gift idea: Nitro Cold-Brew, six-pack for $24

Whittier Cafe 

As a leader in Denver’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) and other equal rights movements, Whittier Cafe proudly lives into its nickname as “the activists’ coffee shop.” Step into their bathroom and you’ll even find a collection of protest signage dating back to the 2017 Women’s March, as well as numerous BLM posters. Owner Millete Birhanemaskel is also taking a stand on the Ethiopian genocide by boycotting all Ethiopian coffee (it’s brewing beans from Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, and Tanzania instead) and raising awareness in small but significant ways (Whittier’s WiFi password is #tigraygenocide). Beyond its reputation as a home for patrons who believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Whittier also offers a Justice Fund that allows individuals experiencing hunger and homeless to receive a drink and meal on the house.

Gift idea: Gift card, $25

Boyer’s Coffee

Though Boyer’s Coffee was formerly housed in the historic Washington Street School building (the structure burned down in 2020 and currently being rebuilt), it’s a total coincidence that the company supports education in the communities where its bean farmers reside. “Our owners went to the communities and asked them what they needed help with, in addition to coffee farming,” says Manuela Mishler, senior director of business management. “They said they needed a school.” To date, Boyer’s School that Coffee Built program has helped to build three schools in Peru and has plans to break ground on a fourth in Columbia in early 2022. Founded in 1965, the brand has always prided itself in sourcing 100 percent Arabica beans, which are then slow-roasted in small batches.

Gift idea: Classic Roast Coffee Duo Gift Box, $20

Boyer’s School that Coffee Built program has helped to build three schools in Peru and has plans to break ground on a fourth in Columbia in early 2022. Photo courtesy of Boyer’s Coffee

Lekker Coffee & Watering Hole

Founded by a mother-daughter dream team and located in the heart of RiNo, this lovely local coffee joint serves up Novo Coffee—which uses sustainable practices from bean to cup—and donates 10 percent of its annual profit to Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, the largest rhino orphanage and sanctuary in the world. “My mom Dawn and I opened Lekker Coffee with the intent of spreading the word about what’s going on with the rhino poaching crisis around the world,” says co-founder Kara Finkelstein, noting that she and her mother also love human connection and are self-described morning people. “Spreading awareness through coffee just felt right.” Share Lekker’s mission (and some good vibes) this festive season by gifting its “Do Good Drink Good” tee and $1 of the purchase will go directly to the rhino orphanage.

Gift idea: Do Good Drink Good Lekker Tee, $22

Lost Coffee

We’ve all been stressed through the past year and a half, but few of us have felt the weight like those on the frontlines. Recognizing the toll taken on our first responders, Lost Coffee’s limited-edition Yoga for First Responders Blend donates $7 from every purchase to the nonprofit that shares its name. “Yoga for First Responders helps [participants] build mental, physical, and emotional resilience and provides tools they can use during their job,” says Lost Coffee’s marketing director Caitlin Von Thun. “In turn, this enhances their job performance and decision making.” The First Responders’ Blend itself is a combination of Columbia and Sumatra beans that offers up sweet chocolate and caramel notes with a hint of citrusy green apple.

Gift idea: Yoga for First Responders Blend, 12-ounce bag for $15

Inside Lost Coffee. Photo courtesy of Lost Coffee

Prodigy Coffeehouse 

Prodigy Coffeehouse does more than roast great coffee in small batches (Its berry-, chocolate-, citrus-noted house blend is a delightful light roast.). It changes lives. Dedicated to helping young adults who are disconnected from school and/or work build professional aptitude and life skills through business experience, this coffeehouse in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood offers 20, 12-month apprenticeships each year. During their time with Prodigy, participants study the art of craft coffee (roasting, cupping, and customer service, among other subjects) and build a foundation for a career in the industry. But that’s not all, says founder Steph Frances. “More importantly, they discover their own inherent greatness, becoming the next generation of leaders who will go forth and enrich this city.”

Gift idea: CamelBak 12-ounce Camp Mug with Prodigy logo, $24

Rainbow City Coffee

With roasts named after Union Station, Wash Park, and Arapaho, Rainbow City Coffee clearly takes pride in its home in the Mile High City. And by sourcing coffee from Ethiopia’s Mulish washing station—a bean processing facility that ensures farmers are paid living wages and reinvests profits to build schools and protect the local river—it’s helping towns across the world do the same. That’s what owner and head roaster Andrew Dvorscak loves about coffee—and it plays into why his business is named after a rainbow. “Coffee can be that common connection between so many people who seemingly have nothing in common,” he says. “It can not only connect you with a neighbor, but also someone on the opposite side of the planet,” he says. “Sort of the same way a rainbow brings together all visible light spectrums.”

Gift idea: LOHI Medium Roast, 12-ounce bag for $15

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