Just about everybody appreciates a good cuppa joe. Perhaps that’s what makes coffee an ideal vehicle for giving back to the community. From tutoring at-risk youth to providing foster families for area children, the owners of three coffee businesses are dedicated to making their communities better, one pour-over at a time.
When Greg Ward and his business partner, Jon Quigg, started roasting and selling ethically sourced coffee last spring, they set a mission to “build value and hope in people through coffee.” As they prepare to open a brick-and-mortar shop on Wade Hampton Boulevard, the duo will work with local organizations such as Mill Village Farms, Jasmine Road, and Miracle Hill Ministries to provide jobs and training for young adults (ages 18–24). By offering a year-long training curriculum at the coffee shop, Ward and Quigg hope to set these folks up for a successful future.
Their three-tier business model rests on ethical sourcing, employee training, and giving back to the community at large. “The goal,” says Ward, “is to teach our employees who they are and, just as importantly, who they are not. This includes helping them learn what their strengths and passions are and how to align those to have lasting and fulfilling employment in the future.”
1520 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville
As foster and adoptive parents themselves, Mike and Roxanne Bacaro advocate for children in need of a home through Exchange Co., the shop they own in the clock tower plaza in downtown Simpsonville.
This community hub, which opened in early 2015, serves coffee drinks as well as baked goods made from scratch, including gluten-free, diary-free, and vegan items. More significantly, it provides the couple with a way to raise awareness for orphan care in the area. “This shop is a reflection of the culture of our family,” declares Mike. Even the venue’s name echoes their mission to “live their lives in exchange for others.”
Last year, the Bacaros launched a group called FYI (Future Youth Independence), which builds community around youths aging out of foster care, providing a support network to help them achieve success. As Mike puts it, “The driving force behind what we do is the sacrifice we make for the kids.”
110 S Main St, Simpsonville; (864) 757-1670
Tucked away off Rutherford Street, Mountain Goat opened in August to help at-risk kids connect with nature. Its name nods to GOAT (Great Outdoor Adventure Trips), the non-profit that owner Ryan McCrary established in 2009.
GOAT, which offers free guided excursions for at-risk youth, virtually runs on coffee. The shop funds the non-profit and serves Methodical coffee, baked goods from Upcountry Provisions, and pizza from D’Allesandro’s. The storefront also provides classroom space and an adjoining bike shop. The former is used to tutor middle and high school students from the nearby Poe Mill neighborhood, while the latter furnishes mountain bikes for outdoor adventures. Mountain-biking, backpacking, rock-climbing, and stand-up paddle-boarding number among the excursions.
“I’d love to see the shop staffed mainly with kids from the neighborhood,” says McCrary, an avid outdoorsman whose group serves 1,000 kids each year and helps them finish high school. “It would be great one day if one of those kids graduates from high school and comes back to manage the shop.”
120 Shaw St, Greenville; (864) 735-0821