Even if you don’t like to drink coffee, there’s something about even just the smell of it that brings people together, and feels like home. Coffee is a magical drink with astonishing powers, from keeping you awake, helping you to relax, to even starting revolutions! (That’s right! The French Revolution started as a conversation in a coffee shop). So, how do I plan to use this power? Well, let me tell you!
A couple of years ago I went to a Story Brand conference in Chicago. It changed everything!
When I went to the conference, all I knew was that I wanted to quit my day job and eventually write books, full-time. However, I knew that even if I was able to live that dream, that alone wouldn’t fulfill me. I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t giving back or helping someone else.
During the conference Donald Miller (one of my favourite authors, and the creator of Story Brand) had us look at our pasts. We went though all the hard things we had ever experienced, all of our traumas, and what came of them. He had us break them down and pull a Victor Frankl and name the redeeming aspect to each one. This was not what I expected from a marketing company…
We analyzed our lives from the perspective of “if everything in my life was training for what I am meant to do with the rest of it, what has it qualified me to do?” Sarcastically I answered myself, to “make coffee, and work with at risk teenagers.”
Then I remembered…
In college (while I was working at coffee shops to pay the bills), I was also majoring in Management of Non Profit Organizations. After I graduated I joked that the only thing I really learned, was that I never wanted to work in Non Profit. However, with time and distance, comes wisdom and clarity.
In my Strategic Planning and Board Development class, we were asked to outline a non-profit and analyze its structure. We could research an existing non profit, or create one from scratch. Since I was too lazy to research one, I decided it would be easier to just make one up. I outlined a coffee shop (because its something I already knew a little about) that would work with at risk youth. The teens that went through the program would work as community service as an “alternative to commitment program” which would cut back on costs for salaries. The teens would learn business skills while also working on character development. They would be taught how to handle their personal finance, and have opportunities for help with goal setting and accountability. (I wont lay out all the particulars here as it would take FOREVER!)
I had forgotten my business model written with sarcasm. But I decided to take another look at it. I blew off the dust, and took a closer look. It had good bones, but there was a lot of detail missing. There were a lot of poorly thought out ideas, but there was something there; something I hadn’t really seriously considered before.
My professors had liked the idea. They had thought it was needed. I had been the one who blew it off.
So I would finish writing my book. I would get it published if I could, but I would also get to work on filling out the actual business model for this non-profit. I would draw up a spread sheet, and calculate the start-up costs. I would look up the laws, and the qualifiers to be approved as an alternative to commitment program…. This was the start of something.
As for the actual coffee…
As a way to broaden the horizons of the youth that went through the program, they would learn about the different cultures that our coffee came from. They would prepare and serve it in authentic cultural style. If someone ordered a Turkish coffee, they would prepare it in a Turkish pot over heated sand, and serve it in a zarf. They would serve Russian tea out of a samovar. They would have their eyes opened to what life looked like outside of their bubbles.
This would also be a unique cultural experience for customers. A way to travel and see the world without ever leaving town. The idea would be for the coffee shop to feel a little like a mad scientist’s lab. There would be kyotos for iced coffee, and steam punk inspired syphons… And the knowledge that every cup they bought helped to pave the road to a brighter future for a teen striving to make something of themselves.
The truth is, if we can help the youth of our world make wiser choices, and set themselves up for bright futures. If we can broaden their horizons, to see beyond themselves. Then maybe the next generation will do a better job with the world than we did. And maybe, just maybe, they will inspire the generations that follow them to do even better. I want to start a cycle. And if it only changes one life, it would still all be worth it, for that one.
This was just a brief description. I’m still drawing up plans, and researching logistics. But if you want to know more, or would be interested in getting involved, please go to the contact page and message me. If you would like to donate, stay tuned. When I get a little closer, I will probably start a kickstarter or something.
In any case, I would love to hear your thoughts! So, sound off in the comments below!