Church members and strangers who came to walk among the classic cars, let their kids ride a pony, or play in the bouncy house stop by his tent and order a custom cup of Joe for two dollars.
- Read about last year’s Fall Festival in “Family Fall Festival an All-Church Outreach Effort”
Eric knows that his business is doing more than satisfying his customers’ craving for sophisticated caffeine. The money will soon be helping coffee farmers in developing countries improve their lives and communities.
Eric’s company, FreshGround Roasting, does not give a portion of its profits to missions. Instead, he buys coffee from businesses like Growers First that help farmers by providing training, micro loans, and access to markets outside the normal coffee commodity/auction market. Those businesses also touch communities with building projects, organizing VBS programs, and sponsoring orphanages.
“We believe that the best way to change lives is to teach,” he says. “So we purchase our coffee from organizations that work directly with farmers and communities to provide them with a means to improve their businesses and their lives.”
Growers First teaches farmers how to grow a higher quality coffee that is worth a price that will keep the farmers from going out of business. In addition, Growers First allows farmers to trade in a market, through a network of roasters like Eric who want to support families by giving them a sustainable economic business model.
One of the farmers that Growers First works with in Honduras has made enough profit in the last two years to help out another farm family in the community. “That’s the kind of sustainable change we’re looking to support,” Eric says. He says the approach is more effective and has more long-term benefits than just raising money to build a well for a community—and then leaving.
FreshGround Roasting also works with New Covenant Fellowship, a church planting and medical missions organization in Ethiopia.
Eric began FreshGround Roasting in 2011. Eric, who describes himself as a “coffee geek,” was looking for opportunities to open a café when a local businessman suggested that he put a small coffee roaster inside an existing café.
When Eric started looking into just roasting, that’s when God opened a door, Eric says. He became acquainted with a guy who imports coffee only from mission organizations that exist to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. They do this first by teaching farmers sustainable, quality farming practices and then by helping them build successful businesses.
Today Eric divides his time between leading worship at Faith Baptist Church and running the FreshGround roastery in West Chicago, Ill. FreshGround Roasting currently has six single-origin coffees, four blends, and a decaf. He plans to move the business to Aurora, Ill., in January.