A Passion for Making a Difference
How it all Began: The summer of 2019 was life changing. We didn't see it coming. At the time, I was working with a student group called Enactus at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. This was a group that I had been involved with many years before as a student. The focus had changed some over the years and now had a heavy focus on social entrepreneurship and the concept of giving a hand up, rather than a hand out. That summer, my youngest son Cody and I got to join the Enactus students on an almost three week trip to Guatemala.
For over 15 years, this student group had been working with a group of coffee farmers in the San Lucas Tolimán area of Guatemala. Twice a year they would travel to the area to meet with the farmers. This is a critical aspect of a direct trade model. Through these visits, not only do we come to know these farmers and their families, but we also begin to understand their agricultural process and culture. We also hear their stories and why it is so important to support a direct trade model like this where the farmers set the price - a price that allows them to afford healthcare and an education for their children as well as invest in their farms so they can continue to prosper as agricultural entrepreneurs. The other alternatives to selling their crops only supports a cycle of poverty that doesn't provide for a sustainable living.
The trip had a huge impact on us. Not only did we get to meet with the coffee farmers, but we traveled to other areas of Guatemala visiting with many entrepreneurs from chocolatiers to artisans.
When we returned, we knew we wanted to do something back here in the US to increase the demand for the farmers' coffee beans. Unfortunately, the demand isn't high enough yet where all of the farming families in the San Lucas area can sell their green beans (coffee beans) through the farmers association where they receive a sustainable rate. Our goal is to be part of the solution to change that. Combining our entrepreneurial spirit with theirs, we wanted to be part of what the college students have termed, "the cycle of mutual empowerment." This is where our journey into direct trade coffee began.
The Brand: The Live Life Coffee Beans brand captures the idea stated in Cody's shirt above and below, "Do something BOLD." Make a difference. Be part of the change. Live life to its fullest. Dare to Dream AND follow those dreams. It's a lifestyle and mission all rolled into one.
The coffee also represents hope in the future. When the Covid shutdown took place in March of 2020, my husband lost all of his video production work overnight. As an entrepreneur who had just left teaching that fall to pursue his business full time, this was definitely a blow. Coffee represented a way to continue to earn a living during such a challenging time. Just like the farmers in Guatemala, the coffee represents an opportunity to earn a living.
Lastly, the brand represents living life on your own terms. This is one of my favorite pictures of me and my mom. She is a trailblazer in so many ways from being the first female math teacher at the high school she taught at for many years to challenging an Ivy League's school policy that would have forced her to stop taking classes once she married my father - she won! And, she has kept her trailblazing up in retirement volunteering as a hike master in Colorado into her 70's. She definitely has and continues to live life on her terms.
Living your life on your own terms is also what inspired us to pursue the Cause Coffees. I lost one of my closest friends, Shirley, our freshman year of high school from cancer. When my kids were around the same age, one of their classmates was diagnosed with cancer. My heart broke. But this young girl decided that she would live her life on her own terms - and did she ever! Megan Bugg fought for over seven years and during this time challenged an antiquated and underfunded childhood cancer treatment system raising nearly a million dollars. One of her favorite quotes was "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain." In Megan's and Shirley's honor, we wanted to help pick up that fight. $5 from every bag of Megan's Mission blend goes towards the center in Megan's name at cc-TDI in Oregon.
This is our ever evolving story. Our hope is that through the coffee, we can live life to its fullest making a positive difference in the process. - Amy Rogers
Pictures from our trips to Guatemala in 2019 and 2022.
Pictures of us Living Life over the years.