Guest / Limited Access /
Alternative Capitalist: How a Coffee Business Brews Reconciliation
Gary S. Chapman

As an industrial psychologist, Jonathan Golden helped companies grow stronger through team building and management training. But he wanted to do something more. When a Rwandan bishop encouraged him to help coffee farmers in Rwanda, Golden was sold. In 2006, he bought 20 bags of coffee—2,640 pounds—from Rwandan farmers. He borrowed $20,000, bought a used roaster on eBay, and began selling the coffee to church cafés. He opened a coffee shop in Roswell, Georgia, and Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company was born.

The company now works with thousands of farmers in Rwanda and Haiti through microfinance loans, agricultural expertise, and providing bikes for transport. It will buy about 100 tons of coffee this year, paying farmers well over the fair trade minimum of $1.40 per pound. It's roasted in the U.S. and sold to about 600 churches; profits are re-invested in more farmers.

The company is visible at Christian rock shows and conferences, where it's known for the slogan, "Drink Coffee. Do Good." Q founder Gabe Lyons says Golden "thinks through the entire process of how their work contributes to the good of everyone, from the farmer to the customer. They create sustainable economic environments for people in developing countries, while providing U.S. consumers with great coffee."

Question & Answer

Your company goes beyond fair trade to what you call "community trade." Explain.

Fair trade puts a floor on prices for commodities. Community trade goes beyond mere economics and builds relationships. We ask people, "What are your other needs?" In one village, the children wanted a soccer field; we built one. In another, with help from our friends ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Readers Write
Readers respond to the April issue of CT.
RecommendedMormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
Mormons and Christians: So Close, Yet So Far Away
What should we make of claims that the two faiths are on a path to reconciling?
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickHow Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
How Science Became a Weapon in the Mommy Wars
Peer-reviewed research intensifies parenting debates… and can leave us even more confused.
Christianity Today
Alternative Capitalist: How a Coffee Business Brews ...
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.