Coffee Meets Water Spotlight: Groundwork Coffee

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Groundwork Coffee has been serving up delicious coffee for over 24 years, and we’re thrilled to have founders Eddy Cola, Steven Levan, and Jeff Chean be part of our Coffee Meets Water campaign. Thanks to them, we’ve been able to fundraise and spread the word about our effort to fix 22 broken water wells in Sidama, Ethiopia, a leading provider of coffee beans in the region.

Below, we chat with Eddy and Jeff about their coffee background and why they want to join us in changing the world:

What first drew you to making coffee?

Eddy: As a child, I used to watch my grandfather drink coffee. So, naturally because I wanted to be like him, I wanted to have what he was having. Later, as a young adult, I was drawn to the caffeine jolt. But over time, and being a foodie, I got into the artisanal and craft aspects of it. When I was younger, I was partial to espresso — now I prefer drinking a good cup of coffee (usually using a Curtis Gold Cup brewer).

Jeff: I got in the business 20 years ago.  At the time, Starbucks was just opening their first stores in Los Angeles.  On my drives to law school, I would stop in at Starbucks and try to reconcile their flavor descriptors with what I was drinking at any given visit.  I couldn’t—and wondered if I could do better.  I like to think we have.

What do you love about owning your own coffee business?

Eddy: For starters, I love coffee—and tea. I also like making a delicious product and offering it up to customers. Finally, I am a big proponent  of organic, sustainable food and beverages. The natural-food category is close to my heart.

Jeff: I get asked that a lot.  People also comment on what a great job it is because I get to drink such great coffee.  I always feel compelled to let them know that they are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in that they are focusing only on the coffees and blends we actually sell.  Behind every great single origin we buy, the Coffee Team has to wade through lots of bad to kinda-good coffee samples before we settle on buying the gems we find.  It is at that moment—while having cupped sixty or so coffees that we will reject—when I slurp an amazing coffee sample that smacks my palate like a slap across the face that I really enjoy my job.

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(Left to right): Founders Eddy Cola, Steven Levan, and Jeff Chean

How would you describe your coffee in three words?

Eddy: Delicious. Local. Organic.

Jeff: Ditto, well said.

What is the most popular drink you serve?

Eddy: Probably cappuccino and lattes by volume. But our “dirty chai latte” is a real popular signature drink. (That’s chai latte with a hit of espresso!)

Have you traveled abroad for coffee sourcing? What were some of your favorite destinations and why?

Eddy: Our coffee team has  traveled to Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, and Hawaii, to name a few. We travel for a number of reasons, including judging at Cup of Excellence and other competitions. The most important reasons we travel are: 1) we want to find coffees before a Coop blends them into homogenous lots and they get lost; 2) to develop personal connections and partnerships with growers and coops from whom we consistently buy; and 3) promote and encourage our partners at origin.

What is your favorite brewing method and why?

Eddy: Chemex. It brings out the best flavors of the coffee, particularly the fruit and floral. And I like the artisanal craft aspect. It feels scientific. Chemex was actually developed by a scientist in a lab. It is, essentially, a modified beaker.

Jeff: Yeah, me too.  I like the Chemex because it forces me to slow down and appreciate the brewing process.  It goes only as fast as it goes and I can’t force it; I’ve got to literally “Stop and smell the coffee!” Oh, and it tastes great.

How important is it to have clean water in order to make great coffee and why?

Eddy: Very. Coffee is about 98.5% water!  Bad water can make the best coffee taste awful.  What’s important to us is to choose a sustainable method of getting the proper water.

Why did you decide to join the Coffee Meets Water fundraiser?

Eddy: It’s a great cause. We’ve been looking for a water partner at origin for some time and Coffee Meets Water fit the criteria of a program we were looking to participate in.

Thank you so much, guys! To learn more about Groundwork Coffee, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Coffee Meets Water Spotlight: Cafe Demitasse


​Bobby and Fred Roshan​ are the founders of Cafe Demitasse and self-professed coffee geeks tinkering with espresso, coffee, and tea at their cafe in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. After they heard about our Coffee Meets Water fundraiser to bring clean water to Ethiopia, they were more than down to be our awesome supporters throughout the campaign. Below, we chat with Bobby about his coffee background and why they wanted to join us in changing the world:

How long have you been in business and what first drew you to making coffee? 4 years! I was obsessed with coffee while working at a law firm and decided that I better do it for a living.

What do you love about owning your own coffee business?Discovering new and exciting coffees from areas we normally don’t see coffee, like Uganda and the Congo. ​

How would you describe your coffee in three words? ​Delicious. Lovingly made. ​


 What is the most popular drink you serve? We sell cappuccinos more than any other drink.​

Have you traveled abroad for coffee sourcing? If so, what were some of your favorite destinations and why? ​Not yet. Hopefully this year. ​

What is your favorite brewing method and why? I’m a big fan of japanese style iced coffee. It gets you a light and fruity cup of iced coffee. ​


How important is it to have clean water in order to make great coffee and why? Coffee is almost all water. If your water isn’t right, there’s no way your coffee is going to be right. ​

Why did you decide to join the Coffee Meets Water fundraiser? So many reasons. I’m a huge international relations nerd and was super excited to help Good Neighbors out several months ago when we partnered to help out with the cookstoves in Guatemala. When they asked about the clean water fundraiser, I was instantly in, as the wells they are fixing are in Ethiopia, one of my favorite coffee-producing countries. ​They do great work and we’re honored to be a part of this.

Thanks, Bobby! Visit Cafe Demitasse for their locations and to shop their products online. 
[photos via Cafe Demitasse]
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Our New Campaign: Coffee Meets Water

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It’s the official launch of our ‪#‎CoffeeMeetsWater‬ campaign! We’re kicking things off with a hilarious new video we made, where 5 kids told us what they would do if there were people in Africa who didn’t have clean drinking water. Watch below:

Now that you know these kiddos are ready to go fix some wells, are you? Awesome. Here’s what you need to know…

Our mission: To fix 22 broken water wells in Sidama, Ethiopia, a leading producer of coffee beans. The way we see it: they help us get our fix, so let’s help get theirs fixed.

Background: We found 38 water wells in the region of Sidama, but 22 of them are broken—that’s 58%! And that means thousands are going without clean water every day just because these wells haven’t been repaired.

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4 of the 22 broken water wells in Sidama, Ethiopia

So who’s fixing the wells? Let us introduce you to the amazing Cody:

Our goal: Each well repair costs $250, so we just need to raise $5,500 to fix the wells and bring back clean, fresh water to every resident in Sidama. $5,500 is totally doable!

What you can do: 

  • Read all about our Indiegogo campaign, then share, share, share! We’d love to see you post about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (and tag us along the way! Facebook: @goodneighborsusa; Twitter: @goodneighbors; Instagram: @goodneighbors)
  • Donate! Some of our donors so far have decided to brew their own coffee in the morning or bring a packed lunch to save some money and give to our campaign. Share what you’re giving up on social media with #coffeemeetswater and we’ll re-post your story/photo!

All set? Let’s fix some wells together.

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Meet Ara: Our Guatemala Volunteer


What’s it like to spend a month volunteering in Guatemala? Ara Cho, an undergrad at the University of Missouri, Kentucky double-majoring in sociology and psychology, shares some highlights of her experience abroad:  

Beginnings with Good Neighbors Guatemala

I stepped out of the airport into a crowd of people. It was incredibly busy, there were shop owners selling souvenirs and gifts all along the streets, and the atmosphere around me was full of life. I’ll always remember these sights and sounds when I arrived l in Guatemala for the first time.

There’s an African proverb I like: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” My passion is people and I believe that everyone has their own mark to make on this world. Some marks are broad and some are small, but they all make a difference.

I first heard about Good Neighbors from a friend who teaches abroad in Guatemala and knew two Good Neighbors Guatemala interns. I learned about the organization through them and called the office to set up an interview—I was accepted as an intern and started my one month of service on May 21st.

I love that even though Good Neighbors works in more than 30 countries, each country creates projects that accommodate specific goals and causes to its demogrphic. In Guatemala, I focused on Project Cookstoves, an initiative where Good Neighbors builds new stoves for families. Globally, about three billion people cook on primitive cookstoves made from little more than wood and dirt, and there are about 1.9 million deaths caused by smoke inhalation. Children also have to walk miles to collect firewood instead of attending school.



Seeing Project Cookstoves firsthand: A trip to Acatenango

One of my favorite experiences during my internship was going down to the community of Acatenango and meeting the families we were building cookstoves for. They were incredibly welcoming, inviting us into their homes and offering us black bean soup and homemade tortillas. Every home was different–some big and some small–but what they all had in common was their primitive cookstoves. I only stepped into the kitchen for a few minutes and my eyes were already watering and my throat was burning. The walls were charred black from smoke. Residents here manage to cook on these stoves three times a day, and it takes a huge toll on their bodies and on the environment. I saw firsthand how important a new cookstove was and I’ll never forget that.


Office life and next steps

When I wasn’t out in the field, I helped out in the operations department. I designed templates and promotional posts for social media, and it felt nice to bring out my creativity for a good cause. I also went around town with the staff and dropped off donation boxes at local stores so we could collect extra funds from shoppers for our community development and educational projects.

Most importantly, though, I loved the people I worked with during my internship. I was only there for a month, but everyone does so much–research, phone calls, meetings–and I can’t believe I only saw a glimpse of what they take on year-round.  There was a great joy to the office, too: laughter, inside jokes, music, and yes, the occasional dancing.

Now that I’m back in the states, I’ll be starting school again soon and finishing my college degree.  Volunteering with Good Neighbors Guatemala was truly a privilege. I learned so much and am so glad to share this experience with you.

Thanks so much, Ara! Learn more about how you can volunteer in Guatemala with us or e-mail for more information.

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Korea’s First Astronaut, Seattle Eats, and More


Our media team flew out to Seattle last week to film an interview with Soyeon Yi, Korea’s very first astronaut and our brand-new #DoGoodToday Captain for the Ticket To Rise campaign (watch our new video above!). If you haven’t heard, Ticket To Rise is our largest campaign to date and your opportunity to win a private trip to space (in case you’re reading that with disbelief, we’re totally serious and it’s a totally real prize). Every time you donate to Good Neighbors, you’ll be entered to win a seat on the XCOR Lynx Mark II spacecraft,  lifting off next year and reaching an altitude of 100 km (338,000 feet)—allowing you to claim the title of ‘Astronaut’ upon return. This is all possible thanks to partnerships with VICE Media and The Urgency Network.

Soyeon is a longtime Good Neighbors supporter and we were stoked to have her on board to talk about her space travels—who better to explain our campaign than a real-life astronaut? Plus, she’s hilarious, humble, and just all-around cool.

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We met up with her at Seattle’s Museum of Flight where she’s volunteering at a kids’ space camp during the summer, and talked to her about the craziest thing she did at zero gravity, her favorite food in space, and the first thing she wanted to do when she landed back on Earth (see her answers in the video above).

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Many thanks to the Museum of Flight for hosting us! If you haven’t been to this museum before, it’s a must if you’re traveling to Seattle. It’s an incredible display of all types of planes throughout history, and you can even tour a B-17 bomber from World War II!

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Our media team may have eaten extremely well on the trip–Seattle has so many irresistible options (especially at Pike Place Market)! If you’re heading out there soon, we highly recommend the following:


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