The One Cup Project is a Seattle-based social purpose coffee company. It is both a business and a mission that we call a ‘More than Profit’ enterprise. The business is One Cup Coffee Co., an award-winning coffee roaster & retailer. But our mission – why the enterprise really exists – is to demonstrate that profitable business and charity can, and maybe should, go hand in hand. We’ve combined a passion for great coffee with a heart for a world in need.
By the late stages of the last decade, I had already had a very successful career in coffee for nearly 20 years. I began to ask myself, “what will my future look like? Am I just going to be ‘the coffee guy’ for 20 more years, or is there something else I should be doing with the good fortune I’ve been given?” I couldn’t get over the idea that my business existed just to serve me, and to fund my lifestyle. “There must be a deeper purpose”, I thought. So I set out to discover what it might be.
The journey that started with a trip to Africa, an open mind and a sense of anticipation, culminated in 2010 with the launch of The One Cup Project. By partnering with Seattle-based non-profit World Vision, we created a vehicle to allow our customers to become benefactors. With every online purchase of our hand-crafted coffees, One Cup donates a minimum of 15% directly to World Vision. Through the clever use of matching grants, that donation is multiplied so that every dollar spent, generates a dollar of impact. Not 5% or 10%, but 100%, dollar-for-dollar. Drinking coffee never felt so good!
We then turned our attention to our cafes. We discovered that some people are uncomfortable supporting causes in other parts of the world when we have such poverty and need in our own backyard. We couldn’t argue with that. Why be limited to either/or, when you can have both/and? So we decided to donate a portion of every sale in our cafes to a local charity doing good work in the communities we do business in. We also started offering a ‘Suspended Coffee’ program, where customers can buy a coffee at a discount for someone else who can’t afford it. Living on the streets, or only a step from them can be a harsh reality, especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Being given a hot cup of gourmet coffee is like being given a cup of hope. It’s a small gesture that can make a big difference.
Every time you buy from One Cup, you can feel good knowing your purchase has made a positive impact in somebody’s life. We’ve put the power to make a difference into the hands of consumers. Just by drinking their favorite beverage, lives are impacted for good locally and around the world!