One World Roasters' Coffee Blog
One World Hosts Business Workshop for Local Teens
The neat thing about being part of an ethical business is that it connects you to much more than just your industry. Just as a coffee plant is part of a living ecosystem, so too are we a part of the social and communal ecosystem around us — we have a role to serve in helping it thrive.
Recently, One World Roasters had an opportunity to do just that, and right in our local community.
Serving the bigger picture
Mike Sellers, a coffee enthusiast and biologist in New Haven, recently reached out to us — he was looking for organic coffee in the area, but he was also looking to give some people he works with a special kind of experience.
Mike works for Solar Youth, an organization that focuses on serving children and teenagers in high-poverty neighborhoods in New Haven with both summer camps and a work readiness program for high schoolers called Green Jobs, which Mike serves as coordinator for. “Our summer program goal for our Green Jobs interns is to have them become better individuals — learn more about how can I be in the world and promote life-long success,” he says.
The Green Jobs program is an intensive five-week internship that consists of a number of nature studies trips in the area, community service projects, and job skill honing workshops. Mike wanted to know if we might be interested in making One World Roastery one of their trips, to which we emphatically responded “you bet!”
Why the story of coffee is worth telling
Considering the big picture is the idea we have in mind in teaching our customers and guests about what we call “the story of coffee” — where it begins and how it eventually gets into our mugs and tumblers. For many people, coffee is just a bunch of dark, coarse grounds. Mike wants to cultivate a “naturalist” spirit in his interns and take them beyond this limited view.
“One of our other goals in Solar Youth is to be stewards of the environment, Mike says. “We want our interns to learn that nature is valuable, not only just because it’s there, but because it has practical value. But you’ve gotta’ know what it is to appreciate what it is.”
Mike wants to get his interns thinking with anything they consume or any business decision they make, what the impact is and what it takes to make the simple things we enjoy possible.
This is the spirit we tried to capture in our “story of coffee.” Some topics we discussed were:
- The importance of fair trade and direct trade relationships that ensure the coffee farmers who supply us with our beans are given fair wages and safe, hospitable living conditions.
- The importance of organic and bird-friendly growing practices — how doing less to tamper with nature not only makes for a healthier planet, but better tasting coffee.
- The distinction between Arabica and Robusta coffee plants — cheaper, lower-quality Robusta coffee is faster and easier to cultivate, growing at lower altitudes, but harsher on the soil that supports it, as opposed to the higher grade Arabica or specialty coffee we use.
- The difference between single origin coffees and roast levels — how can coffees are shaped by the natural processes around them.
For many of the interns, this was the first time they had tried a fresh coffee without sugar, cream, or a cocktail of other ingredients and tasted with minimal interference what nature’s process created.
On growing a successful business organically
One of the biggest questions the interns had for us was “how do I start a business?” Many of our guests dreamed of starting their own businesses.
A young man named Jaylon Lloyd dreams of opening his own fusion restaurant inspired by world travels. Gabby Galloway aspires to be a midwife, and Tre Moore is working toward becoming an accomplished filmmaker.
Over the years, we’ve learned some things about starting from the ground up. One World’s founder, Eric Ciolino emphasized the “marathon versus sprint” mentality to the interns and taking things in gradual steps you can manage and fund yourself as opposed to looking for quick funding in the form of loans that make near-future profit very unlikely.
“I’m not a big fan of purchasing something when I don’t have the money for it,” Ciolino says. “I did all these small steps — I didn’t start with a cafe; I started wholesale — I got one account and that would start paying for more equipment so I did it in stages where I didn’t need to take loans out.” Eric was also able to self-fund One World Roasters by working full-time over many years as a master gardener and putting away money to gradually launch his business.
Ciolino’s business partner Christine Ucich also emphasized the importance of putting together a team to help you realize your vision and using social media as an important tool for low-cost promotion.
“When I met Eric he was just a man with a dream of opening a coffee business and I had a background in fine arts and a little bit in design. So we got together and I started doing the design work,” she says. “I made the website, I made the brochure, social media pages, info sheets for wholesale customers — all kinds of marketing stuff.”
“And that’s another aspect of business: how do you get your customers,” Ucich asks. “You have to let them know about your business. Marketing and advertising is a huge part of it. We have our website, and a lot people find us there.”
Till next time ...
We had a great time working with this group — sharing a bit of what we know and learning a lot about their experiences and aspirations. We’re tremendously lucky to have gotten the support we’ve received since opening our cafe and wholesale business, so however we can help those around us make their dreams a reality is a duty we feel as strongly as getting up in the morning and roasting coffee.
Speaking of which, we hope to see this bunch again soon for a proper demo of our roaster, and to hear how they’re putting what they’ve learned in Solar Youth into action in the world around them.
What kind of role do you play in the ecosystem around you?
To learn more about Solar Youth, what they do, and get involved check out their website here.
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One World Roasters
967 North High St,
East Haven CT 06512