Cafe Society

Cafes With Causes: Where to Spend Your Coffee Dollars This Holiday Season

Prodigy Coffee supports its community.
Prodigy Coffee supports its community. Prodigy Coffee Facebook page
'Tis the season for coffee: Our favorite caffeinated beverage is helpful for getting us through the shorter and colder days this time of year. With the holidays around the corner, it's also the season for giving and volunteering. Here are a list of coffees and a few cafes that give back to their communities year-round, and how your dollar can help.

click to enlarge DANIELLE KROLEWICZ
Danielle Krolewicz
Boyer's Coffee
7295 Washington Street
Boyer's founder Bill Boyer has been a supporter of the Denver Rescue Mission since the company's beginnings, and fifty years on, Boyer's (which became part of Luna Gourmet Coffee & Tea Company in 2015), continues to donate coffee to the Rescue Mission.

The owners of Luna, brothers Jason and Douglass Barrow, created the Coffees for a Cause brand to support their mission of "trying to change the world, one cup of coffee at a time," says brand marketing manager Kaitlyn Stechmesser. Through community partners, including Project C.U.R.E. Habitat for Humanity of Colorado, and the USO, the brothers are able to do that by donating proceeds from coffees that correspond with the organizations. Their newest effort, The School That Coffee Built, will benefit a town in Peru where much of the company's Peruvian coffee is purchased. Although Boyer's is sold retailers such as Walmart, Kings Soopers and Safeway, the Coffees for a Cause brands can only be purchased on the Luna website or at the 1927 schoolhouse in north Denver, where all the roasting is done.

click to enlarge A Prodigy apprentice pours a shot. - PRODIGY COFFEE/HILARY FRANCES
A Prodigy apprentice pours a shot.
Prodigy Coffee/Hilary Frances
Prodigy Coffeehouse
3801 East 40th Avenue
Prodigy opened in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in 2016, providing space for young adults in the area to learn while they earn. Founder Stephanie Frances spent a decade working at alternative schools before coming to the realization that students were dropping out because they weren't engaged. "I would’ve wanted to drop out of most of the schools I’ve seen them drop out of," said Frances. Her experience led her to create a work environment that taps into disconnected young people's intrinsic desire to learn. Prodigy is a small community of peers, or "apprentices" who are learning together, with a high adult-to-student ratio. With a commitment to training local youth in the food-service industry and drinks like fall spice coffee and nitro horchata on tap, it's no wonder this cafe won our award for the best new coffee shop in 2017.

click to enlarge Look for the Purple Door in Five Points. - WESTWORD
Look for the Purple Door in Five Points.
Purple Door Coffee
2962 Welton Street
When Purple Door opened its door in Five Points in 2013, it was with a mission — "to reclaim and sustain the lives of homeless youth and young adults through supportive and meaningful employment," according to the founders. In addition to employing young adults transitioning out of homelessness at the original coffeehouse in Five Points, Purple Door does the same thing at its Englewood roasting facility. When you purchase coffee (try a $3 bottomless cup), you not only support the shop's mission, you also get some really tasty coffee — a win-win.

Cafe United
711 Park Ave West

Located in the United Way building, Cafe United is the public face of Work Options for Women (WOW), which staffs the cafe and provide employees with job training in food service, including as baristas and caterers. Calling itself a "social change kitchen," the cafe gives 100 percent of its proceeds go back to WOW to further its mission "to help women in need gain the skills and confidence they need to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry." This weekday-only eatery has a variety of options for food, including hot and cold sandwiches, salads (with vegan and gluten-free substitutions available) and, of course, coffee.

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Danielle Krolewicz likes a good cup of coffee, a good book and a good deal — not necessarily in that order.