'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1373 Grant Street
The Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning started the the Spring Café as a way for refugees to gain hands-on job training and a way to practice customer service skills and English. In addition to a coffee shop that operates out of the First Baptist Church, the cafe has a catering company with everything from breakfast empanadas and croissants to lunch salads and panini. You can find many of the same items and then some at the cafe, including a house-made soup of the week and golden milk lattes made with turmeric tea. The Spring Cafe also hosts internationally themed events, such as the upcoming R Bazaar, which can be found on the cafe's Facebook page. Cozy up on a couch and take in the international art and goods, or spend the afternoon people-watching on Capitol Hill.
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2023 East Colfax Avenue
For more than a decade, SAME Cafe (the name stands for "So All May Eat") has been serving the hungry on Colfax. The kitchen is operated on a pay-what-you-can scale, or visitors can opt to donate half an hour of their time in exchange for a meal. Customers have a choice of two kinds of soups, salads and pizzas that change on a daily basis, with plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free alternatives. Drinks include tea and coffee — usually Danger Monkey from Pablo’s. SAME Cafe is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, with patio seating when the weather is nice, and tasty, locally sourced food — perfect for a lunch date with a friend or a homey meal by yourself.
Coffee for the Cause
A project of Dave Lash and Matt Schaefer, the guys behind Riff Roasters (12445 East 39th Avenue), Coffee for the Cause is a way for nonprofits and groups to raise funds. Groups can choose a roast and name for a custom coffee, design a label and order as many bags as they want at wholesale price, then mark up the price (Riff suggests an additional $5) to raise money for their organizations. Riff roasts the coffee to order, ensuring the freshest quality for anyone who purchases a bag to benefit the PTOs, grade schools, Boy Scouts troops, and pit-bull rescues (for example) — all organizations that have raised funds with Coffee for the Cause.