Lattes & A Lotta Love: A Revolutionary Coffee Shop

Comfy chairs.  Baked goods.  Friendly staff.  Art on the walls.  Aromas in the air.  Welcome to Origin Coffee & Tea in Rocklin, California.  Their website claims they failed Business 101 and this was the result:

  • They are for-benefit. In other words, Origin Coffee & tea is a registered non-profit.  Money is a tool for freedom and they give it all away!
  • Their workers don’t get paid. What?!  These baristas are volunteering their time on a rotation basis because they believe in the mission.  All funds exceeding overhead costs go directly to those fighting sex trafficking.  And don’t worry, volunteers are not hard to come by (they’ve had 279 applications to date!)  In addition to being trained on how to make delicious drinks, workers are also taught the basics of human trafficking so they can have meaningful conversation with customers.
  • Ethical business practices are a must.  This means striving for simplicity and using fair-trade products.

I read about this amazing coffee shop in an article two weeks ago and was blown away. What a novel idea!  Instead of making a one-time donation to fight for the cause, pastor Mark South (right) and Chad Salstrom (left) wanted to create a model that would generate continuous funding opportunities. Considering that North Americans love their coffee, that friends love to grab tea and snack while socializing, and that students are strangely drawn to the sound of espresso grinders, steam wands, and clanging dishes while studying, this place is well-suited for drawing a crowd. My husband’s desire to ask lost of questions has rubbed off on me, and I wanted to find out more about this venture.  Here is my interview with Chad Salstrom, who manages the coffee shop and is the only paid person on staff. If you had to share your experience so far in 5 words, what would they be? Messy, overwhelming, scarring (as in a fight leaves you scarred), exciting, redemptive. Have either of you ever worked at/managed a coffee shop before? Never. Nor anything like this. I went to Bible college and was selling shoes at Nordstrom before this. I only started drinking coffee three years ago when my second child was born. I read that this idea came to life because of your experience as fathers. Do you think fathers have a unique role to play in the fights against sex trafficking? Absolutely, the way we feel is that this is primarily a man issue. The vast majority of the pimps and johns are male. So we call men to lead the fight against this. It think that should resonate with all fathers. How did you choose the supplier for your coffee and tea products? The criteria for us was (1) A heart for the mission (2) Fair Trade Organic (3) High quality (4) If possible, from within our city.  We found all of those for our coffee and pastries. Our teas come from a great family owned operation in Kentucky. Both our coffee roaster and tea distributor have either been to the farms personally or worked with the farmer for years to assure that people are paid a fair wage in good working conditions. What has been the biggest challenge so far? The biggest challenge is keep the mission in front of all of us. None of us enjoying thinking about what goes on. But it is critical so that we will persevere through the long, tiring, messy days. The money is being put towards rescue, recovery, and cultural development – what does cultural development involve? Cultural Development is a broad term that represents ground level infrastructure that can sustain the anti-trafficking fight long after Origin Coffee has gone away. Some areas have been devastated for generations by the commercial sex-trade. We want to break that bondage. Depending on the area it may look like putting money towards education, law enforcement training, church planting, job training etc.

Is there a story (funny, sobering, or inspirational etc) that sticks out in your mind regarding the coffee shop? An incredible moment for me was when a group of 5 teenage girls came into the shop. These girls looked like any other girls of Asian descent. However, the five girls were survivors of the child sex trade in Cambodia. They were rescued by IJM (the primary organization we support), they spent time in the Agape recovery house (the founders are friends from this area) and are now here. The group of girls are in the US to testify against an American which is a brave and rare effort. They have been granted amnesty and are current enrolled in school. To meet them was sobering and inspiring. This fight works and is worth it. They were so sweet, humble, beautiful and innocent. There were no signs of the nightmare they have lived through. And to top it off, one of them wants to run a coffee shop someday and would like to volunteer with us. Wow.  Thanks Chad for the work that you do and for sharing about your experience with HFTS readers.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but for me these guys are a true inspiration!  Coffee shops like this need to spring up all over the U.S. and Canada…and perhaps this will get the wheels turning for some of you entrepreneurial types! Stop by the Origin Coffee & Tea website and check out their facebook page too (where these pictures are from!).  For those of you lucky enough to live in the area, get some summer drinks today.  For the rest of us, let’s dream big and visit when we can!

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  1. sonya holder says

    i watched part of the show out of sacramento about these two dads running a coffee shop! i think it is awesome. i only learned about child trafficking in 2009 and it has completely changed my world as i know it. I am about to run out of the coffee i normally drink and plan on ordering a bunch from origins. drinking to an awesome cause!! keep up the fight! don’t quit! children’s lives and their innocence depends on it! now….if you can just get some Fijian coffee (from the Fiji Islands) I would be even happier! (i just vacationed there last month. amazing coffee!!)

  2. Janet Broening says

    Wow this is incredible! The part where Chad was talking about those five girls brought me to tears! What an encouragement and a wonderful ministry! I have a picture of a few of these in every city sprouting up all over the continent. How great would that be!!

    Keep writing Michelle, I love your posts! I would love to skype with you and Jay sometime soon! Love ya.

  3. says

    Wow! I think that I have probably read just about every article or blog post ever written about Origin Coffee & Tea and this has got to be one of the best. Great job of capturing the heart and soul of what they are all about.

    • says

      Thanks Jason! Glad you think so, Origin Coffee & Tea is so unique and I love that Chad was so willing to share his perspective. I hope you have the opportunity to visit them!

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