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Goshen College sells organic Peruvian coffee to benefit youth groups, churches

Goshen College is selling organically-grown Peruvian coffee to help raise funds for local youth groups and churches.

The beans – which the college sells using the brand name Menno’s Best coffee – is a medium roast blend with a mild earthy taste, said fundraising committee member Hans Weaver. The coffee beans are grown by farmers in the Chanchamayo Province in Peru.

“It’s a region that’s very well known for its coffee,” Weaver said. “It’s the same region that Starbucks gets some of its coffee from in Peru.”

The fundraising effort grew out of a relationship that Goshen College’s Study-Service Term program – which offers study and work abroad options for students – has fostered with the community in the region. Students have had the chance to work with Peru-based Highland Coffee, from translating documents to harvesting beans. In turn, faculty members have used the international connection to start the fundraiser, Weaver said.

Weaver said the college wanted to help the community in Chanchamayo Province because of how students have benefited from studying and working in the area. Selling coffee made the most sense because it’s one of the most popular crops in the region.

“Coffee is a popular commodity,” Weaver said. “It’s America’s energy source, especially in the morning.” 

So the school has Theta Ridge Coffee LLC in South Bend bring the coffee back to Goshen, and The Refinery Coffee Company in Goshen roasts it. From there, the coffee is packaged at the college’s student-run coffee shop, Java Junction.

A 12-ounce bag of ground or whole coffee beans is sold for $12 online at Goshen College’s website. Customers are given a choice of which youth group or church they would like to donate the proceeds to. The coffee’s label is personalized to the youth group that benefits from the funds, such as First Mennonite Church Blend.

$5 dollars from each bag of coffee sold will go to the customer’s youth group or church of choice and $1 will go to the Mennonite Mission Network and the Mennonite Central Committee, according to Goshen College’s website.

The rest of the money goes towards shipping, roasting, packaging and other expenses. Since it’s direct-trade coffee – meaning the college cuts out the middleman and deals straight with the farmers – part of the remaining funds goes towards paying fair wages for coffee growers. Goshen College gets nothing from the sales.

The original goal of the fundraiser was to help raise funds for youth groups to attend the Mennonite Convention 2015 in Kansas City, Weaver said. But even if the groups are not attending the convention, they are free to use the funds however they see fit.

Menno’s Best coffee will only be available through the middle of June 2015.

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