The Benevolent Side of Coffee

Editor’s note: During each Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., scholars are required to complete a mobile media reporting module, which includes producing videos and reporting and writing stories. Their work is displayed here.

0715_hernandezrby Rocío Hernández

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three years ago, Nashville residents Rob Webb and his wife Emily were looking to adopt two daughters, not realizing how expensive it would be. The couple resorted to fundraisers to finance the cost of bringing their daughters home.

It seemed to Webb that an effective fundraising model was lacking for families who needed help raising money to pay the expenses that come with adopting a child. He decided to take matters into his own hands through his company, Just Love Coffee Roasters.

Adoptive families and benevolent organizations who register with Just Love may sell the company’s coffee and related products through a personalized web page or “storefront” on Just Love’s website. Family and group members describe their fundraising goals on their page, and they may market their page as widely as they like. Just Love processes and fills orders placed through the storefront. The family or group receives proceeds from each item sold.

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Rob Webb, founder of Just Love Coffee Roasters, sits at the coffee bar inside the newest of his two coffee shops, in the Demonbreun Hill neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn. Webb started his company in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2009 in hopes that it would help alleviate the costs of adoption for families. He opened the Nashville shop in April. (Photo: Rocío Hernández/Summer 2015)

“Fundamentally, the company was built on wanting to give back,” Webb said. “Before we made any profit, we were giving a lot of money back.”

During the first year of its fundraising program, the company helped families and groups raise over $100,000 for adoptions, according to Webb.

The website’s administrators track how much each fundraiser team is making through its sales and distributes checks to the groups monthly. Webb said teams raise anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars each.

Coffee has always been a part of Webb’s family. His father supported his family through coffee sales, and Webb grew fond of the idea of starting his own roasting business. The opportunity to combine his passion for coffee brewing with his desire to help his family and other families during the adoption process presented itself and, in 2009, Just Love Coffee Roasters was born.

Webb opened his first shop in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 2011, and a second shop in the Demonbreun Hill neighborhood in Nashville in April.

The coffee company has received many letters and emails of appreciation from the adoptive families and organizations it has helped, Webb said.

When families and groups email the company to say that they have reached their fundraising goals, the moment is bittersweet, said DJ Smith, Just Love’s marketing and communications director. “The excitement (contained in the email) is the reward in and of itself for us because they do say, ‘you’ve helped us bring our daughter or our son home,’ ” Smith said.

The efforts to help others have not stopped with adoptions. The company is helping to build a home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for orphans who have nowhere to live after they “age out” of the country’s orphanage system. Webb hopes to fund the project through the profits generated by his stores.

Project planners also envision hosting a nanny at the home and building a coffee shop where the young people can learn about the art of growing, roasting and brewing coffee.

“Now, if you age out, you are on your own,” Webb said. “This will be a home, a place where they can live, and a trade they can get trained in.”

In addition to financially assisting with adoptions and providing support to orphans, Just Love sends 5 percent of its profits to help fund clean-water projects by Waterstep, an organization in Louisville, Ky., that works to provide safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

Meanwhile, the coffee company is on track for continued growth. It has begun offering franchises for sale, and Webb said he expects to open 150 shops nationwide within five years. He said he hopes that Just Love’s charity efforts continue to evolve as the business expands.

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