A cup of coffee might make your morning better, but a few entrepreneurs in Manchester would like to see that caffeine impact the local community, too. The nonprofit café City Café opened in early April across from the Verizon Wireless Arena with one goal in mind.
“The whole mission of the café is to just give back to the community,” City Café Outreach Coordinator Rhiannon Pochopin said. “The only people that, when the profits start coming in, are going to benefit are the community of Manchester and even the world, essentially.”
When a customer purchases a cup of coffee, the proceeds from that sale go straight back into the community through a donation to a different organization, nonprofit or community effort each month. It also helps global efforts by supporting fairtrade and organic coffee growers.
“We were real choosy about where we got our coffee,” General Manager Elizabeth Leone said. “There’s nice organic places [that] still don’t value their workers. Our growers, they educate their families, their kids’ families, they give them beautiful housing to live in. It’s much better than other farms you’ll see. So, when we say global impact, we really think that we are making it.”
The café’s coffee is roasted at A&E Roastery in Amherst. Its house blend, a Mexican Sumatra, originates in Brazil, and each quarter City Café will also highlight an “origin coffee.” Right now, that coffee is from Bolivia.
“We wanted to focus on the coffee,” Leone said. “We do a very traditional model of all of our drinks. Our macchiato comes in a little 4-ounce espresso cup, because that’s the traditional European way.”
Fresh baked pastries from Bread & Chocolate in Concord fill the shelves, along with assorted house sandwiches (like Sante Fe chicken, Italian and chicken salad).
“The veggie [sandwich] flies off the shelf. It has brie and it has hummus and sprouts, and they’re so yummy. Our turkey clubs fly off, too,” Leone said. “We wanted something that was good quality. When we say Bread & Chocolate to people, people know the name. Our sandwiches come on made-fresh bread and our pastries come warm.”
The café is owned by Grace Capital Church, a local church community with services in Pembroke, Laconia and Manchester. It’s not exactly a church business opportunity, but more like a ministry.
“We’re not a church café,” Leone clarified.
“Grace Capital Church owns the business, officially speaking, but they’re not making a penny off of this,” Pochopin said. “I work closely with the head pastor at Grace Capital Church [to determine where to give back]. ... There’s so many people and organizations that we can give to.”
City Café will host monthly events to benefit the charity or organization of the month. In April, proceeds were donated to A Woven Thread, an organization based in Nashua that works with refugee women by creating scarves, necklaces and bracelets from organic silk.
The baristas are trained, but chances are the cashier behind the counter is a volunteer. Other volunteers clean, photograph monthly events and even offer a towel cleaning service.
“From my perspective, people I deal with outside of the café, it’s been only amazing responses,” Pochopin said. “We get people who want to volunteer, whether it’s their time or to help our mission. … A lot of people are not only saying, ‘Wow, this is a great thing,’ but saying, ‘Wow, this a great thing, how can we help?’ And that’s huge. … I’ve noticed we’ve become an outlet for some of those people.”
As seen in the May 15, 2014 issue of the Hippo.