The Coffee Connection is a retailer and wholesaler of coffee that supports eco-friendly and fair-trade practices and, using the name Project Empower, operates a local program of employment training and support for people recovering from addiction.
The Coffee Connection and Project Empower, formerly the assumed names of separate non-profit corporations, were merged in 2011 and are programs of an organization whose legal name is Life Listening Resources. That organization has adopted a business model that focuses on accomplishing social good, seeking to strengthen the local tax base, reduce the public cost of social services and emphasize sustainability in the global economic community and in the recovery of women and men from addiction.
The Coffee Connection's original store is at 681 South Ave., and it also operates the Greenhouse Cafe at 2271 E. Main St. It plans to open a third location this year in Charlotte. The organization works with an extensive network of partners, including RochesterWorks Inc., the South Wedge and North Winton neighborhood associations, the Charlotte Community Development Corp., other small businesses, community groups and more than a dozen churches.
Coffee Connection trainees-most from the Work Experience Program of the Monroe County Department of Human Services-and employees of the business can receive long-term support for recovery from addiction. Trainees may eventually become employees.
The Coffee Connection leases its locations so the properties remain on the tax rolls. It also seeks to generate sales tax revenue as a retail business while reducing the cost of social services by employing women and men with a history of substance abuse, helping them to recover and preparing them for additional education and employment.
The Coffee Connection sells only fair-trade, organically grown and sustainably farmed coffee that is roasted at the South Avenue location. Whenever possible it buys from local suppliers, including bakeries, food distributors and vendors at the Rochester Public Market.
Not including trainees, Life Listening Resources has six paid employees. Its co-directors are Joy Bergfalk and Jimmy Reader, spouses who are ordained as American Baptist ministers. The Coffee Connection website is www.ourcoffeeconnection.org.
Financial Record Year ended Dec. 31, 2012
Wholesale coffee sales $84,351 37
Retail sales, food and drink 57,150 25
Farash Foundation grant 50,000 22
Donations 15,282 7
Outside events and catering 14,342 6
Other 8,118 4
Total revenue $229,243 100
Cost of goods sold $87,231 40
Payroll 74,147 34
Rent 24,093 11
Utilities 8,136 4
Office supplies and equipment 4,266 2
Insurance 3,691 2
Cleaning and maintenance 3,672 2
Merchant account fees 2,446 1
Other 10,779 5
Total expenses $218,461 100
Excess (deficiency) of revenue over expenses $10,782
Board of Directors*
Alyce Van Patten
*Under the organization's bylaws, the board has no officers and uses a cooperative process to make decisions by consensus.
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