Catch up with the founders of Zion Coffee Co.
Just about everyone has a relationship with coffee. Love it, hate it or have to have it, there are dozens of ways to prepare it and millions of people who consume it. Despite its ubiquitous nature, however, few take the time to understand the process behind their daily cup of joe—and how the bean makes its way from farm to cup. That’s where Zion Coffee Co comes in.
With a “simple dream” to change lives through coffee, Morton residents Mike and Banu Hatfield founded the specialty coffee company last December. “The story behind Zion is that we love people and we love coffee,” says Banu. “We considered several different ideas, and decided to bring our passion for these two things together.”
It’s been a chock-full first six months. From launching their website and online store—which features monthly coffee subscriptions among its many products—to selling cups at “pop-up” events at various locations, the couple has been busy establishing the core of their business. “The mission of the company is to advance the lives of small coffee farmers and their surrounding communities,” Banu explains. “The idea behind bringing together our love of people and our love of coffee is to be able to tell the story from the other side of the cup.”
By sourcing their coffee beans directly from small organic growers, the Hatfields knew they’d both pay a fair price for the farmers’ hard work and receive the highest-quality product possible. But they wanted their investment to go even further. To that end, they’ve sought to build relationships with local leaders in the communities in which the farmers live, bringing funding, microloans, education and resources to their families in an effort to promote self-reliance.
In April, the Hatfields and their children spent a week in Guatemala with the small coffee farmers they support. At the plantation, they helped the farmers do everything: from preventing the spread of roya, a leaf rust that destroys coffee plants, to setting up canopies to protect new coffee plant seedlings. Along the way, the family gained a better understanding of the process of coffee farming and what goes into each cup of coffee they sell.
Now, they’re focused on how to apply the lessons to their everyday business model. And it all starts with the quality of the bean and the relationship with the farmer. “We’ve had some great success partnering with farmers in Guatemala, and we look forward to replicating that model with small farmers in other parts of the world,” explains Mike, adding that an expansion into regions outside of Latin America is in the works.
Future plans also include opening a specialty coffee shop in the Peoria area. “It’s great to be at a place in our lives where we’re able to chase that dream,” says Banu.
“Coffee truly brings generations and nations together,” she adds. “[We want] to continue to build relationships with the [farming] families, and are excited about our future together. We believe we can make a difference.” iBi
For more information, visit zioncoffeeco.com, or follow them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @zioncoffeeco.