A brief history of our love for coffee reveals that we are ordinary people who long ago happened to live near a roaster in Berkeley, CA where we discovered beans of various origins and roasts. Life took us to other locations, notably Israel where we again lived near a roaster and met with thick, sweet cardamom- flavored brews as well as the French press. Returning to the USA, we found grocery store beans too stale and mail-order coffee too pricey. We impulsively followed a lead to roast green beans in our stove-top popcorn popper. The machine burned out in a week and we bought a little Hot Top that roasted eight ounces at a time.
Meanwhile, the idea of commercial roasting was often suggested to us but never took hold until Jessie and family arrived in Hartsville, joined our church and moved his accounting business into the building where Mark has his office. Entrepeneurs, Mark and Jessie think in numbers, enjoy bouncing ideas around (often over a cup), and are passionate about God’s institutions of family and church.
An idea took hold: we could roast high-quality beans and provide a job or two as well as increase contact with our small, rural community. A shop was quickly built behind the offices to house a commercial roaster. Meanwhile the Abbotoys traveled to Nicaragua to visit coffee farms. Our friend Roberto, a Managuan resident who’d worked with Mark in Israel, escorted us north to the coffee region. Narrow roads led past small houses with chickens out front and goats grazing in the ditches. Vehicles of all descriptions, from donkey carts to golf carts, shared the route. Here a vision was born out of the contrast between our life at home and the lives of many Nicaraguans whose livelihood depends on the coffee market: a vision for missional trade.