How far would you go to get a good cup of coffee? Would you drive down the street? Would you go across town? How about jetting off to Tanzania?
The organizers of the Mt. Meru Coffee Project believe it's worth the trip. Of course, they're not buying their coffee one cup at a time. They're working with farmers in the country to ensure they receive a fair price for their labor. And they think the results are as refreshing as the drink that ends up in their customers' mugs.
"International coffee buyers were often cheating them out of their income, or when they would get paid, they'd get paid very little," says Ron Bohrer, who is on the board of the Mt. Meru Coffee Project. "... [That's] why the Mt. Meru Coffee Project was established. To bring some social and economic justice to these folks."
They were inspired to get involved when a group of delegates from the Meru diocese visited Milwaukee in 1998. The general secretary of the Diocese at the time noticed that people from the Milwaukee Synod were drinking coffee at their meetings.
"He just simply said, 'We grow coffee. You drink coffee. Would you buy your coffee from us?,'" says Walt Chossek, the treasurer for the project. "Several of the pastors picked that up and got excited about that, so they started talking about how to do that. And by 2001 we were ready to start doing that."