Cuppa Joe, with a twist: Pura Vida coffee--like most companies--goes after profits, but what happens next is hardly ordinary.It is a morning ritual for thousands of Americans, a gateway into the day, the warm cup over which they connect with others. But for drinkers of Pura PURA PACOM Utilization & Redistribution Agency
PURA Public Utility Regulatory Act Vida, that cup of coffee is also a ray of hope for at-risk children in the impoverished and struggling neighborhoods of San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850. , Costa Rica Costa Rica (kŏs`tə rē`kə), officially Republic of Costa Rica, republic (2005 est. pop. 4,016,000), 19,575 sq mi (50,700 sq km), Central America. , and across the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. .
While some socially responsible businesses are able to boast a charity- or justice-oriented mission that grows out of their established consumer base, Pura Vida is an example of a for-profit business that was developed explicitly to support a religious and social mission.
In Spanish, "Pura Vida" has a double meaning. In street parlance Parlance - A concurrent language.
["Parallel Processing Structures: Languages, Schedules, and Performance Results", P.F. Reynolds, PhD Thesis, UT Austin 1979]. , it means "cool," "awesome," or "great." But it also translates as "pure life" in English. Founders John Sage John Sage is most famous for being the Castle Torturer of Chillingham Castle circa 1200 AD. Sage, a minor celebrity of his time, was formerly a soldier of King Edward 'Longshanks' and was said to have succeeded in reaching the rank of Lieutenant before being injured by a spear to and Chris Dearnley seek to embody both meanings in the company's products, marketing, and social justice activities.
Pura Vida was founded in 1997 by Sage and Dearnley, who had met 10 years earlier when they both joined the Graduate School Christian Fellowship at Harvard Business School Harvard Business School, officially named the Harvard Business School: George F. Baker Foundation, and also known as HBS, is one of the graduate schools of Harvard University. . After graduation, the two went their separate ways--Sage to work for Microsoft and into the high-tech start-up world and Dearnley first into business consulting and then, in 1995 after becoming an ordained or·dain
tr.v. or·dained, or·dain·ing, or·dains
a. To invest with ministerial or priestly authority; confer holy orders on.
b. To authorize as a rabbi.
2. minister, to Costa Rica, where he started a Vineyard church.
But the business school friends stayed in close contact, each looking forward to their annual get-togethers. In July 1997, relaxing by the pool after a round of golf in San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. , Dearnley found himself telling Sage about the work he was doing in San Jose with at-risk youth, providing meals for the hungry and reaching out to struggling children. The work was rewarding but the group was financially strapped, Dearnley reported.
He recalls, "I shared with John and then at the same time said, hey, by the way, I brought you some great coffee from Costa Rica." Sage, impressed with the robust, high-quality coffee, immediately suggested that Dearnley create a brand of coffee to support his mission. The pair penciled some start-up figures on a paper napkin a napkin made of paper, intended to be disposed of after use.
See also: Napkin and Pura Vida was born.
For a year after what Sage calls "the poolside pool·side
The area next to or around a swimming pool. epiphany Epiphany (ĭpĭf`ənē) [Gr.,=showing], a prime Christian feast, celebrated Jan. 6, called also Twelfth Day or Little Christmas. Its eve is Twelfth Night. ," Dearnley and Sage prayed and talked more about whether to invest themselves fully in their idea. During this period, Sage's consulting work landed him a position at Starbucks, where he deepened his knowledge of the gourmet coffee business--an $8 billion-a-year industry in America.
At that time, Sage also found himself thinking more about merging his business expertise with his religious faith. "I have a conviction and I feel a calling to ascertain whether or not there are ways for business and ministry to work together to help raise funding and awareness for ministry," he says. "This is the perfect manifestation or laboratory to figure out if this could work."
TODAY, IN ITS THIRD year of full operation, Pura Vida is a for-profit company that Sage operates out of Seattle, in a warehouse-style brick building that is located directly across the street from Starbucks' headquarters.
All of the company's post-tax net income goes to Pura Vida Partners, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Nonprofit Organization
An association that is given tax-free status. Donations to a non-profit organization are often tax deductible as well.
Examples of non-profit organizations are charities, hospitals and schools. . Pura Vida Partners provides services including a soup kitchen that serves more than 100 meals a day--more than 10,000 meals have been served so far--plus four computer centers (funded with a grant from Sage's former employer, Microsoft) and four community soccer teams.
Dearnley, who lives in Costa Rica with his wife, Andrea, oversees Pura Vida Partners and the social mission of the company. He reports tremendous success in meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of San Jose's children, many of whom struggle daily with poverty, malnutrition malnutrition, insufficiency of one or more nutritional elements necessary for health and well-being. Primary malnutrition is caused by the lack of essential foodstuffs—usually vitamins, minerals, or proteins—in the diet. , broken families, and omnipresent om·ni·pres·ent
Present everywhere simultaneously.
[Medieval Latin omnipres drugs and prostitution--success that is possible because of the funds generated by the coffee business.
"The goal that we have is to use business as an engine to bring the love of Jesus to these kids in need in a unique and life-transforming way," says Dearnley.
The soup kitchen was the first outreach that Dearnley did with his church congregation. The church was located in a middle-to-upper-middle class section of the city, and Dearnley says he "felt that it was God's heart that we be a bridge, not only a bridge across cultures, but also a bridge across classes."
"I feel like it's an act of worship," adds Dearnley. "In Matthew, Jesus talks about how he's very much present when we reach out to those who are hungry or those who are needy and those who have no clothes, and in doing so, in a mysterious way, we are ministering to Christ himself."
The success stories abound. There is Kimber, a 12-year-old girl whose parents have recently divorced. She was considering running away from home, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Dearnley, but reconsidered after becoming active in a Pura Vida Partners Interactive Center, a computer workshop where she is learning to explore the world through map and geography software.
"Experiencing the love of God" is how Eladio Guerrero describes what happens at the Interactive Centers. Guerrero, who is a coordinator for the centers, has seen first-hand how computer education has made a difference in many young lives.
"Some of these children do not have anyone who really cares about them, so they found in these places the love they have not found in their lives," he says. "Besides, they see that if they make an effort they can learn to do something valuable, something that they never imagined ... a poem, a love card for their mom, a painting to show others.... The opportunity is there."
"We've seen the vision these kids have for the future just radically changing," says Dearnley.
The renewed vision of the children is evident. "I enjoy coming here and sharing with others," said Pablo Solano, an 8-year-old boy who, though confined con·fine
v. con·fined, con·fin·ing, con·fines
1. To keep within bounds; restrict: Please confine your remarks to the issues at hand. See Synonyms at limit. to a wheelchair, comes to the Interactive Centers every day. "This place reminds us to come closer to God and that he loves us."
PURA VIDA, WHICH sells its coffee over the Web and in church congregations across the United States, has become much more than a small revenue-generating mechanism for Dearnley's San Jose mission. It represents, some say, a new form of socially responsible business that is quickly evolving into a network of revenue sources for worthy causes.
"Pura Vida is an example of social entrepreneurship Social entrepreneurship is the work of a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. ," says James Austin, chair of the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative. "It is not the story of a major corporation turning its capabilities toward a social problem, but rather the story of socially committed, successful business professionals turning their energies and talents toward the creation of a new social purpose enterprise."
Individual congregations often buy Pura Vida coffee and serve it on Sundays and during fellowship meetings. They also can buy the coffee by the bag and sell it at a profit, which the congregation then keeps for their own missionary and social justice work.
"We all know that churches serve bad coffee, and there are a lot of them," quips Sage.
The company has also evolved into a network where other mission-driven organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity, nonprofit ecumenical Christian organization that enables low-income people to own affordable, livable housing. Headquartered in Americus, Ga., it was founded in 1976 by businessman Millard Fuller and his wife. , World Vision, and Sojourners, create co-brands of Pura Vida coffee to generate funds for their own work. SojoBlend, the co-brand created in partnership with Sojourners, is a fair-trade, environmentally and economically just coffee that allows the coffee harvesters to be paid a living wage--as much as twice what they are normally paid.
Finally, Pura Vida allows for direct donation to the San Jose project. Dearnley says that he started getting feedback from customers saying, "I love what you're doing, but I literally can't drink any more coffee. How can I help?" In December 2001, Pura Vida Partners accepted more than $17,000 in direct donations from people who had heard about the ministry from buying coffee in the past or by signing up for Dearnley's e-mail newsletter for updates on the ministry.
The energy that sustains Pura Vida comes from the strong business backgrounds of its founders, to be sure, but the day-to-day work of Dearnley and his colleagues in Costa Rica is an equally motivating force.
At Pura Vida's business headquarters in Seattle, connecting to the Costa Rica ministry on a daily basis is important. Artwork by the San Jose children plasters the walls. "We try really hard with the best of our limited resources to make that connection, that emotional and spiritual connection, between the work that he's doing and the work people here are doing," says Sage, who visits San Jose every year or so.
And ultimately, Dearnley even sees a connection between the ministry and the product of coffee itself. "Not only are we seeking to reach into the communities in need and bring community to children who come from fragmented homes and experiences, but at the same time, coffee itself as a product is very communal," Dearnley says. "It's over that cup of coffee that hearts are opened and lives are shared and that you really experience the more meaningful parts of some people."
RELATED ARTICLE: What makes Pura Vida beans better?
Fair-trade and shade-grown: good words for impressing your tree-hugging, java-loving friends. But do you know enough to convince the co-worker who's sold on Starbucks? The world coffee economy is worth $50 billion, second only to oil in the commodities market. The United States consumes one-fifth of those beans, and less than 1 percent of the country's coffee is certified See certification. fair-trade. But watch out: Big business is catching on and co-opting the socially minded lingo Lingo - An animation scripting language.
[MacroMind Director V3.0 Interactivity Manual, MacroMind 1991]. . So if you're going to preach the shade-grown gospel, it's smart to learn the story behind your cup of coffee.
Economically just. Good coffee is fair-trade. Standard importers pay growers less than 50 cents per pound for their beans; fair-trade importers guarantee $1.26, with a 5 cent premium if the market price rises above the baseline. In addition, fair trade importers establish direct, long-term partnerships with democratically organized small-farmer cooperatives--both to bring stability to a volatile economy and to cut out "coyotes," middlemen who take advantage of market fluctuations to defraud To make a Misrepresentation of an existing material fact, knowing it to be false or making it recklessly without regard to whether it is true or false, intending for someone to rely on the misrepresentation and under circumstances in which such person does rely on it to his or isolated farmers. Pura Vida's fair-trade line is certified by TransFair USA TransFair USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is the American member of FLO International, which unites 23 Fairtrade producer and labelling initiatives across Europe, Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. (www.transfairusa.org).
Environmentally sustainable. Good coffee is organic and shade-grown. Organic means without synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Shade-grown means under a rain forest canopy, which is how coffee has been grown for centuries. Not only does this prevent soil erosion, provide wildlife habitat, and allow for intercropping Intercropping is the agricultural practice of cultivating two or more crops in the same space at the same time (Andrews & Kassam 1976). A practice often associated with sustainable agriculture and organic farming, intercropping is one form of polyculture, using companion planting with fruits and vegetables, but shade-grown coffee--no surprise--yields a higher-quality bean. The alternative is clearing the forest for what's known as estate-grown coffee: fast-growing, sun-tolerant varieties that require acres of land and tons of fertilizer. Pura Vida's fair-trade line is certified by the Organic Crop Improvement Association The Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) is a member-owned, nonprofit organization, which provides research, education and certification services to organic growers, processors and handlers around the world. (www.ocia.org). --Bethany Spicher
Bethany Spicher is editorial assistant at Sojourners.
Holly Lebowitz Rossi, a Sojourners contributing writer, lives in Arlington, Massachusetts Arlington is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, six miles (10 km) northwest of Boston. The population was 42,389 at the 2000 census. History
The Town of Arlington was originally settled by European colonists in 1635 as a village within the boundary of . Sojourners partners with Pura Vida to produce SojoBlend coffee.