A New Lease On Life For Coffee Kids

signingBy Mike Ebert, Firedancer Coffee Consultants

Coffee Kids was founded in 1988 by Bill Fishbein, David Abedon and Dean Cycon. Fishbein, a coffee shop owner in Providence, R.I., had been in the coffee business for several years. In 1988, Fishbein visited Guatemala and at the urging of friend, David Abedon, visited many small scale coffee farmers. Fishbein was moved by the poverty that he witnessed and returned to the United States and started Coffee Kids with the help of Dean Cycon and David Abedon.

Coffee Kids has always worked with organizations in coffee-farming communities throughout Latin America to create projects in the areas of education, health care, economic diversification, food security, and capacity building, enabling farming families to reduce their dependence on the volatile coffee market and confront their communities’ most pressing needs. There was an outpouring of sentiment in December of last year when the announcement came that Coffee Kids would be suspending programming and looking for an organization with which to merge. Happily, that day has come.

The Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) foundation, a nonprofit implementing foundation based in Hamburg, Germany, has committed to continuing and strengthening Coffee Kids’ programming within their operations. Coffee Kids will not cease to operate, but will continue its efforts to improve the lives of coffee-farming communities as a distinct program within the HRNS North America structure.

The aligned and complementary missions, visions, and approaches of the two organizations, along with HRNS’ commitment to maintain the character and essence of Coffee Kids while hosting its continued operations were essential factors considered by the Coffee Kids’ board.

“The Board of Directors of Coffee Kids has determined that the most responsible step we can take as stewards of this storied coffee sector institution is to turn it over to an organization that shares our commitment to improving the lives and livelihoods of coffee-farming families under their terms. The Neumann Foundation is that entity,” said Mike Ebert, President of the Board of Coffee Kids.

“We take on the programming of this pioneering organization with humility and respect, and commit to continuing its good work and furthering its mission to the best of our ability. Coffee Kids has built an outstanding partnership between coffee sector participants in consuming and producing countries, and has gained exceptional experiences in empowering coffee-farmer communities. We are excited about the opportunity to join forces and make use of synergy for creating better perspectives for the people in coffee-producer communities,” according to Michael Opitz, Chairman of the Board of Management of HRNS.

HRNS and Coffee Kids have resolved to finalize their agreement by mid-2015, and resume programming shortly thereafter.

More about HRNS:Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung is a non-profit implementing foundation based in Hamburg, Germany. It was founded by the Neumann family as a freestanding, independent nonprofit organization, separate from the commercial activities of Neumann Gruppe. The Foundation operates worldwide and supports smallholder families to improve their farming operations while protecting natural resources, to strengthen their market position, and to reinforce their resilience to shocks. Partnering with prominent sector players, it works towards a level playing field between all coffee industry participants. HRNS North America is a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2010 as an affiliate to HRNS Hamburg, and shares its mission and vision.

Mike Ebert is the founder of Firedancer Coffee Consultants, which he created to help specialty coffee companies achieve success in all facets of the specialty coffee supply chain. Mike is a past president of the SCAA, founding chair of the Roaster’s Guild, and current president of Coffee Kids, whose mission is to improve the lives of coffee-farming families worldwide.