Q&A With Connect Roasters

Connect Roasters sells coffee that improves lives in the developing world. We return 50% of our profits to fund programs like health clinics and education centers.

Roast Featured

Guatemala El Faro

  • Farm: Santa Clara
  • Farmer: Alfredo Medina
  • Region: Acatenango, Guatemala 
  • Varietal: Bourbon and Caturra
  • Process: Washed and Sun Dried
  • Importer: Cafe Intencional (North Augusta, S.C.)

When you purchase our Guatemala El Faro coffee, half of our profits are given to Mision El Faro, a non-profit organization that provides health and education services in local communities. You can read more about our partnership with El Faro here.

This coffee comes from the Godoy Estate, a fourth-generation family farm situated in the Acatenango valley, next to a volcano of the same name. This growing region, just west of Antigua, is becoming more and more recognized as a producer of high-quality coffees in Guatemala. 

This coffee scored an 84 according to the grading standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association. It has a medium body, some nutty flavors and a chocolate mouthfeel.

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Q: How did you get involved in the coffee business?

Oh man, it’s a long story, but here’s the Cliffs Notes version: During a trip to the Dominican Republic, I saw for the first time real poverty at scale, and it really affected me. I started thinking about how I could help the people I saw in a more meaningful way. I thought about products countries like the DR produce, ones we could monetize here in the U.S., and then about some type of structure that would allow us to give back when that product is monetized. Obviously, coffee is one of those products, and we roasted and sold our first bag in September 2016.

Q: Can you explain your mission a bit?

We exist to introduce people to great coffee and improve lives in the developing world, and through a giveback model, we do both at the same time. When we sell a bag of Guatemalan coffee, for example, a portion of the profit is sent to our giveback partner on the ground in Guatemala, and that money helps fund their education and health care initiatives.

Q: Is there a meaning behind the name “Connect”?

Absolutely. We’re big believers in the idea that coffee fosters community. It can connect us not only to people with share it with, like friends, family and colleagues, but also with people on the other side of the world, where the coffee is grown. And we’ve set up a structure to make that connection.

Q: What would you say distinguishes your coffee?

Our coffee is really good, but honestly, there are a lot of companies that are roasting and selling really good coffee. What makes us different is the fact that coffee, for us, is a vehicle to accomplish something even more important that selling really good coffee.

Q: What type of beans do you roast?

Our flagship Guatemalan coffee is a washed coffee from the Acatenango valley, a region just west of Antigua surrounded by volcanos. This fall we’ll be adding a Nicaraguan coffee to our retail lineup and hope to have third and fourth coffees added in 2018.

Q: Where do you receive your beans from?

We source our coffees directly from the producers, and we work with other companies to help us actually get the coffee from the farm. For example, we visited the Godoy Estate to get our flagship Guatemalan coffee, and a couple of importers in the U.S. — Thrive Farmers in Georgia and Café Intencional in South Carolina — have helped bring that coffee stateside. They are the experts with things like shipping logistics and customs, and they are instrumental in helping get the coffee to our warehouse.

Q: Can you share some stories about the farmers you work with, and the families that are impacted by your mission?

One of the things I get most excited about is education, and I’m especially excited about the project we’re helping fund with the sale of our coffee from Nicaragua. We’ve partnered with an organization there that runs a mobile library that brings trained tutors to classrooms to work side-by-side with both local teachers and students. One of the primary values of the mobile library is the exposure to STREAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math) it gives to students — something that is rare in Nicaragua. We’re projecting that through the end of 2017, Connect’s contribution alone will allow the organization to send its most qualified tutor to work with five different schools and reach 240 kids in all. 

Q: What do you like best about your line of work?

I’ve found such a wonderful community of people working in coffee. Never have a met a group that believes more in the idea that rising tides lift all boats — in other words, what’s good for one is good for all. And that manifests itself in so much collaboration and selflessness and support. It’s really refreshing.

Q: Something people might be surprised to learn about you or your business?

On a scale of 1-10, my coffee nerd status is probably a 9.5, and I get a really big kick out of meeting coffee people that are famous within the industry. I met George Howell this year, and I’d really like to meet James Hoffmann. They’re on the Mount Rushmore of coffee. (James, if you’re reading this, let’s meet up!)  

Q: What’s next for Connect?

So many irons in the fire! We’ll continue to add coffees to our retail lineup — including the Nicaraguan coffee this fall — and with each of those we’ll bring on a giveback partner in that country. Our cold brew coffee will also become more readily available in the coming months. We do a lot of work on the wholesale side, and we’ll take on more projects with like-minded organizations. And we’ll continue to take steps toward our own retail space, a place where people can come drink great coffee and learn about it, too.


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