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How to make your coffeeshop a catalyst for change

“Learn to make coffee, make coffee, chat, drink coffee, chat, change the world.”

That pretty much sums up what it’s like to be a Green Bean at Vintage Coffee. But it is so much more that! Green Beans are an important part of who we are and what we do at Vintage.

Vintage Coffee is driven by a simple, yet radical mission: to add value to our city one cup of quality coffee at a time. We actively do this by, firstly, giving a portion of our profits to different non-profit organisations every month and, secondly, by supporting four orphans by means of an established trust fund.

Vintage Coffee started because we saw a need in our community and wanted our business to be a catalyst for change.  Consequently, we are a for-profit business that benefits non-profit organisations in and around our city. Vintage Coffee has found a way to give back to the community in the hopes that the profit donated will add value to the non-profit organisations, which will, in turn, add value to life.

We exude a passion for all things coffee, especially educating individuals about coffee. The heart behind Vintage Coffee has attracted many volunteers who have a willingness to invest their time on a weekly basis. Because of this, Vintage Coffee has established a unique “Green Bean” program.


Stanley Biggs. Image by Ett Venter.

Volunteers who are interested in joining the team at Vintage Coffee start off their journey as a “Green Bean”. A green bean, in the world of coffee, is a coffee bean that has not yet been roasted and lacks development of flavour.  In exchange for their time and efforts at Vintage Coffee, Green Beans are taken on the adventure of being roasted and are given the opportunity to learn all things coffee as they develop.

So what does it mean to be a part of the Green Bean team? They volunteer about 4 hours a week (one shift) for 3 months and we teach them everything we know about coffee. We love our Green Beans! They are passionate about coffee and adding value to our city!  Our Green Beans exude a love for what they do and there is nothing better than seeing our Green Beans learn and grow in what they are doing. 

In the words of our own Green Beans:

“I can’t really describe it. What it’s like to volunteer at Vintage Coffee. It feels like a “happy place”. It’s not a job or a duty but a passion, one that is shared by all the volunteers. It literally feels like family – we share a love for coffee and people and watch as the two worlds collide in a number of beautiful encounters.” – Kelsey van der Merwe  (The Ginger Bean)

“Being a Green Bean is a wonderful thing. It’s about more than just giving of your time to learn about making phenomenal coffee and giving to the community. It’s about family, friends, meeting new people and contributing to society and the such, in a meaningful way. It’s a beautiful journey that unfolds: as you endure the process and learn more about coffee you learn more about life. Coffee provides a platform for networking and being involved in something that is greater than oneself. It’s about giving, gaining and being developed, as you are stretched in profound ways as an individual.” – Ashley Els (Bae Bean)

As the Green Bean volunteers of Vintage Coffee spend time making coffee they develop their coffee making skills and knowledge and so they are slowly roasted to full-flavoured, coffee-smart individuals. After which, they become a Roasted Bean with the title of Barista.

Regardless of the industry, there is something incredibly significant about volunteering. It teaches you skills and capabilities that you wouldn’t necessarily learn anywhere else. It shifts the focus off of yourself and pushes it onto something else, something bigger than yourself. The lesson’s a volunteer learns at Vintage Coffee are countless. It teaches them how to run a business, to interact with people, to find and follow their passions and dreams and to enjoy what they do. Volunteers at Vintage Coffee have a long lasting impact in what they do and we are so incredibly grateful for each one of our volunteers. Vintage Coffee wouldn’t be where it is today, if it wasn’t for our awesome team of volunteers!

Written by Kelsey van der Merwe. Cover image features Ashley Ryan Els by Shannon Venter.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Humans of coffee: Kelsey van der Merwe

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