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The Roosevelt Coffee House Wants to Serve Up Social Justice

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Roosevelt Coffee House Wants to Serve Up Social Justice
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Social justice. Quality coffee. Those two things may not have a whole lot in common in Columbus just yet, but The Roosevelt Coffeehouse plans to change that when it launches, providing locals with a new third-place venue where profiles go toward combating hunger, unclean water and human trafficking both locally and around the globe. The new shop does not yet have a home, but could potentially pop-up Downtown sometime in 2014.

We spoke with Roosevelt founder Kenny Sipes to find out more about the new concept and what all it will entail. Our full interview can be found below:

Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your background as it relates to coffee and the concept of The Roosevelt?

A: My background with coffee is that I simply love coffee. But, until I ventured into this, I was a novice at all it entails. And believe me, I am still learning and will forever be. So, here’s the deal. I spent a decade in church ministry. Youth specifically. I sensed I was to move on and do something else. I searched for what that was longer than I care to admit. And it came down to these subject matters, justice and coffee. I have a real heart for justice and seeing it lived out. As I contemplated my path I found myself soul searching in Portland, Nashville and New Orleans. All of those cities have a unique coffee culture. They are all driven by the independent, not the chain. In Nashville there is a shop called The Well who are a non-profit that share their profits with those suffering injustices around the world. This birthed my idea of partnering justice and coffee in Columbus. And as I researched I found similar successful ventures occurring around the country in Salem, Nashville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles and DC.

So, I left my full time job in July and having been doing the footwork ever since. Applying for our 501C3, creating a business plan, location search, connecting with high end baristas, exploring the Columbus coffee scene, raising funds and tons of other things that I won’t bore you with.

In August our family went to Washington, DC to meet with the staff of Ebenezers Coffeehouse to pick their brain and seek their input. On the trip we took the trolley tour of the monuments. As we walked through the FDR memorial, my wife was struck with the quotes on the walls and how they were consistent with our vision. Thus, The Roosevelt Coffeehouse name was birthed.

Q: What can you tell us about the current status of the project. It sounds like you’re still scouting for a location?

A: We are in a capital fundraising program right now and await our official non-profit determination letter from the IRS. Our location scouting is still in play. We will be submitting a proposal to a very promising site this week. Hoping for the best.

Q: Are you planning to roast your own coffees, or purchase from another local roaster?

A: We will not be roasting. We love the local roasting scene here. We wanted to bring something to town that does not have a presence yet. So, after many travels, samplings, and research we have settled on Stumptown Coffee as our supplier.

Q: What neighborhoods are you looking at for locating?

A: We started with a a focus on The Ohio State University campus, to no avail. We have moved our search to Downtown. We hope to be open by late spring.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Justice – Our profits will go to organizations fighting the injustices of hunger, unclean water, and human trafficking both locally and around the world.

Music Venue – Our goal is to have a facility that can house concerts of all varieties.

Coffee first – Although our heart is justice. A premium coffee experience is our primary goal. We want you to love the coffee and we will take care of the justice. And if you want to know more about our giving it will be an open book.

More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/therooseveltcoffeehouse.

From February 3rd to February 9th, Columbus Underground is celebrating Coffee Week 2014! Throughout the week, we’ll be taking a look at various coffee shops, roasters, brands, businesses and the people that contribute to this rapidly growing local movement.

Coffee Week 2014 is presented by our friends Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, providing handcrafted coffee to Columbus, OH since 1991. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for more information.

Coffee Week supporting sponsorship by Stauf’s Coffee Roasters.

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