Archives for April 2011

Coffee That’s One Hand Shake Away from Being Local

At a roadside stand or farmers’ market, you buy direct from the farmer. Middlemen are left out of the exchange, the farmer nets more from his toil, and you benefit from eating fresher food—and knowing where it came from.

Paul Kurtz and his son-in-law Hans Hochstedler display a bag of Cafe Diego, coffee they purchased directly from a farmer in Nicaragua.

You can experience similar advantages at Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (HCR) at 22 S. Main Street (State Route 29) in Mechanicsburg, Ohio. Obviously, the coffee that owners Paul and Grace Kurtz sell isn’t locally grown. Yet, in Hemisphere’s inviting, aromatic coffee shop and roastery, you’re much less removed from the people who grow and harvest the coffee than you typically are at the supermarket.

Shake hands with Paul Kurtz and you’re in the clasp of the man who shakes hands with Latin American and African coffee growers as they agree on fair, direct purchases of the many varieties that HCR sells.

Coffee with a Mission

“Coffee with a mission,” HCR’s slogan, is much less a marketing mantra than pithy creed. In 2004, HCR blossomed from Paul’s service as director of global mission for Rosedale Mennonite Missions in Irwin, Ohio.

Hans roasts coffee at Hemisphere Coffee Roasters.

In his extensive travels through Central and South America and East Africa, Paul witnessed struggling people and communities.

The economies of many of the communities had coffee in common, so Paul recognized an opportunity to offer the people a “hand up,” instead of a “hand out.”  Since then he’s been shaking hands with coffee growers, offering them a direct, fair price—considerably higher than customary—to sustain their farms, their families, their employees and their communities.

“We’re now seeing new roofs on houses and cement floors that were once dirt—and growers who are better able to support their workers and their families,” Paul says.

The direct trade relationships that the Kurtzes cultivate with coffee growers also benefit HCR’s customers. Before making any purchase, Paul “cups,” or taste tests the coffee to assure its quality.

Last year HCR roasted and sold 57,000 pounds of coffee, retail and wholesale, and is continually expanding its market.

HCR coffee is available in Champaign County, Ohio, at Everyday Organics, Freshwater Farms of Ohio and Yutzy’s Cheese House in Urbana, Mad River Farm Market, near West Liberty, and Preston’s IGA in Mechanicsburg. For more retail locations, a list of churches that serve HCR coffee, and online sales, visit HCR’s website.

HCR coffee shop, retail store and roastery
22 S. Main St., Mechanicsburg
Facebook: Hemisphere Coffee Roasters

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Bible study: 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday. All are welcome!

A Lasting Memorial

This Tuesday, April 12, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederates’ first shots on Fort Sumter, the start of the Civil War.

In God’s grand scheme 150 years is but a day (actually, a little more than three and a half hours, if you calculate by 2 Peter 3:8). Even from our limited perspective it’s less than twice the average American’s life span.

It’s difficult, at least for me, to believe that we’re quickly approaching the 10th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks on American civilians. The memory of the moment I first heard the news is still fresh, as it probably is for you.

The Man on the Monument, downtown Urbana, Ohio.

But time marches on. Memory fades.

Even so, reminders of the War Between the States still stand among us. In Urbana, Ohio, every time we navigate the roundabout on Monument Square we see the iconic Man on the Monument. He’s an unnamed Union cavalryman preserved in bronze, head poignantly bowed for his fallen comrades—a testament to the 578 Champaign County men who gave their lives to preserve the Union and the principles and freedoms it was founded on.

Urbana firefighters and paramedics stand in front of the World Trade Center steel on Saturday.

In this same spirit, the Urbana Rotary Club stirred our memories and emotions on Saturday. The Rotarians coordinated a caravan of emergency vehicles and motorcycles, which escorted through the county a flatbed truck bearing a flag-draped, twisted and bent steel beam—a testament to the violence of 9/11 that brought down the World Trade Center and with it the lives of 3,000 innocent victims, including one of Champaign County’s own, Alicia Titus, a United Airlines flight attendant.

The caravan, witnessed by hundreds of Champaign County residents, came to a stop at Freedom Grove, where the twisted steel will become the centerpiece of a memorial to 9/11. To be designed by local artist Mike Major, the memorial will be dedicated this September 11, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, reminding future generations of the terrorist attacks, just as the Man on the Monument reminds us of the sacrifices that saved our country from destruction.

Fred Maine, who transported the WTC beam from New York, speaks Saturday at Freedom Grove.

Freedom Grove, at U.S. 68 and State Route 55 on the south end of Urbana, sits on land leased by the Rotary Club for a dollar a year from the Champaign County Board of Commissioners. The Rotary Club is developing the six-acre park through a countywide collaboration of organizations and citizens. It already includes:

  • Monuments dedicated to Americans who have sacrificed their lives for freedom, from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror
  • A bell tower that houses Champaign County’s Bicentennial bell
  • A one and a half mile walking path

Click here to find out how you can support the development of Freedom Grove, the 9/11 memorial and pay tribute to loved ones.

Watch a WHIO-TV report on the 9/11 memorial.

Read an Urbana Daily Citizen article about the WTC steel procession.