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!

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