How Coffee + Redemption Combine

How Coffee + Redemption Combine

What does it mean to be redemptive?


At first, the word may have a religious connotation, but there are so many ways we can experience redemption. I’m reminded of a Guinness marketing campaign a few years ago that had “Redemption” as one of its key phrases—certainly, countless bad days have been redeemed by sharing a pint or a cup of coffee with friends! 

At Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee, one of our core values is being redemptive. To redeem means to set someone or something free to be who or what they were created to be. We were invited into being redemptive in Rwanda more than 15 years ago. (Learn how it all started here.) Since then, we’ve witnessed farmers cultivate sustainable lives through coffee, reconcile relationships, send their children to school, and rebuild their communities—all thanks to you choosing Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee.  

I always knew we had been called to do good work in Rwanda and help others find their calling, but I wasn’t prepared for how that work in Rwanda would redeem me. It’s been a constant source of inspiration and motivation while also giving me the opportunity to do what I love: helping bring people together in new and adventurous ways.

For example, years ago, I remember thinking how coffee, soccer, and God were all present throughout the world but that in Rwanda, people had lost faith and fun in all three. The communities we met with didn’t have much hope in coffee because it had primarily been a means of exploitation, and folks were very leery of the church because of its involvement in the genocide. But we saw kids in Bukonya still kicking around a banana leaf soccer ball.

What if, I thought, we could build a soccer field where people could play together, learn more about sustainable work through coffee, and maybe get to know the God that created this world to be a “dwelling place and not chaos” (Isaiah 45). I mentioned the idea to the local pastor, Idelphonse, and Manu Gatare, our agronomist at the time. The next thing I knew, more than a hundred people worked side by side to create a field by hand. We were able to go from inkling to implementation in a matter of weeks!  

My creativity was set free—and still is—by our work in Rwanda. Since then, there have been many times when I was burnt out or couldn’t quite see the vision and direction of where we were going. In these moments, a trip to Rwanda always revives me. Once, while traveling the country’s mountainous roads, I even had the sense that God was running alongside, cheering us on.  

I’ve also learned a lot about community and fostering common good from our friends in Rwanda and have realized that we in the U.S. now need both more than ever. We need great third places (our first place is home, the second is work) where we can gather, feel accepted, join efforts, reconcile, laugh, and dream up our next adventure.

With this in mind, we’ve designed our LTH Coffee & Social cafes (see all our locations here) specifically as a welcoming outpost to craft beautiful coffee, create purposeful work, and cultivate flourishing community. Stepping into one of our cafes, like the new LTH Coffee & Social in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers you the time and place to savor incredible coffee that tastes good as well as does good, conveniently get some work done or brainstorm your next big idea, and meet with others.  

For us, to flourish involves inviting people of all walks of life together to find purpose, forgive, grow, and, in turn, help others to do the same. I’m thrilled when I see all different types of people coming together to enjoy community and coffee in our cafes. Somehow, when we slow down to enjoy a beautiful cup of coffee, we are more inclined to see the beauty in ourselves and one another.

Who can you share a cup of coffee with this week? What in you or your community would benefit from a redemptive act? Will you do it? When?

Komera (Be Strong, Have Courage),