When Rick Abma, a Christian Reformed pastor at Neighbourhood Life in Lacombe, Alta., opened the doors of Good Neighbour CoffeeHouse last month, the city’s mayor and council members joined in for the ribbon cutting, live music, balloons, and a Skype session with one of the Honduran coffee growers who supply the shop’s fresh beans. The downtown coffee shop is not just another place to grab a good cup of coffee; it’s centered around the call to love God and love our neighbor.
“The value of neighbors who care, love, and encourage each other are the exact neighborhoods in which we desire to live,” said Abma, whose ministry position is supported by Classis Alberta North and Wolf Creek Community Church in Lacombe. “A cup of freshly roasted coffee is a great place to start.”
The coffee house is new but Abma has been roasting Good Neighbour Coffee for several years. A tool for fundraising and for ministry, his direct-source coffee roasting was sparked after a sabbatical in Honduras with his family, when Abma became aware of the injustice in local farmers receiving only a fraction of the market price for their crop. In 2009, he got involved with The Carpenteros, a group from southern Ontario who have partnered with coffee growers in Olancho, Honduras, and Diaconia Nacional, the national diaconate of the Honduran CRC, to help change the situation for coffee farmers.
“I love coffee,” he said. “And the idea of fresh has always been a priority. So I bought a roaster and roasted for myself and my neighbors. Not only was this the freshest and best tasting coffee, but it began to develop community among neighbors.” He even found a used “espresso trike” online to pedal around the neighborhood.
On June 17, the permanent shop became a reality, about a year-and-a-half after Dave and Marcy Hughes got in touch with Abma about opening a coffee shop. They had previously operated and sold two small businesses and intended to open a third—they just didn’t know what kind. On the Neighbourhood Life website, Marcy discovered a quote: “Find where God is at work and join him.”
“I truly feel this was a God intervention and that he works in mysterious ways,” she said. A board of directors was formed, and, with capital from a handful of investors who shared the vision, construction of the coffee house began on March 1, 2017, with the grand opening taking place last month.
This year, Abma will obtain almost 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of coffee, which is shipped by ocean freighter as green beans. More than 55 farmers are now involved in the Honduras coffee project, and 250 families in central Honduras are being positively impacted.