the virtuous brew that kicks back

CityKid Java is a savvy business with a keen understanding of how to channel the profits from exceptional coffee to benefit an entire community of kids. Its comprehension of how to build and sustain a successful business is only surpassed by its commitment to the community in the Central and Phillips neighborhoods in the south side of Minneapolis.

Buying coffee is a much more complicated endeavor than it used to be due to its exponential growth in popularity in recent years. Grocery stores stock entire aisles with an array of flavors and roasts. The other day I was browsing the coffee section in a grocery store when a bag of CityKid Java caught my attention. I took a closer look at the package and read, "the virtuous brew that kicks back to kids in the Twin Cities."

Curious to learn more, I set up an interview with CityKid Java's general manager Jennifer Siegle and Mark-Peter Lundquist, founder of CityKid Java and vice president of Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation. As I sat down with these two, their compassion for their community and passion for coffee were apparent. Mark-Peter, who brings a background as team leader at Caribou, explained that CityKid Java was started as a for-profit subsidiary of Urban Ventures "to bring about an infusion of operating dollars." 100 percent of profits go back into Urban Ventures.

In 2002 CityKid set out to combat an economic downturn and spur the important programs of Urban Ventures. The programs are extensive and offer mentoring opportunities for at-risk kids at the Urban Hub, where kids can also skateboard at an indoor skate park, or record music at a state-of-the-art recording studio. There is also a family center where parenting classes are offered and a learning lab where kids can come after school. These are just a few programs that CityKid Java helps fund at Urban Ventures, which stretches over a conflicted area like a blanket offering refuge and support.

Along with helping fund programs at Urban Ventures, CityKid itself deeply impacts the community and the world in a positive way. "We are a "true trade" coffee company, we pay more than fair trade prices, so kids and families in coffee-growing communities benefit as well as kids here, explains general manager Jennifer Siegle. She adds that the company is conscious of the environment as well: "We plant a tree a day to off-set our carbon footprint." CityKid also employs local youth, some of whom get an opportunity to work as baristas at the cafe that CityKid operates at the University of Minnesota. Jennifer is adamant that giving youth a job, especially on a college campus, does wonders for their sense of self-worth. CityKid hopes to open more cafes in the near future at other surrounding colleges.

The revenue that CityKid generates would not be as extensive without its commitment to providing the highest level of coffee. Jennifer is quick to point out, "We use only 100 percent premium Arabica beans. We are right up there with the Starbucks and Caribous of the world." The dedication of presenting a high-quality product and understanding the business of generating money for programs that change lives is clearly understood at CityKid Java.

CityKid Java
Urban Ventures

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