Who We Are
At the turn of the last century, in search of the American Dream, the Fishbein family started out as immigrants, fought through the Great Depression and WWII and tried several entrepreneurial ventures, resulting in financial disaster in 1983. But from those ashes, in 1984, we started Coffee Exchange. Determined to grow with our neighborhood by providing fresh roasted high quality coffee at fair prices and with our customers’ loyalty and our employees’ energy and professionalism, we reached a modicum of financial stability in 1988.
This is when we learned about the third group of people who mattered to us. We had always been aware of the customer’s place in our success, and how to make sure every customer feel he was treated like a king or a queen. And we’d always been aware of the special relationship we had with our employees, and the awareness that these remarkable people represented our family in dealing with customers, and so they needed to become part of our family, and we knew we needed to nurture and build on that relationship as key to any success we were going to have.
It’s when Bill Fishbein founded Coffee Kids in 1988 that we became aware of the struggle facing the coffee farming families who grew and harvested our coffee. And we came to understand that other most important relationship. Where our employees helped build the business by providing exceptional coffee and service and our customers rewarded us for providing a superior product with more orders and income enough to provide for an growing staff of employees, it’s the coffee farmers who grow and harvest and process our coffee, and by doing so, enhance and improve its taste and value. And until our coffee farming partners can derive a sustainable living from their hard work, our cup will be but half full, struggling to find a healthy balance not only for our employees and customers, for our family, but also for our partners, and we will not be truly successful until we’ve made an impact with these family members “on the ground.”
In 1988, this awareness compelled us to find a way to get involved. There were no organizations working exclusively on behalf of coffee farmers and their families, so, we started one: Coffee Kids, to help coffee farmers create alternatives to coffee as their sole source of income; in 1988 Bill Fishbein founded (and for 20 years directed) Coffee Kids, the first US non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of coffee farmers. Later, in 2009, Bill founded The Coffee Trust, to deepen our commitment to coffee farmers by investing in a comprehensive, integrated, sustainable development effort in the Ixil region of Guatemala, and now, expanding to a similar program in Honduras.
For 30 years, Coffee Exchange has provided our local and extended neighborhoods with fresh roasted high-grown Arabica coffee. All of our green coffee purchases support environmental sustainability by promoting organic agricultural practices as well as honest wages and fair prices (Fair Trade) for farmers.
95% of our green (unroasted) coffee is imported through Cooperative Coffees, a green coffee importing cooperative comprising 23 community-based coffee roasters in the USA and Canada, each of whom is committed to building and supporting fair and sustainable trade relationships for the benefit of farmers and their exporting cooperatives, families, and communities.
All our decaffeinated coffees are 100% water processed, using no chemicals.
Coffee Exchange and our customers have joined Grow Ahead, the next step in sustainability in coffee, whereby we and our customers pre-finance coffee farmers’ crops with “no interest risk-free” loans so they can concentrate on the quality of the coffee they provide us without the financial stress normally associated with getting the harvest to the marketplace.