1st Cup - Annual New Year's Day Fundraiser

Every New Year's Day for over 30 years, Coffee Exchange has hosted our annual 1st Cup Fundraiser for The Coffee Trust and Chajulense coffee farmers. This year, with the café closed to in-store customers due to COVID, we are unable to put on this event as we have in the past, but the people who depend on our commitment need our support now more than ever.

Coffee growing communities around the world have been devastated by COVID-19. Limited access to healthcare, economic slowdowns, and food insecurity are just some of the many challenges these communities face. In San Gaspar Chajul, Guatemala, where Coffee Exchange’s Guatemalan coffee is grown, the ravages of the pandemic have been exacerbated by the additional devastation caused by Hurricane Eta and torrential rains brought by Hurricane Iota--destroying crops, causing landslides, and washing out roads and bridges. This already stressed community is now dealing with limited food supply and access to goods and medicines.

So, we have the confluence of two natural disasters - hurricanes and the pandemic - exponentially exasperating the situation on the ground. The time to help our coffee partners is now. Given the massive need for emergency assistance and our inability to host our traditional in-store silent auction and fundraiser, we are committing the full month of December to raising $15,000 for The Coffee Trust! 

Maintaining tradition, Coffee Exchange will donate all local sales on January 1, 2021, to The Coffee Trust as part of our annual New year’s Day fundraiser, 1st Cup.


  • Donate to our “I Love Coffee Farmers” crowdfunding campaign (each donation comes with a special thank you gift!). 
  • Tip your coffee farmer whenever you make a purchase at Coffee Exchange
    • online by clicking on the TIP YOUR COFFEE FARMER button at checkout or  
    • At the to-go window on the Wickenden St. deck add a donation amount to your order 
  • Come to the Coffee Exchange for your 1st Cup of coffee on New Year's Day 2021. All sales on the day will be donated to The Coffee Trust, as is tradition. 


The Story of 1st Cup

New Year’s Day at Coffee Exchange is more than the first day of the New Year. It’s a 33-year tradition, a celebration of a long line of “firsts.”

Now branded 1st Cup, Coffee Exchange is joined by cafes across the country, to take a collective first sip in honor of coffee farming communities. Yet it didn’t start this way.

The first New Year’s Day at Coffee Exchange was literally the day we opened for business, January 1, 1984. January 1, 1989, was the first New Year’s Day fundraiser after Bill Fishbein founded Coffee Kids, the first non-profit organization in the world dedicated solely to improving the lives of coffee farmers, and in so doing, helping to define corporate social responsibility and activism for the coffee industry.

For that first New Year’s Day fundraiser, our two employees donated their time, our food and dairy vendors donated their supplies, and the Coffee Exchange donated all the coffee. As  there was no “cost of doing business” that day, 
all sales from beverages and pastries, from pounds of coffee and equipment were donated, and the entire day’s proceeds went to Coffee Kids. If memory serves, we raised $385 that first Coffee Exchange New Year’s Day Fundraiser in 1989, and we had no idea what we were starting.   

That formula set the stage for the years that followed, and our customers came to recognize New Year’s Day--1st Cup--as the day to celebrate this partnership between a neighborhood café and its coffee farming partners thousands of miles away. In 2010, we added a silent auction, where musicians, artists and glassblowers, restaurants, jewelers and merchants from all over the state donate items in support of coffee farmers. Each year, customers, vendors, employees, merchants, artists, and friends all ensure there is “no cost” on New Year’s Day, and ALL sales (including retail merchandise and coffee beans) are pooled in support of The Coffee Trust to improve the lives of the coffee farmers of San Gaspar Chajul, one of the poorest coffee growing communities in the world.  

January 1, 2021 will mark 33 consecutive New Year’s Day fundraisers. Our staff and customers are already asking how we’re going to handle 1st Cup this coming New Year's Day in light of the pandemic, and to be honest we’re not yet sure. All we really DO know is the enthusiasm on the parts of our customers and staff is infectious, they’re already trying to figure out how to pull it all off--stay tuned. 

We’re obviously blessed with a caring community that keeps this tradition going. We’re also blessed to be a part of an industry that allows for a small single-store café and coffee roaster to enlist community members to help improve the lives of coffee farming partners thousands of miles away.