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

A Brief History

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, so there were “no expenses” for doing business. This enabled us to donate the entire day’s earnings to Coffee Kids, and if memory serves, we raised $385 that first Coffee Exchange New Year’s Day Fundraiser in 1989.

That formula set the stage for the years that followed, and our customers came to recognize New Year’s Day as the day to celebrate this partnership between a neighborhood café and its coffee farming partners thousands of miles away.

Twenty years after founding Coffee Kids, Bill resigned to focus on The Coffee Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to “nurturing coffee growing communities toward a more sustainable future.” The coffee community Bill chose were the coffee farmers of San Gaspar Chajul in the Ixil region of Guatemala, one of the poorest coffee growing communities in the world.   

And the Coffee Exchange’s New Year’s Day fundraising tradition continued.

Then, several years ago, we added a silent auction to the mix. Merchants and artists, glassblowers and potters, writers and painters, jewelers and musicians, all friends coming in with goods to donate for the New Year’s Day Silent Auction. Nowadays, we’ll start getting calls around the beginning of October from people from the neighborhood and some from far away who “donate something every year.”

Looking Forward to 2018

New Year’s Day, January 1, 2018, will mark the 29th straight year that the Coffee Exchange employees, customers, vendors, area merchants and craftspeople have put on this “you gotta see it to believe it” event.               

So this tradition - this formula - is maintained every year by customers, vendors, employees, merchants, artists, and friends, all ensuring that there’s “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 coffee farmers of San Gaspar Chajul.

That support, too, has expanded over 28 years, from the $385 in 1989 to between $8,000 and $10,000 the last several years.

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.