Who We Are
Coffee Exchange is a family owned business that was established in Providence, RI in 1984. My parents, Mel & Rose Fishbein, supported me and my brother Bill in our innovative approach to small batch roasting in an intimate community setting more than a decade before the larger corporate coffee shops came to town. Determined to grow with our Fox Point neighborhood in Providence, we added something new to a community weaned on coffee milk, Dunkin' Donuts and Autocrat coffee by providing fresh roasted high quality coffee at fair prices. With our customers’ loyalty and our employees’ energy and professionalism, the shop on Wickenden Street derived a modicum of financial stability by 1988. This became the turning point - not only for the Fishbein family and Coffee Exchange - but for the American coffee industry.
This is when we tuned in to the third group of people who mattered to us - the coffee growers. We had always been aware of the customer’s place in our success, and how to make sure every customer felt s/he was treated like a king or a queen. As well, we were committed to nurturing and building special relationships with our employees. These remarkable young people represented our family in dealing with customers, and they were key to any success we were going to have.
As we learned more about coffee growing communities, we became more keenly aware of the struggle facing the coffee farming families who grew and harvested our coffee. We came to understand that until our coffee farming partners can derive a sustainable living from their hard work, our cup will be but half full. That struggle, finding a healthy balance for our employees and customers, for our family, but also for our partners, meant we will not be truly successful until we’ve made an impact with these family members “on the ground.”
Thus in 1988, given there were no organizations working exclusively on behalf of coffee farmers and their families, we started one: Coffee Kids was founded in part to help coffee farmers create alternatives to coffee as their sole source of income. For 20 years, Bill Fishbein was the founder and executive director of Coffee Kids which operated throughout Mexico, Central and South America.
Then, after resigning from Coffee Kids and receiving the Special Coffee Association of America's highest honor - the Lifetime Achievement Award, 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, one of the poorest coffee growing communities in the world.
For 30 years, Coffee Exchange has provided our local and extended neighborhoods with fresh roasted high-grown fair trade organic coffee. All of our green coffee purchases support environmental sustainability by promoting organic agricultural practices as well as honest wages and fair prices for farmers.
90% 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.
Through the life of our business, we have attempted to do the right thing by our family, our employees, and our (extended) community by passionately and responsibly maintaining the highest standards of quality, taste and service.Charlie Fishbein
President & CXO