Written By Karrie Liang
In The Beginning of Belift Coffee
Between Jan-Mar 2019 Ivan and I conceptualized this idea of building out a business that could benefit people who are experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area, because unfortunately, it is a big issue here with youth making up 1/5 of that population. We were both involved in the same organization that was focused on building technology solutions serving the same population in San Francisco and from there we both wanted to do something more that could be a force of good.
At that time, I had been a coffee home roaster for a couple of years and jumped onboard when Ivan approached me with this idea of bringing Indonesian green coffee (raw coffee beans) through a nonprofit he was working with that was focused on empowering female farmer communities in Indonesia. Yes, and that was how coffee was involved since Day 1.
This idea carried out and brought us both on this journey of many days, mostly nights (one of us still keeping a day job) trying to figure out what exactly we were trying to build by first identifying our values, and made our promises that whatever we build out will reflect those values. Establishing that we could actually work together as a team was the first key to creating anything that will have a long term affect, a sustainable co-foundership.
What else happened last year?
From building out and testing with our MVP of the product by micro roasting in small-batches last Summer 2019 to now being officially a Public Benefit Corporation having our own designed & packaged line of coffee and learning a lot in between. As a PBC, Belift is intended to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner, balancing our obligations to serve the public as a for-profit social enterprise, so watch out for the Belift PBC charter coming out soon as it will entail our official promises to you.
In July 2019, we sat down with Bryn Vanalstyne, Director of Larkin Street Academy (education programs at Larkin Street Youth Services) to get a better understanding of what their biggest struggles were. We learned that even though the youth could the jobs they apply for, they struggled to retain their positions because they sometimes simply don’t show up and without giving notice to their boss.
So between August-September 2019 we built and ran a 6 weeks self-development training in the form of workshops at the Larkin Street Academy learning center. Since then, we were able to engage with 30 young adults through our facilitation of mental tool workshops of goal-setting, prioritization, capturing opportunities, and overall self-development & communication skills.
On November 16th we had one of our biggest, what we called “Coffee Meets Impact” event at The Crown Coffee Tasting Lab, where one of the youth, Shawn was there to help out in prepping/serving coffee/selling coffee beans. We had a blast meeting some of you that day!
(Shawn's first time smelling coffee and during the first day of training)
From there we held other several events at Boot Coffee, a coffee academy and at Fellow, a San Francisco based coffee gear products company.
(We were at Boot Coffee co-hosting an Indonesian Food & Coffee Cultural night) Boot Coffee is a coffee education center located in San Rafael, CA -- instructors Marcus Young and Willem Boot are experts in coffee sustainability and coffee roasting, if you ever want to get some lessons and learn more.
(At Fellow, guiding a coffee cupping session with our coffee for Bay Area locals & coffee drinkers.) Fellow has public cuppings every Sunday @ 1pm featuring roasters from around the world - be sure to swing by their storefront and playground in you're interested!
So what’s next?
We are looking forward to 2020 as the year of sustainability and resilience in humans and coffee. As we’re also launching out a new service we call KTO, Kitchen Take Over service popup style @ your office or wherever kitchen you want us to take over to have us serve you delicious natural processed Indonesian coffee, we hope you stick around to grow with us!
The new service, Kitchen Take Over, will allow us to employ more young people with the outcome to produce more independent young adults. So feel free to let us know if you want to bring us on to craft an experience for you!
If you prefer to brew your own coffee, of course our roasted beans are ready anytime, any day to keep you fueled-up. And if you’re truly DIY -- we also have green beans available for you roasters. Check out the green bean catalog.
Talk to you soon!
Special thanks to the following individuals who have been so instrumental to everything and being immensely supportive in bringing our vision to life. Thank you, Belifters,
Itan (Venezia) Hartanto
Simon D.I Soekarno
And of course YOU!