How we began our journey.
Learn about the Go.Love.Coffee. story
It was early September 2005 when the idea was first conceived, in a dining tent for victims of Hurricane Katrina in Waveland/Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and for the volunteers who came from across the US to help them. A young pastor from Anderson, Indiana named Matt Conner told Steve North about a coffee roasting operation that had been used by a church in Muncie to fund an internship program about 15 years earlier. North had been envisioning and writing about a future shift back to an old model for engaging communities and people for about 9 months, and when he heard the story a light came on and filed the idea away as the primary social enterprise that would provide financial sustainability for what would a year later become LifeLine Toledo. Toledo hadn’t even been considered as a landing point yet.
The idea was to use enterprise from within the organization to make a way of sustainability that breaks the mold of what has become the “nonprofit industrial complex,” by participation of the members of the community through work. While it is an uncommon idea for this time in history, it goes points backward to an older way of thinking about funding such work. It’s a monastic way of sustainability; a “tentmaking” way.
North moved to Toledo in the summer of 2006, with his wife and 3 children, without a job or a place to live, to try to create something he wasn’t sure would work, with people he didn’t know how to meet. They lived in a borrowed house for awhile, and LifeLine began unfunded and almost unnoticed. Over the next 13 years LifeLine became real, and its ideals and ideas took shape in genuine engagement with the disconnected and disenfranchised in Toledo and elsewhere. Its reach grew, and it achieved a kind of sustainability resulting from the safe places it provided for so many. However, financial sustainability in any stable form remained out of reach, despite the fact that coffee roasting remained on the organization’s visionary radar.
In the last quarter of 2018, Steve North began to sense some urgency rising related to starting the coffee roastery during 2019, and he began shopping and investigating. Three weeks after speaking at a conference in another part of Ohio in early March, North was contacted by someone who had attended, asking if LifeLine had a specific project that was awaiting funding. About a week later, having made a trip to Indianapolis, having obtained the advice of two people with expertise in the industry, having gained the passionate interest of a LifeLine person who dove into the art and science of coffee roasting, and having put together a proposal and narrative for the prospective donor couple, North received word that the donor had decided to fund the effort above and beyond the request. Go.Love.Coffee. Roasting Company began to take shape: the most important basic equipment was purchased, Mandy Fisher worked very hard and succeeded in developing roasts that were universally acclaimed delicious, and there was an initial limited introduction just 10 weeks later.
Since that time space was acquired thanks to the generous partnership of Monroe Street UMC in Toledo, renovations of the space took place primarily through generous and passionate volunteers, a few roasts were perfected, and the coffee was launched on a little bit wider basis. Additional generous donors funded the purchase of a special ventilation system and other needed equipment. Annelise Clifton was hired as the new Master Coffee Roaster at the end of January 2020, and Go.Love.Coffee. Roasting Company began its real-life work of sustaining the ministries and community advocacy of LifeLine Toledo a mere 14 years after it was first conceived.
Go.Love. Coffee. exists to generate funding for the work and ministries of LifeLine Toledo, using ethical practices in sourcing and production, fostering missional partnerships and other relationships with a high degree of mutuality, and producing high quality craft coffee products. We’re working to help reconnect our often disconnected world, one ethical cup at a time.