Good Grinds: Coffeehouses Serving Up Charity With Every Cup

By Yeti Oct 1, 2020
A great ski day starts with fresh powder—and that perfect cup o’ Joe.
Good Grinds: Coffeehouses Serving Up Charity With Every Cup

words by Jane Gendron

A great ski day starts with fresh powder—and that perfect cup o’ Joe. An added perk: roasters and cafés infusing a hearty dose of charity into their unique brews. Here are just a few ways Utah coffeehouses are sipping toward the common good.   


Subpar coffee should not be a standard issue of military service. So says veteran Carl Churchill and his wife, Lori, who have been sending bags of their coffee to troops around the world since they launched Alpha Coffee in 2010. Now, 17,500-and-counting bags of “Coffee for Troops” later, the Churchhills proudly display photos of happily caffeinated servicemen and women on the walls of their flagship location at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. “We wanted to honor the chain from seed to cup—and honor it further by giving back,” Carl says.   

The warmth at Lucky Ones Coffee comes from much more than the hard-working espresso machine. The baristas—all adults with disabilities—expertly craft espressos, chai teas and feel-good vibes at this sunny entrée to the Park City Library. The brainchild of two former National Ability Center staffers, Lucky Ones chips away at the 80 percent unemployment rate of this oft-underserved demographic. Drop in for a cuppa, and share the joy. 

Hugo Coffee Roasters owner Claudia McMullin keeps the message simple, “Drink coffee. Save dogs.” The self-declared “foster-failure” brands her brew with her rescued American Bulldog/hound’s face and name on everything from the popular Bonafido (medium-dark roast) to Dog Daze (cold brew). Eight percent of all Hugo Coffee bag sales go to animal rescue organizations, such as Nuzzles and Co., Best Friends Animals Sanctuary and Canines for a Cause. 

At Bjorn’s Brew, canines similarly rank a paw above the rest. In 2019, Bjorn’s donated $14,787 to a range of animal charities, such as Therapy Animals of Utah and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Plus, the shops serve up a dog-bone shaped ginger cookie (for humans) along with every drink; cookies for pups are also on hand if Fido visits with you.

To Kill a Mockingbird fans can tuck into a good book and a cause at Atticus. The cozy, Park City tea-and-coffeehouse donates one percent of its sales (a total of $55,000 and counting) to a different local nonprofit each month, like Wasatch Backcountry Rescue or Summit Community Gardens—and 100 percent of the proceeds from tea-based latté “Up in Smoke” goes to the local fire department.  

Like expertly roasted and brewed coffee, chocolate can be a nuanced experience for the taste buds. As Ritual Chocolate’s Anna Davies points out, “Most people haven’t had the opportunity to taste the full profile of chocolate.” 

Davies and her partner, Robbie Stout, moved their small-batch, bean-to-bar enterprise from Denver to Park City in 2015. Since then, their petite chocolate factory-café has delivered a unique—and actual—window into the craft: patrons could sip a cup of hot chocolate or nibble on one of their best-selling and slightly salty Fleur de sel bars (other varieties include the s’mores bar, the mid-mountain blend bar, a bourbon barrel-aged bar and many more) while watching the 10-step chocolate-making process unfold through a window into the on-site kitchen.