It all started with my first Ethiopian coffee ceremony several years ago. I was working for Dilworth Coffee, and was asked to come to a local Ethiopian grocery, as they were looking to buy an espresso machine. I had no idea I'd be invited to be a part of partaking of the coffee ceremony, and the lunch afterwards, nor did I know it would change my life forever. I literally have never viewed coffee the same. That day was very much a spiritual experience for me, partaking in something that has been such an integral part of coffee's history since it's beginning, and something that is done even now daily in most Ethiopian homes.
I knew after that day that I wanted to share that experience with others who enjoyed coffee, so that could connect it's present with it's past, and experience just what I did. I organized my first Ethiopian Coffee and Culture event in Charlotte, and it was a huge success. I think we had close to 100 people at that event, and it was very cool. I had in mind I wanted to do it again at some point.
Fast forward to February of last year, and I led an African Coffee Tasting and Presentation, as part of the African Art & Religion exhibit at Emory University's Michael Carlos Museum. It was there I met a student there, Yemesrach Tadesse (or Yeme, as for short.) Yeme is originally from Ethiopia, and it was there that she initially told me about Action 4 Words, a cause she started to help build classrooms and provide textbooks in schools all over Ethiopia, mainly in coffee growing areas. She, herself, was helped by a program that helped kids gain better educations, and here she was, wanting to give back and provide so that many others would have the same opportunity. I was so inspired by her then, and wondered how I could help her.
So, I had an idea. I'd organize another Ethiopian Coffee and Culture event, this time, with all the money raised to go to Action 4 Words, and all the work Yeme and her team of "actors" are doing there. So, last night, we hosted it at Batdorf & Bronson Coffee's Atlanta Roastery, and included Ethiopian food, music, dance, a fashion show, and of course, coffee. The coffee was the delicious, new crop Yirgacheffe Kochere, donated by my friend Samuel Demisse of Keffa Coffee. There was a great turnout, and we also screened the amazingly powerful "Black Gold" documentary, which was followed up by a great Q&A session.
Action4Words' current project is building a school and library in rural Ethiopia, at a cost of $6000 needed. I am happy to say, that last night, we raised a little more than half needed to build the school, $3094! I said it today, and it really is true, that in life there are few moments where you really feel like you've changed your world, or made a real difference, last night was that night for me. Our world needs more "Yemes", needs more people to give back what they've been given in life, to hand it down, to help pull others up. Yeme has been a true inspiration to me, of how one young gal, a college student, can start something that can literally change the lives forever for so many in her home country of Ethiopia. I cannot wait to continue to work alongside Yeme in whatever way I can.
P.S. I introduced Yeme to Samuel on his recent visit to Atlanta, and they hit it off right away as friends, and Samuel has invited Yeme to join his booth in Portland at SCAA's Event, so you'll get to meet her!
Special thanks to my wife, April, who helped out so much; Sarah Bennett, and Tyler Carpenter, who drove from Nashville to help; Samuel Demisse for the awesome coffee; Yemesrach Tadesse and her amazing family for all their work; All the Action4Words "actors", and the supporters; and all the work Team Batdorf did to help prepare for the event, including roasting the coffee.