Why Mt Atkinson is on a mission
When Jacob Parsons bought a coffee cart on a whim in 2007, he had no experience running a business. He didn't even know how to make a good cup of coffee. Thirteen years later, that whim has developed into premium West Auckland coffee brand Mt Atkinson, supplying a perfectly roasted range of beans to homes, cafes, Brunch Box and film sets from their roastery in New Lynn.
But there's more to Parsons than just coffee expertise.
Mt Atkinson has a direct trade partnership with Gorilla Summit Coffee, which works with 2000 coffee growers in West Uganda. This means farmers are given a fair price for their product, and profits are used to invest back into their community.
This is a step over and above fair trade, and it has helped to save lives. In Uganda, there is just one doctor per 150,000 people, which means women are 48 times more likely to die during childbirth.
Gorilla Summit Coffee has set up maternity clinics in remote areas to provide better support for pregnant women and new mothers. They've funded solar panel installation on the roof of homes, because 99 per cent of families there have no access to electricity.
"The kids get home from school and go out to help in garden. Then they eat around the fire and go to bed when the daylight is gone," says Jacob. "The cool measurable of the solar panels, that we'll hopefully see in 10-15 years time, is kid's horizons are broader. There might be someone who is super talented at engineering, but they are never going to be building bridges or dams and doing what is needed, without getting deeper into their study at night.
"That's where you get the leverage on exploring your dreams."
Mt Atkinson's New Lynn roastery is a long way from East Africa. Green beans are shipped by the tonne to New Zealand and stored until they are ready to be roasted. Each sack of beans is roasted as single origin and then blended to create the perfect harmony of flavour.
The West meets West partnership has been transformational, not just for the Ugandan coffee growers, but also for Jacob and his team. As he says, "It gives us a mission. It makes coming in early to sticker our coffee worth it."
Knowing that your morning coffee fix is helping you AND people who live many thousands of kilometers away is a pretty excellent start to your day.