Church serving up hot coffee and helping small coffee growers

First Presbyterian Church of Carson City is now serving (after Sunday service) and selling coffee through Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade Organization.

Equal Exchange's Interfaith Program connects the small farmers in communities of Latin America, Africa and Asia with those in the United States by offering a fair price on coffee to congregations, and affordable credit and supporting sustainable agriculture to the farmers to build better lives for themselves and their families.

"We couldn't put it out fast enough," the Rev. Bruce Kochsmeier of First Presbyterian Church said of the coffee. "Everyone was buying it for Christmas presents."

"Coffee is the third sacrament in the Presbyterian Church. You have the Lord's Supper, baptism and coffee hour. It's Presbyterian plasma."

Kochsmeier said with the church purchasing the coffee from the Equal Exchange directly, they are eliminating the middle man and can sell it (at a profit of $1 per 12-ounce bag) without shipping fees. Proceeds go to the church's building fund.

"By purchasing it this way, it directly supports small growers around the world in a fashion that reflects the ministry of the church. We have a strong mission connection in Ethiopia. We've sent some of our own congregation to Ethiopia."

The coffee comes from farmers in Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Ethiopia, and comes in most any grind and flavor.

"We have Vienna roast, light roast, French roast, whole bean, ground, decaf - the full spectrum," Kochsmeier said.

Buyers can go to the Equal Exchange Web site at www.equalexchange.com/interfaith-program and click on "How to Order," or visit the Presbyterian church office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and purchase from them.

Kochsmeier said there are probably thousands of churches from all denominations nationwide participating in the program.

"The only things we've purchased are coffee and cocoa," he said. "We are doing what Jesus would do. The church lives out the gospel in fairness and reflecting just treatment."

The church office is at 306 W. Musser St., or call 882-1032.

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

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