SPOKANE, Wash. — The perfect blend of coffee involves a lot of qualities and what’s being roasted at Hutton Settlement includes hope.
Three teenagers at the children’s home created a coffee roasting business with three different flavors. They are now selling subscriptions to support programming for themselves and other students.
“So this is a coffee roasting operation run by a youth team that’s been highly trained by people who are experts in the field,” said David Milliken, Hutton Settlement’s Campus Director.
There’s no coffee break inside a cottage on Hutton Settlement campus in Spokane. Students are hard at work, roasting three different types of coffee. Parker, Kale and Roxy are the geniuses behind the operation and business.
“Hope Neighborhood Roasters is about empowering the Hutton kids here and also the community we serve,” Parker said.
‘HOPE’ stands for Hutton Opportunities for Professional Exploration. It’s one of the many opportunities and experiences students can be a part of at Hutton Settlement, which is a group home for children in need of long-term care.
None of them are at the children’s home by any fault of their own. Many deal with a variety of different crises, including abuse, neglect, adoption or foster care.
“Before this, I would get into trouble a lot, like every other high school kid and I didn’t really have a passion and this came up with a passion for me and gave me a drive to do something in the world,” Parker explained.
They might be teenagers, but don’t underestimate what they can whip up. They’ve worked with international farmers and industry experts like Steve Diedrich with Diedrich Roasters to learn about sensory skills, flavor profiles, roasting effectively and how to run a business.
“After we roast it, we’ll taste it, and after we taste it and it’s a good quality, we bag it and ship it or people come to our drop off stations,” Kale explained.
Over the last six months, the students created the business and are now selling subscriptions and bags of coffee at local farmers markets.
“They’re not getting mediocre coffee, they’re getting some of the best coffee they can get and certainly the freshest coffee they can get,” Milliken said.
The students also learn about the origins of where the coffee comes from, farming practices and financial sustainability.
“I joined to start off with, thinking it would be like ‘oh we just roast coffee and we sell it and can make a little bit of money, but you actually learn there’s a lot that goes into the science and math and all that,” Roxy said.
All proceeds go back to educational programming and more importantly, it helps shape their perspective on the world and changing their futures.
“You know, they come from histories of trauma and really unfortunate situations. They see the world when they come through our doors as often times threatening and unhealthy. They see themselves as bad and unworthy and they feel alone in that. So what we do over the years is give them experiences that they see the world has goodness,” Milliken said.
Anyone can roast coffee; it takes the right bean and a little science. But these students have the perfect ingredients you won’t find anywhere else: passion and a lot of hope.
“So after high school, I’m planning on going to Italy to study espressos over there and then going to Costa Rica and seeing how coffee beans grow,” Parker said.
If you would like to subscribe, the cost is $350 for a six-month subscription which includes four bags of coffee per month. To sign-up visit Hutton Settlement on their website or you can buy limited quantities at the Millwood Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays.