Alumnus Starts TREEmendous CoffeeBy Paige McNinch g20 Published: May 26, 2020
Centuries ago, Haiti was the world’s largest coffee provider, making up around 40% of the world’s coffee consumption. However, that has dwindled to a tiny amount today due to a variety of factors, such as disease and natural disasters. Now, Darryl Brown g85 is hoping to help restore the nation’s coffee production to its former glory.
Growing up, Darryl’s parents were missionaries in Haiti. As he was raised in the country, he grew to love the culture and people. When Hurricane Matthew struck the nation in 2016, Darryl saw the devastation firsthand and knew he had to do something to help. Initially, this looked like raising funds to provide water filters for people in order to prevent the spread of cholera in the disaster-stricken country. However, when he heard of a disease known as Rust that was ravaging the coffee trees in the area, he had the idea to assist Haitians with their coffee-growing problems. Thus, TREEmendous Coffee was born.
Despite being a relatively new company, TREEmendous has already begun helping Haitian farmers. From local farmers, Darryl learned that if they only had plastic grow bags and watering cans, they would be able to get a start on growing new coffee after many were destroyed in the hurricane—but they lacked the money to acquire these. In response, Darryl and his team are raising money to provide these farmers with 200,000 grow bags and 25 watering cans, adding up to a needed total of $10,000.
In addition, TREEmendous sells coffee (of course!) to both wholesale and retail consumers. Not only this, but they also have private label options to provide customers with coffee from all over the world if they want to make their own brand. “If someone needs 3,000 pounds of coffee from Guatemala, I can have it to them in ten days,” Darryl says.
Throughout all of this, Darryl has been guided by an adapted Haitian proverb that says, “An empty sack has no ears,” meaning that people whose needs aren’t being met won’t be as willing to heed others’ words. “If you can’t sustain yourself, or you don’t have the means to stand up on your own, then why should you want to listen to what I have to say?” Darryl says. He comments that this can often become a problem in global ministry when Christians show up to preach without helping fulfill immediate needs. “What if our missionary strategy was to help specific communities to become self-sustaining and capable of generating jobs and able to start schools and open medical clinics, all on their own because of the help of a handful of foreign ‘missionaries?’ What doors would be opened to the Gospel?”
Because of this, Darryl strives to always “give a hand up, rather than a handout.” By coming alongside local coffee farmers and assisting them with their needs, TREEmendous is able to make a lasting impact on the Haitian community and economy. “I want to be able to affect every aspect of the coffee value chain for the benefit of some specific Haitian communities,” Darryl says. “It’s a long-term approach that begins below the foundation. I want to connect Americans with some of the most incredible coffee that they’ve had, in order to open a door of opportunity to impact those Haitian communities in a deeper and more lasting way.”
If you would like to support Darryl’s mission or get more information, visit www.treemendouscoffee.com. From there, you can purchase bags of coffee or donate to their projects.