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Meet Cody Lorance and Gloria Katusiime of Endiro Coffee in Aurora

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cody Lorance and Gloria Katusiime.

Cody and Gloria, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Endiro Coffee was founded in 2011 as a local coffee shop in Kampala, Uganda with the single aim of generating revenue to support a few small projects dedicated to helping vulnerable children. As the business grew, the vision and mission of Endiro likewise expanded. We discovered that at every point of the coffee value chain was an opportunity to work for holistic transformation – we learned that our business could not only generate money for the sake of justice, but the business itself could be conducted in an intentionally transformative way. Coffee, we have come to believe, has massive potential to be used to bring positive change around the world and we are committed to seeing that potential realized through Endiro Coffee. By 2017, Endiro had grown to six café locations and a network of some 2,000 coffee farmers — most of whom are women — in Uganda. Our most recent adventure is the launching of Endiro Coffee in Aurora, Illinois — our first location outside of Africa.

We have then, two guiding principles which help us to understand what we are supposed to accomplish as a business dedicated to holistic transformation. First, we want Endiro to become a powerful financial engine for the sake of justice and development causes – that is, we want our business to make money. Second, we want to conduct business in a way that actually changes the world where we are. These two sides of the “business as transformation” coin, keep us in conversation, study and reflection to ensure that we not just make some money doing some positive things, but that we and our business truly fulfill our full potential.

Has it been a smooth road?
There are tons of challenges. For starters, neither of us had any kind of business background when Endiro started. Gloria had been a journalist and I a pastor. Beyond that, we were not coffee drinkers at the beginning. So, much of the most essential lessons of starting and running a business had to be learned on the way. And we had to learn to love coffee.

Two types of challenges seem to keep coming up again and again. First, being a company that originates from Uganda tends to make potential partners, investors, and other financial partners very skeptical. As progressive as we sometimes pretend to be in the West, we can’t seem to stop looking down our noses at Africa. This has made our expansion into the USA much more difficult that it probably needed to be.

The second area of challenge that we are constantly dealing with relates directly to our vision. We have made a commitment to do things differently and to have a company that exists to try to end child vulnerability. That means, for example, that we intentionally hire young people from difficult backgrounds. This certainly results in some beautiful success stories. However, there is a lot of heartbreak as well. When a troubled young woman or man cannot seem to understand how intrinsically valuable they are, it can be very painful to watch them continue in a self-destructive path. Similarly, on the farm side, we are doing something that is just very different than what others do. We spend time with farmers, we mentor them and equip them. We have genuine relationships and we pay them a lot more than anyone else does. This means our farmers produce much better coffee than anyone else in Uganda and that their lives are being dramatically changed. All this is truly beautiful. However, there are plenty of challenges. Years of being exploited means that we are always dealing with trust issues. Moreover, those exploitative forces are still present. Other coffee companies often try to deceive our farm groups and some farmers report that their crops are sometimes stolen.

The challenges are heavy and constant. But the cause is worthy. So we press on.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Endiro Coffee – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a tree-to-cup coffee company which specializes in producing specialty grade Ugandan coffee sourced at the village level. We process this coffee in Uganda and export it around the world as green and roasted coffee supply. We also run a small but growing chain of full-menu cafes in Uganda and now in the USA. Our coffee shops are unique in many ways including: (1) the emphasis on specialty Ugandan coffee sourced with the highest ethical standards in the industry, (2) full breakfast to dinner menus featuring Endiro’s signature “glocal food” style of cooking, (3) intentional spaces created to inspire people to caffeinate and collaborate for world change, (4) contextualized community engagement strategies designed to help promote positive social transformation in every city where we find ourselves.

Our vision is to be a company that partners with others to end child vulnerability globally and to advance justice, peace, liberty and dignity through the utilization of coffee and its related products, profits, services and spaces.

Kindly refer to our recently released report, “I am not poor but my head is poor” which gives a good picture of our unique approach to coffee growing and work amongst Ugandan farmers:
http://endirocoffee.tumblr.com/post/167465242504/i-am-not-poor-but-my-head-is-poor-a-2017-report

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
While our company was born in Kampala, Uganda, we are thrilled to be in Chicagoland’s beautiful downtown Aurora. This is an old city with great character and “good bones” that is beginning to emerge from a long slumber with a renaissance of new businesses and community initiatives. We love being a part of Aurora’s resurgence and love how easy it has been to get to know people in this city. Every day in our coffee shop we find people who live and work in Aurora and want to be a part of doing something great here — something that makes the city better and the world better. Our company motto is “Brewing Better Together” and we have found that Aurora is a wonderful place to see that fleshed out.

Pricing:

  • Coffees range from $2 to $5
  • Breakfast from $5 to $8.50
  • Lunch and dinner range from $5.50 to $10
  • Kids meals for $3.75
  • Signature juices $3.25 and smoothies $4.25 (all real fruit)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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