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Coffee for Charity

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 24, 2007 2:57PM

2005_08_Bridgeport14.jpgLast weekend we were at Bridgeport Coffee House restocking on their "Stockyard" blend when we noticed a blend we hadn't seen before, "Ravenswood Roast." We asked owner Mike Pilkington when he started making blends honoring north side neighborhoods. "I'm not" was his answer. He then explained that the "Ravenswood Roast" was part of a new fundraising arm of his wholesale business.

The idea began in spring, when a customer came into the shop inquiring about having Bridgeport Coffee House provide beans for resale at a booth that her child's school was renting at a green market. Historically, when they've been offered similar opportunities, Pilkington and his staff provided the beans and brewing equipment. This time, however, the customer proposed that Bridgeport Coffee House develop a custom blend and a customized label specifically for the school, provided Pilkington with the artwork, placed an order for fifty one-pound bags, and sold them all. Since then, Bridgeport Coffee House has added two other schools in addition to Ravenswood Elementary School to his list, and has discussed the concept in depth with Karen Duncan, wife of Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. Pilkington says that the concept fits in with Bridgeport Coffee Company's environmental and community mission (Pilkington buys his beans at fair trade prices, roasts them personally, and sells them in biodegradable paper bags). Additionally, selling coffee to raise funds for schools is much healthier than selling candy bars. If the fundraising business grows, it may position Bridgeport Coffee House on the same level as Metropolis. Pilkington even mentioned that he's been in discussions with Whole Foods to carry his beans at their South Loop store.