Collective Community: The Global Collaboration Brewing at Loretta’s Coffee

Loretta and TK are what we call a “power couple”, a husband-and-wife entrepreneurial team from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Their young business, Loretta’s Coffee, is only five years old but is already dominating the coffee shop market in a town full of tourists who demand a good cup of joe to enjoy while they see the sites. The locals, too, have become loyal customers, making the roadside business a routine stop on their way into town each morning.

When you meet Loretta and TK, it’s obvious they complement each other well as partners in marriage and business. They dote on their three small children, the youngest of whom is often swaddled and carried on Loretta’s back as she works. A trained barista, Loretta is the heart of the business. Every cup she makes is carefully crafted with love and offered to her customers with a silent prayer for God’s blessing on the coffee as well as the customer. TK is not only the business manager but also creates their own special blends of coffee.

Having survived the downturn in business during the pandemic, TK and Loretta began dreaming about taking their business to the next level: roasting their own beans. It was a logical next step, but how in the world could they afford a roaster? And who would train them on how to operate it? Little did they know, as these questions kept swirling in their heads, that the answers–and a roaster–would be coming from the other side of the world.

As every coffee lover knows, one of coffee’s magical qualities is its ability to bring people together. Over the years, the MATTER team made Loretta’s Coffee a regular stop when they were in town. It didn’t take long for friendships to blossom. Upon learning of their desire for a roaster, MATTER team members Trevor Elrod and Judy Timmons, who formerly worked in the coffee business, put out a call to their friends for help.

First to step up was longtime MATTER partner Steve Brehm of Berry Coffee. His generous financial gift made it possible to purchase a beautiful roaster from Mill City Roasters in Minneapolis.

Others who generously donated equipment or consulted on the project include Espresso Services, Inc., Intermix Beverage, Peace Coffee, Tradition Capital Bank, coffee industry executive Brett Struwe, and Rustica owner, Greg Hoyt.

Once all the equipment was shipped and set to arrive in Victoria Falls, the call went out asking for help to install the roaster and train Loretta and TK on the art and science of roasting coffee beans. Jones Coffee of Minneapolis answered the call. Earlier this summer, owner Anthony, his dad and marketing director, Tony Jones, and their chief roaster, Josh Nelson, boarded a plane in Minnesota for their first trip to Africa.

Though they weren’t sure exactly what they were getting into, they were eager to make connections and help Loretta and TK grow their business. “We’re the kind of people that prioritize our faith,” explained Anthony. “If something feels like it’s the path we’re supposed to take, then we step into it with faith. So that’s what we did here and it’s pretty wild how it all worked out. It was a bit of a sacrifice, but I know it blessed us even more than we were able to bless them.”

With their dream of roasting their own coffee beans now realized through the power of collective community, Loretta and TK are envisioning new dreams for their business. “The initial plan is to have first batches of coffee be sold and brewed at the different Loretta Coffee outlets that we have in town,” explained TK. “Eventually, we’ll sell to the different boutique lodges and hotels that are in town.”

From there, they want to branch out across Zimbabwe and eventually to other countries. “We want to increase the sales and we feel we can do it internationally because I think we can have an international standard of coffee that competes with what they do in other countries.”

For those who helped this small business take a giant leap forward, it was just another example of the power of coffee to bring people together. “Usually the coffee industry tends to be a little siloed and secretive,” said Anthony. “But what was cool about this project is how many local coffee businesses got involved, from funding for the roaster to donating equipment. No one person could have done it alone. It was a collective community that came together to support this business.”

“Collective community” is what MATTER is all about. You can learn more about this amazing project and others at YOU MATTER FEST on September 17. Go here to learn more and make plans now to attend this free event! 

Watch this interview of Loretta and TK as they talk about their coffee business.