February 11, 2022

Coffee business donates profits to fight human trafficking

By Elizabeth Richards

Anthony McKeown of Windham has launched
Fight Coffee, which donates 100 percent of 
profits to nonprofit organizations working
to address human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a rapidly growing crime that impacts millions of people worldwide. Windham resident Anthony McKeown has joined the fight with his new business, Fight Coffee, which donates 100 percent of profits to nonprofit organizations working to address human trafficking.

McKeown launched in July after months of preparation and research. He had hoped to become a nonprofit organization but did not qualify under nonprofit rules. Instead, he has partnered with organizations nationwide, allowing customers to select local organizations to support. His goal is to have organizations in every state, he said.

Selling coffee to raise funds merged McKeown’s passion for good coffee with his desire to get involved. Once he learned how serious the human trafficking problem is, there was no question that he had to get involved, McKeown said.

His own traumatic history as an abused child had an impact as well.

“I remember as a child, I thought ‘I wish someone could come rescue me’ and nobody came,” McKeown said.

According to his research, only 1 percent of victims of human trafficking are rescued.

“How could I not do something? How could I know this is going on and not respond?” he said.

Human trafficking is a growing problem, even right here in Maine, McKeown said. He didn’t know initially that it was a source state for Boston and New York or how prevalent it was here, he said.

“I thought, as most people do, that it was more of an inner-city problem. That’s not the case,” McKeown said.

McKeown’s original vision was to have a cafe, donating the proceeds to help in the community. But opening a cafe is expensive, as are cafe carts, which was his next thought.

More research helped him scale down the plans and start with selling coffee online.  

“This was the cheapest and easiest way to get started,” he said.

The process is simple. Customers visit the website (www.fightcoffee.org), choose between a light Costa Rican roast or a medium-dark Peruvian roast, choose whole bean or ground, select an organization to support, and place an order.

McKeown, with the help of his wife and son, fulfills orders from his home. After an order is placed, he said, the coffee is shipped, or for local customers delivered, either the same day, or the following day.

Several local businesses are also partnering to sell Fight Coffee. Currently, it is available at Pure Grace Inspirations in Casco, Snickerdoodles Coffee Shop in Limington, The Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in Farmington, Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland and South Portland, and Windy Hill Farm & Market in Windham.

Tapping into the $100-plus billion coffee industry is a simple way to get involved, McKeown said. If people simply switch from whatever brand of coffee they had been previously drinking to Fight Coffee, they are making a difference. 

“I don’t know what’s easier than simply switching your coffee and now you’re drinking an enjoyable, responsibly sourced, delicious specialty grade coffee. How easy is that? That’s what I hope people will see,” he said.

The company officially launched in July, debt-free, allowing them to begin giving instantly. To date, they have given $500 to Maine organizations, $100 to organizations in New York, and $35 to organizations in Texas.

The immediate goal now is to have enough regular customers that they can continue to meet the minimum order from the roaster, which is 70 bags.

“If I don’t have enough orders to meet the minimum, I’m not going to succeed,” McKeown said.

He’s hoping that coffee drinkers in the community will “rally around the coffee table and help us get past that baseline number.”

McKeown has a fulltime job as a bus driver in RSU 14, and works to build Fight Coffee between runs, after work, and on weekends. He spreads the word on social media, with a goal to share real stories that allow people to really see where their money is going. The website details the mission, values, and other initiatives the company is undertaking.

For more information about Fight Coffee, visit the website www.fightcoffee.org, and follow them on You Tube, Facebook and Instagram. <

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