Know the memes you see about surviving on coffee and sarcasm? I’m pretty sure they were dreamed up by a military member.
It seems as though everyone is service is running on coffee (or energy drinks). And given that passion for java, it is no surprise that often once their service is over, veterans want to keep that coffee running through their veins. If you’re one of those people that cannot live without their morning, afternoon and evening coffee, why not try out one of these three amazing veteran-owned coffee companies? You’d not only be supporting a great veteran-owned small business, you’d be supporting a business that aims to help those in the military community that helped shape them.
Previously known as Lock-n-Load Java, Alpha Coffee has been around since September of 2010. The company was founded by Carl and Lori Churchill. Carl is former Army. While enlisted, he won an ROTC scholarship, was able to earn not one, but two undergraduate degrees and then commission as an Army officer. After his time in uniform was over, he used his GI Bill to complete his MBA. His wife, Lori, helped him found the business and their children have been working for them since they were teenagers. His son is also currently in the Army National Guard and serving a tour overseas. A military family through and through, they strive to ensure their company is doing good for the community they come from.
One of the things that makes Alpha Coffee stand out to me is their focus on giving back to programs that focus on military and veteran education opportunities. As a teacher, I love seeing companies want to help anyone advance their education. Alpha Coffee specifically uses part of their give back program to support the Tillman Military Scholars Program. They host and organize the local Tillman Honor Run in Salt Lake City in conjunction with the local ASU Alumni group and have grown the run from a dozen participants 3 years ago to hundreds of participants including a large contingent from the local veteran community. Covid caused a pause this year, but they are more committed than ever to our goal of breaking 500 participants and adding a significant donation from Alpha to the total. All the funds help support the Pat Tillman Foundation which runs this program.
Alpha Coffee is also proud to talk about how they are helping the military community in general. They support not only the education programs, but dedicate 1% of total revenues to other outstanding military charities. As of print time, they have donated over 18,000 bags of their 100% Arabica small batch coffee to deployed troops.
What started as a small business created by Carl and Lori now has over 28 employees and is making waves in the coffee world. Alpha Coffee can be found on Amazon Prime as well as in a number of veteran-owned coffee shops and retailers across the country as well as in their own coffee shops in Utah.
Got Your Six is a phrase military and first responders know well. And it is one that Eric Hadley, founder of Got Your Six Coffee Co. is passionate about. Initially, Eric was looking to create the GY6 Foundation as a nonprofit geared towards helping reduce the veteran homeless and suicide rates. However, he realized quickly that the finances required to make that work were not within in grasp quite yet. Instead of scrapping his whole idea, he went back to the drawing board, thought about how much time he, and other deployed troops, spend in coffee shops trying to find strong enough wi-fi to reach home for a brief call, and realized that there might be a business there. In his own words “That’s when Got Your Six Coffee Co. was born. I saw that, through a cup of coffee, I could make a difference in this country and I intend to do just that.”
Like many veteran-owned companies, GY6 strives to give back to those in uniform. I asked Eric why it was so important that GY6 is transparent with their customers about where their money is going and his answer made me want to buy a bag of coffee right away.
“Have you ever had a friend where during that friendship you found out that their moral compass or value structure was different than yours? I have had “friend’s” companies that I supported in the past who have disappointed me when I found out what they stand for. Companies that secretly support organizations or ideas that I don’t agree with are companies that I do not want to support. At GY6CC we are not hiding. We stand for those who don a uniform of service for our great country and we want it to be known that we have their backs. We want people to see our passion, our commitment, our drive, and our desire to serve those who serve. They have our backs 24/7 – 365 days of the year. Now it’s time for us to have theirs.”
Of course, just knowing how a company supports the military community might not be enough to convince you that you need to try them out. You might want to know about their coffee as well. GY6 is roasted fresh to order so that it gets to you with the most flavor possible. Their coffee comes with a born on date rather than a best by date to let you know exactly how fresh it is. For someone that loves black coffee like me, it is so full of flavor and tastes great without any cream or sugar added.
GY6 Coffee Co. aims to use coffee “as a catalyst to brew better days for our country, we fuel your adventures and support those who serve our communities.” Their coffee can be found on their website. And for those of you looking to include more veteran-owned coffees in your own small coffee shops, they do wholesale as well!
I won’t say that I have a favorite veteran-owned coffee to drink, but I do have a favorite in my local area. Pale Horse Coffee in Chesapeake, Virginia needs to be on the go-to list for any Hampton Roads readers. Their location is the perfect mix of industrial warehouse and comfy coffee spot. Walking in, the smell of freshly air-roasted coffee is intoxicating for any coffee lover. They roast their premium beans in small batches perfect for home coffee drinkers and wholesalers alike.
Pale Horse Coffee is owned by three retired military veterans who have over 70 years combined time in service. Like most members of the military, they found their days fueled by coffee. Don Wingard, the founder, said that during his time in service he made a point of visiting local coffee shops across the world while deployed. His passion for coffee was found there and it led to the creation of Pale Horse.
The trend of giving back to the community that the founders came from, Pale Horse currently works with nine non-profit organizations through their sales and fundraising. They aim to help organizations that focus on veteran care, first responders and animal welfare. And during non-Covid times, they host several events at their roastery to raise awareness and funds for local foundations and causes.
If you’re not in Hampton Roads and are still dying to try out Pale Horse Coffee, you can shop for their light, medium, medium/dark and dark roasts as well as flavored coffee, apparel, drink ware and accessories on their website. I have to say, their logo is one I quite love.