Origin Coffee & Tea
● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
At first glance, it’s easy to mistake Rocklin’s Origin Coffee & Tea for a standard suburban café.
The talented baristas and small-batch, fair-trade brews at this Sunset Boulevard hotspot indicate a business model based on supplying caffeinated pick-me-ups, but the staff’s true mission is anything but typical.
In 2009, Origin Church Founder Mark South began collaborating with Chad Salstrom to build a non-profit, “for benefit” coffee shop aimed at fighting sex trafficking, both locally and abroad. “The inspiration came from the conviction that the realities of sex trafficking in our world and in our neighborhoods need to change,” Salstrom explains. “That conviction turned to resolve to do something, which led to the vision of Origin Coffee.”
Although faced with obstacles, ranging from a lack of funding and experience to rising coffee bean prices, Salstrom and South successfully opened Origin’s doors in January 2011. To date, its entirely volunteer staff has raised an estimated $35,000 for sex trafficking-related rescue and recovery efforts, including International Justice Mission and The GRACE Network, through the sale of artfully crafted food, beverages and Sak Saum products—bags and accessories handmade by Cambodian women who have survived sexual bondage.
William Jessup University student and Origin volunteer Elise Richardson has been involved with the café since its inception and describes the community’s support of its mission as “astounding.” Of the more than 800 volunteer applications received in the past two years, 400 people from all walks of life have been trained not only as baristas, but to share the realities of sex trafficking with others. “Every person that volunteers becomes a storyteller,” she says. “The coffee shop invites the whole community to come around a cause, with the hope of one day ending it, by either volunteering their own time, using their talent, or simply buying a cup of coffee.”
Before volunteering at Origin, Michele Caballero says she was unaware of the extent to which sexual trafficking affects the Sacramento Valley. My Sister’s House, a Sacramento-based organization serving Asian and Pacific Islander women and children impacted by domestic violence, reports that Sacramento is one of the top cities targeted by the FBI for the trafficking of children. “Just looking at the relationships forged, we can see the community has been impacted greatly,” Caballero says. “People are worth knowing and people are worth rescuing. It is an awesome thing to be able to connect exploited youth with resources that can help rescue them.”
According to a fact sheet produced by International Justice Mission, there are nearly two million children involved in the commercial sex trade worldwide, a statistic Salstrom and his fellow volunteers hope to change in the coming years.
“All across our world children are being owned, used and tossed away as if their body was the only thing they had of value,” Salstrom says. “We exist to change that reality; through a greater movement of people much larger than us, we aim to greatly change the landscape of this issue over the course of the next 40 to 50 years.”
For more information, visit origincoffee.org.