If you’ve had coffee today, I would bet you haven’t thought about where that coffee came from, or who grew it. Zion Coffee Co. in Peoria is trying to use coffee to support developing countries that grow it. Zion Coffee Bar has been on the corner of Oak and Adams in Peoria since 2017. But Mike and Banu Hatfield started the business in 2013 selling coffee to support small farms in South America. “When we started this business our heart was for the farmers,” explained Mike Hatfield. He said, “Our whole mission is to advance the lives of small coffee farmers and their surrounding communities.”
Some of those communities are in Guatemala. Mike and Banu recently took a team of ten people from Peoria to Guatemala to see the coffee growing operations for themselves. Banu said 90% of the world’s coffee is grown in developing countries, but those farmers only see about 10% of the profits. Zion works with small family farms that grow high quality coffee, often harvesting by hand and doing all the work manually. “The farmers that we work with are on more challenged plots of land. On the side of a mountain, you can’t get there with a piece of equipment. You’re parking your truck if you can get your truck close. And then you’re walking a mile or so up the side of the mountain,” explained Mike Hatfield.
Savannah Hattan runs the cafe at Zion and had the chance to see the coffee farm in Guatemala for herself. “It was really incredible and really humbling to watch what these people go through every day to make sure that we have the best beans for every sip that we take of just our daily coffee,” she said.
Jeffery Noble also joined the Hatfield’s on their trip to Guatemala. He admires Zion and the mission that they have. “They do it because they love it and they love the community aspect of it,” added Noble.
Moving forward, Zion plans for expansion. They want to continue to roast and serve excellent coffee, but also want to make customers more aware of their mission. “Our goal moving forward is to connect with the folks that come in here about the other side of the cup,” explained Mike Hatfield. Banu Hatfield added, “We know that as we continue to grow, the impact we have on farmers is that much stronger.” They plan on opening a second location very soon. Mike also said he would like to expand out of Central Illinois within the next couple years, opening a new unique shop every year.
In addition to sourcing coffee from small family farms, Zion uses local Central Illinois farms for produce. They also try to get dairy, alcohol, and other supplies for local businesses.