Monday, February 13, 2006

The Green Bean

This coffee shop is 2 doors down from the theatre and run by Sanctuary, the church Sarah and I are attending. Lisa and Hayden are great. They do a good work there.

Lisa Etter and Hayden Smith -- Serving up a Cup of Love
When interest, talent and drive align with resources, need and opportunity, the ensuing "click" is almost audible in its perfection.
Lisa Etter and Hayden Smith are two women in a small pool of blessed beings who have found their purpose in life. The pair met in Chicago while working as a janitor in a homeless shelter and an inner-city elementary school teacher, respectively. Both wanted to do something that involved building community, providing a forum for people to use their gifts and an opportunity for low-income women in transition to gain work experience. They found that all of these fit under the umbrella of a coffeehouse and proceeded to look for the right opportunity.
They heard about a group in Seattle called Sanctuary that had the space and funds to start a non-profit coffeehouse but no one to run it. The two factions joined together and "felt peace in linking arms," Lisa said.
So, at the ripe old age of 23, Lisa and Hayden told their parents that no, they didn't need to go to school and get more experience first.
"We were created to do this and this is what we're going to do," Lisa said.
Three years ago, she had a vision of a coffeehouse and drew a picture of it, right down to the charming mismatched furniture, the vintage chandeliers and the tip jar that now sits prominently on the counter of the Green Bean Coffeehouse in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. The money from the tip jar, along with the rest of the profits from coffee sales, go to support community organizations like the North Seattle Boys and Girls Club and the Greenwood Senior Center, and to hosting community events like open mic night and children's story time.
Hayden loves children and is excited about the programs that "encourage people and children to know that they are wonderfully made, beautiful and loved," she said. "I love watching relationships build."
Lisa, an avid and natural outdoorswoman, leads summer backpacking trips for low-income youth. Her dream is to live out her life's passion and purpose "in a way that encourages full life living and opportunities for women no matter what their income status, circumstance or history," she said. "There is always a new beginning and always hope."
With that in mind, Lisa and Hayden will soon begin a barista training internship program for homeless youth and adults. They are also looking to buy a home in Greenwood to temporarily house women in transition until they can find a place of their own.
The name of the coffeehouse is indicative of its mission.
"When coffee beans arrive from their country of origin, they are jade green in color," the Green Bean Web site states. "As they are roasted a transformation occurs which brings them to their full tasty potential and aroma. Just like the green bean itself, the Green Bean Coffeehouse will exist in order to promote positive transformation in the life of the Greenwood neighborhood and then globally by supporting people groups from parts of the world less fortunate than ours. It's our hope to exist as a community center coffeehouse, serving up a mean cup of coffee, a fantastically inviting atmosphere and programs that encourage and foster community and the individual."
While the main purpose is cultivating relationships in the community, the Green Bean's reach extends far beyond Greenwood. After only a few months of operation, Lisa and Hayden coordinated a benefit concert for Zimbabwe in September to help rebuild the recently demolished shantytowns and orphanages. Local musicians and artists lent their talents and Taproot Theatre hosted the event that raised almost $4,000.
Continuing its global outreach, the Green Bean also displays and sells handcrafted bags and jewelry from Amani Ya Juu, a women's refugee community in Kenya. Women from almost every tribe, tongue and nation in Africa have fled war and ethnic conflicts and come to Nairobi. At Amani Ya Juu these brave women, many from warring clans and countries, live together peacefully. They are taught to sew and to market their wares to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.
While all of these are noble missions, the Green Bean Coffeehouse wouldn't survive unless it was offering something of value. Rest assured, the coffee is superb, the small menu of baked goods, soups, sandwiches and quiche leave nothing to be desired, the atmosphere is inviting, and the service is more than friendly.
"They're always positive," said Dave Harris, an employee of Consolidated Carpets three doors down from the Green Bean and a frequent (read four or five times a day) customer. "Everyone who works behind the counter has a smile on their face. Everyone pretty much knows everyone. It's a warm atmosphere. It's relaxed. Lisa and Hayden make that atmosphere. I swear by that place. I don't go to any other coffee place. If I didn't like it I wouldn't go in there."
Green Bean Coffeehouse is located at 210 N 85th Street, Seattle, in the heart of Greenwood and two doors down from Taproot Theatre.
"You're going to buy a cup of coffee anyway," Lisa said. "Maybe drive our way so you can contribute to something."
For more information call (206) 706-4587 or visit

Originally appeared in the Journal Newspapers

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