Asheville’s Vortex Doughnuts Raises Money for Ethiopia School Project Through Chain Collaborative Effort

In a groundbreaking group effort between the Nicaragua-based nonprofit The Chain Collaborative, Asheville, N.C.’s Vortex Donuts, Amsterdam’s Trabocca, and the Ethiopian farm Suke Quto, money is being raised for a desperately needed school


Collaboration is at the root of a lot of great things happening in coffee today. But so is self-starting and trying to manage a million things at once. The Chain Collaborative’s board president, Benjamin Myers, embodies the kind of go-getting spirit that never sleeps. By the time he was introduced to The Chain, he had authored an article about collaboration for Roast Magazine in 2014, had started two businesses out of Asheville, N.C. ”a coffee company (1000 Faces) and a doughnut shop (Vortex Doughnuts) ”had visited numerous coffee-growing regions, and was still looking for further ways to be involved. He reached out to The Chain Collaborative wanting to hear more, and since then, has continued to travel around the world, only now getting to put the word out and visit with projects he can start advocating for. Most recently, he sparked a collaboration between The Chain Collaborative, Vortex Doughnuts, Trabocca, and Suke Quto Farm  in Ethiopia.

Executive director of The Chain Collaborative, Nora Burkey, says her favorite part of the partnership is the creativity. œA year ago, we created the coffee residency. That was our idea for individual storefronts to raise money, but it was also intended for those shops to take ownership, make the campaign their own, and figure out what fit best for them,” says Nora. “Vortex has done just that, and frankly has blown me away with their creativity.  Vortex changed the name from residency to collaboration, chose to launch just around the holidays, and developed an idea so intuitively coffee-centric it should make everyone else downright jealous. They’re creating a donation-only slow bar, offering pour over coffee from the farm, Suke Quto, that will benefit from the collaboration and proceeds. It might be too incredible for words, but we’ll give it a shot.

Vortex Doughnuts serves 1000 Faces Coffee, which sources from, among other all-star producers, Suke Quto Farm. Trabocca, which imports the coffee for 1000 Faces, has launched an initiative to begin a school project at Suke Quto. The current school is in such bad condition that simply repairing it is not a viable option. Trabocca plans to help Suke Quto build 16 classrooms in total over the next three years to accommodate the over 900 primary students that are waiting to attend school. Right now, the classrooms are in such poor condition that the student to classroom ratio is learning prohibitive.

Asheville's Vortex Doughnuts Raises Money for Ethiopia School Project Through Chain Collaborative Effort
Three times every week, Vortex Doughnuts in Asheville, N.C., hosts a pop-up slow bar where all coffee served is from the Ethiopian farm Suke Quto, and all money is donated to the collaborative school project.

In choosing an initiative to support, Benjamin says it was a no-brainer fro Vortex. The doughnut shop wants to first to highlight the coffee that comes from this partner farm as well as discuss the social project that will support the community. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the  shop will host  a donation-only slow-bar from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The timing will make it so that Vortex won’t disrupt the regular flow of coffee traffic, and will be able to staff the slow bar and have enough time to talk to customers about the project. While the Suke Quto coffee is being brewed, Vortex baristas will highlight their collaboration for education, the farm’s amazing coffee, and the work of The Chain Collaborative in bringing everyone together.

Asheville's Vortex Doughnuts Raises Money for Ethiopia School Project Through Chain Collaborative Effort
The relaxed nature of the slow bar gives the baristas time to tell customers about the project to fund a school in Ethiopia through the partnership between Vortex Doughnuts, Trabocca, Suke Quto, and The Chain Collaborative.

This opportunity for extended conversation will give Vortex a real chance to highlight everyone’s involvement, give customers an even better sense of where their coffee comes from, and show the rest of the coffee world just what collaboration and creativity is all about just. Additionally, Vortex will be donating $1 of every bag of Suke Quto coffee sold towards the collaboration and the building of the school. Baristas will also be explaining and brewing two different processes, washed and pulp natural.

œThis is exactly what we envisioned when we founded The Chain Collaborative,  Nora says. œPeople loving coffee, continuing to create and invent, and doing it in collaboration with us and producers. I am simply amazed at what continues to be possible. 

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