From San Diego to Kyiv: Seven Seas Foundation Lifts Up One Love

A veteran-owned coffee-roasting company from San Diego is raising funds to support One Love during the conflict in Ukraine.

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of One Love

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is already a year and a half old, and the tension in Ukraine is still very high. Every day, Ukrainian citizens have to go through difficult challenges to protect their freedom and safety. Despite the ongoing conflict, small businesses in the country have remained resilient and are continuing operations as smoothly as possible.

Today, we highlight the inspiring story of one such business in Kyiv: One Love, a specialty-coffee roaster with six coffee shop locations in Kyiv. One Love has been serving the community since the start of Russia’s invasion. Seven Seas Coffee Roasting, a veteran-owned coffee roaster from San Diego, has recently partnered with One Love to help keep its doors open. Read more for the story of the partnership and to find out how you can help!

Lunches are lined up on tables to be donated to hospitals, the military, and first responders.
One Love has been providing over 900 savory meals to hospitals, military, and first responders every day since the start of Russia’s invasion in Kyiv.

From Conflict to Community

When the Russian invasion began, many entrepreneurs were forced to go into survival mode, ensuring their staff’s safety and keeping their businesses running. This meant making tough decisions in order to stay afloat, such as reducing expenses and cutting back on production.

Eric Dobbs, the owner of Seven Seas, visited Kyiv in the fall of 2022 to deliver medical supplies and $10,000 raised by his company to Volodymyr Zadiraka, the founder of One Love. What he saw there inspired him to start the Seven Seas Foundation to help support the café’s operations.

“Since day three of Russia’s invasion in Kyiv on February 25, 2022, One Love has been providing more than 900 savory meals to hospitals, military, and first responders every single day on their own resources. A year and a half later, they continue to provide over 900 meals daily and have not turned a single profit since the start of the war, struggle to pay their employees, and have exhausted all collateral merely to remain open during these desolate times,“ he says.

Three people pose together for a photo.
From left: Chef Marco Maestoso, Volodymyr Zadiraka, and Eric Dobbs. Marco, the Seven Seas executive chef, hosted a special dinner for the One Love Coffee team during their fall 2022 visit.

How You Can Help

Unfortunately, One Love is  at risk of closing their doors permanently this September. To keep One Love afloat, Seven Seas Foundation is looking to raise $75,000, and thus is actively seeking sponsorship and funding partnerships from supportive organizations, businesses, and individuals.

Donations are tax deductible and will go toward covering the café’s operating costs, repairs and maintenance of equipment, facilitating employee salaries, bolstering essential supplies, and starting an SCA-certified school by Q Grader Sam Choi, who will visit Kyiv this September to provide training to One Love and the wider coffee community in Kyiv.

A view of inside a One Love coffee shop, with masked barista working in a corner.
One Love opened their first espresso bar in 2014, and the team has since been recognized for their excellence through multiple awards and nominations.

Standing Strong in the Face of Conflict

We reached out to Volodymyr of One Love to understand how their business has been impacted by the conflict. He shares that the biggest challenge they have faced is a critical increase in accounts payable, such as large debts to product suppliers and landlords. What’s more, many of their dedicated customers have moved away from Kyiv or even abroad due to safety concerns.

“Large debts to product suppliers, landlords, and the inability to pay salary to employees on time—these are the difficulties that we face even nowadays. Many of our passionate, regular guests moved to safer places, to western Ukraine or abroad. There are many migrants from eastern Ukraine in Kyiv now, but they have no idea who One Love is, and that has caused a need to revamp our brand and be more active on social media,” he explains. 

Volodymyr shares his vision for restoring hope and unity within the Ukrainian community. He emphasizes that the most important things for One Love now are the safety of the team, unity amongst Ukrainians, and keeping the business running. “Only when people feel confident in their safety will they start to return, ushering in a new era of tourism and providing much needed respite for businesses,” he adds.

A stack of food and provisions are lined up against a wall: rice, canned goods, produce, etc.
To this day, One Love is providing essential supplies amidst conflict.

What’s At Stake

Eric of Seven Seas says the closure of One Love would have profound consequences, not just depriving 900 first responders and military personnel of food and coffee, but also depriving families and the community of a haven where they can truly connect.

“One Love continues to keep their doors open to create a sacred place of love, joy, and connection—values that are near nonexistent because of the relentless war,” Eric says. ”They host community gatherings, chess tournaments, and music events to inspire hope and sustain a sense of freedom, even though their freedom has been completely taken away.”

It is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people that One Love continues to stay open despite all odds. At times like this, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the challenges faced in Ukraine. We hope to inspire our readers to take action and support businesses such as One Love that are making an impact on their community every day. If you would like to support One Love with the help of Seven Seas Foundation, please visit their official website or reach out via email at info@sevenseasfoundation.org.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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