As coffee shops around the world celebrate Pride in June, Uncommon Coffee Roasters builds inclusion and diversity into their daily operations.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Uncommon Coffee Roasters
For Guy Darienzo, Pride isn’t simply a month of the year, but an entire philosophy tied into the way he runs his shop, Uncommon Coffee Roasters in Saugatuck, Mich. “Our company celebrates our LGBT roots all year long,” he shares of the café, bakery, and roastery, which has been open in Western Michigan since 1994. “As a certified LGBT Business Enterprise we think it is important for many reasons.” Uncommon, which has been an LGBT-certified business since 2009, has been colloquially known around town as the “local gay coffee shop” since it opened, embracing the title and providing a safe space for the local queer community.
Although the company celebrates its queer roots all throughout the year, Uncommon Coffee Roasters will be celebrating this year’s Pride by engaging with the local community and releasing a limited-edition blend for the month of June. “Each year Uncommon Coffee Roasters (UCR) celebrates by participating in local Pride events in Holland, Michigan, and sometimes in Chicago as well,” shares Angie Smith, marketing specialist for UCR. “In 2017 we introduced the Pride Blend to celebrate Pride month. With this blend launch, we donated $1 of each bag sold to Holland Michigan’s LGBTQ Resource Center, Out on the Lakeshore. This year, we will donate $1 of each bag sold to the OutCenter of Southwest Michigan in Benton Harbor,” she says.
While Pride continues to be an important time to raise awareness and celebrate marginalized communities, Guy is cognizant of how much work still needs to be done. “Being out since 1977, I have seen many positive changes for LGBT people. However, many people believe that because marriage equality is now the law, LBGT people are now treated and protected as equals in the U.S.,” he shares. “But this is not the case in many states and countries around the world.”
In fact, Guy notes that laws against the queer community are becoming more restrictive in the last few months. “In fact, there have been many anti-LGBT bills introduced in the majority of our states in 2017,” he shares. “Surveys show that Americans today are less accepting of LGBT people than they were in years past.”
This is why spaces like UCR are fundamentally important, and why Guy imbues the values of acceptance and inclusion throughout his business—from UCR’s website to the packaging of UCR’s cold-brew cartons, which can be found in grocery stores across the East Coast, Florida, and the Midwest. “On each carton, we have listed that we are an NGLCC-certified LGBT business.” The NGLCC, or the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, is a collection of queer business owners who promote growth for certified businesses and increase opportunities for the LGBT community through mentorship and grants.