Drinking Joe Coffee in Union Square, Pondering the Bona Fides of Walking the Talk

I love NYC during the holiday season. Crisp air, leaves with residual hints of red and yellow, holiday bazaars, ambient street music, and plenty of plein-air noshing and coffee-drinking.

Last week, my friend and I took our kids to the playground near Union Square and at one point, I ducked out for coffee. I was determined to try a new place (at least new for me).

Joe Coffee at 16th St. off of Union Square pulled me in with its powder-blue branding and no-nonsense name. Joe Coffee was started in 2003 by Jonathan Rubinstein, with the goal of producing high-quality, amazing-tasting coffee served with “warm hospitality.” There are now 22 locations throughout the city.

The coffee was amazing. But I wanted to know more. Sometimes you listen to a company’s spiel about sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, and fair trade, and you realize it’s largely performative. There is a lot of virtue-signaling in the coffee industry. I wanted to know where Joe Coffee stood.

Discovering JNP Coffee from Burundi

The Joe Coffee blog revealed a lot about this company---mainly that they walk the talk.

Jeanine Niyonzima Aroian

One of their suppliers is a Burundi-based company, JNP Coffee, founded in 2010, which exclusively represents female coffee farmers and is owned by Jeanine Niyonzima Aroian. Jeanine is an international businesswoman, who immigrated from Burundi to the U.S. when she was young and wanted to give back. She started Burundi Friends International in 2008, which provides English-language classes, libraries, and scholarships for children in every province of Burundi.

It was during this time that Jeanine learned about the coffee industry. Jeanine connected with the Joe Coffee team at the New York Coffee Festival in 2019, and her gender equity work resonated deeply with them. The rest is history. JNP coffees are part of Joe Coffee’s Atlas Collection.

Learn more about Joe Coffee here.



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