Andres Calderon spends his workdays poring over computer code, but after hours, this Baton Rouge-based software engineer focuses on coffee. Four years ago, Calderon began importing beans from his native El Salvador, roasting them in nearby New Orleans and shipping them to customers nationwide from his living room—all to help orphans.
Calderon started Giving Tree Coffee after a massive earthquake hit El Salvador in 2001. He flew down to volunteer at a church-run orphanage and found 35 homeless kids crammed into a small, run-down house. Calderon wanted to help these kids and others like them. An article in a Salvadoran newspaper about how the country was trying to revive its coffee industry sparked an idea. "El Salvador had been a leader in coffee production, but it had fallen off after years of civil war in the 1980s," recalls Calderon, 41. "I knew nothing about running a coffee company, but it’s one of the few things my country exports. Why not try to start one, and donate the profits [to help homeless children]?"
Since 2003, Giving Tree has granted about $10,000 annually to a San Salvador nonprofit that provides housing and care to homeless children. Donations have helped pay for new shower facilities, bunk beds, appliances, school supplies and food. "My goal is to eradicate the problem [of homeless Salvadoran children]," he says.
For more information, visit givingtreecoffee.com.
By Maggie Heyn Richardson