Cup of Joe for a Joe

Headquartered in a non-descript office park in San Rafael, a small, but dedicated cadre of 12 employees run a sweeping international coffee operation that spans over 10 countries and touches lives daily. Ever heard of Green Beans Coffee?

While there are a few Green Beans Coffee Cafes in the U.S. (including at SFO’s Terminal One) you aren’t likely to see a Green Beans barista unless you are working or living on a US military base in Afghanistan or Iraq or some other overseas American military outpost. That being said, you can still buy a cup of their “Joe” …and for only $2. You won’t get to sip it, but it will be delivered to a soldier overseas with your personal email message.

It’s really easy. Go to their website, buy a cup of coffee for $2; jot a quick email thank you or note of encouragement. Both will be randomly delivered to a soldier who will pick up their freshly brewed coffee at a Green Beans café on their base. You won’t know who your Cup of Joe is going to unless you hear back from the recipient. If both of you agree, you can become “pen pals”. That being said, security and privacy are well monitored and both donors and recipients can remain anonymous if they wish.

Since the Green Beans “Cup of Joe” program was launched 10 years ago, nearly two million cups have been served; their Facebook page has 750,000 fans and followers. And — it has even spawned romance: my niece met her husband through the program! True story. He is no longer deployed, works at the Pentagon, they live outside Washington D.C. and have a one-year old daughter. Wedding guests all received a pound of Green Beans coffee. A caffeinated of sorts.

From coffee kiosk to worldwide network

The company founders, Jason and Jon Araghi, are Marin residents who grew up in Los Gatos and ended up working in Saudi Arabia. The expat brothers yearned for a good cup of American coffee and were thus inspired to start Green Beans Coffee, opening an American-style coffee café in Riyadh in 1997. The café was frequented by US military in the area which prompted them to open their first Green Beans Café at a nearby military base offering espresso drinks, pastries and smoothies.

They have been supporting deployed troops ever since, and regularly visit their foreign outposts, going where the soldiers go. Their enterprise has grown to include cafes at American military bases around the world.

In 2007, the company was awarded the Ernst & Young Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and lauded for their “corporate social responsibility”. They continue to donate a percentage of every sale to organizations that support our troops, Gold Star families and children, including The Snowball Express, which helps the children of soldiers who have died in active duty since 9/11.

“Too often our overseas military feel detached and forgotten,” said Jason Araghi. “They are far from home and loved ones, and due to the vagaries of politics, they aren’t always appreciated.” The Green Bean Cafes are an oasis for those serving our country – a “taste of home.

With Veteran’s Day just around the corner, consider a random act of kindness. Buy a Cup of Joe, for a Joe. And while you’re on the website, make sure to read “letters from the troops”; the Cup of Joe program really does make a difference in the life of a U.S. soldier. joe