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Zoe Coffee Co. serves great coffee with...

Zoe Coffee Co. serves great coffee with a greater impact

By: Ann Marie Pate - January 18, 2023

Photo from Zoe Coffee Co. website.

The Cleveland, Mississippi-based coffee house is part of a ministry changing lives in Kenya.

Small towns are known for being full of warmth and hospitality, especially when one of their own is in need. But in Cleveland, Mississippi, local coffee patrons are serving needs over 8000 miles and an ocean away.

Zoe Coffee Co., nestled between the shops in historic downtown Cleveland, is a mission-focused coffee house. Profits from its sales go directly to their partners at Zoe Ministries, where they help to bring clean drinking water to the people of Kenya. Since its start in June of 2020, thousands of patrons have had a direct impact on the abilities of Zoe Ministries to continue providing water to Kenyans in need.

This story doesn’t begin or end with a coffee shop, however. When the founder of Zoe ministries, Taylor Summers, completed college, he had dreams of being able to provide opportunities for orphaned children in Kenya. Summers had spent time volunteering in rural Kenya and knew that the need was great. Today, more than 3 million Kenyan children are orphaned or vulnerable. 

Summers felt that God was leading him to start an organization to help. In founding the ministry in 2017, the words from John 10:10 resonated with him as Jesus said, “I have come that they may have LIFE and have it to the full.” The Greek word for life is “Zoe” and from that, Zoe Ministries was born. The ministry was able to purchase 5 acres of land outside of Kitale, Kenya where they began building a home for children.

In January of 2018, the first children were brought to Zoe. The children were able to receive education, healthcare, Christian counseling, and the love of a true family. Since then, Zoe has built 5 more houses, hired 5 more sets of married Kenyan houseparents, and rescued nearly 50 vulnerable children. Other additions on site include a home for abandoned babies and a community church for weekly worship services.

The focus of Zoe has expanded beyond the original goals. In January 2020, Zoe purchased 4 additional acres of land specifically designated for community enhancement. Digging clean water wells, building widow homes, introducing farming/greenhouse initiatives, facilitating job training and establishing education partnerships are all part of Zoe Ministries’ scope of community engagement. By meeting the physical needs of others, Zoe is bridging the gap to meet spiritual needs as well. 

“Zoe Coffee Co. has been a pleasant surprise to all involved, especially myself. Those who sat around the vision table with me in spring 2020 never imagined it would be so successful so fast. It’s been incredible to see my hometown, Cleveland, get behind our vision of serving great coffee with a greater impact,” Taylor says about Zoe Coffee Co. “Thousands of people have received clean drinking water for the first time because of Zoe Coffee Co. That’s why we exist and that’s what makes me the proudest.” 

The local Cleveland community and local churches of Cleveland have supported Zoe through mission trips, fundraisers and donations. When the idea for Zoe Coffee Co. was born, many of those local community members jumped in to renovate the space that now houses the coffee shop. From construction to painting to overall concept design, Zoe Coffee Co. went from a thought to a reality quicker than expected. 

Employees of Zoe Coffee Co. say that the benefits to them extend well beyond a paycheck. Former Zoe barista, Sophia Roark, loved being part of the Zoe mission, and “seeing the impact of the customers walking in, understanding the mission and seeing God’s providence was the cherry on top.” 

The shop serves a variety of coffees, teas, pastries and desserts and brings in everyone from children to college kids to the older crowd gathering for daily cups of coffee and chats.

While the direct mission of the shop is to help fund the projects of Zoe Ministries, the local community is also being impacted. There is a board in the shop where patrons can leave gift cards for a specific person, a teacher, a first responder or anyone who might need a pick-me-up. There is also a beautiful prayer room built into the back corner of the shop made from wood, tin and stained glass. Inside the room, the walls are covered with prayers and prayer requests from patrons. The shop provides hanging tags upon which such prayers can be written and hung for others to pray over. It is such a thoughtful space for all to enjoy and by which all may be comforted.

Learn more about Zoe Coffee Co. and visit their online store here.

About the Author(s)
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Ann Marie Pate

Ann Marie Pate works as an attorney and realtor in Cleveland, Mississippi. She has published a number of articles and essays as a freelance writer since graduating with a degree in English from Delta State University in 2004. She and her husband, Brady, publish a travel food blog, Sauce and Spice Trail. They, along with their son, Maby, enjoy travel, sports and hanging out with their cats, dogs and pigs.