Local coffee start-up brews goodwill

For those looking for a charitable cause that’s easy on the palate, look no further than Goodbrew Roasting.

Goodbrew is a noble idea brought to life by local coffee roasters and longtime South St. Louis residents Melissa and Steve Neske that takes aim at providing much needed funding to area schools through education and portions of sales from their coffee.

Filling the streets of South St. Louis with the alluring smell of Honduran Arabica beans featuring hints of caramel, green apple, and almond, the Neskes hope to do more than just roast great tasting coffee. “We started Goodbrew because we love coffee, and more importantly, we love helping out the community,” Melissa Neske explains to the Southsider.

Melissa and Steve noticed a familiar trend, residents leaving the city for better schools. “We started noticing that a lot of the homes for sale were people who were starting families and needed to move to areas with better public schools.” Neske continued, “We wanted to help combat that.”
The young startup targets city classrooms that are in dire need of educational resources currently unavailable like iPads, headphones or even comfortable seating. Items that many competing county schools have in plenty. After deciding on a monthly school, Goodbrew donates 10% of all proceeds to help the classrooms reach their goal.

Northwest Academy of Law was Goodbrew’s feature school in January, who posted a goal for headphones and iPads on popular teacher fundraising site Donors Choose.

The Neskes overall goal is to not only provide monetary funds, but education to their chosen classroom. The duo visits every classroom they donate to, including Miranda Avant-Elliott’s classroom where they taught students roasting facts and the health benefits of coffee to Northwest students. The class got their turn at roasting beans in portable air roasters, which then got included in Goodbrew’s coffee of the month.

Goodbrew returned a month later with gifts in hand and presented the students with an iPad and 12 sets of headphones. “The students really appreciated the headphones and the IPad. The IPad allows them to engage with more advanced technology than just a desktop computer or laptop. Although students may have cellphones, many of the students do not have tablets at home to learn to operate different computer related applications.”

Driven by experiences in Melissa’s childhood, the idea of charity came easy. Giving back has always been important to Melissa, being on the receiving end of the kindness of strangers in the past, she saw how a small deed can go a long way.

In middle school, Melissa’s youngest brother Jeremiah was born and after birth complications, changed her family’s life forever. “He had a rough start and wasn’t expected to live more than a few months,” Neske says, “Money was always a little tight, but now with a sick child, things got really hard. There were doctor’s appointments and procedures as well as physical therapy and at-home nurses. So many things my family needed, but couldn’t afford.”

However, once people heard about Jeremiah and her family, the community rallied behind the family and wanted to help out, including discounts on wheelchairs and donations to the family.

“Now that I’m an adult, I want to be on the other side. I was the recipient of so much goodwill and directly saw its impact on my family. I want to be able to pay that goodwill forward and do that kind of good for others in our community; a community that gave me so much when I needed it,” explained Melissa.

Goodbrew has taught and donated to a handful of local St. Louis City schools including Northwest Academy of Law, Carondelet Leadership Academy, and Forsyth school who opted to donate their proceeds to the Annie Malone foundation.

When asked what her favorite part of it all is, her response was simple. “Seeing the children’s faces when we come back and show them what we are able to donate. It’s such a great feeling to know we are making a positive influence in their lives.”

Gregory Cross

Author: Gregory Cross

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