Our Story

Coffee Connection Roastery and Cafe    on South Avenue

Coffee Connection Roastery and Cafe
on South Avenue

The Coffee Connection empowers women on their journey to sustainable recovery from addiction. We create jobs and train women for sustainable employment as a not-for-profit business selling fair trade, organically-grown, and sustainably-farmed coffee to retail and wholesale customers. And we provide comprehensive, continuous support for women on their journey toward sustainable recovery, integrating their learning of life practices through our program in the context of running the business.

Since 2001, The Coffee Connection (formerly the Women’s Coffee Connection) has been one of Rochester's premiere coffee roasters, providing savory coffee and unique merchandise to the Rochester community, while supporting social and environmental causes at home and abroad. Founder Nancy Sawyer-Molina began this project in the hopes of helping struggling women in the Rochester area receive valuable employment training and improved interpersonal skills. By providing a valuable mix of counseling and pre-employment training, The Coffee Connection has helped many area women create new lives for themselves.

Nancy Sawyer-Molina lives in Peru and is now working with DAVIDA (a Peruvian national agency) and the regional government of Cuzco to develop a drug and alcohol prevention plan for at-risk kids (ages 10-18) in the Cuzco area. Much of our coffee comes from Peru where farmers their have given up their coca crops (the raw ingredient of cocaine) to grow coffee beans. Nancy made that connection as the founding of the Coffee Connection.  

In November 2011, the nonprofit organization Life Listening Resources merged a 5-year program of working with women in recovery – Project Empower – with the Coffee Connection.

Joy Bergfalk

Joy Bergfalk

When we assumed management in 2011, Nancy was the only employee with four to six women in a short-term job training program at the original store on South Avenue. Under the direction of our executive director, Joy Bergfalk, we have been fully engaged in social entrepreneurship in the Rochester area.  In June 2012 we opened a second store, The Greenhouse Café on East Main Street, and began creating new jobs for women in the program. Our intern-to-employee model seeks to build the business and organization by hiring women in the program to fully staff the organization. We now have 17 employees who run the daily business operations – roasting coffee, selling to wholesale customers, operating the Roastery and Café on South Avenue and the Greenhouse Café on East Main Street.