I love a good cup of coffee, if I am tired enough a bad one will do. I almost always want it black with no sugar. Occasionally I want a cappuccino, Café Con Leche or Café Au Lait, depending upon which Romance language you suffered through in high school. I can’t stand any coffee drink with too much syrup or ends in “lata”. And as any lifelong New Englander will, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to have an ice coffee, in February, when it is three degrees out and there is a foot of snow on the ground. We tend to be a bit contrary by nature.
When I was on my last deployment, Kirkuk, Iraq, 2008 my oldest brother sent me several pounds of Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend. Major Dickason’s became our house coffee, even though we live a few miles from the Autocrat Coffee plant. But I never stopped looking for another dark roast. I might have fidelity issues when it comes to coffee.
One day while I was at work my good friend and then partner Matt suggested a subscription from a veteran owned small batch coffee company called De Espresso Liber. I had tried another veteran owned coffee but as good as their coffee was it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Matt then suggested De Espresso Liber. I looked at their website…it looked great. The coffee looked cool and for an SF fanboy such as myself, it looked really cool. Then, I looked at their prices…and I balked. Major Dickason’s was good enough.
Then last month my friend Chris (The Incomparable Chris Callan) made his last parachute jump. While I was grappling with my sense of loss and grief, I met Krista Simpson and heard about her organization The Unquiet Professional. Krista knows a thing or two about grief, she lost her husband SSG Michael Simpson 4th Bn, 1st SFG in 2013. Krista turned her grief into a means of honoring Michael and helping others. She founded The Unquiet Professional to help other Gold Star families, Veterans, and their families.
While scrolling through The Unquiet Professional site, figuring out how I could help, I saw that they had a link to DEL’s Gold Star blends where I saw Café du Esquex Fue. It is a dark roast, roasted in honor of SSG Michael Simpson. De Espresso Liber donates a portion of the proceeds to The Unquiet Professional. I ordered a bag and I messaged Krista to tell her, as well as to thank her for her support.
She messaged back and told me about Alex, of De Espresso Liber and what a decent and principled man he is. Then she said, “You should write about him.” As soon as she mentioned it, I was hooked. The weird thing for me about writing, is that when an idea takes hold in my brain, it demands attention, like an insistent child, demanding that I write it. I started to pour over the De Espresso Liber website and Krista introduced me to Alex. I couldn’t write about the man and his calling, his mission, without talking to him.
One night a couple of weeks ago my phone rang and it was Alex from DEL. Talking to him reminded me of talking to most of the Green Berets I have known over the years. Alex told me how he shifted focus from Active Duty Special Forces to roasting and selling coffee. He wanted more time with his family, and he wanted to do something he loved, and he wanted to apply the principles that he had learned in Special Forces to a business, to make something for his family.
That something turned out to be coffee. Alex not surprisingly has traveled far and wide and coffee was a constant. Having a cup of coffee with guys while deployed was a way of connecting with each other and connecting with home. I knew what he meant; I have fond memories of cups of coffee like that. It wasn’t enough to just roast and sell coffee. Alex wanted to make an outstanding cup of coffee and he knew to do that it was not going to be cheap. But there is a principle in SOF that states “Quality is Better Than Quantity!” and Alex knew that his coffee had to be made with that truth in mind.
The funny thing that struck me talking to Alex was that he was quite sincere. He wanted to make the best coffee you could buy. He wanted to build a company that would roast and sell that because, that would mean people would have jobs. That meant that he could give back to his community and to his nation. It was a sentiment that reminded me of my father and my grandfather.
The next day I went back to the De Espresso Liber website. There are nine Gold Star blends he donates ten percent of his profits from those coffees to various other foundations and charities. De Espresso Liber is a small operation and I have to imagine that donating a portion of the proceeds that could be reinvested in the company is significant. But that is the thing about being part of a community, being someone who puts principle above profit…it costs. I don’t think that Alex thinks of it like that. I think he doesn’t think of it at all, because noble people, people of principal don’t see sacrifice in terms of loss or profit. They just see it as the right thing to do.
Every morning I drink coffee. Lately it has been Café du Esquex Fue. I can’t state this more clearly, De Espresso Liber makes great cup of coffee. It is a rich, full bodied coffee and I have subscribed to get a pound a month, which will only take care of a fraction of my coffee needs. But then it also means that I can try the other roasts by De Espresso Liber which I know will be roasted with the same care and attention to detail. I also know that they will make a great cup of coffee too. If you are looking for a great cup of coffee and a chance to support a worthy cause, check them out.
I could buy less expensive coffee. But then I remember Krista Simpson who battled her grief to help other people cope with theirs. Her cup of Café du Eaquex Fue was one of the most expensive that a person can pay. I think of Alex and the brothers he has lost, the time away from his family, the fact that he donates hard won profits to help others. His cups of coffee have come at a cost too. I could buy cheaper coffee…I could buy other Veteran roasted coffees. But in the end what I pay for my cup of Café du Esquex Fue isn’t really that expensive at all when you think of Krista and Alex.
CPT. Colt with the OPFUND.