We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Lutz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I came up with the idea to start a business because I wanted a sustainable way to help fund projects for my aunt’s non-profit in Haiti. I had been traveling there with her for years and the idea to start a business was born from the desire to have a greater impact in the community. I have always loved coffee and the community environment of a coffee shop, so I was drawn to the idea of starting my own coffee shop.
What should our readers know about your business?
Generous Coffee is a for profit, for purpose business. We donate 100% of our profit to non-profits and we exist to multiply good in the world, fight social injustice, support organizations that bring positive change to people, build a community, and serve delicious single origin, craft roasted coffee. The goal of the coffee shop is to connect our customers to the causes that their purchases support, create an environment that is exciting, educational, and inspiring, and serve up some unique and memorable coffee and espresso-based drinks.
Since opening, our customers have raised funds to help Humanity & Hope United open a chicken business in Honduras that is solely run by women, giving them the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. These women are such hardworkers that they have already been able to puchase the business from H&H and now own their very own company. Additionally, the purchases made in the shop helped Serve With Love Today to fund the opening of a free health clinic in Haiti last year, just days before the pandemic hit and we even got to be there to help open it! Now, we are working to raise money to help H&H re-build what was lost in the recent hurricanes in Honduras.. What makes this business so special is that we only have our amazingly kind-hearted customers to thank for any of the successes that we have had.
Of course every moment was not easy and successful. With a global pandemic hitting just 7 months after opening our first shop, we were uncertain what our future looked like. But what happened next blew our minds. People were reaching out left and right asking how they could help to support us through this time and from these conversations came a fundraising campaign for our baristas. a kindness campaign to help others struggling in their community, and our very favorite feature at the coffee shop – the Pay It Forward board. This board allows people from near and far to buy coffee, a breakfast sandwich, etc. for someone. Within days of launching, our whole board was completely full with gifts to “single mothers,” “teachers adjusting to remote learning,” “essential workers,” “nurses & doctors,” “someone in need of a hug,” and things of that sort. People around the city were coming in to donate, and people around the country were venmoing us money. It was truly beautiful to get to experience such generosity, and then get to watch the smile on people’s faces when they redeemed a gift from the wall. The board still lives today in our shop, consistently full of gifts waiting to be redeemed.
A major lesson that we learned along the way is that there will always be hard times and the road will be a little bumpy, but if you put kindness out into the world. there will be wonderful humans who show up to pick you up when you need it – and often when you don’t! We learned that we are nothing without our community of customers, turned friends. Authenticity and passion translates and if you love what you are doing, others are going to get excited about it too!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Obviously I am a huge fan of Golden, so getting in a nearby hike and then walking around downtown is a must! Grab a drink at Golden Moon or Tributary, play a game at Golden Game Guild, walk along the creek, stop in Blue Moose & other cute shops along Washington, and grab a beer at Golden City Brewery or New Terrain!
In Denver, one of my favorite coffee shops is Crema. So stopping by for a latte and their amazing beakfast burrito is definitely on the agenda! Then, head down the road to Modern Nomad for the shopping, grab a glass of wine at Infinite Monkey Theorem, lunch at Mr. Oso, play some giant games at C Squared, maybe catch a Rockies game, grab a cocktail at the Woods and watch the sunset from the rooftop patio, head to Finn’s Manor at night. Probably not all in one day, but there are so many great places to go and things to do in Rino!
I would also take them to a yoga class at my favorite studio in Denver, Samadhi. Then we could head to Tibet Imports in Cherry Creek for a Vedic Astrology reading or hit up the Wash Park for some volleyball . I have to take them to one of the many food halls in Denver too! At some point we would definitely go for a walk around Sloan’s Lake and I wouldn’t miss taking them to root Down for brunch or dinner!
Honestly, there is an endless supply of fun activities to do in Denver. I could go on and on!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who deserve credit! The whole Generous International team – Ben, Maddie, Riley, Drew, Cole. The hardest working baristas, Generous Ambassadors, the Golden community, my sister Carly, my cousin Lauren, my parents Jim & Kathy, my grandma Jeanne and the rest of my family, Ally Browning… I could go on and on. I am beyond blessed to have had so much support and encouragement along the way! And Google, I did a lot of Googling haha.