Top of the Lake: Coffee in Pursuit of the Greater Good

Situated at the top of a lake lies a small town. If you were to journey into the town, you would meet the most generous, kind, and hospitable people you’ve ever met. And, you may just be offered a cup of coffee… This small town is where the idea for the coffee company Top of the Lake Coffee started. 

Top of the Lake Coffee is focused on ethical coffee production and business, which is impacting entire communities locally and around the world. The mission of Top of the Lake Coffee is “to provide you with remarkable coffee and link the stories of the people who produce it to your own. One person at a time.”

Top of the Lake Coffee is focused on ethical coffee production and business, which is impacting entire communities locally and around the world.

San Juan la Laguna is on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Solola, Guatemala. It is a community that lives and dies by coffee. When coffee production is going well, the people are able to support their families and plan for the future with confidence. However, when coffee is not going well (for instance, during COVID when the shipping costs ate up all the profit), the families and the entire community suffer to put food on the table. When the founders, Alex Velasco and Brent Bromstrup, initially started Top of the Lake it was to promote ethically sourced coffee, both in the farming and business practices. However, the partnership between Top of the Lake and San Juan la Laguna has flourished into something so much more.

Gus Aguirre is celebrating his first year of buying Top of the Lake Coffee. Now, he has launched into a new endeavor of opening a coffee shop in Loveland (815 14th St. SW B100, Loveland, CO 80537). His vision for the space is to create an environment where people can come gather together, have good conversations, read a book, or even work remotely. Yet, he doesn’t stop there.

As a non-profit leader himself, Gus recognizes the value of aligning one’s mission at the forefront. Top of the Lake is a business that looks outside of itself to serve others, whether it be greeting customers with a smiling barista or donating coffee to first responders. Starting soon, selected Saturdays will bring together the community to learn about nonprofits and justice issues going on in our community, these will be called, “Greater Good Saturdays”. 

Greater Good is not just a catchy saying or an upcoming event, it is one of the heartbeats of this business. Greater Good is also an initiative to “respect and honor the labor and beauty of the remarkable people and communities who produced the amazing beverage we savor every day. We look for ways to partner with individuals to create a more stable and sustainable life for their family. We seek to support the vision of community-based organizations which are committed to building a stronger future for their town.” Top of the Lake highlights organizations like Casa Flor Ixcaco, who are contributing to the greater good in Guatemala through community collaboration and economic empowerment for local artisans. Casa Flor Ixcaco brings together women in San Juan la Laguna, Solola, Guatemala, origin of Top of the Lake, to provide for their families through weaving and honoring their Mayan culture. Top of the Lake’s coffee honors this organization by naming their dark roast coffee after Casa Flor Ixcaco. This coffee company is about more than making a name for themselves, they also bring awareness and empowerment to community-based organizations, Casa Flor Ixcaco is just one example of many. Suffice to say, one cup of coffee can go so much farther when we are conscious consumers and when businesses think beyond themselves. 

Businesses like Top of the Lake Coffee give hope to communities locally and abroad. Locally, Top of the Lake empowers community members to partner together to serve others and think outside of ourselves. Abroad, in the Guatemalan community and other coffee-growing communities, the farmers are fairly contributed for their share of the work, which allows for flourishing and thriving communities. 

We can all be a drop that ripples positively into the spaces we hold. Top of the Lake Coffee inspires us to consider, “how am I contributing to the greater good?”. Maybe the contribution is smiling at your neighbor, allowing someone to merge in front of you with grace, maybe it is reaching out to Gus to talk about partnership opportunities, or maybe – just maybe – it could be you visiting Top of the Lake Coffee and getting a cup of coffee from Top of the Lake Coffee… 

After all, a cup of coffee really can change a life. 

**Author was definitely drinking Top of the Lake coffee while writing this article…