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Hiring Hoosiers: Pendleton coffee roaster gives back to local community, looks to expand

Meijer making push to get diverse-owned brands on shelves
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 10:40:05-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Out in the middle of Pendleton rests a family farm, some old grain bins and a big dream.

"This dream of the grain bin is crazy and wild and weird," said local coffee roaster Esta Henderson.

Henderson picked up the art of roasting coffee beans from her brother, and stood on the back porch of her family's property here to see if she could roast beans like her brother.

"I got a little $3, estate sale, like, 1980s popcorn popper and sat on the back porch to see if i could even do it," Henderson said. "And, yeah, sparked a big passion for it there."

That passionate hobby turned into a vision for a coffee company with a big goal to support local missions.

"It was just a God-led thing that brought me to something with coffee, that would support these local mission organizations that are dear to my heart," Henderson said. "Through all of that, He brought me the name 'Promise' that His promise to provide always stands true."

Pendleton coffee roaster and business owner gives back to local organizations
Esta Henderson uses her business Promise Coffee Roasters to support local church missions.

Promise Coffee Roasters grew from a small seed of an idea about three years ago into a business that supplies several local businesses with the coffee they stock on store shelves. A portion of the proceeds from each purchase goes to support local church missions.

And now Henderson is thinking out of the box again, turning the empty grain bins on her grandfather's property into the hub for her coffee roaster company in Pendleton.

She is working with local company Rise Up Designs to create this unique space to expand what she has to offer to the public.

Henderson is also the brains behind a new shop coming to Pendleton called Promise Coffee and Bazaar where she will sell her products plus team up with other local artisans so they also have a location to sell their Hoosier-made goods.

Currently, in addition to her retail partners, customer can buy Promise Coffee online on her website PromiseCoffees.com and she works to deliver locally when she can.

Henderson enjoys seeing other enjoy her product and she says she works to do research and learn more about the farms and coffee beans she roasts.

Each bean is unique based on the farm they derive from, the soil they grew in, the history of the land. Those qualities and Henderson's various roasting techniques bring out the unique flavors in the coffee.

After all this time, Fresh Hope and Conquer the Day are still her two favorite coffees named for the missions they support.

It's business owners like Henderson with a charitable spirit that help make local communities thrive.

Meijer push helps business owners like Henderson

WRTV's Hiring Hoosiers initiative aims to connect you with jobs, opportunities for training and resources and we are looking for ways to support locally owned businesses.

This week, we explore efforts made by many companies to improve equity and diversity.

Midwest grocer, Meijer, is working to get more local and diverse products on store shelves to better support local female entrepreneurs like Henderson.

As shoppers browse the shelves at their neighborhood Meijer grocery, that grocer works to get more diverse and local suppliers involved in their business.

After their inaugural Supplier Diversity Summit in the fall, the grocery chain based out of Michigan that operates more than 250 super centers across the Midwest is looking to focus on hyper-local businesses and products.

Meijer looking for more diverse and local suppliers
Meijer hosting May summit for minority-owned vendors

Meijer plans to host a supplier diversity summit in May where buyers can meet virtually with local, diverse suppliers, with the goal of getting more of these types of products into their stores.

"Our Supplier Diversity Summit was incredibly successful, and we are excited to begin working with many new partners as a result," said Jamie Akemann, Group Vice President of Indirect Procurement and Supplier Diversity. "However, it takes time to go from meeting a new vendor partner to carrying their product in hundreds of stores. By holding this second event, and future supplier diversity events, we ensure a consistent flow of new products and partnerships that empower diverse suppliers and create positive economic impacts in our communities."

Carla Hendon is Meijer's Director of Supplier Diversity. She said the event gives local vendors in the neighborhoods they serve a huge opportunity for growth.

"We are looking to amplify and raise up the businesses that are in our community," Hendon said.

This diversity summit is not just about race. In fact, Meijer is looking for suppliers owned by a wide variety of minorities including LGBTQ individuals, women, veterans, and disability-owned companies that have retail-ready products.

The vendors pitch their product through an online application process, the buyers read through every application and invite vendors of their choice to the virtual event in May. But before the May event, Meijer will work with the vendors to make sure they have all the necessary information and technology ready for their presentation. And Hendon tells me even if your product is not selected for this particular event, they continue to keep track of applications and may revisit your application at a later date, so patience is key.

WRTV helped Henderson learn more about this opportunity to get in front of a larger retail chain and she applied.

She told us an opportunity to get her coffee on store shelves at a place like Meijer would be a major opportunity for her small business and through that success she could sustain some of these church missions.

"The impact that it would have on the mission organizations, the way that I can support them, like my whole goal would be to help them have enough supplemented funds that they don't have to do any extra fundraisers besides what they already do and enjoy doing, something like that would help push me over the top in what I can give back to them," Henderson said. "It's just really admirable that they want to bring that local mix into their bigger box stores."

The event runs May 4-6 and will focus on specific categories of products from beauty and personal care items to over-the-counter and wellness products, to general merchandise and groceries.

Meijer also seeks vendors to do business with in other departments including IT and HR, so Hendon encouraged anyone interested in working with the grocer to check out all the available options on their website.

While the deadline to apply for the May event has passed, applications for vendors remain open after that date and will continued to be check through their partnership with a online company called RangeMe.

To apply or learn more, visit their website:
https://vendornet.meijer.com/ProspectiveVendor/Section/ProspectiveVendor-368

Contact Hiring Hoosiers
If you have story ideas or would like to learn more about Hiring Hoosiers, contact us via email at hiringhoosiers@wrtv.com.