The Cup That Counts

Los Angeles

Los Angeles


Paying better, building real relationships and sharing risk. It all sounds a little inconvenient. Inseparable since birth, The Cup That Counts entered this big ol’ world with Commonfolk in 2013. The world wasn’t too dissimilar then. Supply chains were still dominated by commodity markets rife with exploitation and inequality. Huge faceless systems built for the convenience of the end consumer preserve the status quo. There is no greater example of this than the story of coffee from crop to cup. Coffee producers in developing nations have born the brunt of its greed. Middle men would take the lion's share of profits generated by the coffee value chain. A little closer to home, owner operated small businesses and their hospitality workers are also exposed to a greater portion of risk and a smaller slice of the pie than seems reasonable.

The Cup That Counts is our avenue to build and support a coffee industry that is fair for everyone involved. Producer through to consumer, we’re taking responsibility to invest in a life-giving value chain. We’re learning the opposite is true of the inconvenience myth, as we see the communities we are a part of positively developing. Our work is never complete but we remain steadfast to the ‘inconvenient’ truth that every cup counts.


Together, the Commonfolk community has raised $392,780.12

Last updated 9th January 2024.



Zukuka Bora Coffee Company

What does life changing coffee taste like? Get some ZB coffee in your mug.

Zukuka Bora was established to equip and empower communities on the slopes of Mt Elgon, Uganda, by producing top quality Arabica coffee, and connecting them to international buyers prepared to invest in a premium product. Through no shortage of smiles, sweat and challenges, their sixth season has been the most successful yet. They produced 60 tons of green coffee and exported to the UK, USA, Korea and of course the land down under. In partnership with the legends at Kua Coffee, we’re stoked to bring in two containers of the current harvest and share Zukuka Bora's remarkable coffee with our customers and other coffee roasters who want to invest in a fair value supply chain.

This last season brought better prices and bonuses to over one thousand farming families for their coffee cherry, and more than two hundred folks gained meaningful employment. The story goes on as they set out to also holistically tackle the issues faced by their communities. This has included building soil health, mobilising community health promotors and establishing savings groups. Epic.

We’re mighty proud that Commonfolk is a foundational and ongoing partner with Zukuka Bora. We’re family and growing together.

Speaking of good eggs, the Commonfolk community has: donated $223K, all of which is contributing to ongoing infrastructure, equipment and training. And, purchased over 80 tons of green coffee at fair prices, directly contributing to economic development on Mt Elgon.

Want to know more? Squiz our coffee Partner Profile and Blog.

Home Ground Cafe

Birthed in the Tanti Estate in Mornington with a vision to champion the strengths of the community, Home Ground (run by a charity called Tanti Park Social Enterprises) is a vocational training cafe bridging the gap between local unemployed youth and the opportunity for a career in our region's hospitality industry.

As a social enterprise, foundational and ongoing partnership with Commonfolk through donated freshly roasted coffee and The Cup That Counts funds has ensured they can continue to usher tangible change for our community. Since starting in 2018 with four young people, Home Ground has now had over 86 young people walk through its doors and benefit from their hospitality training program. Commonfolk has provided Home Ground with over 4000kg of freshly roasted coffee with a wholesale value of more than $125,000 to keep the grinders whizzing and the show on the road. donated $223KThe real deal.

Just a really decent stone’s throw away from HQ, be sure to pop around to say hi to Bev and the team and sip some excellent coffee. They’re doing incredible work and their house made treats are the best in the biz.



Shared Value Project


Shared Value Project is The Cup That Counts newest supported partner and was initially focused on the well being of coffee farmers and their workers in Nicaragua. SVP is the brainchild of Ben Whitaker who is the co-founder of the Social Opportunity Group and The Final Step cafe in South Yarra, which he has now passed onto Commonfolk.

In 2020 Ben moved onto the El Árbol coffee farm in the Nueva Segovia region of Nicaragua. He spent the first months working with green coffee exporter Bridazul, learning about the logistics involved in the production and processing of coffee. During this period he participated in regular farmwork and developed an understanding of the challenges faced by labour hire.

Simple things like preparing meals inside small workers' could become incredibly challenging because of the smoke emitted from poorly designed stoves and the inadequate ventilation of the buildings. SVP is committing to building efficient and non toxic biomass-stoves in the houses of the coffee workers. Local workers will be trained to build these biomass-stoves out of locally available and sustainable materials. In recent times Ben has relocated the biomass stove project to the Chiapas region of Mexico where he will continue to work with workers in coffee and cacao farming. He'll be joined by fellow Kiwi and school teacher, Susan, to also open up a social enterprise cafe in San Cristobal de las Casas.

You can follow Ben's progress by subscribing to his blog on substack.



Since day dot, 20c from every cup of Commonfolk coffee brewed has been transferred to The Cup That Counts. Add in 20c from every kilo of coffee roasted, and the tips from our kickass cafe team, constant fundraising events over these years and contributions from some of our incredible wholesale coffee partners. We’re talking community.

Through the years we have connected with good people in various parts of the world to build long standing commitments in our value chain for tangible positive development. This began by being a foundational partner for Zukuka Bora Coffee Company, with the necessary USD20,000 to buy initial land and infrastructure being donated by our Commonfolk community through The Cup That Counts. Year on year a large proportion of The Cup That Counts raised funds are directly transferred to current Zukuka Bora projects that are directly improving the coffee quality Commonfolk then purchases at fair prices in commercial transactions. Tangible economic empowerment.

Fundraising events have been spontaneous over the past ten years. Latte art smackdowns and Sunday sessions, to Christmas Eve olliebollen and Zukuka Bora fresh crop launches. These will always continue! In 2022 we ran the second iteration of Good Coffee Day, with $1 per coffee sold directly contributed to Zukuka Bora projects. Be sure to get to your local participating Commonfolk dealer, and look out for the donation tins in the wild.


Do you have questions about TCTC? Want to get involved some how?

Have a suggestion for how we can develop our impact? Want to know your closest Commonfolk coffee dealer?

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