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Coffee served with a mission

New twist in Auburn on standard profit picture
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Gus Thomson/Auburn Journal

Missions Coffee barista Lyndie Thomasson prepares a latte at the new coffee shop on Highway 49 in North Auburn.

In a profit-driven world, Auburn’s Missions Coffee has a different answer — and a mission.

The newly opened coffee shop pays its baristas but is also relying on volunteer staff to allow the business to donate a targeted 90 percent of its profits to a list of recipients that includes Operation Heal Our Patriots sending a wounded veteran and wife for an adventure escape to Alaska for a week and mailing shoeboxes filled with gifts at Christmas to needy children around the world through Shoebox Ministry.

Owners Gary and Jenny Rice were inspired to convert what had been a former Jimboy’s Tacos location at 2405 Grass Valley Highway in North Auburn into a coffee shop with altruistic intentions after their daughter Hannah Isaac’s quest to pay for a mission to Tanzania to help farmers with soil erosion challenges was aided by a fund-raising drive at Montezuma, Kansas’ Coffee Connection.

In December, after renovations that started in June, Missions Coffee opened, with seating for 46, offering coffees, teas, soda, pastries and breakfast burritos. Much of the product is locally sourced, with Mast Roasters in Rocklin providing the beans, Garden Valley’s Chucks of Heaven baked good, breakfast burritos from Carol’s Market in Newcastle and chai from North Fork Chai in Newcastle.

The coffee shop is not associated with any one church but the missions that it supports are Christian, Gary Rice said.

Gary, a retired contractor, has been on many mission trips with the Sierra Grace Church Youth Group, mostly to Mexico.

“We’ve always had a heart for missions,” he said.

“As you get older, you can’t go on the missions as much but we definitely want to support those who do,” Jenny added.

Missions Coffee is looking for volunteers to give their time to the shop to aid mission work. The shifts are normally four hours a day, one day a week, with a commitment for three months at a time. Training for cash register skills is being offered, the Rices said.

On a recent day, first impressions were good ones for new customer Bill Carpenter of North Auburn.

“Looking out the windows, how do you beat this?” Carpenter asked. “There is no Starbucks with this view.”