We recently hosted David Silverstein, owner of Whirlwind Coffee in Oak Park, Illinois, and Stalwart customer, for an interview. Whirlwind Coffee is a father-daughter-owned business that donates 100% of its net profits to charity. They have an incredible story, and we at Stalwart Crafts have been lucky enough to work with and provide our quality leather aprons to David and his team.
Keep reading to get to know more about David, his business, and more.
SC: Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a coffee business owner? How did you develop your passion for coffee?
DS: I grew up in a family where coffee was always present during life’s ups and downs – family gatherings, celebrations, catching up with friends, funerals, or while hanging with my grandmother playing cards. So my passion for coffee has always been bigger than just the product itself.
And when my wife passed away ten years ago, I found myself as a single dad reevaluating what was important to me. I’ve always felt coffee brings people together. So I decided I wanted to focus on this single passion and use it as a means to give back to my community.
SC: What is it like to run a father-daughter-owned business?
DS: One of my goals was to be able to share different experiences with my daughter during this journey. From helping with day to day tasks in the business to participating in philanthropic activities, it’s been great having her along with me. For an 11 year old, it’s amazing the perspective she brings to different challenges we encounter. Definitely a future problem solver!
3. What is Whirlwind Coffee’s philosophy when it comes to sourcing & roasting coffee?
DS: Overall our mission is pretty simple:
1) Roast damn good coffee
We’re not about being fancy, stuffy, or elite.
We roast, we taste, and if we think it’s great, we share it! Light, medium, and dark roasts can all be found here at Whirlwind.
Our coffees cover the spectrum of flavors: chocolatey, citrus, nutty, earthy, fruity. And we’ll never judge you for putting cream and sugar in your coffee! In fact, some of our dark roasts taste amazing that way.
2) Sell it to good humans at a fair price
Craft coffee roasters like Whirlwind roast what’s called specialty coffee — the highest grade coffee available in the world. As a result, we pay more for better coffee from farms that pay fair wages to their workers. We also strive to ensure our coffee can be enjoyed by everyone by offering fair prices and hopefully making a little profit to give back.
3) Give back 100% of all net profits to support charities and communities.
We believe in doing good and giving back. We know that our actions, big and small, matter more than words alone. That’s why we’ve chosen to donate 100% of net profits to charities and communities in need.
SC: Can you walk us through the process of roasting a batch of coffee at Whirlwind
DS: As a small batch roaster, we typically do about 22 lbs every 13 mins. We weigh out (and in some cases preblend) our coffees and inspect the greens for any obvious defects before roasting.
After we roast, we run every batch through our destoner which removes any rocks or foreign objects that may have gotten into the greens. This might be a small stone, large rock, piece of metal, or even corn.
Finally, we let all our coffee rest for 24 to 48 hours to degas before bagging them up. Coffee releases lots of carbon dioxide during that first 24 hours, so we don’t want to ship out balloon bags to our customers!
SC: How do you choose which charities and communities to support? Can you give us an example of a specific project or organization that Whirlwind Coffee has supported in the past?
DS: We support smaller charities in the Chicago land area, with operating budgets usually under 12 million. Our core charitable focus areas are charities addressing homelessness, hunger, medical needs, abuse/violence, or supporting children.
We stay away from any charities that get too political or religious.
Generally, there are three ways we approach supporting a charity:
- Quarterly basis. We choose a charity or topic to proactively donate to via the use of our event space, donating coffee or services, as well as monetarily.
- Rolling in-kind donations. We evaluate all requests to donate products or services
throughout the year, usually for fundraising purposes.
- Charity Coffee blend. 1 to 2 times a year, we will partner with a featured charity to create a new coffee blend. We donate $3 from each bag that’s sold as well as feature the charity prominently throughout our marketing channels to drive more awareness and support for their cause.
As an example, here are two charities we’ve supported with dedicated coffee blends in the past 6 months.
Charity: Housing Forward
Coffee Blend: Creature Comfort
Housing Forward is an organization that is dedicated to ending homelessness. They transition people from housing crisis to a permanent and stable home in their community. Through impactful services and strategic partnerships, they find innovative, systemic solutions to end homelessness.
Charity: A Long Walk Home
Coffee Blend: Black Joy
A Long Walk Home (ALWH) is a national art organization based in Chicago that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women.
SC: Can you tell us why you chose to work with Stalwart Crafts and what it is about our leather aprons that you like?
DS: Before finding Stalwart Crafts, I was using a waxed canvas-style apron. They were durable but ultimately magnets for dust, dirt, and not easy to clean. I really wanted something that could handle the day-to-day grind, was easy to clean, and looked amazing. That’s exactly what my Stalwart Apron is all about! It’s super comfortable, durable, and I get compliments on it all the time.
SC: Closing Thoughts
We’d like to send a huge thank you to David for taking the time out of his busy schedule to sit down and complete this interview with us. If you would like to learn more about David’s business or charitable donations, you can find his website here. At Stalwart, we are always looking to work with companies big or small that could benefit from a durable, stain-resistant, easy-to-clean, and aesthetically pleasing apron. If you or your company fits that bill, please send us a message or check them out on our Stalwarts Crafts website.