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  • Mark Talcott

Like Good Coffee, Development Takes Work

A few years ago, I had the chance to travel to Colombia (South America, not Maryland) and visit a farm where some of the world’s best coffee is being produced. The farm is located about 2 hours from Medellin in a mountainous region about 6000 ft about sea level. Before the trip, I really knew very little about coffee. I knew I needed some coffee in the morning, and I liked the flavor enough to keep drinking it daily, but other than that, I knew very little.

When I first arrived at the coffee farm I was greeted by Phillipe. He took me and my group to the coffee bar, where he began to ask us questions about what we know about coffee. It did not take long before Phillipe realized he was going to need to do some teaching! Phillipe was honestly so excited to share his passion for coffee! Over the next hour he gave us the rundown on how to make good, no I mean great coffee!



My time at the farm was such a cool experience. I learned so much, and now I enjoy great coffee most days! Part of the coffee farm experience was to give you some time to relax. While I was relaxing, I started to think about the correlations between making good coffee and fundraising. You know what? There are some similarities!


This might sound silly, but the first step to making a good cup of coffee is to start with good coffee beans! The baseline is good coffee, and just like in your parish, you need to start with a good product. Do your parishioners feel welcomed when they arrive for Mass?

Are there social, spiritual and service opportunities to be involved in? Do you have services for those in need, and are you caring for people? Overall, your parish needs to be like good coffee beans, it takes time, a lot of effort and continued care to produce a good product. Start by investing in your parish to produce good fruit.


Along with good coffee beans, you need to have the right equipment. If you just looked over at your instant coffee maker, the one with the little cups. I encourage you to recycle it. There is no way you are getting a good cup of coffee out of that garbage, and plus those k-cups produce a lot of unneeded waste and expense. My personal favorite device for making coffee is a V60. It looks like a funnel that sits over a cup or glass carafe.


Like good coffee equipment, you also need to invest in the products that will help church goers to engage and support your ministries. Start by taking a look at your website. Is it easy to find the parish address and phone number? You will also want to make sure people looking at your site can see the many options for how they can get involved and what ministries you provide. When people are looking for a church, most folks will first take a look at the website. Don’t lose them before they even get in the door by having a bad website.


Another key piece of equipment to invest in is your online donation platform. Make sure it’s easy to access with a big giving button in the upper right-hand corner of your website. Make sure it only takes minimal effort to reach the giving page. You have put so much effort into getting a parishioner to this point, you don’t want to lose their donation because it’s too difficult to give.


Now that we got the right stuff, good coffee and good equipment, we need to start making the coffee! I think I enjoy this part just as much as drinking it. You start by figuring out how much water your coffee mug can hold. I do this by setting the mug on scale and measuring the amount of water in grams. My favorite mug holds 300 grams of water. Now we need to know how much coffee we need to use. Before I went to the coffee farm, I would just scoop some coffee with a spoon. Who knows how much I was using? The amount changed daily!


Coffee experts agree, there is a coffee to water ratio that should be used to help aid in using the correct amounts. The ratio I like most is 15:1. That is 15 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee. So, I need 20 grams of coffee for my mug that holds 300 grams of water.


Measuring out the coffee is a lot like figuring out how engaged a parishioner is in your parish ministries. When you are investing in people, you need to understand their behavior. Throughout different times in our lives, most of us will have different involvements in church. In high school, I was at my church all the time. I helped out constantly. I even got out of school early to help with the youth program. In my 20’s, life got busy and took me away from church for a while, but I eventually found my way back in my 30’s. Donor cultivation takes work. You need to meet the donor where they are and encourage them to continue on their spiritual path with obtainable goals and activities. It’s the little things that matter. Like the correct measurement of coffee, are you investing the correct amount of time in your parishioner to meet their need?


Now it’s time to make this coffee! Grab the V60, place it on top of the carafe, insert the paper filter, heat your water up to just below boiling (200 degrees F.) Course grind your coffee beans to a medium level, place them in the filter and when the water is ready, slowly pour the water over the coffee. The water will slowly make its way through the coffee and into the vessel below. The process should take about 3 minutes, just enough time to say a prayer. Once the water has made its way through the coffee, you are ready to drink!


It takes time to create a great cup of coffee. If you rush it, use the wrong supplies or use one of those k-cups, you are just ending up with a mediocre cup.


Investing in your parishioners takes time, sometimes years to fully realize their involvement in the parish. It also takes intentional work and persistence to guide a parishioner along the stewardship path from being an occasional attender to a sacrificial giver. I encourage you take a look at your ministries and see if they are making an impact, to analyze your systems to make sure getting involved in easy, and to meet people where they are on their spiritual path.


By now you realize I’m a bit bananas about coffee, and you should know your Regional Director team is equally passionate about development work. As you figure out how to get better coffee in your life and better service your community, please reach out for help and guidance.

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