Coffee As a Passion

Posted by Cesar Murillo on

            Welcome back to the blog! In our first article in this series: Sustainability, Water, Coffee and You: Here & Around the World, we focused on introducing Cesar Murillo, one of our founders, and how he came to be a part of Mandela Coffee. We also took time to speak on our mission of water access around the world and how our daily actions affect the status of that initiative globally. Unsurprisingly, we learned that making even small adjustments to the way that we live our day to day lives can have a massive impact when it comes to global effect. It’s our sincere hope that you’ll take some of that information to heart and apply it to your day to day actions.

            With all that said, we’re thrilled you’re back for another chapter of this blog mini-series. Today, we’d like to focus on the other half of our company’s founding team, Lance Zaal.

            Lance’s commitment to service extends well beyond his work furthering global water access. Prior to beginning his work with Mandela, Lance served in the United States Marine Corps, where he had the opportunity to experience different cultures and expand his knowledge of the world, all while serving his country. Following his time in the armed forces, Lance earned his Masters of Business Administration at the College of William & Mary’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business, where Cesar is now completing the same degree. Shortly after his graduation, Lance spent time working in both the information technology and federal consulting sectors, sharpening the skills he picked up during business school and gaining a strong foundation for his career. In 2016, though, Lance felt a stronger calling to entrepreneurship as a career, and founded Ignition in Williamsburg, VA. A self-described ‘business accelerator,’ Ignition provides early stage funding, hands-on assistance and mentoring to local businesses trying to get started in their respective industries.

            While Lance has already gained exposure to a wide array of business initiatives through his work with Ignition, something about Cesar’s vision for a coffee company stood out to him. Here, he knew, was an opportunity to do good in the world while also helping a young business start from the ground up. As it turns out, combining business-savvy education with a passion to do well around the world is a recipe for a solid business plan, and Mandela Coffee was born after Cesar and Lance began working together.

            Needless to say, restoring and enhancing water access around the globe, as well as producing top-tier, delicious coffee has become nothing short of a passion for Lance and Cesar, both of whom are working every day to further Mandela Coffee’s mission. With that in mind, we’d hoped to take some time in this most recent installment of our blog to highlight some of the work that we find inspiring within our own industry. So, sit back, brew yourself a cup of delicious Mandela Coffee, and take a look at our top three ideas for coffee-related passion projects that you can undertake in your own life. 

  • Finally Make that Coffee Table (Book)

            We get that the world’s a busy place. We’ve all got that mental list of side projects that we keep meaning to get to but just seem to never have the time for. We’d all love to take the time to construct something for our homes, as it adds that authentic touch that shows not only that you care about the space you occupy, but also that you’re crafty, as well.

            Unfortunately, it’s rare that anyone has the time to come home after work and build a bookshelf, homemade bar or coffee table. Plus - even if you do have the time, the actual craftsmanship of the work can be a great deal more challenging than you may think at the offset. That’s why we recommend taking the time to piece together a coffee table book.

            A coffee table book is a great way to showcase your hobby, family history, or anything else that means the world to you. Whenever you invite someone into your home, you’ll have the opportunity to make a strong first impression by displaying your own scrapbook on your coffee table - and hopefully next to some delicious Mandela Coffee.

     2)    Grow and Roast Your Own Beans

            Now - we have to be careful here. We don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot by telling anyone to grow and roast their own coffee beans instead of buying from Mandela Coffee. But, all the same, we recognize that there’s a certain magic to producing your own coffee. Just as food always tastes best when you cook it for yourself, growing your own coffee beans can be an extremely rewarding experience.

            The process, admittedly, is somewhat time consuming, but we think you’ll find it a worthwhile use of whatever spare time you have. Coffee is actually a very resilient plant; coffee beans can be harvested from a number of different plants, but we’ve found that the Robusta coffee plant is likely the simplest to get started with. The plant requires the usual staples - water and sunlight - and, to be honest, not a great deal else.

            Now, coffee tends to grow in warmer climates, so you may be reading this somewhere in the Midwest or Northeast and thinking that you simply can’t make this work - but that’s just not the case. The Arabica Coffee plant can be grown in a greenhouse, or even just in your apartment under some small grow lights if you live in a colder climate. The roasting and harvesting process is fairly simple in and of itself, and then, all that’s left to decide is how to prepare your newly grown and harvested coffee - and, of course, figuring out how to subtly mention to your friends that you actually grew what they’re drinking.

     3)    Create Your Own Caffeinated Cocktail

Naturally, after we speak on the merits of growing and roasting your own coffee, we’re going to be inclined to speak on some of the other great and delicious things you can do with those beans. While there’s certainly a plethora of options outside of plain and simple coffee, one of our favorite has to be the coffee-based cocktail.

Admittedly, there’s a great deal that you can do here, and we won’t even begin to try to prescribe the various combinations that you can get into. Ultimately, your caffeinated cocktail of choice is going to vary based on your preferences in liquor, flavor profile and the like. But we do have a few basic suggestions for the beginning mixologist looking to incorporate some delicious coffee into their next drink.

First and foremost, you may want to consider making a simple syrup or coffee reduction and keeping it stocked in your house. This is a great way to ritz-up dessert-friendly cocktails in no time with minimal preparation. Second, if you’re making coffee cocktails consider storing some cold brew for use therein - but don’t hold onto it too long, as it’s flavor profile can change over time. And finally, don’t underestimate the potential of coffee beans - ground or whole - as a garnish.

            In conclusion, it’s obvious - on some level - that coffee has become a passion for all of us here at Mandela Coffee. We’re fortunate in that we get to come into work everyday and act on one of our favorite interests. Even beyond that, we’re fortunate in that we get to share our work with you through our website and other social media channels and - of course - through the delicious coffee we provide you with.

            But we’d like to hear from you, as well. Do you have a passion project related to coffee? We’d love to know more about it and - who knows? - if we like what we see we might even feature your project on the Mandela Coffee website. Shoot us an email over at, we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Brewing,

The Mandela Coffee Team








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