There’s nothing like a great cup of coffee – unless of course it’s a great cup of coffee that is brewed by an organization that also does great things for society. That’s exactly the magic formula that makes Beijing-based coffee fanatics GoodWorks so worthy of support.

I first met GoodWorks co-founder Samuel Cornthwaite at the spring Farm to Neighbors Market at the Grand Summit, where you can find them every Saturday. We talked over a cup of their fine java – floral, chocolatey and nutty, with a little bit of a tobacco aroma as well as a subtle acidic taste. I dare say it was one of the best coffees I’ve ever tried in Beijing. The fact that it lived up to my expectations made the story behind it that much more exciting.

The Beijinger (TBJ): Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Samuel Cornthwaite (SC): Absolutely! My name is Samuel Cornthwaite, I’m originally from a small town in America called Bozeman, Montana. I studied a number of things but finally landed on Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Asia. Eventually found myself in the non-profit sector working with different charities in education and medical foundations. In 2009 I spent some time learning about agriculture here in China, which started a number of trips this way. Eventually, Richard Elmore and I launched GoodWorks Development, the parent organization to GoodWorks Coffee & Tea. 

TBJ: What brought you here?
SC: We initially chose China because we saw the great need here for programs supporting orphans as they leave the adoption system. We stayed here because we fell in love with the country, its people, and its opportunity. 

TBJ: Tell us about GoodWorks, what inspired you and Richard? What made you feel responsible for the orphans?
SC: GoodWorks cares much more about people than we do profits. It’s why we put people at the center of what we do. In 2012 I traveled to China and ran out of coffee.   

At that time you couldn’t find a decent cup around here, so it just sort of clicked. We began learning about the coffee industry, I worked as a barista and we sought training in roasting. In 2015 I moved here full time to begin the company and here shortly we’ll launch our first training lab.

I think my call to invest in the orphans comes from my greater need for purpose. Inside we’re all called to something, and for me investing in the lives of orphans, the marginalized just seemed like what I was called to do. 

TBJ: What took you so long to launch your first international program in Langfang?
SC: Money! Haha just kidding. But seriously, it takes a lot of capital to launch a company here in China. So in 2013 we began visiting with friends and family members, and starting roasting coffee there, re-investing the profits so we could launch our programs here.

TBJ: The first training lab will be launched in Shine Hills in Shunyi. Why did you choose Shunyi?
SC: We’re so grateful to the folks at Roundabout and at Shine Hills in Shunyi. We’ve teamed up with this duo to create our training lab in a truly remarkable piece of Beijing. Additionally, a large percentage of our clients are based in that area, so between having the space and the supporters, it was a natural fit. 

TBJ: Will it be difficult to teach the new apprentices? Is there any system in place to make sure they can graduate successfully and then find work?
SC: Sure! All things come with difficulty. But for us, we believe in patience and long-term support. It’s why we’ve created a scalable program that really allows apprentices to stay as long as they need. It’s what makes us so sure of our program.

For more information about GoodWorks’ products and programs, please visit their website

More stories by this author here.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @flyingfigure
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Photos: Samuel Cornthwaite

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