Story and photos by Mark Boehler
FULTON — Tucked away in the corner of an unassuming industrial building beside a residential neighborhood, the aroma of roasting and grinding coffee beans fills the air.
Part-time employee Samantha Deaton climbs a step ladder to pour the roasted dark-brown beans into a stainless steel hopper, then sets the machine to dump 12 ounces of finely-ground java beans into bags, which are then sealed and packaged for delivery.
The smell of coffee surrounds the work area and the 21-year-old Ole Miss student admits a cup of joe is calling her name every time she works to grind beans.
Symbolic perhaps of the calling of this operation. All profits from sales from this company support missionary work and providing medical supplies in remote Asian communities, plus rallies support in the United States on the war against human trafficking.
The enterprise is called My Brothers Cup Coffee Company and this is its story about using the smell and taste of coffee that runs so deep it also tugs at the heart.
Founder Mike Pittman didn’t know beans about coffee roasting when he began his business almost 11 years ago. Now his cup runneth over with success thanks to brisk internet sales and a host of retail outlets throughout Northeast Mississippi.
On this day in the coffee bean roasting world, Pittman is working on Relationship, a medium roast coffee and one of three non-flavored varieties produced at My Brothers Cup.
There are a dozen blends from which to choose, all made special with both the name and the blend.
Pittman orders raw coffee beans from three different regions of the world — Ethiopia in East Africa, Costa Rica in Central America and Papua New Guinea, an island on the Oceania continent off the northern coast of Australia.
“All have different roasting characteristics,” said the coffee bean roaster.
My Brothers Cup averages about 800-1,000 pounds of ground coffee sold per week “all over the United States” and “even some foreign countries,” noted Pittman.
“It is going well,” said the Tupelo resident, as the company’s primary focus is on internet sales.
There are also about 25 retail outlets which sell the coffee, including greenhouses, salons, drug stores, gift stores and coffee cafes. Most of the outlets are in northeast Mississippi, including Ginger’s in downtown Corinth.
As much as Pittman likes to talk about the roasting and blending of coffee beans, his real passion is the mission beyond the cup.
It’s coffee that heals.
“Our whole purpose is mission work,” said the 65-year-old Pittman, as all profits from My Brothers Cup go to share the gospel and provide medical supplies to remote areas of the world, such as Myanmar, an Asian country formerly called Burma which borders India and China.
“We are a for-profit business,” explained Pittman, who retired at the age of 55 in materials management from Weyerhaeuser in Columbus. “We use the profits from the business to support mission work. Coffee opens doors in coffee-growing regions.”
Pittman’s mission efforts started some 20 years ago long before My Brothers Cup was born and was the inspiration for the need for mission work.
Chinese government restrictions ended their mission efforts in that country in 2018, he said.
In addition to current efforts is Asian areas, Pittman has another humanitarian effort on his home soil in the battle against human trafficking.
Assisted by his church — Anchor Church in Verona — the coffee company proceeds help fund and sponsor girls who are trying to escape sex trafficking.
There are efforts underway to build Transformation Garden, a facility which gives victims a place to stay as they escape the grasp of trafficking and the damage it causes. Anchor Church is being assisted with the project by Eight Days of Hope.
“These girls get caught up in prostitution and they have no way out,” he said. “Most are brought in at a very early age.”
A $1,000 gift sponsors one girl per month to stay in Transformation Garden, noted Pittman, as the goal is to build more gardens to provide escape and sponsor and help more women.
“These women have no place to go,” said Pittman. “It takes years to overcome it.”
Pittman gives credit to the Lord for the success of My Brothers Cup and the support of his wife of 38 years, Kay, who assists in any way.
The couple has also remained active the past 25 years with Ronald McDonald House in Memphis, cooking meals for families who have patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“We have been blessed,” added Pittman. “We hope to continue to do work of the Lord.”
Doing business with this coffee company has its perks.
(Donations are sought to help area women escape the horrors of human trafficking. Send to Anchor Church; Attention: Transformation Garden, P.O. Box 4054, Tupelo, Miss. 38803.)
Coffee blends tell a story,
provide different flavor profiles
At My Brothers Cup Coffee Company, there is a story behind every blend in addition to a different taste.
With all profits to support mission work in Asian countries and the battle to support victims of human sex trafficking, the northeast Mississippi-based company prides itself in quality blends of coffee made with beans from Africa, Central America and the South Pacific.
Online orders are accepted at www.mybrotherscup.com. In the Crossroads area, the coffee with a cause is available at Ginger’s at its new location in downtown Corinth and O’Claire’s Boutique and Gift Shop at 109 Fulton Street in downtown Iuka.
There are three sizes and select varieties are also available in whole bean.
Two-ounce packages are $3.50 and remain a great way to not only support a great cause, but coffee drinkers can experiment with their taste buds to work their way to a favorite blend.
Twelve-ounce packages are $10.95 while a five-pound bag is $56.80. Gift cards are also available, along with promotional merchandise such as coffee cups, tumblers, pole shirts, t-shirts and caps.
Ginger’s owner Ginger Stockton bought the coffee at a retail outlet, reading about the story behind the company and began the process of stocking her store with the product.
“We like to sell things with a purpose,” noted Stockton. “We were looking for something mission oriented.”
Stockton plans to feature the coffee during her store’s open house and offer free samples during the holidays. “It’s a great product as well,” she said, as she became a fan with her first taste of coffee.
Ginger’s has both the 3.5-ounce and 12-ounce package with a whole bean option for the larger size. “We got as many flavors as we could,” she added. “About eight. It’s a good selection.”
Here is a coffee table cheat sheet for first-time sippers of My Brothers Cup:
Angry River — Named after the Salween River in China’s Yunnan province, the Nu minority call the river Nujiang. Nu means dark and so there it is – a dark roast.
Mountain Rain — A medium to dark roast blended in honor of the missionary work of James O. Frazier.
Relationship — A medium roast and the name makes a person think while they sip coffee. It’s Mike’s favorite blend. He admits he doesn’t like flavored coffee.
Roxanne — By far the coffee company’s top seller. Described as a coffee with a hint of cinnamon and a touch of pecan, butterscotch rum and caramel, the blend has a huge following. It is named after Lisa “Roxanne” Richardson of WDJC Radio in Birmingham, Ala., where she started a human trafficking rescue operation called The Wellhouse. The flavorful blend with the tribute name outsells all other blends.
Southern Roasted Pecan — The number two top seller. Must be the words “southern,” “roasted” and “pecan” all in the same name. The coffee trifecta.
Blueberry Sky — My Brothers Cup employee Samantha Deaton’s favorite blend. “I just love it,” she said, as the sky is the limit.
Confidence Factor — Like chocolate-covered cherries? This is the blend to boost the ole “confidence.”
Caramelicious — For the caramel lover, this one is “icious” to boot.
Sea Salted Caramel — A second choice for the caramel lover with a dash of salt.
Hazelnut Revolution — The revolution begins here on a favorite nut.
Vanilla Social — Make that two scoops of vanilla, please, and things are added to a higher “social” level.
Even Keel Decaf — Pittman and Company provide one ordered by the doctor. They take out the caffeine, yet leave in the flavor.
Taste of Christmas — Bring a little joy to the java with a warm splash of cinnamon. It is a holiday speciality blend “yule” love.
(Questions can be e-mailed to email@example.com.)