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NEW Grounds Coffee: Doing Good One Cup at a Time

Krystina Dillard was running late for work one morning about seven years ago as she drove down Duraleigh Road in Raleigh, but she knew she’d never make it through the morning without a jolt of caffeine.

On a side street she saw a small gas station - “It was kind of sketchy, one I’d never even stopped at for gas,” she recalled - and stumbled in. “Oh please, let them have coffee,” she remembers thinking. Didn’t even have to be good coffee - which she wasn’t expecting – just coffee.

To her surprise, the coffee was exquisite, and she stopped at the same gas station the next day. And the next. She looked up the name of the company that made the coffee and filed it away.

A year later, the N.C. Community Action Association – where Krystina serves as Director of Training and Technical Assistance - was looking for a coffee company to team up with to raise money.

“We looked at companies in Asheville, in Seattle and other places, and then I remembered the coffee I’d had in that gas station,” Krystina said.

It was Raleigh-based Larry’s Coffee, and it was, she said, about five minutes away from the NCCAA’s offices. The nonprofit NCCAA couldn’t have picked a better coffee company to partner with to raise money for its program to help formerly incarcerated inmates make the transition back into society. The program is called NEW – Nash Edgecombe Wilson – and it seeks to smooth the way back into society for some of the 22,000 people who leave prison in North Carolina each year.

The NCCAA and Larry’s Coffee are both dedicated to helping make the world a better place by helping people help themselves. The NCCAA’s mission is to prepare people for opportunities to improve their lot in life, and then to help provide those opportunities. Larry’s Coffee prides itself on selling ethically sourced coffee, meaning the company pays its coffee growers livable wages. To put its money where its coffee cup was, the company helped start a cooperative with growers from around the world to ensure they are treated fairly. In short, it’s not just a guaranteed source of good coffee, but a source of good in the world.

Does that mean its coffee is slightly more expensive than what you could get at some grocery stores or gas stations? Sure, but as Lee Pike, a company spokeswoman said, “we’ve found that people are willing to pay more” for coffee that they can drink knowing that the people who grew it were well-treated and fairly compensated. And, of course, it makes sense that coffee you can drink with an untroubled conscience will taste better.

The coffee blended by Larry’s Coffee for the NCCAA is called New Grounds, and it comes from Ethiopia. Lee describes it as “accessible,” and Krystina said it tastes like coffee, chocolate and cherry wine. Yum.

Coffee makes a delicious holiday gift, one that can last throughout the year. When you give the NCCAA’s special blend from Larry’s, the organization receives 10% of the sale. When you order New Grounds, you’re not just giving a great-tasting gift to people you know, but you’re helping people you don’t know toward a new beginning.

Buying and giving New Grounds will help some people trying to make their way in the world. To give a gift that’ll keep on giving, go to or to

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