Revival Coffee serves beverages with a side of community benefit

Brooke Sjoberg

Now under new ownership, the former Vintage Heart Cafe has found life as Revival Coffee.

With community-oriented business practices, Revival Coffee partnered with Austin Pets Alive, Casa Marianella and Explore Austin in a donation pledge. Customers can choose from the three charities when purchasing their coffee or tea, with one beverage equating one vote. At the end of the quarter, Revival Coffee will donate ten percent of its net proceeds to the charity with the most votes. The process will be repeated each fiscal quarter, with three new charities selected each time.

Revival Coffee owner Alyse Bordelon said the concept of the shop was inspired by a charity bar in Houston which routinely donated profits and saw great success with its sponsorship. In a city with so much wealth, Bordelon said she believes people want to help their community but may not know how to. This is where Revival Coffee comes in.
“We’ve got extremely wealthy people coming into our shop every day, and then we have very underprivileged people walking by our shop every day,” Bordelon said. “I think a lot of our wealthy population, especially the people who have the luxury of spending four dollars on a coffee, they want to contribute and sometimes they don’t know how. This is a way they get to contribute without making any  effort.”

Bordelon hopes to improve the lives of animals and said the mission behind Austin Pets Alive meshes well with the culture of the shop, where everyone loves dogs. Austin Pets Alive deputy development director Anne Helmick-Lyon said she believes the campaign of Revival is a great way to do business, no matter who wins, but APA stretches every dollar to help the animals under their care.

“If the award comes to us, money is going to go to one of multiple programs,” Helmick-Lyon said. “We have certain special innovative programs which are resource intensive, that animals are usually euthanized for. Money that comes here goes to those programs and those animals, but we do it really cost-effectively.”

According to Helmick-Lyon, the rescue organization boasts a 99 percent adoption rate. However, where the welfare of humans is concerned, Bordelon selected Explore Austin and Casa Marianella because she said she wanted a diverse group of organizations for customers to choose from, and that the mission of Explore Austin was similar to her own love of the outdoors.

“I read this article about a company (Explore Austin) that takes kids who have lost their fathers in war, and takes them on camping trips, Bordelon said. “They just talked about the whole process and the sort of things these kids learn on the trips, from their mentors who are father-like figures, and I just thought the benefits were astounding.”

Casa Marianella, a shelter created specifically to aid recently-arrived immigrants and asylum seekers, is currently in the lead with the most votes at Revival. Current tensions surrounding immigration and international relations are what Bordelon said caused her to choose the shelter as her third charity. Jennifer Long, Casa Marianella’s executive director, said she believes the work being done by Revival Coffee forces people to engage with difficult issues, which she calls “fabulous.”

“I think Casa Marianella is a really appealing charity because almost all of our staff is volunteers who get paid a stipend,” Long said. “They’re generally from AmeriCorps, or Jesuit volunteer corps, or people that are idealistic young people that are working for very little money. We have almost no overhead, because all of us who work here do shifts and do direct service.”