From day one, the idea was simple, according to Cody Lorance. “Start a small business and make a little bit of money to support organizations that help vulnerable children,” said Lorance, who owns Endiro Coffee with Gloria Katusiime, a native Ugandan.
Endiro Coffee opened in May at 29 W. New York St. along Restaurant Row in downtown Aurora.
Lorance said that Uganda is home to some 200,000 children living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 3 million are orphaned. “The critical needs of the next generation are impossible to ignore and many individuals and groups are trying their best to brighten the future for young people. Endiro Coffee was born in this spirit, as a tiny little café in the great big city of Kampala, Uganda, ready to do its part for kids in need,” Lorance said.
What came next, however, was entirely unexpected, Lorance said.
Endiro quickly became popular among locals and tourists alike and the business found itself needing to grow to keep up with demand. The little café in Kampala expanded to fill the adjacent building and then began to launch new locations in other parts of the country. In 2015, Endiro opened its 4th and 5th locations amid growing popularity and launched its first coffee growing project.
Today, Endiro has established itself as one of the most popular coffee brands in Uganda and has seen its operations expand from the coffee cup all the way to the coffee tree. Currently, some 2,000 coffee farmers – most of whom are women – are members of the Endiro Growers network and 100% of Endiro’s Ugandan coffee comes from these farmers who receive training, equipment, mentoring and the nation’s highest prices per kilogram of coffee through the partnership.
All this, of course, has allowed Endiro Coffee to do more than what they had ever imagined in partnership with others to end child vulnerability, according to Lorance.
“We are amazed at what has been accomplished, but we know we are still at the beginning, the things we see on the horizon in the next year – in Uganda and in other parts of the world – are going to take us to another level in terms of what we can do for the sake of vulnerable children,” Lorance said.
Endiro is now open in the heart of the Aurora’s historic downtown district. Aurorans, Chicagoans and even diaspora Ugandans can be treated to single-origin Ugandan coffee from the village of Bukalasi in Bududa, specialty grade Ugandan tea from Mityana, and even some Ugandan street food favorites such as rolex, samosas, and muchomo. “In true Endiro fashion, a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu compliment a coffee, tea and juice menu that will be difficult to beat,” Lorance said.
“We call our culinary style, ‘Glocal Food’ because we like to take popular dishes from around the world and put our own, distinctly Ugandan twist on it.”
The Endiro Aurora location is also a roastery, which means that all the coffee customers drink is roasted in house to ensure maximum freshness and flavor – and home brewers needn’t worry as they will always be able to take a bag of their favorite beans home with them along with Endiro’s signature t-shirt which proclaims boldly, “With enough coffee, I can change the world!”
Endiro’s leaders are networking with local organizations that are working with children and young people in the area.
“Child vulnerability is not a Ugandan problem. It is not an African problem. It is a human problem and wherever we find ourselves as a company we want to be intentionally engaging with others to ensure that every child has an opportunity to realize their God-given potential,” Lorance said.
In the end, Endiro is not simply a Ugandan restaurant chain launching out into the highly-competitive American marketplace, according to Lorance. “It is not just another in a long list of new wave coffee shops entering a very crowded field. Endiro is a company wholly built upon a love for children and entirely dedicated to doing whatever it can to “brew a better world” for them,” he said.
Lorance added that Endiro’s vision statement says it all:
“Our vision is to be a company that partners with others to end child vulnerability globally and to advance justice, peace, liberty and dignity through the utilization of coffee and its related products, profits, services and spaces.”