Family-owned Big Heart Coffee puts all its profits back into the community

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Carmen Valenica | The Daily Wildcat

Barista Scott Shaw makes customer drink Friday, Oct. 21 at Big Heart Coffee.

Coffee isn't the only thing being brewed on the corner of 22nd and Swan. For 10 months, Big Heart Coffee has served up delicious java with an equally strong dose of love. The family-owned coffee shop dedicates itself to donating all of its profits to a different charity organization each month.

After company expenses and paychecks have been settled, the rest of the money goes to people in need—the family doesn't keep any of it for themselves.

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“There’s a business two doors down that supports the family and the coffee shop was started for the community,” said Jake Shaw, a barista at Big Heart Coffee and the business owner’s son.

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Shaw said Big Heart doesn't want to be seen as a non-profit, but rather as a for-profit business that donates its profits to people in need.

Big Heart doesn't just focus itself on charity, though—customer satisfaction is one of its number one priorities. Throughout the construction process, a main priority was creating a comfortable environment for its customers to enjoy.

“We really wanted a place that people could bring their study groups or meet with their friends,” Shaw said.

With plenty of windows, home-like decor and booths large enough to fit large groups of people, Big Heart definitely caters to the needs of the customers above anything.

The warm atmosphere draws in study groups and folks all around Tucson looking to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. Even though it opened less than a year ago, the coffee shop has built up a considerable amount of regulars.

Barista Rachel Townsend said loyal customers come in to the shop as a daily routine.

“The interactions with our customers is something I really enjoy,” Townsend said.

Customer satisfaction is not the only priority, though—a personal relationship between the barista and customer is just as meaningful. Throughout the day, the baristas make an effort to build a personal bond with each individual guest that rolls through their coffee shop.

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The heart-warming vibes have not gone unnoticed by Big Heart patrons.

“We absolutely love to come in here,” said Don Lowery, a local customer.

At first, it was convenient for the Lowery family to spend their time there, but after all of the amazing experiences, it served as more than just a place to spend time while his son practiced tae kwon do, Lowery said.

Lowery and his wife are both regulars who have been sipping on Big Heart Coffee’s drinks since day one. They keep going back for the positive experiences.

As bonds with customers grow, so do great memories. One of Shaw's favorites happened within the first week of the store's grand opening.

"I made two Big Heart Shakes and handed them to these burly looking dudes and the first guy picked it up and consumed the entire drink while standing at the bar," Shaw said. "The other guy did the same exact thing."

For Townsend, it was something a little more personable.

"Jake was training me how to do latte art—[before that], it had been a month of just blobs of foam in the cup," Townsend said.

After loads of frustration, another barista pushed her to try one more time. Finally, she had made a heart out of the foam from a latte.

Big Heart Coffee makes it its mission to do more than just sell drinks, although it always serves new local roasts and updates a list of new items to try. Customers can easily leave feeling satisfied with genuinely good coffee knowing that their money will go to a good cause.


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