This Purpose-Driven Coffee Company Is Helping Dogs – and Humans – with Every Cup
A morning ritual with his rescue pup inspired entrepreneur Jordan Karcher to find a creative way to fund animal welfare initiatives
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“I woke up every morning, and I had a cup of coffee with Molly,” says Grounds and Hounds Coffee Co. founder Jordan Karcher referring to the dalmation he adopted in 2012 from a roadside dog rescue site. “It was the absolute best part of my morning.”
“At the time, I believe 2.1 million dogs were being euthanized each year. I just couldn’t stand on the sidelines and not do anything.”
Karcher began volunteering with a local animal organization, but was looking for a way to do more. He found inspiration in his beloved morning routine with Molly, and created the idea for a coffee company driven by raising funds and awareness for dog rescue causes. Applying his previous experience in the beverage industry, he launched Grounds and Hounds in 2014. Proceeds from sales have gone to support projects including spay and neutering initiatives, microchipping, and food donations to lower-income families so they can afford to keep their pets. A portrait of Molly graces every package of organic speciality-grade coffee beans the brand sells.
“The whole company started basically with the premise of, ‘How do we help provide alternative sources of funding for animal rescue?’”
One of the ways Grounds and Hounds fulfills its mission is with its Rescue Roast. Every six weeks, a specific dog-related charity is selected to receive 100 percent of the profits from sales.
In June and July 2021, Rescue Roast sales went to Marley’s Mutts Pawsitive Change Prison Program, a program that brings high-risk rescue dogs to California prisons where they live for three months and receive dog training from incarcerated people. The Positive Change program is an offshoot of Marley’s Mutts, a non-profit dog rescue shelter based at a ranch in Tehachapi, California, dedicated to saving at-risk dogs from euthanasia.
“I founded Marley’s Mutts 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease,” founder Zach Skow says. “I drank myself into liver failure at 28 years old and was given less than 90 days to live without a liver transplant, which I was not going to get.” Faced with opiate withdrawal and subsequent depression, Skow attributes his recuperation to his three rescue dogs. He claims they are what saved his life during his recovery and despair.
“My dogs were just really there for me. They not only helped me get through withdrawal to a really helpful degree, but they just started inspiring me on a daily basis to get through it, to just get up and go. We just started walking every morning.”
Now, through the Pawsitive Change Prison Program, he is helping share that inspiring human-dog connection.
“We go in every week and we train with our student inmates. We provide the structure and the curriculum of the program. We work towards the goals of Canine Good Citizen certification. And we work towards the goals of becoming a better human being and a better pet guardian and dog trainer,” says Skow.
So far, Pawsitve Change has had a 100 percent success rate and none of the participants have returned to prison following their release. Skow says that in the five and half years they’ve been doing the program, they have worked with around 600 people and 400 dogs.
“The biggest thing for me is learning not to judge people, learning to give people a second chance truly, to look for the potential in everyone. Incarcerated people are a lot like incarcerated pets. They’ve been abandoned, they’ve been cast aside, they’ve been judged.”
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