DIEPPE – As a child, Claire Vaughan would go on adventures through the woods and bring home the stray animals she found to nurse or return to their owners. She has since turned that passion to help animals in need into a coffee business that donates 10 per cent of its profit to organizations like Greater Moncton SPCA.
“I would get so upset knowing that there were animals out there that were in danger or didn’t have a home or didn’t have shelter or something. And I’ve always been that way. I still get upset when I think about it,” she said as her cat Nahla tries to get her attention.
So two years ago, after quitting a corporate job, travelling and thinking about the kind of work she wants to do, Vaughan launched Rescue Coffee Company. The company sells organic, fair-trade coffee sourced from Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Indonesia that’s roasted by Nova Coffee in Nova Scotia.
“I combined coffee and animals because for me I was also really getting into good-quality locally roasted coffee. And I’ve kind of been noticing the shift for appreciation for good coffee as well in our culture. Also coffee allows our company to be able to be in someone’s life on a daily basis,” the Wolfville, N.S., native said.
“I grew up in a small town where there were lots of entrepreneurs. There were lots of farmers’ markets. People really saw the value of buying local, giving back, doing something to help out your neighbour. I think a little bit of that maybe was ingrained in me as well,” she said.
Rescue Coffee sells an average of 400 pounds of coffee a month. Vaughan runs the business from her home in Dieppe. She said selling the coffee online and through established shops instead of through her own cafe allowed a larger reach. She is now working to expand to Newfoundland.
“Right now I have barely any overhead [costs],” she said. “If I had just one cafe then I would be limited to that community, which is great. But with the business model I have right now, I’m able to expand a lot faster, I believe. I’d love to get this across the country. I didn’t necessarily want to own a brick and mortar place. Maybe in the future, I will. But right now I don’t have to worry that I’m not going to have customers walk through the door because of a snowstorm.”
The Dalhousie University business school graduate said she’s grateful for help from the community.
“I find people have been really open and eager to help too. Yea, I started this business. But I couldn’t have done it without the people along the way to help me,” she said.
In New Brunswick, Rescue Coffee’s products can be found at Global Pet Foods, some Pet Valu stores, as well as Moncton’s Starving Artist Café and the Moncton Animal Hospital. It’s also served at St. James Gate in Moncton. The products, like Bark & Bite and Go Fetch, are also available online and in certain stores in Nova Scotia, PEI and Toronto, and one doggie boutique in Montreal.
Vaughan started by partnering with the SPCA in Greater Moncton, from where she adopted her dog, Theo. She now donates some of her profit to other SPCAs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the PEI Humane Society and Save Our Scruff in Toronto. So far, she has contributed around $3,000.
“I just thought people really already seem to have a really big connection to the SPCA [in Moncton], so they were my first partner ever that I had. I did start it here, and they’ve been with me through the whole thing,” she said.
“You can’t go out and try and find every stray animal. But you can do something to bring awareness to people and educate people about treating animals properly, and about adopting rather than buying from a breeder.”