This volunteer-run coffee shop in downtown Sanford donates all its profits to the fight against human trafficking.
On first impression, Palate Coffee Brewery on West Second Street in downtown Sanford looks and feels like a typical coffee shop. Light music hums in the background as baristas work swiftly and skillfully to brew the picture-perfect cup of joe. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll see and learn that this popular spot for coffee lovers is more than meets the eye.
The baristas behind the counter are all volunteers who also serve to educate new customers on what Palate is all about – fighting human trafficking. One hundred percent of sales and tips go toward helping victims, survivors, and at-risk women and children.
The café is the brainchild of Tina Kadolph, founder of the local nonprofit organization Love Missions, a group dedicated to fighting the injustice of human trafficking locally and abroad.
“The volunteers have a heart to be here,” says Tina. “They have fun, and they learn a new skill – how to make coffee. Some of them eventually move on to get jobs at other coffee shops, and I love that. We’re able to empower them to keep moving forward.”
The nonprofit’s mission is an extremely personal one to Tina, who is a survivor of human trafficking. Palate is not just a social enterprise, but one of several projects initiated by Love Missions to raise awareness and money. Since opening the family-run coffee shop three years ago, more than $36,000 has been donated to the cause in addition to clothes, hygiene supplies, and other necessities.
“This place is about people, not profit,” says Tina. “We want to empower our local community to have a global impact. People don’t know how bad a problem human trafficking is. I recently had the opportunity to help a young lady in need who came into the coffee shop and told me her story. I’m so glad we were able to get her to a safe place.”
Last October, Central Florida leaders announced that greater Orlando ranks third in the United States for the number of reports to the national human trafficking hotline. Tina, along with her husband of 34 years, Carl, work hard every single day to find solutions to this alarming reality. They started Love Missions in 2000 to combat human trafficking through several ongoing projects and mission work and most recently through Palate Coffee Brewery.
Carl, who works in construction, is the man behind the coffee shop’s inventive (and budget-friendly) use of wooden pallets.
“We wanted to be a really great community coffee shop in the area, so we found locally-roasted beans that are delicious,” says Tina, “but the space itself had a lot of flaws, and we had a limited budget. Thanks to Carl, he inspired all of us to embrace the flaws.”
From the tables to the benches to the coffee bar, Carl built everything out of wooden pallets that were stored in the couple’s backyard.
“Using pallets has a deeper meaning for us too,” adds Tina. “Human trafficking victims are like these pallets. They’re strong-made, but are usually thrown away once they’re used. They’re considered trash by most people, but they can be turned into something beautiful. Just look around the coffee shop. You don’t know that these pallets were once garbage. We need to take the time to invest in survivors and let them see they’re worth.”
Tina knows firsthand that getting to a point of healing and self-worth takes time. She suffered a nervous breakdown when her children were very young and had to seek counseling. For many years, she kept the door to her difficult past sealed shut.
“When I was trafficked as a child by my own mother, there were times when I didn’t think there was hope,” Tina says. “There was a lot of despair. I wanted to pretend it didn’t happen, and I was afraid of being judged. Now I’m taking every opportunity to speak out and educate those at risk and parents as well. They need to know the signs and the dangers. I want to help anyone who is hurt, broken, or struggling, because that’s what I came from.”
Tina and her tirelessly supportive husband are making a real difference.
“We do everything together; Carl has been my support system from the very beginning,” says Tina. “We married when I was 20 years old, and he has walked this journey of healing with me. He’s always empowered me along the way and believed in me. He told me I could be anything I wanted. I knew that on my heart was the hope to rescue lives.”
Over the years, Tina and Carl have traveled to different countries on mission trips, but one country in particular captured their hearts – Guyana, the only English-speaking nation in South America.
“In 2007, while doing research on where we should go with our church mission, Guyana kept coming up in my search,” Tina recalls. “I felt like we were supposed to go there, so we did.”
Now, more than 10 years later, Tina, her family, and Love Missions volunteers (many of them university students) travel to Guyana several times a year. Love Missions is in the process of building a safe house called The Sunflower House for trafficked girls, ages 4 to 11. The home is scheduled to open at the end of the year. Love Missions also plans to open a school in Guyana and start a virtual program to connect local students with peers here in the U.S.
Through her work in Guyana and locally, Tina has been a part of incredible success stories in the fight against human trafficking. She has spent countless hours educating and working with children, youth, and families.
“Education is the key,” Tina says. “This is the way to save the children, especially, before they’re lured in. Wherever I go, I have to let others know about the work I’m doing.”
It was in Guyana where Tina and Carl met their adopted son, Devon, who now runs Palate’s day-to-day operations with his sister Katrina.
“It’s beautiful to just wake up every morning knowing why you open the doors at Palate,” says Devon. “I’m so grateful to be a part of this, it’s very encouraging. We don’t just sell coffee, we tell our story and share our mission.”
The volunteer baristas devote their time for the same reasons.
“It’s been an awesome experience so far,” says Sanford resident Rachel Sammons. “I not only get to learn to make coffee and meet great people in the community, but I get to give back and spread the message about human trafficking.”
Tina hopes to continue creating safe and friendly environments like Palate to help those in need assimilate back into the community. She plans to train human trafficking survivors to become baristas and open a commercial kitchen across the street from Palate where others can learn culinary skills.
“We’re taking baby steps, but the community has been so supportive of the work we’re doing, and we are so thankful,” says Tina. “We welcome everyone to come and be a part of Palate Coffee Brewery and Love Missions.”
Get Involved: Volunteer as a Barista or Join a Mission Trip
Palate Coffee Brewery is always looking for volunteer baristas. For more information, visit SanfordCoffee.com or email PalateCoffeeBrewery@gmail.com.
Love Missions is going to Guyana, South America, again this November. Join in the mission to fight human trafficking by educating parents and youth and helping build a safe house for trafficked girls, ages 4 to 11. For more information, visit LoveMissions.net or email Carl Kadolph at Carl@LoveMissions.net.
Want More Information?