Raised by missionary parents in Eastern Europe, Brett Bixler grew up with a strong sense of compassion, good will and devout faith. He learned that being a good Christian means giving back to one's church and community.
Now a husband and father of two in Colorado Springs, Bixler brings that inspired vision to his business in an effort to benefit missionaries and other like-minded organizations around the globe.
Mission Coffee Roasters, a coffee shop located near New Life Church on the north side of town, radiates an inviting, friendly mood while offering an array of coffee and tea along with amazing pastries.
The shop, however, is only the tip of the enterprise.
While an important part of Bixler's success is acquiring distribution partnerships, the heart of his business is working with nonprofits and contributing to full-time missionaries, high school and college mission trips, missionaries-in-training, homeless ministries and more.
Mission Coffee assists local nonprofits with fundraising efforts by creating custom-roasted coffee along with custom labeling.
"The organization buys the coffee from us wholesale, and then they sell it retail in order to generate extra income," Bixler said.
UpaDowna, a Colorado Springs-based outdoor education nonprofit, created the UpaDowna Blend. The Springs Rescue Mission, which helps homeless and at-risk neighbors, has The Mission Roast. And the Briargate YMCA features a Morning Blend to benefit children's programs in the region.
Bixler's efforts to support missionaries and Christian outreaches work the same way - they buy the coffee wholesale and sell it at the retail price.
"Recently, some Charis Bible College students were raising money for a mission trip to South Africa. They began selling our coffee and within a few weeks had enough for their plane tickets," he said.
Bixler has worked closely with Youth With a Mission, a local nonprofit, to help students raise money to fund youth mission trips.
"We used to donate 10 percent of sales to their chosen organization, but we became inundated with requests," Bixler said. "And we soon learned that they earned a larger margin by selling it themselves."
While you don't have to be a nonprofit or missionary to work with Mission Coffee, there is purpose behind Bixler's work on the commercial side.
"It's important to me that we only work with quality businesses that are also focused on supporting the community and not just their bottom line," Bixler said.
The coffee shop features artwork from a different local artist each month and hosts an exhibit to help promote the artist.
With more than 20 years of experience working with specialty coffee, Bixler's passion for quality came after college while working with a family, which included three generations, growing coffee in Guatemala and manufacturing roasting equipment. Eventually, he opened his own coffee business in Baltimore before moving to Colorado Springs.