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Meet Denise and Zach Gamza

Today we’d like to introduce you to Denise and Zach Gamza.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
We started Empower Coffee Roasters with two main purposes: First, to give coffee drinkers an exceptional experience with some of the best coffees around the world; and second, to empower women through education and opportunity. We believe in providing women with the opportunities necessary to succeed, especially in areas like coffee farming and STEM education. We wanted Empower Coffee Roasters to not just be another coffee roastery but sought for it to be about something greater than ourselves.

While Denise was working on a Ph.D. in chemistry, she realized that there was a great need for more opportunities for young girls to learn about careers in STEM. Many young girls are not encouraged to pursue careers in STEM, and those in disadvantaged schools are not always exposed to the excitement and power of science that would make their dream of becoming a scientist or engineer.

While Denise was completing her Ph.D. and figuring out how she could contribute to solving this problem, Zach was trying to make a difference working in politics. As he advanced in his career, Zach realized politics was just one of his many passions, and he began exploring other ways he could impact our community.

It was during this time that we discovered our passion for quality coffee, and we dove headfirst into home roasting and brewing. Denise loved how much chemistry was involved in coffee roasting and how her scientific background could improve the roasting and brewing processes. Zach loved playing with fire, even if it meant needing a fire extinguisher a few too many times.

Together, we realized that we could combine our passions and create a unique company that made supporting women a core part of our business. We formed Empower Coffee Roasters as a women-owned business that seeks to support other women. Our goal is to involve women-owned businesses and organizations in as many facets of our company as possible.

We primarily source our green beans from women-owned and run farms, and we respect the coffee value chain by ensuring our suppliers at origin are compensated fairly and are committed to empowering their own communities. We are also committed to supporting organizations that help women and girls succeed and make their dreams a reality.

We donate 5% of all sales to local organizations that empower women and girls.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
We launched our business right when COVID was shutting everything down, so it was a challenge for us to get the word out about our coffee roastery. It also was basically impossible for us to achieve our goal of hosting in-person learning events for girls interested in STEM. We pivoted to a primarily-online business but have gradually opened up to more in-person events and volunteer opportunities.

Like many small businesses just starting out, it has been a challenge to spread awareness about our coffee and our mission. With so many other roasters both locally and nationwide, it can be difficult to stand out and convince cafes and restaurants to give us a shot. But once they try our coffee and hear about our mission to empower women, many businesses have been eager to work with us.

The whole experience has taught us how important marketing and sharing your story are to best connect with customers.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We are owners of a coffee roastery specializing in women-owned coffee farms. We are committed to empowering women globally and locally, which is why we donate 5% of all revenue to local organizations that empower girls and women.

What separates us from other coffee roasters is that our mission to empower women is equally as important as roasting coffee. It’s fully integrated into every aspect of our business. That commitment extends to how we source our beans. We know how significant the exploitation of women is in coffee farming.

So we only work with farms that pay their worker’s fair wages, are environmentally sustainable, and reinvest in their communities. We happily pay a premium to those farms to ensure they are sustainable and successful.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
Luck plays a tremendous role in our lives and business. We would not have even met and fallen in love without a series of lucky events. For our business, luck can often make or break you in the early stages. For example, we were extraordinarily lucky to be featured on the Drew Barrymore Show, which in turn brought a lot of eyes to our roastery. But that came about totally by chance.

It’s important both in life and business to respect the role luck plays in things, to appreciate and be prepared to take advantage of those opportunities. It’s also important to acknowledge the randomness of it all so you remain humble and empathetic to the plights of others. Thinking your success is fully your own doing can turn you into someone no one wants to be around.

Even when things aren’t going perfectly, we are fully aware of how lucky we are and how important it is to give others the opportunities we’ve received.

Pricing:

  • Our coffees range from $16-$19 per bag.
  • We offer wholesale coffee for cafes, restaurants, and other businesses.
  • We also have tee shirts, coffee brewers, and other great merchandise.

Contact Info:

  • Email: hello@empowercoffeeroasters.com
  • Website: empowercoffeeroasters.com
  • Instagram: @empowercoffeeroasters
  • Facebook: empowercoffeeroasters
  • TikTok: @empowercoffee


Image Credits:

Lauren Peachie

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