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Waterville coffee roaster giving back to farmers, selling handpicked blends to community

Churchill Elangwe-Preston is starting a scholarship fund to help the farmer's families that were much like his own growing up.

WATERVILLE, Maine — One Waterville man is making it his mission to not only bring quality coffee to his community, but to make a difference in lives that were much like his own.

Churchill Elangwe-Preston started a coffee roastery last month after being involved in the coffee business since he was a kid.

His family owns a coffee and cocoa farm in Cameroon, Africa, where he worked starting around five years old. It's where his father taught him how to do everything from pruning coffee plants to harvesting the beans.

Since he was a kid, Churchill said having his own coffee business was something he has always wanted to do.

"Growing up, I always said to myself, how can I use coffee to make a difference," Churchill said.

Last year, he figured out how to make that difference. He started Mbingo Mountain Coffee with the goal to give back to coffee farmers and their children in countries across Africa.

"When you grew up in an environment like I did where you see a lot of poor people, you see people work extremely hard and not [get] much for their produce," Churchill said.

He exclusively buys African coffee from farms in Rwanda, Uganda, and Ethiopia as a way to help families make a living. However, doing business with these farmers isn't enough for Churchill.

He is starting a scholarship fund to help the farmer's children get an education.

"I'm focusing on how I can use this to make a difference," Churchill said.

Churchill himself came to the U.S. in the early 2000s to attend college. Since earning an engineering degree, he's worked as an engineer but didn't feel fulfilled.

"Your innermost intuition, your voice inside it's telling you that it's about time for you to do something different. It's about time for you to change the trajectory of what you're doing to service," Churchill said. "I'm turning this into service."

Churchill started selling his coffee last month at a local bakery, Holy Cannoli, in downtown Waterville. So far, Mbingo Mountain Coffee's sales have exceeded expectations.

"For a small start-up roastery in Waterville Maine, which is something unheard of, it's really taken off," Jason Furchak, co-owner of Holy Cannoli, said.

On Thursday, Mbingo Mountain Coffee will officially launch at Holy Cannoli. There will be a grand opening with samples and, of course, coffee for sale.

Churchill said the community has thoroughly embraced him and has helped him fulfill something he's always wanted to do: make quality coffee and make a difference in people's lives.

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