I met Jason Estopinal during an Awaken Gathering in Santa Barbara California a few years ago and loved his authenticity. He wants to live the true gospel. You can see it shine through in this interview. He and some others have started a coffee company in Haiti called Trezo d’ Haiti with the goal of contributing to the transformation in Haiti. Enjoy!
AMAG: What is Trezo d’Haiti and what made you want to start a coffee company in Haiti?
Haitian farmers grow on small pieces of land called “Creole gardens,” right next to the fruits and vegetables they’ll be eating for dinner. Each step in the process is personally and carefully completed, using the same methods their ancestors used.
JE: Trezò d’Haïti is a brand of specialty gourmet Haitian coffees, organically grown in the highlands of Haiti. Our coffee is legit: contrary to most of the commercialized hybrid varieties of coffee that robots and chemicals grow that you would find in coffee shops and grocery stores these days, these beans are a rare breed and as natural as it gets. Haitian farmers grow on small pieces of land called “Creole gardens,” right next to the fruits and vegetables they’ll be eating for dinner. Each step in the process is personally and carefully completed, using the same methods their ancestors used.
It’s that rich heritage that initially drew me in. Then after taking a small group of YWAM missionaries to Haiti, I saw firsthand the destitution and poverty that runs rampant throughout the nation. Seriously, it is like nothing I can describe. I could sit here and list line after line of faceless facts and nameless numbers, but these just don’t do the realities justice. It wasn’t until I saw the hardship with my own eyes. It wasn’t until I witnessed these facts first hand that it became real to me.
That coupled with watching their desire for growth and change is when this country and its people began to take root in my heart. I wanted to find a way to relieve their suffering – a way that was sustainable in the long run – I wanted to help in not a quick-fix kind of way, but in a way that true human flourishing happens. And so I thought, that by revitalizing an industry that was once so profitable would be the perfect way to go about achieving that goal.
AMAG: How does this help Haiti and its economy?
JE: The political instability in Haiti has crippled the nation for decades and as a result not much is expected from the government in terms of fostering any real growth and development. The work of NGOs and religious organizations are undeniably beneficial, but very rarely have the means to initiate economic or social progress.
Trezo d’Haiti wants to place the wheel back into the hands of the Haitian people. Coffee is the second most traded legal commodity in the world—the demand is there. Our goal is to bridge the gap between Haiti and the world market, reconnecting Haitians with the world’s coffee lovers and putting millions back to work.
Trezo d’Haiti wants to place the wheel back into the hands of the Haitian people. Our goal is to bridge the gap between Haiti and the world market, reconnecting Haitians with the world’s coffee lovers and putting millions back to work.
AMAG: Where are you at in the business process now?
JE: We are open for business! The coffee is imported from our own personal contacts in Haiti, then roasted and packaged locally in California. We are now doing everything we can to spread the word about this amazing cause and this amazing coffee.
AMAG: Can you give us one testimony/story of a Haitian or group of Haitians being affected by this venture?
JE: Where less than 50% of the country has a job—our coffee has put 2,000 farmers to work. In a place where families go days without eating a meal—we are feeding the families of 2,000 people. And where only 1 in 3 children go to school our farmers are able to send their children to school. And, this is just the beginning…
AMAG: What has God taught you through this so far?
JE: I read a book years ago by Brother Andrew, and he said that God’s calling on our lives is a lot like the automatic doors at the supermarket – they are tightly closed when you look from afar, but it isn’t until you walk towards those closed doors that they begin to open. The same thing has happened here as I’ve been building this—God is in the business of opening doors.
I’ve seen people from all different backgrounds coming together, offering their time and their talents to get this company off the ground. We’ve experienced an overwhelming response from people around the globe, coffee lovers eager to purchase our product and praising our coffee and our efforts. I dove into this venture headfirst, and from that day forward God has been opening doors to help me along the way. It’s a truly humbling, scary, and exciting experience.
My dream is that when people think of Haiti, they don’t immediately think of poverty, devastation, earthquakes or cholera. Instead, I hope they will think of a great coffee and an even greater people.
AMAG: What are 3 tips you can give for those pioneering businesses or ministries?
JE: 1) When Abraham was pleading with God for the city of Sodom he asks if God will spare the city if there were 50 righteous people, God then responded saying “yes” He would spare it. Then Abraham asks if there were 40 righteous would he then spare it, God again responds saying that he would indeed spare it. Abraham keeps praying and God keeps going beyond Abe’s expectations by graciously relenting. Eventually it is Abraham, NOT God, that stops at 10 people. In the same way, ask for nations, not cities. Ask for libraries, not books. Don’t settle for “pretty cool” when God wants to do something totally “mind-blowing awesome.”
2) Don’t think you have to be an expert in the field, just try to meet the need that you see. I knew nothing about coffee when I started this journey—I didn’t even like it at the time. God only needs someone who is willing.
3) When doing business as a missions, you must always, always remind yourself that the goal is not just to show people elements of the Kingdom, but to show them the King Himself.
AMAG: What would be your dream outcome for this venture?
JE: My dream is that when people think of Haiti, they don’t immediately think of poverty, devastation, earthquakes or cholera. Instead, I hope they will think of a great coffee and an even greater people. I hope to establish the farmers we are working with, then set them up with buyers so they are not dependent on our business alone.
Gradually we can move through sets of farmers throughout Haiti, connecting them with agents of fair trade in the world market and that they can do business without me in any capacity and be truly, truly self-sufficient. I also aim to successfully translate a Systematic Theology text into Haitian Creole. It is said that Haiti is 60% Catholic, 20% Protestant, and 100% Voodoo. I want to send books, teams, teachers, missionaries and any other willing servants to work with the clergy in Haiti and address this severe theological famine—the country is poised for revival, and I want to be a part of it!
AMAG: How can people be praying for you?
JE: Thank you so much for asking this. I would simply ask that you pray for God’s blessing on our endeavors. Pray that the word will continue to spread about this historical and delicious coffee and pray that change is on the horizon and that Haiti finds hope and growth in Jesus via His body of believers. I would also ask that anyone who reads this and feels stirred to be involved would pray for God’s guidance on how you might want to work with us (seriously, can you take a picture? Can you program a website? Can you do spoken word? Can you draw?… Anything you are God-gifted with we would love to tap).
Whether you choose to purchase our coffee (www.trezodhaiti.com), volunteer your time, or even travel with us to Haiti to share truth and disciple believers, we would love to speak to you about your involvement. If you feel called to help in any way, please reach out to us—“the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Many of the photos graciously provided by Matthew Morgan