Man on a mission…
Throughout my whole life or ever since I can remember, I’ve always been willing to lend a hand to help someone, anyone. My mom always said “do on to others as you’d have done on to yourself Thomas.” Being of help to someone, made it an easy choice and a gratifying at that. When I look back, I recognize , my mother was the same way. They always say, you don’t fall to far from the tree. My father, on the other hand, left when I was young and was never apart of my life. My mom did the best that she could. Raising 4 kids on her own. She loved me and did everything she could for me, That she knew how.
School was an extremely tough time for me. I failed everything. I learned then, what it meant to being failure. I was called what no one wanted to be called “A fucking idiot”(yes this are the words I heard) the worst words that I can remember. The words that hurt the most. Hearing it so much, it became my reality. I was held back in first grade. Having all of my friends move to the second grade including my best friend. It was so hard on me and the worst first day of school ever. It increased my belief of what people were saying about me. I was put into special education which continued my reality. I remember feeling horrible and alone. The only one I had was my mom. I was in special education from the 1st grade all the way to 10th grade. No one in my life took a second glance to analyze what I was going through. I became the funny kid, just so I could be seen as something other than dumb. I was very insecure and disliked myself. Sometimes thinking it was time to end my life, Knowing it was a possible. Always wishing I could be someone else other then me. But nevertheless, it’s easy to except what everyone around discribes you as. I began to tell people that I was stupid. I ended up dropping out of school because a teacher told me to “stop wasting time, dropout, and get a job at a shoe factory.” There was a shoe factory down the steet from the school. He did this infront of the entire class. This really made me feel dumb and now not wanting to be there anymore. Totally embarrassed because I felt hated and stupid. That was definitely a day that I hated being me. Crying was what sometimes put me to sleep.
It’s been such a long road to get where I am now. This story isnt for anyone to feel bad for me. It wasn’t your fault. This story is just the real deal Tommy fuckin Barnes! Definitely not a fucking idiot. My middle name is Frank BTW. It has been a lot of work and perseverance over society’s rules, judgements and labels to get up. “The only way to feel and understand the pain of a homeless person is to had felt the experience for your self, and I have been homeless.” To find the love for myself and to realize that “someones opinion of me does not have to be my reality.” My girlfriend of 10 whole years helped me so much. She believed in me and gave me opportunity to see my potential. An average IQ is around 85 to 115. I was tested to be 136. 140 being the Mind of a genius. Einstein was known to have an IQ of 160. So I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not a genius. So my ideas, are very simple.
To believe in yourself when know one else does, is the hardest thing to over come. Its an on going battle as the world around us is always willing to put you down. I don’t wish my past on anyone, but I definitely appreciate all that l’ve been through. The saying “what doesn’t kill ya, makes you stronger” is 100% correct and absolutely true. I know more about how this world works because of it. Coming from where I have has taught me so much appreciation. I wouldn’t be where I am today, or even believe that I could somehow come up with an idea to end the need for clean water, if I had have been down this road. I have no regrets and I appreciate everyone that has been apart of my growth as a person. Even the ones that hurt me.
I’ve been homeless, without a place to go. Sleeping on the hotel room floors for 5 bucks to also starting a company where in the first 8 months I generated over $1.3 million. I was offered 7 pizza franchises to start, and turning it down 9 years ago to get into the coffee industry because I saw it as an opportunity to be apart of the community like no other business had, and saw it was basically recession-proof. Because in 2009 everything was closing. But coffee lines still existed.
I began my journey in 2010 working working at a coffee shop in Berkeley California for free for two months. I had know idea what it would be like to work at a coffee shop. So, as good of an idea as it was….l need the experience to know what my life was gonna be like. I then can home to Boston. To a place I love more them any other place in the world I have been. And I’ve been to about 15 different country’s. I got a job at Starbucks. The world’s leader in coffee retail business. With over 28,000 locations world wide. Doing over 15 billion on an annual basis. This was an education I was gonna need. The one I worked at, was the regions second to worst rated Starbucks out of 93 stores. After 2 months of me joining the team we became number one.
That gave me the confidence to now take on the next step. I found my own location. Very scary, but I found Bromfield Brewhouse for sale on Craigslist in downtown Boston. I loved the place. It was perfect, small and easy for me to think about opening. Paying the high rents down there seemed impossible at the time. After 3 weeks of being open, the health department came in an ask “where’s your health permit?” The people I bought the shop from still had 6 months on theirs, so I pointed to theirs hanging on the wall. He said ” thats not yours!” I said “yeah I bought the business!” He said “No! That’s not how it works!” I had know idea. Seemed as it would work that way. I spent seven years Learning the coffee industry. Learning what it took to grow coffee, where it originated from, and how 99% of the coffee companies out there don’t actually sell coffee. Instead selling a genetically modified version of coffee. Which is mostly being sprayed with 250 lb of pesticides per acre. That was a huge shock to me. I could never sell someone something that had been contaminated with an absurd amount of chemicals . So, I went completely organic. I did what my mom always told me to do. “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself!” I stopped drinking chemicals the minute I knew I was. Loving the new experience of drinking a really good cup of coffee. My whole intent in my life is to be number one in whatever I do. I realize, whatever anyone does is helping someone. We all need help with something. Dependimg what you’re teying to do will be the amount of people you’ll need. Your passion for what you do, will shine through andwill inspire others to want to help. I know and understand what it takes to be number 1 coffee shop industry. It took me 7 years but I know. When I come back to open Boston Brewin # 2, it will be number 1 in Boston. It takes a belief that your customers deserve the best. It’s a belief that your customers trust you to deliver them the best product that exists. As well as your products are sourced responsibly to ever soul involved. Coffee roasting isn’t brain surgery. But most people will try to sell you on that. That bullshit. Coffee starts with the farms. If there financially stressed out, their coffee won’t be the best. If we treat our farms as coffee gods. The you get what you pay for. again do onto others that you have done onto yourself. The roastry should have the same respect. It’s something that have to do everyday. That same thing. You drink coffee everyday, they need to keep up with your demand. So making we treat the as gods for what they do for us is an absolute must. This the respect that you need to have for customs. They deserve it. The money that they choice to give you is from time spent that they will never get back. So loving what you do is very important. I spent the last 7 years building a brand known for giving back and these services always present. Our customers raising tones of money for different causes. Our customers outfitting a classroom with brand new school desks and chairs, our customers sponsored a lot of non-profit events. Boston Brewin became well known for selling products that had more benefit and impact to the world and our own community then just your average cup of Joe. This coffee shop actually gave a shit. This was a big part of us becoming the number one coffee shop in downtown Boston. Not easy to do. Especially with only 97 square feet of operation space. Be we did it.
After doing the same thing over and over of 7 years in a row, working 70 hours a week, gets a little old and and super tiring. But in those 7 years I gained an education that money can’t buy.
I was requested to be a guest speaker at Harvard University. Being one of the greatest days of my life. The real McCoy Good Will Hunting I felt like. I’ve been a guest speaker at Suffolk University in their international business classes.
I have made contacts throughout my life that have become friendships because we think the same way. I have these types friendships all over the world. Needless to say, but from my experience, we all have the same desire to be apart of making life better for all before our time comes to an end. Everyone likes be apart of a solution when they can be. This coffee for water project is just that. The ability to be apart of a solution. Taking what people do in a daily basis, and make that the solution is a no brainer.
I have become friends and partners with a guy from Nigeria who was introduce to me by the international professor at Suffolk University. He has made it his life’s mission about helping rural farmers connect to the worlds market, so that they too can life an exceptional life and be proud of what they do. He is bringing them many resources that they currrently don’t have access to. This is Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi CEO and founder of JR Farms Beyond fair Africa.
We have partnered with Paul Kagame the President of Rwanda. Paul has been leading his country into a positive future. Paul has dedicated and funded the building of a Coffee Roastery that’s sole purpose is to empower the women of Rwanda and to inspire women around the world to drink their coffee. We together in partnership Olawale Rotimi Opeyemi, Paul kagame, the women’s Roasterie, UPS worldwide, and any coffee drinker out there that wants the best cup of coffee that the generations upon Generations coffee that Rwanda is known for to partner with us to end the need for clean water in Rwanda. With the partnership of 15,000 coffee drinkers who’ll buy one pound of coffee. We have the ability to build one clean water system that will give 500 people access to clean water at no charge at all to them. On average people consume one pound of coffee a week. Which means we will have the abilities to give 2000 people clean water in one month. There’s going to be growth struggles to keep up, but we’ll deal with that when we get there. We believe coffee for water will spread throughout the world once we show proof that it can be done.
It only takes one pound from 15,000 partners who’d like to drink a damn good cup of coffee!