Matthew Neilson loves serving his country while drinking his coffee.
“It makes the whole world,” he said. “I mean out there, we run on caffeine.”
The U.S. Army specialist has been deployed twice and each time, quality coffee wasn’t available.
That changed thanks to Coffee for Troops an organization that does just that: sends coffee to active military personnel fighting on the front lines overseas.
“It seems like a very small thing that would not have a very big impact in the grand scheme of things,” Neilson said. “But it really makes the difference out there.”
Started on September 11, 2010, Coffee for Troops has donated almost 20,000 bags of coffee to troops across the world.
“I deployed multiple times over my 21 years in the military and every time drank crappy coffee,” said Carl Churchill, founder of the nonprofit.
An Army special operations veteran, Churchill knows firsthand how something as small as a cup of coffee can make a big difference in soldiers’ lives.
“My wife will read the emails to me with tears in her eyes about guys and gals who are getting the coffee, how it makes the difference for them," he said.
Churchill sources coffee beans from around the world and roasts them at Alpha Coffee near Salt Lake City, Utah. He uses money from donations and his own personal profits to ship the coffee overseas, something he plans on expanding.
“Our mission statement is four bullet points," Churchill said. ”Awesome coffee; be a warrior; have fun and give back. And that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
With Neilson making a career in the military, being deployed is almost certain to happen again, saying he’ll continue to take pride in serving his country and also while drinking his coffee.
“Emotionally, it carries with you knowing that people are continually thinking about while you’re gone,” he said. “That’s just kind of the cherry on top getting the coffee.”