OCOEE, Fla. — A man is on a mission to improve not only his own community, but ones around the globe as well.
- Josh Taylor says he coffee profits used to help people
- Tens of thousands of dollars used for charity
And his vehicle for change starts with coffee.
"We're put on this planet for something that's much bigger than ourselves," said Everyday Hero Josh Taylor.
Taylor, who has been in the restaurant business for the last 28 years, is the general manager of House Blend Cafe in Ocoee. He said that while coffee is about connection, he imagined his shop doing even more.
"We started thinking about a cafe that the profits would be used to help people in need," he said. "It takes a lot of money to go and change the world. And rather than doing golf tournaments and fundraisers, things like that, we started the business to raise the funds."
Since opening in February 2006, Taylor said that they have raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity. House Blend merged three years ago with Axum Coffee, another local charitable coffee house.
"What he does every day is for others," said Jonathan Daigle, House Blend's manager, who has known Taylor for a decade. "He's the guy that's always doing everything and getting other people to do everything with him."
Taylor's own home in Winter Garden morphed into non-profit Do Good Farm. Everything, from chives to cactus, is edible and bio-diverse. Goats bleat in the makeshift barn, bees hum in nearby hives. Inside Taylor's aquaponics greenhouse, schools of fish swim in large, blue containers.
"It's ending hunger and malnutrition through sustainable farming," Taylor explained.
The man recently took his vision for sustainable farming across the world, teaching villagers in Burundi, Africa, about sustainable farming practices and installed a demonstration aquaponics system.
"You saw the passion and enthusiasm and twinkle in their eye when they got it," said Jane Burns, who, too, went on the mission trip to Burundi. "(Taylor is) an inspiration to everyone he touches. He's an inspiration to me."
"Without him, this place doesn't exist, the farm doesn't exist. And people don't get to hear a message that's going to uplift them," said Daigle, back at the cafe. "If it's going to affect people positively or change the world in a positive light, we're going to try to do it."
Meanwhile, Taylor has another side project as well: creating a farm-to-table school cafeteria concept for local charter schools, where everything grown, harvested, processed and cooked is done on site for students.
"We're hoping to impact some lives and it's been a grand adventure," said Taylor. "There's opportunity for us to change the community in big ways and small ways as well."