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Dr. Harshbarger

ecuadorian coffee beans story

Dr. Harshbarger

coffee origin story part 41


It's Wednesday, October 4, 2017. 

I'm standing at our booth at the Mulberry Market, talking to as many people as I can. 

A well-known professor at Mercer, whom I have seen before, steps up to the table: "You're a man I need to speak to. I've talked to Dr. McMahan and he has told me about your project. I want to hear the story from you." 

"The summer of 2016, I went on a Mercer On Mission Trip to Zaruma, Ecuador..."

For the first time, he wasn't simply enamored by the story - rather he connected with it. As a man who speaks many different languages, he has traveled all over the globe. He told me about his trips to Africa - his work with a small orphanage - and his longing for sustainable differences. 

He senses my interest, but he also senses my knack to converse with others as well. Like that, he leaves. Like that, his name slips my mind. 


It's Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 

I'm standing at our booth at the Mulberry Market, talking to as many people as I can. 

Walking up Tatnall Square Park, I see him again. Immediately, he walks up to the booth, and we pick up where we left off. This time Ben is with me, so he picks up any customers that approach. It was fascinating speaking to him: he cared about Z Beans the vocation - not so much Z Beans the business. I appreciated that, for I knew he'd never let me lose sight of my original purpose - my why.

That day, we exchanged phone numbers. I told him I'd like to meet up and continue our chat. 

So, we did. 

I learned about his service. From Law School at Columbia, to the travels throughout Europe, to his incredible work in Guinea, to his dedication to the Mercer and Macon Community, I respected his work. 

From our talks about "When Helping Hurts," I refined Z Beans international vocation, centering it around each and every farmer. I began thinking of ways to improve their way of life, rather than their crops. I began thinking about their own personal sustainability, deciding to forego typical buyer/seller contracts and allowing relationships to lead Z Beans' international sustainability. Most importantly, I began focusing on learning the culture, rather than the language. With the language, you can speak. With the culture, you can listen.


As our talks continued to get deeper and deeper, Dr. Harshbarger never gave me business advice. But from his talks, Z Beans grew. It grew because he taught me the value of relationships, kindness, and sincerity. He appreciated my focus and intent on growing Z Beans. He never, once, spoke about Z Beans as a small coffee company trying its best to sell 10 bags a day. He spoke about Z Beans as a business creating opportunities for people 5,000 miles away. 


It's January 5, 2019.

A year and a half into our friendship.

Dr. Harshbarger and I sit in Your Pie in Downtown Macon. Sporadic talks have turned into weekly hangouts. Talks of business have turned to talks about life. I've learned about Dr. Hashbarger's family, his deep appreciation for Macon, and his love of the Georgia Bulldogs. While I had left during the 4th quarter of the National Championship game, proclaiming the Bulldogs as National Champions, he never abandoned our friendship.


Dr. Harshbarger isn't one to boast - and he isn't one to draw attention to himself. However, if he has impacted my life in such a drastic way over the past year and a half, I know he's impacted countless others. 

Carter, Ben, and I have all became very close friends with him. He has impacted all of our lives for the better, and we look forward to many more dinners, games, and talks together. As a team, we couldn't think of a better way to pay tribute to a man who has brought stability, excitement, and calmness to our hectic lives, than to proclaim our appreciation and pay our respect.

Thank you, Dr. Harshbarger. 

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