A Letter from Spyhouse on Our Commitment to All

Dear staff, customers, and community,

With many long and honest conversations, and while trying to compose my thoughts on how to address the racial inequalities, inequities, and discrimination that plagues each corner of society, I have definitely learned that I, as an individual and as the founder of this company, have not even come close to doing enough for the BIPOC community. I need to devote moments from the daily grind to converse, to explore, to learn (or unlearn), and to build collaborations with organizations to unite behind the common goal of more equality in our businesses and in the specialty coffee community to rapidly foster change. Below you will see our initiatives and we will be updating these in real time so everyone can follow along, as we believe in full transparency for real change.

I have made mistakes and I seek to improve as a person, and as the owner of this company, and know this will take work. I am willing to do the work. There are so many daily mundane things I take for granted as a white male in my everyday life. This is a time for action, inside and outside. I value our team and value their input. I will get this done—with them and for them. I understand that real, actionable change needs to happen within a company, no matter the size, with passionate input from all levels. 

Cafes began over 500 years ago as a place to discuss the arts, literature, politics, and to engage in socialization. Despite much of the social dialogue that has moved online in the past 10+ years, cafes still exist for that function and have inherently existed as the communal epicenters of the neighborhoods they serve. Our goal is to serve, and to serve everyone well and fairly, despite the color of one’s skin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or how one identifies as an individual. Yet, it is important for us to understand how each person will come into our cafes with different experiences. We will be open for all and looking for better ways to serve everyone and to foster an environment where everyone feels welcomed.


Our Commitment

To the BIPOC community, our staff, our customers, and to the community as a whole, we will work to recognize our mistakes and become more empathetic and knowledgeable of the daily racial biases and prejudices that BIPOC experience every day. As individuals and as a company, we are committed to change, growth, and most importantly—being part of the solution. We must improve—each of us must be a better version of who we were yesterday.

We recognize the mistakes we have made in the past, misunderstanding that what we thought were fair and equal policies, had detrimental effects of creating discomfort or even potential harm to some entering our cafes, and for that we apologize wholeheartedly. Our old policies had us believing that calling 911 was the best protocol for certain situations, but it is evident that that is not the right solution for almost all scenarios. In our training described below, we will continue to learn how to better address any difficult situations that may arise in our cafes. We believe that Black Lives Matter and we will work to be and do better.

We do not know all of the answers and will likely continue to get some things wrong, but we do know that we can and will continually be open to new ideas—listening intently to our staff, co-workers, and those we serve with great gratitude. As a small company that started 20 years ago, serving millions and hiring hundreds of individuals, our policies evolve and we must keep evolving. Below you will see what we’ve been doing and will continue to do. We will also continue our work and donations for gender equality, the LGBTQIA+ community, and environmental sustainability. We will continue to have honest and important conversations with our café managers and all of our staff to hear about how daily operations and customer engagement can be improved. Our neighborhoods are what make us and keep us going, and we need to give back more to stand with them. We will do the work and hope our actions will be evident in the weeks and months to come.

We believe in compassionate and intentional dialogue, if ever a situation arises. We believe in utilizing our cafes in the way cafes were created—to bring people together, in-person, to meet, to engage, to listen, and to learn from one another on how we can become better. We believe in doing that over what we know best, coffee.

Our Education + Hiring

*These areas we will be updating in real-time.

PINK Consulting, LLC: “Intercultural Organizational Development is a process of linking your organization’s overall strategic development with your day-to-day strategic diversity, inclusion and equity goals in order to become more effective in hiring and retaining staff, building effective multicultural teams, and serving your community.” This training will be provided to our leadership team and staff.
This work is in process and on-going.*

Barista Training: We are contacting a diverse group of coffee professionals to support the work they are doing in the area of training through barista classes to underserved communities. This will help provide training to ease entry into specialty coffee positions.
This work is in process and on-going.*

Hiring: We are in the process of gathering resources for new hiring and outreach practices. Hiring more diverse applicants will also come with training and mentoring to help provide more opportunities for advancement within our company. We are committed to increasing our diversity and inclusion work and this starts now.
This work is in process and on-going. We will post resources as we gather them.*

Our Community

Neighborhood associations and BIPOC-owned businesses – We will be reaching out to and working more closely with neighborhood associations, civic and religious leaders, BIPOC-owned businesses to determine how better we can work with them to create a better sense of community with inclusion, respect, and peace among all to further the goals of promoting equality.
This work is in process and on-going.*

Collaborative projects and donations:
We will be releasing and updating monthly donations to various local organizations and non-profits that work to uplift the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. This is a way for us to humbly give support to those who have been doing important work already, and not only in this moment. These places are giving back to us by teaching our communities and giving us the resources to improve and be better.

Below are a list of current and on-going projects/donations:

  • The plywood materials salvaged from the past weeks is now being shared with our communities. Our builder, Jonathan Gomez Whitney, salvaged close to 150 re-usable sheets of plywood from the business of Spyhouse, Haus, and Alma. The sheets will have a storied life. After being used for 9 stores they have now become the canvas for a Lake St. recovery mural project. The mural project is being hosted by Source Ministries in the parking lot the Lake St. K-mart. The murals are large scale (32' wide 15' tall) and will cover the entire face of the building. This serves as back drop to the weekly Source food drive which hands out 5 tons of fresh produce to families in need every week.

    After the mural project is completed, the building materials will be taken down and delivered to Urban Homeworks, where they will use it for "the combined resources of the public, private and faith sectors to transform vacant, condemned, or underutilized properties and vacant lots into quality, attainable places to live for low to moderate income households."

  • Antione & Stephon are two creatives (Antz Creationz) that we met when they asked to create a mural on the plywood outside our Uptown café on Hennepin during the time of protest following George Floyd’s killing. In August, we’ll present a limited-edition drink available in all of our cafes. The cup will have artwork created by Antione.

    Proceeds will go towards these organizations:

    • Juxtaposition Arts is a teen-staffed art and design center, gallery, retail shop, and artists’ studio space in North Minneapolis. Since the uprisings in Minneapolis began, JXTA has played a critical role in building community alternatives to the police, led by Black, POCI and other youth who are already building the abundant and just future they envision.
    • West Broadway Business and Area Coalition / Northside Funders Group partnership will direct donations in supporting businesses on Minneapolis’s Northside that have been impacted by COVID-19 and the recent uprising.

    Drink is now available through October 19.

  • Power of the People Cookout + Donation Drive – donated drinks, food, and space to collect goods going to Joyce Uptown Food Shelf, organized by Stephon (PDG) and Antione (Antz Creationz).
    June 6

  • Partnership with our baker, Vikings and Goddesses with Bakers Against Racism and the Good Acre MN. For a one-time special offering of Rhubarb Crisp Pie, we helped chop up all the rhubarb (200 lbs!) and served as a pick-up location. $25 of each pie sold was donated to Appetite for Change, an organization using “food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change in North Minneapolis.”

  • For Trade Coffee’s “Come Together Coffee” program, we chose A Mothers Love Initiative. A former employee's mother started this amazing organization. A Mothers Love (Bringing Back the Village) is a grassroots organization of Black mothers and fathers reflecting the communities they serve. It includes members who were in prison, have buried children and siblings from gun violence, have children incarcerated, are single parents, and parents of children of the LGBTQIA+ community. Trained in mentoring, trauma care, and procedural justice, they use their own life experiences to “help meet people where they are in life and work to build strong families with strong futures.”
    June 24–30

    We will “Continue the Love” by contributing $3 for every 10oz bag of coffee sold in our cafes and online to A Mothers Love Initiative.
    July 1–12