To make the perfect coffee blend, the beans have to be special, but a good cause for coffee can make it even better.
The Bean coffee shop in downtown Vermillion began selling the exclusive Yote Blend coffee last fall and have provided USD with their very own coffee blend ever since.
Leslie Gerish, co-owner of The Bean, said even though they do not make their own roasts, their roasting partner in Sioux Falls, Coffea, was happy to help.
Coffea partners with a farmer in Guatemala who provides the specific beans for the Yote Blend. The farmer lives near volcanic lakes by Lake Attitlan near the Sierra Madre mountain range.
“The beans used in the Yote Blend are used in other roasts, but this blend is special to us and USD,” Gerish said.
The Yote Blend features a lighter roast with balanced notes of apple and caramel.
The process of creating a unique coffee blend for USD began when a USD staff member asked for a special coffee blend they could serve in the Office of Admissions.
One idea turned into a coffee blend giving back to USD through student scholarships. Each bag and cup of Yote Blend sold gives proceeds back to scholarships at USD.
Martin Prendergast, co-owner of The Bean, said the partnership with USD was fun as they got to get creative with the coffee.
“At the beginning of the process, our roasters made a whole bunch of different roasts and we got to try them with USD administrators and the president,” Prendergast said.
Yote Blend is sold in bags and has been freshly brewed as a staple drip coffee ever since last Dakota Days in 2019.
“We were able to make a good donation at the end of the year and we also were able to sell it to Charlie’s for them to sell as well,” Gerish said.
Gerish and Prendergast partnered with Scott Pohlson, vice president of Enrollment, Marketing and University Relations at USD to coordinate the scholarship aspect of the initiative.
“Projects like Yote Blend are designed to impact multiple focus points for USD’s Strategic Plan from town and gown relations to growing our scholarship funds outside of just asking our generous supporters to give money,” Pohlson said.
The money donated by The Bean goes to general student scholarships for any eligible students.
Initiatives like Yote Blend are part of others like Charlie’s Bookstore and Fan Shop as part of their proceeds also go towards student scholarships.
“Fundraising is the traditional approach to growing scholarships at USD however, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new and creative ways to build some brand awareness while also benefiting our student scholarship fund,” Pohlson said.
Gerish said the whole process with USD was fun and simple because they were helping a good cause.
“We have great partners which makes everything easy for us and it’s really great that we can do this initiative for USD,” Gerish said.
Since Yote Blend is unique to USD, Gerish said it is featured at many USD events like the USD Foundation and admissions visits.
“I think it is really cool because at any USD events, we make sure Yote Blend is there for people to drink so it is really special to USD,” Gerish said.
As well as USD events, Gerish said many customers give the blend as a treat.
“We have a lot of customers who give the blend as gifts for family members or even friends who don’t live in Vermillion anymore,” Gerish said.
While The Bean did have to close mid-March through early June, Prendergast said The Bean had community support as he delivered coffee blends himself to community members on his own bike.
“During the time we were closed, we had great support from the community so we could keep the lights on,” Prendergast said.
Though 2020 was difficult for business, Gerish said The Bean made it through a tough time.
“A year ago, everything looked very different, but we are still committed to giving to the student scholarships at USD,” Gerish said.
The Yote Blend is available at The Bean downtown and for purchase online at their website.