San Anselmo entrepreneur Emebet Bellingham connects her passion for teas with her childhood homeland in Ethiopia. The sale of organic coffee and teas via Desta Epicures Guild help to fund her non-profit projects at The World Family.
San Anselmo - Fairfax Patch: How long has the store been in business in San Anselmo?
Emebet Bellingham: We have been open for two years this coming January.
Patch: Where are you from originally and what brought you to San Anselmo?
EB: Ethiopia. I’ve lived in San Anselmo for the last 14 years. Both of my children were born here. I previously lived in Larkspur. I find the Bay Area and especially Marin such a beautiful place to raise children. San Anselmo is full of people who are open and pro-active. People listen to each other here and they are very caring. I am filled with gratitude that I am able to live and work here.
P: What else have you done in your career prior to opening this business?
EB: My background is actually in fashion and design, but about 6 and-a-half years ago I went home to Ethiopia and found children living without shelter. I wanted to do something meaningful so I have since started a non-profit called World Family. So far we have built a community center, including a clinic and a learning center. The center also provides clean water for the local community.
P: What made you open your shop in San Anselmo and what was your experience like getting to this point?
EB: Having lived here and now being able to work here just a few blocks from home makes me feel very fortunate. I wanted meaningful work and my non-profit enabled me to do that. We give 10 percent of our revenue from the tea and coffee business to our non-profit. The coffee and teas we sell are organic, so we are not only have a positive economic impact on our suppliers but we are also doing something that is healthy for people and the environment as well.
P: What was your experience like with the community when you first opened?
EB: The community has been very welcoming and supportive. I first worked out of my home before we opened the show room. We’ve done some outreach and got involved with some youth centered nature restoration projects, some with the Waldorf School.
P: What is the demographic of your customer base?
EB: Our clients have been primarily stores, cafes and restaurants, but now that our tasting room has been open we have built up a good walk-in customer base as well.
P: How would you compare your business to similar business establishments?
EB: First of all we are unique in that we single source Ethiopian coffee and we do not use “natural flavoring.” There is nothing natural about “natural flavoring.” Our teas are very unique too. I have always been intrigued by tastes, flavor and cultures. I’ve done a lot of world travelling and like to think I bring that appreciation to our tea blends as well.
P: What are some of your favorite things to do around town when you are not working?
EB: Hiking. I love nature and keeping it very close to me. I love hiking around Marin, going to the beach, and every now and then doing some horseback riding.
P: If you could change one thing about this town what would it be?
EB: Traffic. I would like to see fewer cars and people drive less.
P: What are you listening to on your iPod these days?
EB: I listen to Beethoven in my car but when I’m not in my car I am listening to Lana Del Rey.
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