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Jesuit Father Robert Dae-je Choi
Finding God in Coffee at Ignatius Cafe in Los Angeles

July 20, 2015 — At Ignatius Cafe in Los Angeles, “finding God in all things” starts first thing in the morning, right in your cup of joe. Jesuit Father Robert Dae-je Choi serves quality coffee with a shot of prayer on the first floor of a charming two-story house, a half-mile away from the University of Southern California.

As part of St. Agnes Korean Catholic Church, the cafe donates all its proceeds to those in need and is staffed entirely by volunteers.

Fr. Choi, a Korean Jesuit, began working with pour-over coffee in 2005. The brewing method had been introduced to Korea by way of Japan and was gaining in popularity. Pursuing his passion for coffee, he received a certification from the Coffee Quality Institute before moving to Los Angeles in 2010.

In 2011, Fr. Choi opened Ignatius Cafe to support St. Agnes and provide a place for the community to congregate, naming it after the founder of the Society of Jesus. As they make the drinks, Fr. Choi and his volunteers pray for the happiness, peace and health of others.

Every morning before opening, volunteers hand-sort beans for quality or defects, sifting through an unusual selection from Kenya, Ethiopia, Brazil, Tanzania, Colombia or Indonesia. Fr. Choi then operates the café’s roaster for about two hours before the arrival of students from the nearby university, community members and professionals.

The drink menu is simple, and a three-dollar donation is suggested for all drinks. Proceeds are collected and distributed both locally and globally to worthy causes, especially low-income and disadvantaged groups. The good will of the Jesuits and the cafe extends to those outside of the church, said Fr. Choi, and donations are made to organizations independent of faith. Beneficiaries include local organizations in Los Angeles and others as far away as Korea, Bolivia and Mongolia.

Fr. Choi said he hopes the cafe offers a place for people to take time out of their day to converse and enjoy the company of others. He believes that the mission of his faith is “for others” and seeks to embody that in Ignatius Cafe, whether through the peaceful garden and atmosphere or the quality of the coffee they serve.

“As a Jesuit and in the Jesuit faith, we find God in all things — coffee is in God and God is in coffee,” Fr. Choi said. [Source: Sprudge Coffee News & Culture]





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