Sober Joe Supports Recovery, One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

By Kelly Burch 06/20/18

The national coffee brand raises money for non-profits offering recovery services and funds monthly sober living scholarships.

a woman holding a mug that says Sober Joe

Coffee and recovery go hand-in-hand, whether the beverage is being served at 12-step meetings, or just helping someone start their day in the morning. Now, a small-batch, craft coffee company is working to support recovery efforts, one cup at a time.  

Frank Kerker worked in the beverage industry for 25 years, doing sales and marketing for national brands. However, when Kerker started working a recovery program in 2005 after realizing he was drinking too much, he realized that there was a natural opportunity to use coffee as a fundraiser for recovery. 

“This was the perfect intersection for me: beverages and recovery,” Kerker told The Fix in a recent interview. 

Not only was it a good fit given Kerker’s professional past, but there was also a well-established connection between coffee and recovery. 

“I don't know why there is that connection, but there is,” Kerker said. “Coffee is mentioned a half a dozen times in The Big Book and 12 & 12. It's the beverage of choice for 12-step meetings everywhere. It’s ubiquitous, part of the culture. Making coffee is even suggested as a way to perform service work.”

Last September, Kerker began to use coffee as part of his service work, although he went far beyond making a pot for friends. He launched Sober Joe, a coffee brand that raises money for non-profits offering recovery services. 

Initially, Kerker was planning to just test the concept, but the positive response was overwhelming. 

“Virtually everyone is touched directly by addiction and people want to help but don't know how,” Kerker said. “Buying a product that you use everyday is an easy way to help. Plus, it's really good coffee.”

Each month since September, Sober Joe has funded a scholarship to Courage to Change Sober Living, a local halfway house in Bloomington, Indiana, where Sober Joe is headquartered. Kerker estimates the scholarships totaled about $3,000. 

More recently, Sober Joe partnered with Compassion4Addiction, an organization that aims to change the perception of addiction through compassion and science. Sober Joe is now launching nationally, and proceeds from national sales will be donated to Compassion4Addiction.

“Shame and stigma can’t coexist with compassion,” said Vicky Dulai, the cofounder of Compassion4Addiction. “If you create a place for compassion, then you can create a space where people can actually heal.”

Kerker agrees that cutting down on stigma is essential to advancing treatment for addiction.

“Accurately understanding the problem is the first step in solving the problem and loosening the stigma that stands in the way of effective treatment,” Kerker said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.