opium, coffee beans and baptism


His grandfather moved from Southern China to the Highlands of Northern Thailand to grow opium, hoping to capture a piece of the lucrative opium trade between Great Britain and China. Two generations cultivated this nutrient rich soil carefully tending the opium plants as they emerged from the soil. Once the opium poppy’s bloomed the opium tears, the dried latex in the poppy, were extracted from these former seeds, and processed to make heroin. Heroin addiction become an epidemic in 19th century China.

After working this profitable land for a lifetime the land was passed from grandfather and father to grandson.  After an encounter with Jesus the grandson, of this well-established family history, had a new dream, and new vision for the land.  A dream to redeem this well toiled land and grow a legal product, organic coffee beans. Desiring to create single origin relationships to those coffee beans the grandson began his search.  He wanted to plant seeds of justice in the soil of injustice.

After several years of redeeming the land two stories collided in this once mother of opium highlands.

Jeff, a vineyard pastor, who had just opened a coffee shop in Rayong, Thailand, 2 hours south of Bangkok on the sea, was on the search for the right fit for his coffee dream.  Single origin coffee beans from the rich nutrient soil of northern Thailand with a farmer he could trust was his dream.  A farmer that believed in turning injustice into justice.  A farmer than believed that what he grew is as important as how he grew it.

The two met each other and the rest is history.

Jeff & Awe, now 18 months into their coffee roasting and coffee shop journey have been astounded by what God has done.  As a family they opened their coffee shop, Yindee coffee, in Rayong with the hopes of providing a place for the community to gather and connect.  In a 96% Buddhist culture and a 1% Christian culture, attending a church to search for spiritual meaning is not on the radar for most.  However, attending a store front shop to have a cup of coffee just might be.  Jeff went on a journey to learn the art of roasting and has not only perfected the art of coffee roasting with innovative products from these single origin beans but he has now trained 4 other coffee shop owners in Thailand and is providing them with his product.

The design of the coffee shop itself is very intentional.  Various styles of furniture are separated into smaller circles of relationship throughout the coffees shop.  The furniture is not uniform, is mismatched and deliberately imperfect.  A trait that alone creates conversation. An addition was added to the coffee shop to make room for a band to play and more seating to be added.


While Jeff continues to keep his main job as an engineer for now, he said this story is the perfect fit for him, his family and the vineyard community.  Did I mention the vineyard community now gathers in the coffee shop for worship and sharing on Sundays… and a cup of coffee of course.  When Jeff is not working as an engineer, roasting coffee beans or training other roasters he can be found having a cup of coffee with the clients who come to enjoy Yindee coffee shop.  Conversations are easy, spiritual conversations are even easier.  The vineyard community baptized 4 people a few weeks ago and 2 more baptism are on the way. Each of those people encountered the story of Jesus over a cup of coffee in Yindee coffee shop.  In a 96% Buddhist culture, a cup of coffee appears to be one of the ways to Jesus.

A story that starts with the opium trade and the inherent invitation to addiction stumbles into redeeming the seeds of injustice and ultimately finding its full redemption in the waters of baptism.  Isn’t that just like God?

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on November 14, 2013.

2 Responses to “opium, coffee beans and baptism”

  1. Love it!!

  2. By the way, several of the sacrifices of the OT were followed by a meal with fellow worshippers. Over the meal, they connected with each other and with God. Coffee is also a great way to connect with people and God. So there you have a biblical basis for the coffee shop ministry.

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