From Coffee to Kimchi: Colorado Barista to Teach ESL in South Korea

“We are excited to offer you the opportunity to extend your reach globally with every sip of coffee and every purchase of artisan handicrafts brought to you directly from the countries where GRI is working in Uganda, DR Congo, Syria and South Sudan.” – Global Goods & Coffee

By Colorado Coffee Zine

2 years ago, Gina Nordini was an average junior in college asking herself what she might want to do with her life after graduation. It was then that she discovered Global Goods & Coffee in Arvada, CO. What caught her attention wasn’t the beverage selection or impressive structure that once served as home to Arvada’s first mayor, it was actually the nonprofit component.

Global Goods & Coffee (GGC) opened in Spring 2013 as an additional fundraising branch of the international nonprofit agency Global Refuge which provides a lifeline to victims of disease, war and disaster. The coffee shop sells goods made by artisans in the aid recipient countries and is proud to include their stories and their images on nearly every piece. To ensure that as much funding as possible goes directly to support relief projects, GGC follows a volunteer model in which the majority of the day to day work is led by a team of volunteer cashiers, baristas, and bakers.


“I didn’t even drink coffee when I started here. It was only once I started doing my barista training that I started drinking coffee, before that I didn’t touch it.” Gina didn’t drink coffee at the time, but felt moved to support this ambitious volunteer project. She quickly became involved in every aspect of the coffee shop, learning front of house management and later moving on to work behind the scenes training new volunteers, overseeing inventory, and being a shift supervisor. Gina had become immersed in the coffee industry and enjoyed every minute of it.

About one year into the experience, Gina started looking at opportunities to teach English abroad. She enrolled in courses to get the proper certifications and began interviewing with schools in a few countries, ultimately settling on an offer from South Korea. That means that Gina will be in South Korea during this year’s World Barista Championship!

“I don’t know how long I’m going to be teaching but I think at some point in the future I could see myself returning to the coffee industry either working as a barista again or maybe looking into coffee roasting” says Gina about the cool coincidence and her longterm plans. A Colorado native, Gina will miss the mountains and watching the rapid growth happening around the whole metro area. She calls out customer service as one of her biggest sources of learning and growth during her time at GGC.


Gina completed her last shift for 2017 at GGC in mid-March, saying goodbyes and see you laters to customers, new friends and her GGC family. She leaves Colorado for a new adventure and the warm message of “Be willing to get out there and try new things…whether that is coffee or travel. …Don’t limit yourself to any one place… be willing to check out things you haven’t experienced before.”

Best wishes and safe travels to Gina Nordini from the Colorado coffee community.

Global Goods & Coffee
Global Refuge