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Building Our Future, Together

With springtime right around the corner, our Compass Community has a lot to look forward to. Over the course of this year’s Black History Month, we chatted over coffee with several of our leaders to reflect on the past, learn about what’s on their horizons, and what building our future together means to them.


Ashley

Café Manager

“We have a lot to be grateful for in this world […] but there is also a lot of work to be done.”

After a medical diagnosis that altered the way Ashley lived her life, she decided to focus on what she values most: building meaningful relationships with others. She spent time with family, and actively pursued opportunities that allowed her to connect with great people—enter, Compass Coffee.

 

Between her time in the military and nearly 15 years in the coffee industry, Ashley recognized her love of both coffee and a desire for camaraderie. She decided to look for a place where she could reconnect with both of those things—somewhere she could drink real good coffee, learn, grow, and invest in others. “The awesome coffee and the focus on people is what really made me fall in love with Compass,” Ashley said. After touring our new roasting facility in Ivy City, and learning more about what the future holds, she realized that Compass was where she wanted to continue her coffee journey, and be part of building something special.

 

Like many, Ashley learned about the people who were critical in Black history while she was in school—people like Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parks. But at home, her family made sure to instill a sense of pride and ownership in her own story. Her story is important, and so are the stories of the people that surround her; with importance comes opportunity, and with opportunity comes the power to make change. “We have a lot to be grateful for in this world,” said Ashley’s grandmother, “but there is also a lot of work to be done. Never forget that.” These words of wisdom have been a major catalyst for much of what Ashley has accomplished.

 

Originally from Philadelphia, Ashley is the Café Manager at our Spring Valley café. Her favorite part of the job—getting to know her awesome team and customers that she sees every single day. “Spring Valley really is a special café with a whole community that truly cares about each other,” said Ashley. “Just ask anyone; if someone has a day off, the customers are concerned about their whereabouts! Those kinds of relationships don’t just happen overnight, and they don’t happen just anywhere. It’s intentional, and it takes time; that is part of what makes Compass so special.”

 

Ashley’s not the only one building an awesome community of customers. In fact, she’s learned that she can’t do it alone. “I can’t create an awesome café community by myself; it’s something my whole team works on together,” Ashley said. In other words, it takes a team. At Spring Valley, Ashley strives to connect with everyone she meets, and to lean on her team who does the same. “We are all here to create a better, brighter future—and we have to all do it together.”

With springtime right around the corner, our Compass Community has a lot to look forward to. Over the course of this year’s Black History Month, we chatted over coffee with several of our leaders to reflect on the past, learn about what’s on their horizons, and what building our future together means to them.


Ashley

Café Manager

“We have a lot to be grateful for in this world […] but there is also a lot of work to be done.”

After a medical diagnosis that altered the way Ashley lived her life, she decided to focus on what she values most: building meaningful relationships with others. She spent time with family, and actively pursued opportunities that allowed her to connect with great people—enter, Compass Coffee.

 

Between her time in the military and nearly 15 years in the coffee industry, Ashley recognized her love of both coffee and a desire for camaraderie. She decided to look for a place where she could reconnect with both of those things—somewhere she could drink real good coffee, learn, grow, and invest in others. “The awesome coffee and the focus on people is what really made me fall in love with Compass,” Ashley said. After touring our new roasting facility in Ivy City, and learning more about what the future holds, she realized that Compass was where she wanted to continue her coffee journey, and be part of building something special.

 

Like many, Ashley learned about the people who were critical in Black history while she was in school—people like Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, and Rosa Parks. But at home, her family made sure to instill a sense of pride and ownership in her own story. Her story is important, and so are the stories of the people that surround her; with importance comes opportunity, and with opportunity comes the power to make change. “We have a lot to be grateful for in this world,” said Ashley’s grandmother, “but there is also a lot of work to be done. Never forget that.” These words of wisdom have been a major catalyst for much of what Ashley has accomplished.

 

Originally from Philadelphia, Ashley is the Café Manager at our Spring Valley café. Her favorite part of the job—getting to know her awesome team and customers that she sees every single day. “Spring Valley really is a special café with a whole community that truly cares about each other,” said Ashley. “Just ask anyone; if someone has a day off, the customers are concerned about their whereabouts! Those kinds of relationships don’t just happen overnight, and they don’t happen just anywhere. It’s intentional, and it takes time; that is part of what makes Compass so special.”

 

Ashley’s not the only one building an awesome community of customers. In fact, she’s learned that she can’t do it alone. “I can’t create an awesome café community by myself; it’s something my whole team works on together,” Ashley said. In other words, it takes a team. At Spring Valley, Ashley strives to connect with everyone she meets, and to lean on her team who does the same. “We are all here to create a better, brighter future—and we have to all do it together.”


India

Supervisor

“...it’s time to work towards my goals, to tackle my dreams. It’s time for progress.”

Over the course of February, you can’t help but reminisce on the past and look towards the future. Black History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize many of our great leaders—but for India, it is also a time for personal reflection, and a time to contemplate purpose. “What do I want out of life? What are my goals? What am I passionate about?,” India often asks herself. These questions resurface as we chat about the future we are working towards. While India has many interests, one thing she knows for sure is “...it’s time to work towards my goals, to tackle my dreams. It’s time for progress.” For India, the first step towards progress is simple: deciding to make a change.

 

India has always viewed Black History Month as a time for inspiration, and a time for hope. By focusing on her values and the role she can play within her own community, India realized that she could be the change she hopes to see in the world. “My family always pushed me to grow, to learn, and to not be afraid,” said India. “I am thankful that I can take their wisdom and apply it to my day-to-day life.”

 

As a Supervisor at our Georgetown café, India spends every day connecting with her customers. It’s safe to say that without her passion and willingness to always support her team, the Georgetown community would not be the same.

 

While a lot has changed for our teams over the past few years, India notes her appreciation for the one things that’s been a constant: the investment that Compass gives to every single team member. “I’ve had the opportunity to train very quickly here,” said India, “and every leader I have had has invested in my growth. And now I’ve been able to do the same. You can’t find that everywhere.”

 

India attributes her ability to achieve many personal goals to the investment she’s experienced at Compass. From learning to drive, to furthering her education, or even just enthusiastically learning a new skill, India’s team has been there to encourage her every step of the way. “With so many unknowns in today’s world, I always know that I can count on my team for support,” said India. With the help of her team, she’s excited to grow and build a brighter future, together.


Sabrina

Supervisor

“When I think about building our future together, I think about the connection between the teams and the customers. Everyone is working together to create a space where all of our customers can come be part of a real community. It's a beautiful thing.” 

A year after losing her grandmother to Covid, Sabrina started on a new path, guided by her grandmother’s advice to live a full life. “I regret that it took her passing for me to live life fully, but I am still grateful for this lesson.” One of the pivotal steps on this new journey was joining the Compass team.

 

As a Supervisor at our 8th street café, Sabrina spends her days creating meaningful connections with every customer, many of whom have inspired her to pursue her own personal goals. “When I think about building our future together, I think about the connection between the teams and the customers. Everyone is working together to create a space where all of our customers can come be part of a real community. It's a beautiful thing.”

 

The support of her café community has surprisingly encouraged her to work towards a specific personal goal—being independent. “I am still rather young,” said Sabrina, “but being financially independent has always been something to work on down the road. But why wait? Why not tackle this now?”

Sabrina strives for a life where she can be independent; a life inspired by the strength and courage of her mother. Sabrina’s mother raised three kids as a single parent, but never let the family go without everything they needed. “She is the strongest woman I have ever known,” said Sabrina. Watching her mother work tirelessly to provide for her family, and still carve out time to maintain strong relationships with friends and family, is what inspires Sabrina every day.

 

Her mother also made sure to instill a sense of pride in her history as a black woman. She taught Sabrina about the past, and the importance of reflecting on that past in order to build a better future. Sabrina’s mother made sure she understood where her family came from, but also where they could go. “‘The hope for a brighter future is endless; you just need to believe in yourself,’ my mother would always say.”

Growing up, Sabrina heard the phrase “it takes a village” often, and even now, that holds true. Sabrina is committed to her team and customers, and vice versa. To build the future we want, together, Sabrina says “it’ll take a village.”


Kami

Supervisor

“Investing in others is what I’m truly passionate about […] I'm excited to take the next step in building for my future.”

Growing up, Kami was 1 of 3 black children in her school, but thanks to her family and her family’s story, she always felt grounded. Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Kami grew up learning about her family’s crucial role in the Black community. Starting in the 1800s, Kami’s family was one of the first black families to inhabit Staten Island, which grew into the first continuously free Black inhabited community in that area.

 

Her family's unique history created a sense of deep pride and meaning, which she has shaped her entire outlook on life, and shaped her vision for the future. “I was able to grow up with such a rich cultural background,” said Kami. “I am honored to be able to share that story, my story, with those around me.”

Kami began her coffee journey in college. She and her friends would gather at a local café to chat, complete homework, and de-stress from the hectic week. Over time, she began to associate coffee shops with togetherness and community; cafés became a place of comfort. It didn’t take long for Kami to find herself as a Barista, where her love of coffee grew even stronger.

 

As the newest Supervisor of our 8th street location, Kami has spent the past few months growing and developing as a leader, and is now excited to invest in others as her Café Manager, Jess, has invested in her. “I have grown tremendously under Jess’ leadership. It is clear the impact she has had on other team members too. I hope to have the same impact on others too.”

 

As a Supervisor, Kami now spends her days investing in others—which is why she was excited for the role in the first place. “Jess has really pushed me to reach my fullest potential, and has been so supportive every step of my journey. I want to do the same for my team,” said Kami. Because of the opportunities, training, and encouragement she has received while at Compass, Kami has decided to return to school to pursue a career in HR management. “Investing in others is what I’m truly passionate about,” Kami says. “I'm excited to take the next step in building for my future.”


KT

Café Manager

"From my family and friends, to those who spent their Saturdays playing go-go music on the corner, they all have a story to tell, and have made an impact on someone’s life, including mine.”

KT grew up in Washington, DC, and has been a part of the coffee community here for decades. As KT celebrates Black History Month, there are many prolific leaders that come to mind, but for KT, it’s equally important to celebrate and reflect on the impact those in his community have made on his day to day life. “From my family and friends, to those who spent their Saturdays playing go-go music on the corner, they all have a story to tell, and have made an impact on someone’s life, including mine.”

 

KT left DC for a short period to serve in the military. After a few years serving and yearning for better coffee, KT began his search for real good coffee, and the positive connections he associated with cafés. For 15 years, KT trained into leadership positions in the coffee industry—then the pandemic forced him to pivot. After working in a new industry for a year, he found himself missing the coffee world and began his search again; that’s when KT started at Compass.

 

If you visit our cafés, odds are you’ve seen KT, who has had the opportunity to work at most of our locations as he trained into the Café Manager role. The key takeaway for him was the relationships he’s built along the way. “It has been a lot of fun getting to know everyone. Compass is truly made up of special people, and I am excited to be a part of building towards the future.”

 

Growing up, KT would never have predicted this life for himself. The right path—the path that would set himself up for a greater future—was not always clear. KT’s life has been a series of choices. “I haven’t always made the right choices, but I’m thankful to both my sister and my wife for being the guiding voices that led me down this path. “My life really could have gone differently, as it did for many around me. As a kid, my sister really steered me in the right direction. As an adult, my wife taught me how to love. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, planning for an even brighter tomorrow.”

 

Having the support system growing up gave KT the future he needed. And now, he is able to do the same thing for his children. “I am so proud of my kids,” KT said. “They are the future.”


Sheldon

Café Manager

“For me, Black History Month, and black culture, is all about spreading love and positivity. I strive to embody just that every day, and hope to change people’s days by regular, simple acts of kindness.”

Sheldon, the current Café Manager at our 14th and I location, began his coffee journey nearly three years ago. After landing his first job in coffee, he quickly fell in love with the craft, and the connections he made with people. “I didn’t know what was next for me [in the coffee industry], but I knew I could never leave.” After being with Compass for only 6 months, Sheldon took on the Café Manager role—you’ll find him behind bar daily, as he continues to develop his team and build a community of customers around his café. “I am just excited to be a part of the growth at Compass, and to help build for a brighter future.”

 

Like many others, Sheldon was exposed to learning about Black History Month in school, but said it took a special group of dedicated teachers to help him understand and celebrate what it meant to be Black. “We are innovators in our own life, and we are joyful beyond our own measure,” one teacher would say to him. Whether they knew it or not, those teachers instilled a sense of pride in Sheldon’s own history and uniqueness. Those teachers helped build the foundation for his present and future—“and they probably don’t even realize it,” said Sheldon. “To learn about the stories of my ancestors changed how I view myself. I am proud of who I am now.”  

 

“For me, Black History Month, and black culture, is all about spreading love and positivity.” Sheldon goes on to say that he strives to embody just that every day, and hopes to change people’s days by regular, simple acts of kindness. For him, positivity is contagious—if you radiate positivity, most people around you will do the same!

 

“I learned at a really young age that to grow yourself, to create a future for yourself, it all begins with your attitude. And for me, I choose to be positive.”

 

Like many others during the pandemic, Sheldon found himself stuck in isolation, disconnected from others. That is when Sheldon began to start every day with affirmations. “You are going to do great today,” was one of the many sayings that got Sheldon through the day. While this may seem like a small habit, for Sheldon, it was the one thing that kept him on track. While this daily practice was new to Sheldon, having a positive attitude was a lesson he learned a long time ago—from his father.

 

When Sheldon was four, his dad went in for a routine neck surgery. After flatlining twice, and being in a coma for 20 days, Sheldon had to accept that his father’s life would be forever changed. Day-by-day, his father learned how to walk, talk, and take care of himself all over again. Today, you would never know that this father went through such a traumatic experience. “Going through something like that at a young age can change you,” said Sheldon, “but my father was resilient, and his positivity inspired me to want to be a positive role model for others.”

Sheldon spends much of his time thinking about the future. For him, it is important that he not only creates a sustainable future for himself, but for younger generations too. Every day, Sheldon becomes more inspired and excited for the future as he watches his niece and nephew grow up. He looks at his family, and sees how smart and kind they are, and is impressed at how empowered the younger generation is about black culture. “I grew up never thinking we’d have a black president, and now, my 15 year old niece is telling everyone that she will be the president one day,” said Sheldon. Despite the difficulties we face today, Sheldon looks at his niece and nephew, and can say with confidence that “our future is bright.”


Over the course of February, you can’t help but reminisce on the past and look towards the future. Black History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize many of our great leaders—but for India, it is also a time for personal reflection, and a time to contemplate purpose. “What do I want out of life? What are my goals? What am I passionate about?,” India often asks herself. These questions resurface as we chat about the future we are working towards. While India has many interests, one thing she knows for sure is “...it’s time to work towards my goals, to tackle my dreams. It’s time for progress.” For India, the first step towards progress is simple: deciding to make a change.

 

India has always viewed Black History Month as a time for inspiration, and a time for hope. By focusing on her values and the role she can play within her own community, India realized that she could be the change she hopes to see in the world. “My family always pushed me to grow, to learn, and to not be afraid,” said India. “I am thankful that I can take their wisdom and apply it to my day-to-day life.”

 

As a Supervisor at our Georgetown café, India spends every day connecting with her customers. It’s safe to say that without her passion and willingness to always support her team, the Georgetown community would not be the same.

 

While a lot has changed for our teams over the past few years, India notes her appreciation for the one things that’s been a constant: the investment that Compass gives to every single team member. “I’ve had the opportunity to train very quickly here,” said India, “and every leader I have had has invested in my growth. And now I’ve been able to do the same. You can’t find that everywhere.”

 

India attributes her ability to achieve many personal goals to the investment she’s experienced at Compass. From learning to drive, to furthering her education, or even just enthusiastically learning a new skill, India’s team has been there to encourage her every step of the way. “With so many unknowns in today’s world, I always know that I can count on my team for support,” said India. With the help of her team, she’s excited to grow and build a brighter future, together.

India

Supervisor

“...it’s time to work towards my goals, to tackle my dreams. It’s time for progress.”


Sabrina

Supervisor

“When I think about building our future together, I think about the connection between the teams and the customers. Everyone is working together to create a space where all of our customers can come be part of a real community. It's a beautiful thing.”

A year after losing her grandmother to Covid, Sabrina started on a new path, guided by her grandmother’s advice to live a full life. “I regret that it took her passing for me to live life fully, but I am still grateful for this lesson.” One of the pivotal steps on this new journey was joining the Compass team.

 

As a Supervisor at our 8th street café, Sabrina spends her days creating meaningful connections with every customer, many of whom have inspired her to pursue her own personal goals. “When I think about building our future together, I think about the connection between the teams and the customers. Everyone is working together to create a space where all of our customers can come be part of a real community. It's a beautiful thing.”

 

The support of her café community has surprisingly encouraged her to work towards a specific personal goal—being independent. “I am still rather young,” said Sabrina, “but being financially independent has always been something to work on down the road. But why wait? Why not tackle this now?”

Sabrina strives for a life where she can be independent; a life inspired by the strength and courage of her mother. Sabrina’s mother raised three kids as a single parent, but never let the family go without everything they needed. “She is the strongest woman I have ever known,” said Sabrina. Watching her mother work tirelessly to provide for her family, and still carve out time to maintain strong relationships with friends and family, is what inspires Sabrina every day.

 

Her mother also made sure to instill a sense of pride in her history as a black woman. She taught Sabrina about the past, and the importance of reflecting on that past in order to build a better future. Sabrina’s mother made sure she understood where her family came from, but also where they could go. “‘The hope for a brighter future is endless; you just need to believe in yourself,’ my mother would always say.”

Growing up, Sabrina heard the phrase “it takes a village” often, and even now, that holds true. Sabrina is committed to her team and customers, and vice versa. To build the future we want, together, Sabrina says “it’ll take a village.”


Growing up, Kami was 1 of 3 black children in her school, but thanks to her family and her family’s story, she always felt grounded. Born and raised in Staten Island, New York, Kami grew up learning about her family’s crucial role in the Black community. Starting in the 1800s, Kami’s family was one of the first black families to inhabit Staten Island, which grew into the first continuously free Black inhabited community in that area.

 

Her family's unique history created a sense of deep pride and meaning, which she has shaped her entire outlook on life, and shaped her vision for the future. “I was able to grow up with such a rich cultural background,” said Kami. “I am honored to be able to share that story, my story, with those around me.”

Kami began her coffee journey in college. She and her friends would gather at a local café to chat, complete homework, and de-stress from the hectic week. Over time, she began to associate coffee shops with togetherness and community; cafés became a place of comfort. It didn’t take long for Kami to find herself as a Barista, where her love of coffee grew even stronger.

 

As the newest Supervisor of our 8th street location, Kami has spent the past few months growing and developing as a leader, and is now excited to invest in others as her Café Manager, Jess, has invested in her. “I have grown tremendously under Jess’ leadership. It is clear the impact she has had on other team members too. I hope to have the same impact on others too.”

 

As a Supervisor, Kami now spends her days investing in others—which is why she was excited for the role in the first place. “Jess has really pushed me to reach my fullest potential, and has been so supportive every step of my journey. I want to do the same for my team,” said Kami. Because of the opportunities, training, and encouragement she has received while at Compass, Kami has decided to return to school to pursue a career in HR management. “Investing in others is what I’m truly passionate about,” Kami says. “I'm excited to take the next step in building for my future.”

Kami

Supervisor

“Investing in others is what I’m truly passionate about […] I'm excited to take the next step in building for my future.”


KT

Café Manager

"From my family and friends, to those who spent their Saturdays playing go-go music on the corner, they all have a story to tell, and have made an impact on someone’s life, including mine.”

KT grew up in Washington, DC, and has been a part of the coffee community here for decades. As KT celebrates Black History Month, there are many prolific leaders that come to mind, but for KT, it’s equally important to celebrate and reflect on the impact those in his community have made on his day to day life. “From my family and friends, to those who spent their Saturdays playing go-go music on the corner, they all have a story to tell, and have made an impact on someone’s life, including mine.”

 

KT left DC for a short period to serve in the military. After a few years serving and yearning for better coffee, KT began his search for real good coffee, and the positive connections he associated with cafés. For 15 years, KT trained into leadership positions in the coffee industry—then the pandemic forced him to pivot. After working in a new industry for a year, he found himself missing the coffee world and began his search again; that’s when KT started at Compass.

 

If you visit our cafés, odds are you’ve seen KT, who has had the opportunity to work at most of our locations as he trained into the Café Manager role. The key takeaway for him was the relationships he’s built along the way. “It has been a lot of fun getting to know everyone. Compass is truly made up of special people, and I am excited to be a part of building towards the future.”

 

Growing up, KT would never have predicted this life for himself. The right path—the path that would set himself up for a greater future—was not always clear. KT’s life has been a series of choices. “I haven’t always made the right choices, but I’m thankful to both my sister and my wife for being the guiding voices that led me down this path. “My life really could have gone differently, as it did for many around me. As a kid, my sister really steered me in the right direction. As an adult, my wife taught me how to love. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, planning for an even brighter tomorrow.”

 

Having the support system growing up gave KT the future he needed. And now, he is able to do the same thing for his children. “I am so proud of my kids,” KT said. “They are the future.”


Sheldon, the current Café Manager at our 14th and I location, began his coffee journey nearly three years ago. After landing his first job in coffee, he quickly fell in love with the craft, and the connections he made with people. “I didn’t know what was next for me [in the coffee industry], but I knew I could never leave.” After being with Compass for only 6 months, Sheldon took on the Café Manager role—you’ll find him behind bar daily, as he continues to develop his team and build a community of customers around his café. “I am just excited to be a part of the growth at Compass, and to help build for a brighter future.”

 

Like many others, Sheldon was exposed to learning about Black History Month in school, but said it took a special group of dedicated teachers to help him understand and celebrate what it meant to be Black. “We are innovators in our own life, and we are joyful beyond our own measure,” one teacher would say to him. Whether they knew it or not, those teachers instilled a sense of pride in Sheldon’s own history and uniqueness. Those teachers helped build the foundation for his present and future—“and they probably don’t even realize it,” said Sheldon. “To learn about the stories of my ancestors changed how I view myself. I am proud of who I am now.”  

 

“For me, Black History Month, and black culture, is all about spreading love and positivity.” Sheldon goes on to say that he strives to embody just that every day, and hopes to change people’s days by regular, simple acts of kindness. For him, positivity is contagious—if you radiate positivity, most people around you will do the same!

 

“I learned at a really young age that to grow yourself, to create a future for yourself, it all begins with your attitude. And for me, I choose to be positive.”

 

Like many others during the pandemic, Sheldon found himself stuck in isolation, disconnected from others. That is when Sheldon began to start every day with affirmations. “You are going to do great today,” was one of the many sayings that got Sheldon through the day. While this may seem like a small habit, for Sheldon, it was the one thing that kept him on track. While this daily practice was new to Sheldon, having a positive attitude was a lesson he learned a long time ago—from his father.

 

When Sheldon was four, his dad went in for a routine neck surgery. After flatlining twice, and being in a coma for 20 days, Sheldon had to accept that his father’s life would be forever changed. Day-by-day, his father learned how to walk, talk, and take care of himself all over again. Today, you would never know that this father went through such a traumatic experience. “Going through something like that at a young age can change you,” said Sheldon, “but my father was resilient, and his positivity inspired me to want to be a positive role model for others.”

Sheldon spends much of his time thinking about the future. For him, it is important that he not only creates a sustainable future for himself, but for younger generations too. Every day, Sheldon becomes more inspired and excited for the future as he watches his niece and nephew grow up. He looks at his family, and sees how smart and kind they are, and is impressed at how empowered the younger generation is about black culture. “I grew up never thinking we’d have a black president, and now, my 15 year old niece is telling everyone that she will be the president one day,” said Sheldon. Despite the difficulties we face today, Sheldon looks at his niece and nephew, and can say with confidence that “our future is bright.”

Sheldon

Café Manager

“For me, Black History Month, and black culture, is all about spreading love and positivity. I strive to embody just that every day, and hope to change people’s days by regular, simple acts of kindness.”

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