Compass Coffee Donates 2,600 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer to DC Public Schools

Friday, May 14th 2021


Compass Coffee is proud to support DCPS as the system works towards a return to in-person learning this Fall

Compass Coffee is proud to support DCPS as the system works towards a return to in-person learning this Fall

WASHINGTON: Today Compass Coffee announced that it has donated 2,600 bottles of hand sanitizer to DC Public Schools across the District, supporting the community, students, teachers, and staff as they transition back to in-person learning.

“We’re really proud to be able to help teachers and students at DCPS as they begin in-person education,” said Chas Newman, Production Manager for Compass. “It's been a hard year for us all, but maybe most so for teachers. We’re glad to do our part to make things just a little bit easier for them and their students.”

“At the start of the pandemic, it became clear early on that we would not be able to keep our downtown cafés open,” said Max Deem, VP of Operations. ”Our customers simply weren’t there. As we pivoted to create work for as many people as possible, we decided to repurpose our production facility from making in-house syrups to making hand sanitizer for the DC government and first responders. From Baristas to Supervisors to Café Managers, our team came together to learn entirely new skills, and create a product that was in desperately short supply.”

Newman, who ran the development, sourcing, and production of the sanitizer, described the dramatic transition and search for new ingredients against the backdrop of global uncertainty. 

“At the time that we began developing the product, it was a really unsettling time,” Newman said. “People didn't feel safe being out in the world, grocery shelves were empty, and a lot of the things we took for granted were no longer such sureties. Hand sanitizer wasn't necessarily something we planned to make, but when Mayor Muriel Bowser asked us to try and help address the city’s hand sanitizer shortage we were excited to do our part.”

Completely shifting gears to make hand sanitizer was a team effort, and a project the staff was excited to undertake as it relates to one of Compass’s core values: Build Your City.  

“Overnight we transitioned our bottling line from producing vanilla syrup to World Health Organization (WHO) formulated hand sanitizer,” Newman said. “The search for Isopropyl Alcohol and other chemicals became a big part of my job, and some of our cafe managers began helping me on the bottling line, churning out bottles as fast as we could find the ingredients. At a time when many felt helpless to a disease no one understood, it was empowering to at least be fighting back in our own small way.”

Serving the community through manufacturing hand sanitizer also meant that Compass was able to deliver on another priority: innovatively creating jobs.

“It was also very motivating to get to be the first part of the company to rehire staff members that had been laid off because of the pandemic to help with production,” Newman said. “Within a few days we were already back on our path to rebuilding.”

During those weeks, making hand sanitizer for first responders was grounding and reassuring—for the Compass staff and for the community we serve.


WASHINGTON: Today Compass Coffee announced that it has donated 2,600 bottles of hand sanitizer to DC Public Schools across the District, supporting the community, students, teachers, and staff as they transition back to in-person learning.

“We’re really proud to be able to help teachers and students at DCPS as they begin in-person education,” said Chas Newman, Production Manager for Compass. “It's been a hard year for us all, but maybe most so for teachers. We’re glad to do our part to make things just a little bit easier for them and their students.”

“At the start of the pandemic, it became clear early on that we would not be able to keep our downtown cafés open,” said Max Deem, VP of Operations. ”Our customers simply weren’t there. As we pivoted to create work for as many people as possible, we decided to repurpose our production facility from making in-house syrups to making hand sanitizer for the DC government and first responders. From Baristas to Supervisors to Café Managers, our team came together to learn entirely new skills, and create a product that was in desperately short supply.”

Newman, who ran the development, sourcing, and production of the sanitizer, described the dramatic transition and search for new ingredients against the backdrop of global uncertainty. 

“At the time that we began developing the product, it was a really unsettling time,” Newman said. “People didn't feel safe being out in the world, grocery shelves were empty, and a lot of the things we took for granted were no longer such sureties. Hand sanitizer wasn't necessarily something we planned to make, but when Mayor Muriel Bowser asked us to try and help address the city’s hand sanitizer shortage we were excited to do our part.”

Completely shifting gears to make hand sanitizer was a team effort, and a project the staff was excited to undertake as it relates to one of Compass’s core values: Build Your City.  

“Overnight we transitioned our bottling line from producing vanilla syrup to World Health Organization (WHO) formulated hand sanitizer,” Newman said. “The search for Isopropyl Alcohol and other chemicals became a big part of my job, and some of our cafe managers began helping me on the bottling line, churning out bottles as fast as we could find the ingredients. At a time when many felt helpless to a disease no one understood, it was empowering to at least be fighting back in our own small way.”

Serving the community through manufacturing hand sanitizer also meant that Compass was able to deliver on another priority: innovatively creating jobs.

“It was also very motivating to get to be the first part of the company to rehire staff members that had been laid off because of the pandemic to help with production,” Newman said. “Within a few days we were already back on our path to rebuilding.”

During those weeks, making hand sanitizer for first responders was grounding and reassuring—for the Compass staff and for the community we serve.



“‘Build Your City’ is a core Compass value and at that time, there was no better way to do that,” Newman said. “We saw the need and wanted to help our customers and our team members feel as safe as possible in an unsettling time. ‘A port in the storm’ has always been in our training for how we approach the place our cafes should feel to the community. Compass has never closed (2,422 days and counting!), and we did our best even in those scary early days to make people feel safe.”

As life in DC slowly began to return to normal, and customers’ needs began to change, Compass realized there might be an opportunity to produce and donate additional sanitizer. After chatting with a regular—and DCPS teacher—preparing to return to in-person teaching, Max Deem, VP of Operations, quickly realized the potential need for sanitizer, and reached out to DCPS with the goal of providing hand sanitizer to as many students, teachers and school staff as possible. Donating sanitizer to DCPS was a decision everyone was passionate about. For Anna Rabideau, Logistics Manager for Compass, and so many members of the Compass team, the opportunity to support the DCPS community, especially during such strenuous circumstances, was a particular point of pride.

“Beyond our employees, so many of our customers have connections to DCPS,” Rabideau said. “I worked in DC Public Schools for three years before coming to Compass, and I used to visit the Roastery on 7th Street for a much-needed caffeine boost on long days. Later on, when I was a Barista at that café, I’d take special pride in making drinks for the teachers and school staff from the nearby schools. I knew how hard they worked, the sacrifices they made for their students, and I knew that our coffee had the power to make their days better like it did for me.”

The teachers and staff who received the hand sanitizer were grateful and excited about making students feel safe as they return to school. Especially in a semester with so much uncertainty regarding reopening times and what the post-pandemic future of education will look like, helping to create a safe learning environment for students was critical. 

“Throughout the public health crisis, DCPS has remained committed to ensuring that learning continues for all students,” said Lewis Ferebee, DCPS Chancellor. “Proper hygiene—including frequent sanitizing—helps to ensure we are able to maximize in-person programming for all students, and we are grateful to Compass Coffee for their support of our communities most in need.”

Many members of the Compass team hold close ties to DCPS, so being able to support the school system during these stressful times—and the uncertain fall that lies ahead—was something the team is particularly passionate about. Other members of the Logistics team who made the deliveries to the schools this spring actually grew up in DC and attended DC Public Schools, including one of the schools Compass donated sanitizer to.

“They thought it was really cool to give back to their high school,” Rabideau said, “and to catch up with school staff and let them know what they were up to a few years post-graduation.”

Compass always takes great pride in being able to serve the community—even if that means switching from coffee to sanitizer. We take our mission to Build Your City seriously and look forward to continuing to adapt to serve your community. 

“I hope the sanitizer donation makes the teachers, staff, and students feel supported by their community,” Rabideau said, “and helps keep them safe and healthy now that school is in-person.”



“‘Build Your City’ is a core Compass value and at that time, there was no better way to do that,” Newman said. “We saw the need and wanted to help our customers and our team members feel as safe as possible in an unsettling time. ‘A port in the storm’ has always been in our training for how we approach the place our cafes should feel to the community. Compass has never closed (2,422 days and counting!), and we did our best even in those scary early days to make people feel safe.”

As life in DC slowly began to return to normal, and customers’ needs began to change, Compass realized there might be an opportunity to produce and donate additional sanitizer. After chatting with a regular—and DCPS teacher—preparing to return to in-person teaching, Max Deem, VP of Operations, quickly realized the potential need for sanitizer, and reached out to DCPS with the goal of providing hand sanitizer to as many students, teachers and school staff as possible. Donating sanitizer to DCPS was a decision everyone was passionate about. For Anna Rabideau, Logistics Manager for Compass, and so many members of the Compass team, the opportunity to support the DCPS community, especially during such strenuous circumstances, was a particular point of pride.

“Beyond our employees, so many of our customers have connections to DCPS,” Rabideau said. “I worked in DC Public Schools for three years before coming to Compass, and I used to visit the Roastery on 7th Street for a much-needed caffeine boost on long days. Later on, when I was a Barista at that café, I’d take special pride in making drinks for the teachers and school staff from the nearby schools. I knew how hard they worked, the sacrifices they made for their students, and I knew that our coffee had the power to make their days better like it did for me.”

The teachers and staff who received the hand sanitizer were grateful and excited about making students feel safe as they return to school. Especially in a semester with so much uncertainty regarding reopening times and what the post-pandemic future of education will look like, helping to create a safe learning environment for students was critical. 

“Throughout the public health crisis, DCPS has remained committed to ensuring that learning continues for all students,” said Lewis Ferebee, DCPS Chancellor. “Proper hygiene—including frequent sanitizing—helps to ensure we are able to maximize in-person programming for all students, and we are grateful to Compass Coffee for their support of our communities most in need.”

Many members of the Compass team hold close ties to DCPS, so being able to support the school system during these stressful times—and the uncertain fall that lies ahead—was something the team is particularly passionate about. Other members of the Logistics team who made the deliveries to the schools this spring actually grew up in DC and attended DC Public Schools, including one of the schools Compass donated sanitizer to.

“They thought it was really cool to give back to their high school,” Rabideau said, “and to catch up with school staff and let them know what they were up to a few years post-graduation.”

Compass always takes great pride in being able to serve the community—even if that means switching from coffee to sanitizer. We take our mission to Build Your City seriously and look forward to continuing to adapt to serve your community. 

“I hope the sanitizer donation makes the teachers, staff, and students feel supported by their community,” Rabideau said, “and helps keep them safe and healthy now that school is in-person.”


About Compass Coffee

Compass Coffee is a Washington, DC-based Coffee Roaster. Founded in 2014 by two Marines, Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, Compass has 12 brick and mortar locations around the Washington Metro Area, one active roasting facility in DC's historic Shaw neighborhood, and a growing regional grocery presence. You can find Compass Coffee at many popular DC restaurants, in corporate break rooms, and in government facilities.Currently, Compass is building a state-of-the-art production facility in Ivy City to support its expansion through the entire Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and beyond.

Compass Coffee is a Washington, DC-based Coffee Roaster. Founded in 2014 by two Marines, Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, Compass has 12 brick and mortar locations around the Washington Metro Area, one active roasting facility in DC's historic Shaw neighborhood, and a growing regional grocery presence. You can find Compass Coffee at many popular DC restaurants, in corporate break rooms, and in government facilities.Currently, Compass is building a state-of-the-art production facility in Ivy City to support its expansion through the entire Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and beyond.