Steeped in sustainability


February 28, 2012

Kate Novotny launched Buena Vida Coffee in the fall of 2010 with the a lofty three-part goal: create a Marquette-based, student-run business that would generate economic opportunity for coffee-growing communities in Honduras; provide a hands-on entrepreneurial learning experience for Marquette students; and maintain ongoing financial support for Sister Maria Rosa and the Sociedad Amigos de los Niños orphanage in Honduras.

Novotny, who is currently a Marquette Business student in the Graduate School of Management and a 2010 graduate of Marquette’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, is moving her venture forward, mission in mind. With a growing portfolio of customers, she was able to travel to Honduras and personally present $2,000 to Sister Maria Rosa.

Sister Maria Rosa started the organization more than 40 years ago, after taking her vows at the School Sisters of St. Francis Motherhouse in Milwaukee. Since then, she and her organization have provided a loving home, access to education, job training and medical care to more than 40,000 Honduran children.

“The idea of Buena Vida Coffee struck in 2008 when a group of Marquette students and health care professionals provided medical care to members of the coffee growing community of Hoya Grande, Honduras,” Novotny says. “With the support of generous Marquette donors and the help of Stone Creek Coffee, Buena Vida now imports coffee from Hoya Grande and sells it to local and national organizations as a fundraising mechanism. All net profits from coffee sales are then donated to Sociedad Amigos de los Niños.”

Among Buena Vida’s largest customers is Global Brigades, an organization founded by another Marquette alumna with the goal of mobilizing university students and professionals to improve quality of life in under-resourced communities in Honduras, Panama and Ghana. Since its start in 2004, Global Brigades has grown to be the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization.  

“Because the majority of its participants are college students, there is a significant need for fundraising,” Novotny says.  “Buena Vida supports student groups by facilitating a coffee fundraising program that allows groups to make $5 on every bag of coffee sold and an additional $2 is donated to the children of the orphanage.”

Novotny adds: “Although it may seem to be a small amount in the United States, $2,000 will go a long way in Honduras. Currently, Sister and her organization are deciding the best way to use the money. It will most likely go towards supporting the Reyes Irene Valenzuela Girls School.”

To learn more about Buena Vida Coffee and how you can support the organization’s work at Marquette University, please visit or contact Novotny at