When Muluye Hailemariam first arrived in the U.S. as a teenager, she had precisely $38 in her pocket. “I started from zero,” she says, and smiles broadly as she discusses her life and her business, Kabod Coffee, located on the corner of Northfield and Central Park Blvds. Kabod opened in 2019. She radiates positivity and is effusive as she philosophizes on life, business, community, and culture. Hailemariam possesses an entrepreneurial spirit that exemplifies the American dream she has pursued since coming to the U.S., acknowledging many challenges along the way without dwelling on them.
“We are farm to cup, and that’s what makes us different,” she says. The granddaughter of a coffee farmer, Hailemariam buys her beans directly from farmers in Ethiopia. She uses family and business ties in Ethiopia to ensure that her coffee is high-quality and certified organic—resulting in a product that is both sustainable and environmentally-friendly. “There is no middleman,” she says, adding that she buys from the farmers’ union to ensure the farmers receive a fair price. “It’s a small thing, but I hope people appreciate it,” she says of her fair-trade practices.
Hailemariam roasts the imported beans in Montbello and takes pride in the fact that her coffee is single-source rather than a blend of different beans from different sources, as is common in the industry.
Ethiopian coffee culture informs Hailemariam’s approach to business, which differs from the high-volume drive-through approach of the large chains. “Everybody is stressed. A few people, they come, and then they sit with each other. They start communicating, and then the stresses will lessen and they start enjoying life. It’s about creating the community and creating the connection.”
Hailemariam will soon open a DIA location, but NE Denver residents will find Kabod’s wide variety of coffee beverages, chai, smoothies, and free WIFI closer to home at 9165 Northfield Blvd. See Kabodcoffee.com or call 720-750-8817 for store hours.
Front Porch photos by Christie Gosch