Giving their best shot: Talitha Koum Coffee Company advocates for change

The Pacoima-based cafe goes beyond the bean by helping victims of human trafficking in partnership with their nonprofit organization Justice 180.

By Jeremy Ruiz and Isaac Dektor, Staff Writers

Co-owner Hannah Groen (R), attends to a customer purchasing lattes at Talitha Koum Coffee Co. (Jeremy Ruiz/Valley Star)

A new Valley cafe aims to provide a quality cup of coffee and uplift the community by helping survivors of human trafficking recover.

Opening their doors in Pacoima only months before COVID-19 lockdowns began, Talitha Koum Coffee Company had their work cut out for them.

Talitha Koum, which translates to “little girl, arise” in the ancient semitic language Aramaic, represents owners Jenny and Robert Barber’s mission statement for their cafe. The Barbers poured their love of coffee into their need for change in the world by funding their nonprofit organization, Justice 180—a nonprofit ministry focused on rehabilitating victims of human trafficking back into society.

Hannah Groen, co-owner of TK Coffee, emphasized the importance of the mission behind the coffee.

“We can be a good reference for them as they go through the program of Justice 180,”said Groen. “TK Coffee itself is the springboard to what we hope for the future with the non-profit Justice 180.”

Through TK Coffee, Justice 180 is able to provide jobs for victims of human trafficking, which serves as a starting point to further their goals and fund its programming. The nonprofit is also considering expanding beyond coffee.

From humble beginnings using a simple popcorn kettle to roast beans, Robert Barber now provides specialty single-origin coffee sourced from Central American and East African countries.

Jenny Barber advocates for the mission beyond the bean.

“Fighting human trafficking has always been entwined in Jenny’s story,” reads TK Coffee Co’s website. “From a young age, she felt the need to bring freedom to women and men in modern-day slavery. Jenny’s heart for justice has led her to where she is now.”

TK Coffee is committed to serving the community of Pacoima, pushing its slogan “arise Pacoima” and hoping to encourage the unique mom and pop shop driven locality to be proud of its identity.

The cafe displays a doubleshot of core values - both a deep appreciation of coffee and a dedication to social justice.

“In ignorance, I probably could have lived a happy life, but knowing the way these people are treated, I can’t do it anymore,” said Groen. “I will never be able to unsee the things that I have seen. That passion has just continued to grow and it is what continues to get me to keep going.”

TK Coffee offers students a 10 percent discount all with the added benefit of supporting the prevention of human trafficking.