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Adam Pesce in Nicaragua on a sourcing trip for Reunion Island at a school he helped fund a few years ago.

Adam Pesce/Adam Pesce

The Donor: Adam Pesce

The Gift: Creating First Drop Canada

The Cause: Improving the lives of coffee growers

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Adam Pesce has spent his life surrounded by coffee.

His father, Peter, is considered a coffee guru and has been in the business for 30 years. He currently runs Reunion Island Coffee, a specialty coffee maker he founded in 1996 in Oakville, Ont. Son Adam joined the company after graduating from the University of Western Ontario seven years ago, but he wanted to do more than make and sell coffee.

A trip to Guatemala a few years ago brought home the difficulties facing coffee growers and their families. Reunion Island prided itself on paying above average prices for its specialty beans and for joining the Rainforest Alliance, a New York-based organization that works with companies to help protect rain forests. But Mr. Pesce wanted to go farther.

He couldn't figure out what to do until he went for a cup of coffee with a friend and started doodling on the cup. That gave him the idea of gathering some artists together to come up with coffee-cup designs that could be sold for charity. He rounded up 16 artists who produced several elaborate cups and raised $4,000 for Grounds for Health, a U.S. charity that provides women in coffee growing countries with cervical cancer education.

"I realized that this is what I wanted to do," recalled Mr. Pesce, 28. "I wanted to do more of this."

He created First Drop Canada, a not-for-profit organization that raises money for several charities, including Grounds for Health, Food 4 Farmers, Coffee Kids, Cups for Education and others. In the past two years, First Drop has organized several fundraising events that have contributed $30,000 to the charities.

Mr. Pesce still works with his father at Reunion Island as director of coffee development. He also regularly visits coffee farmers throughout Latin America. And although First Drop is separate from the company, both have a common goal, he said. "If you improve the lives of farmers, their coffee is going to get better."

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Mr. Pesce hopes to broaden First Drop's reach and fundraising potential. "I'm hoping to keep finding ways to get money out of people to help other people."

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