Coffee for the Pro-Life Cause: How Companies Are Making a Difference for Unborn Babies and Moms

The mission with each cup is to ‘protect every beating heart.’

Poster inside Lifeboat Coffee, owned by John Lillis, featuring his daughter.
Poster inside Lifeboat Coffee, owned by John Lillis, featuring his daughter. (photo: Courtesy photo / John Lillis)

“Will you allow your coffee to serve a greater purpose?” That’s the question Seven Weeks Coffee founder Anton Krecic likes to ask people. His company, founded in November, donates 10% of every sale to pro-life pregnancy centers and was built “out of a desire to create a values-based business around an important issue of our day” and “connect the pro-life movement through coffee.” 

He told the Register that the name for Seven Weeks Coffee came when his wife, a nurse, told him to look up the age that an unborn baby is the size of a coffee bean. His research showed that it was at seven weeks and that that time was also when the “heartbeat is clearly detectable; between six and eight weeks, usually, a mother’s hearing their first ultrasound. They're hearing their child’s heartbeat for the first time.” He decided it was the perfect name for his company, as their mission is to “promote Godly values, provide excellent coffee, and protect every beating heart.” 

 

Making a Tangible Impact

His company has already given $2,800 to pregnancy-care centers since the website launched, crossing more than $30,000 in sales. “We’re a new business, but we’re already having a tangible impact, which is just amazing,” he said. He added that transparency is “built into our business,” so the company shares “exactly how much we donate to which centers we’re supporting.” The centers they’ve supported include Cleveland Pregnancy Center, Vans for Life, and Crisis Pregnancy of Tidewater.

Where the coffee originates matters to Krecic, as well. He partners with Genesis Coffee Lab, a faith-centered roaster that sources coffee from Ethiopia through direct trade, which means there is “a direct relationship with the farming community where the coffee comes from.” This, he said, “is the only transparent way to ensure farmers are paid legitimate wages and honest wages.” This is part of his company’s approach: From “farm to cup, we’re really creating a culture that uplifts people before profits — from the farmers who are getting paid legitimate and honest wages all the way to the moms who are getting a chance to hear their child’s heartbeat.” 

Having visited pro-life pregnancy centers, Krecic said he sees them as “truly the hands and feet of this movement,” as “they are defending life and really the ones helping women choose life for their babies.” He saw the importance of supporting the centers’ life-sustaining work and said it was particularly important to help “their ultrasound programs because that’s the No. 1 tool used for when women choose life for their babies.” He added that they are also “really trying to target those tangible needs at centers” to support women in choosing life. 

 

A ‘Lifeboat’ for Women

The pro-life issue is personal for John Lillis, who came from a career working in Catholic radio to found Lifeboat Coffee, which launched online in 2013. Lillis was adopted when his biological mother chose life for him after she was a victim of rape. He is now married with seven children and told the Register that the name for his business came from the idea of “throwing a lifeboat out for pregnant women.” Lillis also has a background in the U.S. Coast Guard and at one point drove lifeboats for a living. 

In addition to their online presence, Lifeboat Coffee has a physical store in Phoenix. Their coffee includes several “fair-trade, direct-trade, rainforest-certified, USDA organic coffees,” and they have “exclusive access to a Direct Trade Wild-Grown Papua New Guinea Peaberry coffee as well as Direct Trade Nicaraguan beans, too, supporting the Indigenous people of Papua New Guinea and a Christian mission in Nicaragua.” Currently, Lillis said, the coffee shop offers java from 14 different countries, and he makes another eight blends. 

His company has pro-life groups sign up through his website and then they share the Lifeboat logo on their websites and social media, denoting they receive 6% cash back from every coffee sale. Some of their current affiliates include Mother of Life Pregnancy Center, Women’s Care Center-Duluth, Inc., and the Southern California Chapter of Right to Life. 

“We have about 25 registered affiliates,” he said, adding that they label coffee on behalf of several other pro-life groups that are able to sell it for a profit. He added that every first-time Lifeboat Coffee customer receives a “precious hands” or “precious feet” pin from Lifeboat Coffee with a thank-you note as a reminder of the pro-life message.

Richard Lafond of Mother of Life Pregnancy Center in Providence, Rhode Island, told the Register that he ran across the company more than a year ago and reached out to become an affiliate because “it really made sense” since “everybody is drinking coffee anyhow,” and the center could benefit from some money from their supporters’ coffee purchases. He said that while people are particular about the coffee they drink, he and “a lot of people I know like to shop by the quality of the roast, the variety of beans, and the integrity of the company — and. because of that, Lifeboat is a perfect fit for us.” 

He said that because of Lifeboat’s values, the business deserves support, and he appreciates that “they’re helping to spread the pro-life message in their own way, just like we are.” He encouraged other pro-life organizations to sign up for an affiliation because “it’s a simple thing to do, and, basically, it is a low-effort way to receive a little bit of extra support.” 

Having the option of a portion of money from a coffee purchase going to lifesaving pregnancy centers is refreshing, as pro-lifers have raised concerns and even boycotted Starbucks due to the coffee giant giving to Planned Parenthood through an employee donation matching program. Lillis said that Catholics should be thoughtful about where their money goes, saying that while it’s difficult and requires more effort, it’s worthwhile to support a pro-life cause. “People can buy lots of different products, and I’m glad to see that there’s an emerging market for pro-life coffee, because coffee is a great marketplace and competition is great for the marketplace.” 

Local police officer Lt. Gregg Rath, a self-described “coffee snob,” told the Register that it was the smell of good coffee that first drew him to Lifeboat’s physical location in Phoenix. He said he is very passionate about the pro-life issue and to discover their pro-life mission was “icing on the cake,” as he has avoided Starbucks for having opposing values. He spends hours every day in the coffee shop and said that discussions with a local priest who is also a frequent customer and with Lillis were crucial for him, as he recently began the process of converting to Catholicism from an evangelical background.

He appreciates that the coffee shop is “matter of fact” about their beliefs, noting the crucifix and pro-life poster that greet patrons. He added that people from all walks of life come in, and it is an open, family-friendly environment. He believes God has put people in his life through coffee “on purpose” and values the shop as a special place of community and fellowship.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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