About Us

NCC Coffee Lab is focused on the business of coffee. It is a faculty-student-partner collaboration that focuses on direct trade, relationship-based social enterprises. Our largest initiative is our relationship selling with our Guatemalan partners including coffee, chocolates, and artisan products.

Since 2006, professors have led biannual trips to Guatemala to help students better understand the idea of social entrepreneurship and its impact. In addition, the trips have inspired student research projects ranging from the challenges of international coffee marketing to ethnographic studies into customary law and indigenous spirituality.

At the heart of North Central College’s purpose, is growing the cycle of mutual empowerment. 

What is the cycle of mutual empowerment? 

The idea of the cycle of mutual empowerment came out of the need to break the traditional cycle of poverty where people can’t ever create a sustainable living. To make the cycle of mutual empowerment work, it takes everyone involved including our NCC Enactus team, our partners, and our customers. All involved benefit from the relationship:

  • Students gain skills and develop as individuals through a one-of-a-kind hands-on learning environment
  • Partners are able to apply their trade and business skills in a sustainable manner
  • Customers are able to receive high quality products that support a more socially responsible marketplace

Our NCC Enactus Team:

Our Enactus Team is made up of students from a variety of academic disciplines, but all with a common thread of wanting to create change for a better tomorrow. 

Students run the day to day operations with oversight from the advisors. This includes everything from designing product labels to packaging coffee to holding tastings across campus. In addition, students collaborate with other departments across campus on new innovative initiatives such as the viability of utilizing coffee grounds for water filtration and engineering a vacuum pump device to remove the physical limitations from the roaster’s job.

The impact on our students is long-lasting. They leave with not only new and expanded skills and increased passion for making a difference, but a better understanding of how to be a socially responsible leader. Students have gone on to start their own social enterprises, serve in the Peace Corps, and be leaders in their corporate community.

Our Partners:

Our partners are exactly that, partners. Whether here in the US or abroad, our partners are entrepreneurs with a desire, drive, and passion for making a decent and meaningful livelihood whether that be as coffee farmers or artisans in Guatemala or realtors or musicians here in Illinois. Our partners also share the same goal of wanting to create change for a better tomorrow.

To learn more about our different partners, visit our Partners Page  (https://northcentralcoffeelab.com/pages/our-partners)

Together with our customers, we can not only keep the cycle of mutual empowerment going but expand it to include more students, partners, and customers.


Support The Lab and Student Engaged Learning:

In addition to purchasing coffee, you can support student engaged learning and our direct trade model through donations and/or as a sponsor. Learn more about sponsorship opportunities here or donate today at this link. All donations are through North Central College and tax deductible.

Check out some of the most recent collaborations:

Nutrition Class Coffee Facts Project


Visit Us:

We welcome visitors! The Coffee Lab is located at 309 E. School St. in Naperville, Illinois in the Larrance Academic Center building on the campus of North Central College. While there's a good chance you'll find us outside of the hours listed below, these are the set hours for the fall semester. Please note that the Lab does observe the college's holiday calendar.

January - May Hours:

Monday & Wednesday: 9 AM - 5 PM
Tuesday & Thursday: 9 AM - 3 PM

*Please note hours may be change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather and illness.