Keaton Schaeffer '10
Keaton Schaeffer ’10 has found what so many Christian business leaders seek: a way to build a company that blesses people in need while remaining a successful for-profit enterprise. As a young entrepreneur with a heart for saturating his business with a Kingdom mission, Keaton weaves his faith and entrepreneurship skills together daily in the coffee industry. Keaton is a lifer who “lived at TCA” as his mom worked at TCA in several roles. Remembering his life at TCA, he credits football position coaches such as Brandon Graham, Kerry DeWeese and Steve Mercer for serving as father figures. “They loved on me well, held me to high standards and meant it when they said to call if I ever needed anything.” Keaton “can’t say enough good things” about how his TCA football and basketball coaches discipled him, calling them “formative in the person I have become.” Keaton laughs as he jokes about his academic life at TCA. He says he was not a very engaged student, and his top priority was not schoolwork as a teenager, but he links his success in business today with values formed in him while at TCA: “A significant factor in my work ethic today comes from TCA football.” He also points to the impression twelfth-grade literature with Fran Legband made on him, despite being “not much of a reader” during his senior year. He remembers Mrs. Legband as a wonderful teacher who was “fun and exciting because she made things come to life.”
Like so many alumni, he had an awakening about the value of his TCA academic background after entering college. “In high school, I was mainly interested in being an athlete, but I didn’t realize until college how rare my education at TCA was. I was better equipped than kids from other high schools, and I had been taught to think. I didn’t realize how special it was that I had teachers who loved me. They were for me. My TCA teachers loved me just because they loved me, because they loved the Lord.” At Texas A&M, Keaton discovered a love for economics classes, fascinated by the “trends and pragmatic nature of economics.” He “wanted to start a business to serve people, to facilitate relationships and community.” For a time he studied the process of opening a restaurant but realized the significant obstacles involved. Keaton and a friend stumbled upon coffee roasting and bought a roaster, producing coffee in a backyard shed in College Station for two or three years. During that time Keaton declared a major in agricultural economics and attended classes literally across the hall from the office of World Coffee Research, leading Keaton to research the coffee supply chain and realize “there could really be a significant opportunity for ministry” to coffee farmers in tropical locations at high elevation. He developed coffee related business plans as projects for several classes, and his business partner lived for over one year at a “coffee washing station” in Burundi, developing direct relationships with many coffee producers.
Finally, in 2017 Keaton and his business partner founded Homage Coffee Source, a coffee import/export and sourcing business. They desire to “equip and empower” farmers in Burundi, and now Uganda as well, by providing farmers with fair prices and access to markets, serving as their logistics and sales arm. Burundi, an “underdog” in the coffee supply chain, is passed over by larger exporters who are scared off by political instability. Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries, but Homage “builds trust [with farmers] by doing business fairly and generously” with the goal of “farmers driving change in their own communities.” Homage is special in its highly transparent operations, resulting in high traceability for roasters who buy its imported coffee. In 2020, Keaton and his business partner added a second company; Frame Coffee Co. roasts and sells coffee, differentiating itself with “higher quality at a good price—a well-roasted, bold, smooth cup of specialty coffee that is more accessible” than luxury brands but a big step up from the lower end of the market. “Ultimately, we want to be good stewards of the supply chain, because coffee should be simple, accessible—and can be purposeful, too.” Homage and Frame Coffee Co., both headquartered in the Dallas Design District, blend business with Kingdom mission, as Keaton and his colleagues are rooted in the belief that “Jesus is the reason for everything we do.”
Reflecting back on how TCA prepared him for business, entrepreneurship and a commitment to serving others, Keaton feels deeply grateful for the faith formation and wisdom he learned at TCA. He humbly reflects that “as a teenager, the high standards felt like just rules, but later I realized the structure was really good for me—the boundaries kept me from so many bad decisions. Now I can see how my education helped establish a firm foundation of faith, honesty and perseverance that has served me well in my career.”