The Heartwarming Inspiration Behind Hugh Jackman's Coffee Shop

When it comes to coffee, Australians tend to have a different idea of what constitutes a good beverage. Rather than extra large cups filled with multiple pumps of syrups from places like Starbucks, or the pots of drip brew available everywhere in the U.S. (which you'll never find at an Aussie cafe), an average Australian coffee shop serves drinks in either an 8 or 12-ounce cup. It starts with a good espresso and is then filled with steamed milk to make lattes, cappuccinos, or flat whites. 

Several Australians have joined the U.S. coffee market, introducing Americans to the Aussie concept of coffee. Blue Stone Lane, which was created by an Australian and serves Aussie cafe-style beverages and food, has grown to almost 60 locations, including New York, Washington, D.C., and California. Owned by Hugh Jackman, of "Wolverine" fame, The Laughing Man Coffee Shop began in New York, and, while it has fewer locations than its other Aussie counterparts, the mission behind the store is different — it's not just about profits. 

One of the advantages of being a celebrity is that product promotion is a lot easier than it is for the average person in the community, and that's exactly how Jackman is giving back to those in need. 

Coffee for a cause

The Laughing Man Coffee story starts in Ethiopia. It's a fitting birthplace since, according to the National Coffee Association, it's also the birthplace of all coffee beans grown worldwide. Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, were visiting the country to film a documentary for World Vision demonstrating the life of a coffee bean farmer and how important using Fair Trade Coffee is to the lives of the people working there. For a day, Jackman worked with farmer Dukale and was so inspired by the experience that he went on to start The Laughing Man Coffee which trades "directly with the growers, donating 100% of the profit to support community development programs and social entrepreneurs around the world," per IMDb.

During the documentary "Dukale's Dream," Jackman said, "Coffee buyers will come in and offer way below market values and they [the farmers] can't afford to go anywhere else. You just want Dukale to be able to break that cycle of poverty." As a result Dukale says, "I am illiterate but my children will go to school." Furness also points out that, despite Jackman's and Dukale's lives being "worlds apart... it's so beautiful to see a real connection" between them (via YouTube). 

The good news is that you don't have to take a trip to visit The Laughing Man Coffee Shop at either of its two New York locations if you'd like to support it. You can buy the beans online via the company website.