What Is Mystic Monk Scandal?

What Is Mystic Monk Scandal
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Background of Mystic Monk Coffee

A group of Carmelites Monks in Wyoming in the USA, founded Mystic Monk Coffee or MMC, a coffee brand in 2007. In the late 1990s, the story of the Mystic Monks began, and it happened when a sect of young Catholic men decided to serve as monks, and thus, they moved to Wyoming to start the monastery. Initially, their main aim was to live a contemplative life; however, later on, they realised that they needed to look for a way to support themselves so that they could fund the construction of a monastery (Kelly, 2021). Soon they came across the idea of starting a coffee business, and they expected that it would be a profitable enterprise for them.
In the nascent stage, the monks depended on the profit they acquired from the sales of coffee, which they needed to support the religious activities and the monastery.

For several reasons, MMC had a strong consumer base. Thus the company gained popularity, receiving endorsements and praise from connoisseurs and coffee influencers. The consumers were provided with high-quality Arabica coffee beans by the company. In addition, the monks offered a wide variety of blends, coffee flavours and roasts that satisfied the target markets and their taste buds. Consumers also benefitted from free shipping if they purchased coffee in bulk. For several years the Carmelite monks extracted the coffee beans from the planters who indulged in ecological farming practices in South America. The recognition of the coffee placed the monastery under undue pressure,; thus, meeting the consumers’ increased demand became a problem for the Carmelite monks.

The Mission of Carmelite Monks

At Wyoming, the Carmelite monks were on a mission to gain a 496-acre ranch through donations in Mount Carmel. Well-wishers mostly made the donations, and the profit was acquired from the operation in the monastery of the mystic monk coffee. Nevertheless, the land was not affordable, and it also failed to raise the sum of 8.9 million required to purchase the land (Ushchapovska, 2020). Another mission of Carmelite monks is that he wanted to increase the number of monks from 13 to 30 and acquire more land to accommodate the nun, monks and visitors. He wanted to transform the coffee-selling business into a profitable venture that would purchase more land. The final vision of Carmelite monks was to obtain a 496-acre ranch through the profits and the donation made from mystic monk coffee.

Main players in the Mystic Monk scandal

The main players in the Mystic Monk Scandal comprise the Carmelite Monks, the donors and Bishop David Ricken, who are all part of the fundraising effort. The driving force behind the fundraising effort was the monks and their decision to use the money from the sales of coffee to pay the debt that facilitated the scandal.

The Mystic Monk Scandal

The first sign of the trouble began long before, in 2003, when the former group members f the mystic monk community moved ahead with allegations of deceit and financial mismanagement. They revolted, saying that the community’s leaders misled them about the coffee business and the financial state of the monastery. Furthermore, they also claimed that the Carmelite monks have engaged in unethical practices to keep the business moving (Janin and Carlson, 2023). The allegations are grave, and this caught the attention of the Catholic Community in general. They were shocked and disappointed to hear that and asserted that the mystic monks betrayed the supporters’ faith.

On the contrary, some other monks felt that it might have been their mistake, so there are chances of them being forgiven. In the following years, the scandal followed and in 2004, the Mystic Monks declared that they achieved a donation of $8.8 million from a donor who is not known, and the theory said that it would enable them to buy 500-acre land and build a new monastery on it. However, later on, it was revealed that the donation had not been made. Moreover, the documents were falsified to make convincing that the donation had been received. Despite the scandal, the monks continued the business and sold their products in stores and online.

In 2022, gossip began to spread about the suspected practices that were going on at the centre of the Mystic Monk operation. Journalists and industry watchdogs offered a series of shocking revelations regarding the company’s practices. As per the reports produced by the media, the monastery leader has decided to supplement the South America Coffee beans with lower and cheaper quality coffee beans from other countries that did not indulge in the organic and ecological framing practices followed by the farmers in South America. Such investigations made worrisome revelations which discovered that the labourers engaged in the coffee production process were badly exploited.

Furthermore, it has been reported that MMC sourced their coffee from farms where the workers were forced to stay under brutal conditions, were not entitled to basic labour rights, and received very low wages. This sharp contrast between the claim made by the company of fair trade and the ethical sourcing of coffee beans shattered the consumers’ faith. The monks solely did this with the motto of increasing their sales while keeping the process fixed that was earlier paid for by the consumers. Another disturbing accusation that has taken place was the embezzlement of the funds that were allotted for the construction of the new monastery. It was revealed by the scandal that a major portion of the profits was taken from the coffee sales. However, this profit was diverted to the undisclosed accounts and mainly used for personal gains by the monastery members in high orders. This revelation eroded the trust and goodwill the monksinstilled in their customers.

Several documents were leaked to the press by the whistleblower that exposed the two-tiered sourcing system of the monastery. As opined by the reporters, the leaders at the monastery, who were nervous, asserted that the reports were true. In addition, they further claimed that the economic pressures compelled them to make the compromises, although later on, they acknowledged that it was a mistake to mislead the customers for a longer duration. Many customers in the company for a long time asserted that they felt betrayed by the monks they had once trusted. As per the report of the media, sales have fallen, and the rising reputation of the brand was left in the scraps. At that time, the monastery’s leaders apologised and pledged to maintain their transparency while moving forward. However, this is not an easy task, as it will take years to rebuild the tarnished reputation.

The mismanagement of the funds put forward serious questions regarding the transparency and accountability of the organisation. Besides the mismanagement of funds, allegations related to sexual misconduct were mainly brought against the Carmelite monks. In the monastery, chilling incidents that did not come to the limelight had occurred. In addition, the allegations comprised misbehaviour with the adult women and indulgence in sexual relationships with a female churchgoer. It was further told that community funds amounting to $2.29 million were used by Fr. Daniel Mary to purchase a home in California. Besides this, the money was also used for personal experiences and luxury vehicles.

Implications from the Mystic Monks Scandal

A cautionary tale is served by the mystic monks related to the importance of transparency and honesty in fundraising campaigns. In the initial stages, Carmelite monks of Wyoming had genuine intentions; however, with time, they found themselves in troublesome m situations as they failed to maintain their transparency and adherence to federal and state laws. The controversy centred around the Mystic Monk Scandal emphasises the need for individuals and organisations to maintain honesty with donors and consumers. In addition, it also stresses the necessity of complying with federal and state laws, comprising consumer protection laws and the franchise.

Control of damage by the monks

At the centre of the scandal, the Carmelite monk issued a shock whereby they expressed their guilty and dismay at the findings. They took the pledge to resort to immediate actions to rectify the situation and regain the customers’ trust. Thus sweeping changes were incorporated in Mystic Monks Coffee related to the production and sourcing process. They further pledged to maintain operations transparency and worked with scrupulous and ethical suppliers. In addition, they also spent on quality control measures to meet high expectations and the quality standards as expected by the customers. The scandal at the mystic monk coffee acted as a warning call for the entire coffee industry. Also, the consumers and the brands became more aware and vigilant about the production and sourcing of their favourite brews. In addition, they also demanded accountability and transparency from coffee producers. It may also happen that the most ethical brands can falter, overshadowing their core values. In this regard, consumers need to be vigilant about the coffee they will use.

Increased disillusionment

According to many Catholics, a major source of disappointment and disillusionment was the scandal committed by the mystic monks. Also, the scandal dismantled the trust in the leaders and the Church, who were supposed to be the epitome of faith and morality. Many Catholics flew into a rage as their donations were not utilised as intended, and the trust has been violated by the minks placed in them so far.

Reassessment and Reflection

The scandal committed by Mystic Monks mainly highlighted the beliefs and the faiths. Also, many Catholics were absorbed in the notion that religious leaders are capable of ill acts and wrongdoings. Thus the power and money of the church are being put into question. Also, some critics question the faith and the relationships of the church.

Increased monitoring and scrutiny

The Mystic Monk scandal paved the path for scrutiny of the financial practices of the Catholic Church and the transparency that was supposed to be maintained within the church. Thus all the Catholics around the church started to question the handling of the funds and called for increased accountability and transparency. In addition, some critics summoned the church to adopt a secular approach to financial management.


  • Kelly, J.E., 2021. Political Mysticism: Augustine Baker, the Spiritual Formation of Missionaries and the Catholic Reformation in England. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 72(2), pp.300-322.
  • Ushchapovska, I., 2020. Multimodal features of descriptive texts: case study of coffee brands. World Science, 3(1 (53)), pp.23-26.
    Janin, H. and Carlson, U., 2023. Medieval Monks and Monasteries. McFarland.


1. When was Mystic Monk Coffee founded, and by whom?

Ans: In 2007, Mystic Monk Coffee was founded by a group of Carmelites Monks in Wyoming in the USA. They dreamt of constructing a monastery, and of funding their project, they started to sell online coffee under the name of “Mystic Monk Coffee”.

2. What was the mystic monk scandal?

Ans: The Mystic Monk Scandal put forward questions about the accountability and transparency of religious groups and gave importance to the financial misconduct in the organisations. In addition, the scandal led to the generation of media attention, which reported on the controversy.

3. State the aftermath of the Mystic Monk Scandal.

Ans: After the scandal, the mystic monks were intensely affected. For all these years, they nurtured a dream of building a monastery; however, the controversy has jeopardised them. In addition, the pessimist publicity affected the reputation and raised questions about their honesty and integrity.

4. Mention the main players of the mystic monk’s scandal.

Ans: The key players of the Mystic Monk Scandal comprise the Carmelites monks, donors, and Bishop David Ricken, who indulged in the fundraising effort. The main driving force was the monks behind the fundraising effort, who decided that the fund raised from the sale of coffee would be contributed to the construction of the monastery.

5. State any impact of the Mystic Monk Scandal.

Ans: The Mystic Monk Scandal led to the scrutiny of the financial practices of the Catholic Church and the transparency that was supposed to be maintained within the church.

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