COFFEE IS MORE THAN A BUSINESS - IT CAN ALSO BE ABOUT CHANGE.
On unique wholesale coffee business model supports sustainable community development, in conjunction with ecologically sustainable farming and humanitarian practices to create real and meaningful prosperity.
We partner with socially conscious importers, philanthropic agencies, and communities to provide opportunities for indigenous
farming communities around the globe.
Four years ago we were asked to support the newly evolving women farmers of the Sopacdi Coffee Co-op from
the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were struggling to come back from 30 years of genocide. Many of the surviving farmers had to leave their land for their own safety; an average of 1,000 coffee farmers were/are murdered each year. Those who chose to stay had to sell their coffee to smugglers or smuggle it themselves into Rwanda, both dangerous options.
During the 30-year civil war, very few agricultural development programs were implemented, leaving the land free from chemicals and close to its natural state, making organic certification a given. Focusing first on the quality of their soil to control erosion, members use compost and mulch to amplify the life of their crops. Young nurseries are centralized around old shrubs, eventually replacing them. The first year’s crop produced beans with notes of tangerine and maple syrup.
While their situation was/is heart wrenching - it had been decades since anyone had experience with Congolese coffee and I didn’t know if we could (especially as a fledgling new roaster) successfully sell their coffee in our local Spokane market even though they
produce a top national grade — Kivu 2 — fully washed Arabica bean.
The SOPACDI is certified organic, and in addition, the female members receive a price premium for their coffee. Solidarity and price premiums enable them to provide for their families. One woman wrote: “With our first women’s coffee premium we purchased salt and soap. This was a joyous occasion.”
Once we heard their story we simply couldn’t get involved and get behind these women and children. We knew it was going to take a lot of energy and effort to get Spokane coffee drinkers behind us in this effort.
Being such a new, young company with little to no marketing experience, we crossed our fingers, commited to purchasing their beans, hit social media hoping our ‘friends’ would share and spread the word.
Kristy and Mike Burns, C3M, called volunteering to film a video.
Mr. Bill (Bloom) created a Congo label featuring one of the women farmers on a background of the country’s outline, in the colors of the Congolese flag; informational ‘table tents’; and small bi-fold hanging info cards for each retail bag.
Our importer featured our Congolese retail bags and posters at the 2012 National and International coffee showswhere it contributed to the community selling all of that years crop!
Locally, several of our Spokane wholesale coffee partners who share similar values supported the release serving it in their cafes and restaurants. Chefs Adam Hegsted and Ryan Stoy of The Wandering Table and The Yards worked with us in creating a private label blend
in order to provide on-going support for these women and children.
This past year several other new wholesale partners joined in the effort creating their own Congolese blends. Barb at WSU in the University District features an espresso blend at her Fresh Plate Cafe. And, The BlackBird features a Congolese blend, Chef Molly Patrick along with our team, created.
Every cup of these coffees is not only delicious, but a ‘good work’ in progress.
Want to try a pound? Check our on-line shopping cart.