RTF: Not Just the Coffee

This most recent visit was to the outstanding cooperative, Just Coffee Cooperative. The team behind Just Coffee has grown over the past ten years to create an economic business structure that supports the Madison community and the farmers who grow the coffee beans behind their full-bodied brew. Their company focuses on supplying coffee to the local food establishments in Madison, they’re also involved in a variety of events and they have a presence at local markets and Farmers’ Markets.

Just Coffee is not  only focusing on just coffee, they are establishing themselves within a movement that is shaping society through their efforts to bring fair trade and equal working opportunities to the farmers who provide many American’s with their early morning cup of joe. Meeting with Julia, a strong member of Just Coffee who spends much of her time abroad getting to know the farmers and helping them set up strong practices, I was able to see a small glimpse of all that Just Coffee is doing.

The economic model they are working hard to create involves a team of about seven people who are at the forefront of the collective, beyond that they have dedicated workers who make up the entire team of about 13 members. All of the invested people are using coffee as a vehicle for social change and they hope to truly make a difference.

             

Just Coffee receives parcels of coffee from South America, Africa and Asia. They work with small farmers who need support of equal working rights, who need to make enough money to survive. These farmers are hoping to become self sustainable  by developing  a market  in America. The Just Coffee team encourages the farmers to grow organic beans and to use farming practices that benefit the environmental, ultimately allowing them to offer a higher quality bean that can produce the outstanding Just Coffee sip.

    

Once the coffee beans arrive they are inspected, roasted, ground and bagged in their processing plant in Madison, Wisconsin. The coffee is immediately bagged or separated into bulk buckets and biked throughout the city. They deliver  to local food establishments and many Madison Farmers’ Markets, and to local grocery stores. These markets can request specialty blends  or create their own mixtures of the beans. A wealth of information is printed on the bag regarding the blend and the farmers behind each bean and bag.

The appearance of the bag is a true piece of artwork as Just Coffee chooses to work with many local artists when creating each bags logo and design. Many are focused on human rights and offer a visually appealing bag of coffee. The different blends have also been used to raise money for local fundraisers, raising awareness of the need for positive social change here, and around the world.

This is a small glimpse of the route their coffee takes when it travels from the farmer to your mug, and the positive impact Just Coffee Cooperative employees have been able to make during their ten years of business. Julia just took off with a one way ticket to La FEM in Nicaragua where she hopes to make a positive contribution working with a female cooperative of coffee growers. Keep a look out for many more posts about the social change and the big difference Just Coffee is making in the lives of independent farmers around the world.

All hail a GOOD cup of joe.

Amy Verhey

2012 Summer Food Warrior