Peace Coffee: For Beans & Bikes

February 28, 2008

For more than a dozen years now, Peace Coffee has been roasting up fair trade, organic beans from farmer coops around the world. Last year I had the opportunity to visit their roastery in Minneapolis and spend a day touring the city’s finest cafes where just and sustainable cups are served up from Peace Coffee.

Peace is somewhat unique in that they are owned and operated a non-profit organization called the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. They are unusual in some other ways too. For instance, they’re kinda wacky about bikes. Check out this brand new video from them that I just got from Melanee Megan, Peace marketing director (gotta love that title, a Peace marketer).

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Pledge to Buy Handmade

February 4, 2008

Posted by Chris O’Brien

Stumbled upon this pledge a little too late for the gift-giving season for which it was intended but there’s no reason to limit handmade items to the holidays, so check this out.

The video and accompanying website focus on handmade crafts that are more along the lines of “arts and crafts” but handcrafted coffee (and handcrafted beer) certainly seem to fit with the spirit of the pledge.

The whole topic raises an interesting conundrum within the fair trade craft movement. Why buy handmade crafts, such as Christmas tree ornaments for example, from a producer coop in Kenya when you could either make them yourself or buy them from a more local artisan? Does it make sense to ship things halfway around the world even if they do support economically impoverished producers?

Thankfully, this conflict is a moot issue in terms of coffee since it simply doesn’t grow in the northern countries where most of it is consumed. Rather than producing it locally, I suppose the ultimate sustainability solution would be to sip a different sort of sauce made from something local. But somehow I bet that’d be a non-starter for the more than 150 million Americans who rely on coffee for their morning kick-start.

For that reason alone, it seems like pledging to drink handcrafted coffee from a local roaster who sources fair trade, organic, shade grown beans is the best way to go for now – unless and until Americans discover a new favorite drink-drug that grows north of the border.