Light Roast vs. Dark Roast

So, what’s the difference between a light versus a dark roast coffee? A whole lot. Although the roasting procedures are typically quite similar, a light roast and dark roast coffee can vary greatly in their taste, flavour, and body. These differences are due largely to two variables: the roast duration and the roast temperature, which ultimately results in varying colours, moisture levels, and flavour profiles. 

Coffee Bean Roasting

LIGHT ROAST

A light roast coffee will have a more pronounced acidity than a dark roast, and will have nicely developed flavours which reflect their region of origin. As a result, lighter roasts of coffee are known to have a more complex flavour profile, often featuring a subtle sweetness, fruity tanginess, and floral aromas, depending on their origin. These coffees tend to be more polarizing to customers due to their bright and intense flavours.  

DARK ROAST

Dark roast coffees, on the other hand, are roasted at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. As a result, these coffees are much lighter in weight and more bold and rich in flavour; typically featuring a nutty or chocolatey flavour with hints of brown spices such as nutmeg. These coffees typically produce a cup of full of flavour, rich texture and body, which traditionally has made them a more popular choice.

It’s common coffee lore that light roasts also contain more caffeine than their darkly roasted counterparts, but this difference is marginal and attributable to their difference in density. For the true coffee enthusiast, we recommend choosing whatever roast you prefer and then weighing your beans instead of measuring them. By doing so you will ensure you get a properly balanced cup full  of flavour and caffeine, regardless of the roast you choose. 

Light vs. Dark Coffee Roasting
Coffee Beans Roasting

SUMMARY 

Despite the similarities in their roasting methods, light roasts and dark roasts actually vary quite greatly in body, flavour, and taste due to slight differences in the temperature and duration of the roast. In a light roast you can expect a well pronounced acidity which comes through in the form of a subtle sweetness, fruity tanginess, or floral aromas. In a dark roast you can expect a richer texture and body with notes of chocolate, nuts, or dark spices. And while light roasts have marginally more caffeine than dark roasts, you can eliminate this issue by weighing your beans instead of scooping them! Ultimately, it all comes down to your flavour preferences and the qualities you're looking for in a cup of coffee. 

Want to find the right coffee for you? Take the quiz to find out!

Light vs. Dark Roast Coffee
Coffee Roasting Light vs. Dark

What is Ceylon Cinnamon?

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Cinnamon is one of the most popular and commonly used spices in the world. And we aren't surprised, considering the bounty of health benefits and delicious flavour this spice boasts! 

There are many benefits to be derived from cinnamon: it acts as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is also known to lower lipids, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and fight against neurological disorders. In addition, the sweet and spicy flavour pairs well with a variety of dishes and drinks. But what’s the difference between the varieties of cinnamon and, more specifically, what is Ceylon Cinnamon?

Not all cinnamons are created equal.

Ceylon Cinnamon, also referred to as 'True Cinnamon', is renowned for its health benefits, including low levels of coumarin, and its delicate flavour. However, the majority of the cinnamons in the market today are Cassia and Saigon varieties. These varieties are grown in China and Vietnam and contain significantly less health benefits than the Ceylon variety; they have a thicker bark, higher levels of coumarin, and a vastly different flavour.  

Watch a two-minute CBC video on differences in cinnamon here.

Ceylon Cinnamon

Where is our cinnamon from?

Our Ceylon cinnamon is from small-scale farmers in Sri Lanka. We partner with farmers who organically grow 'True Cinnamon', harvest it when it is optimally fresh, and ship it directly to Level Ground. 

Harvesting Ceylon Cinnamon

The Fair Trade impact of purchasing this cinnamon is capacity building in Sri Lanka. Farmers are able to sustainably grow more spices, receiving better prices for their high quality cinnamon! 

Sri Lankan Farmer
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Ceylon Cinnamon leaves

Meet Bijit & Swapna.

Meet Bijit.  

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Bijit is one of the nine tea growers we work with in Assam, India. He is an amazing leader, and continually offers his time to create community within all of the tea growers. He and his wife, Swapna, reach out to others who are new to growing tea to encourage them. They continually invest in education to increase tea quality.

 

But really, the story is about Swapna.

Swapna is Bijit's wife, the face of green tea, and the one who keeps it all together. She manages the processing facility and leads the team of women who pluck tea on their garden during harvest. She is kind-hearted, conscientious, and dilligently employs many people from the nearby village. 

 

Bijit and Swapna embody Fair Trade in Assam, India. They care for their labourers, neighbours, and the land on which they cultivate tea. We are incredibly lucky to visit them each time we travel to India.

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 Swapna, Alicia, Bijit, Laurie (Level Ground), and Wyn (Level Ground).

Swapna, Alicia, Bijit, Laurie (Level Ground), and Wyn (Level Ground).

What is Dragon Fruit?

It's a dragon! No, it's a fruit! Well, actually ... it's a cactus.

Dragon fruit is the delicious, yet dangerously spiky, yellow fruit that comes from cactus varieties in South America.

In North America, we're accustomed to a bright pink dragon fruit, which typically comes from Asia.  In China the fruit is referred to as huǒlóng guǒ (火龍果), which translates to 'fire dragon fruit'! The juicy yellow dragon fruit we have is grown in Colombia - its real name is Pitahaya, but in English its nickname 'dragon fruit' has stuck! 

This fruit grows in rows, similar to a vineyard. The plant is lifted off of the ground to help it grow and allow for easier harvesting. 

GREAT THINGS ABOUT DRAGON FRUIT

  • It contains vitamins: It's high in Vitamin C and B
  • It aids digestion! It's high in fibre and can help to get things moving in a healthy, organic way! (Warning: We don't recommend eating an entire package at once.)
  • It's brand new! It's our newest product, and we're excited about it!
  • It benefits farmers in Colombia! Read about Simon and members of the dragon fruit farmers association here. 

 

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 A ripe dragon fruit before the spikes have  been removed.

A ripe dragon fruit before the spikes have  been removed.

 This variety of dragon fruit has a juicy white flesh. 

This variety of dragon fruit has a juicy white flesh. 

 The vineyard-like rows of dragon fruit!

The vineyard-like rows of dragon fruit!

How To Brew: Chemex

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Recipe: 5 tbsp (35g) medium grind coffee, 600mL hot water

METHOD:

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  1. Place filter in Chemex with the 3 layered side towards the spout.

  2. Preheat the Chemex and filter by pouring hot water through them

  3. Pour out water, replace filter & put ground coffee in filter

  4. Place chemex on scale and tare to zero

  5. Start timing, and pour about 80g (mL) of water over the coffee. Gently stir the grounds to make sure they are all saturated

  6. Wait 30 seconds while the bloom de-gases and the grounds soften in the hot water (this is how the flavour comes out!)

  7. Add 200g (mL) of water, gently stir to agitate the grounds

  8. Wait ~45 seconds

  9. Add 200g (mL) of water, gently stir to agitate the grounds

  10. Wait ~45 seconds

  11. Add remaining water, 120g (mL)

  12. When all the water has been poured over, remove the filter and compost. The entire process should take 4-5 minutes

  13. Enjoy with friends!

METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION. 

Recipe: 41g medium grind coffee, 672g (mL) of water

Method:

  1. Place filter in Chemex, make sure the 3 layered side of the filter is towards the spout

  2. Preheat the Chemex and filter by pouring hot water through them

  3. Pour out the water, replace filter & put ground coffee in filter

  4. Place everything on scale and tare to zero

  5. Start timing and pour 80g (mL) of water over the coffee, make sure to saturate all the grounds thoroughly

  6. Allows the bloom to de-gas for 30 seconds before adding more water

  7. Continue to periodically and slowly pour water over the coffee, keep the filter halfway filled with water during the brewing process

  8. General brew times are between 4-5 minutes

  9. When all the water has been poured over the grounds and the filter has begun to drip slowly, remove and discard the filter

  10. Give the Chemex a swirl and share with friends

How To Brew Chemex Coffee

How To Brew: Aeropress

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Warning: we use the inverted method. There is no reason to be afraid of it. Let's conquer that fear together! 

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Recipe: 1 1/2 scoops ground coffee, enough water to fill the aeropress

METHOD:

  1. Put the top chamber inside the bottom chamber, and turn over. (It should look like the photo above.)

  2. Add 1 1/2 aeropress scoops of ground coffee (or 3 tbsp) *it's a really, really good idea to use the funnel to add the coffee. If grinds get into the top, step 6 might get tricky!

  3. Fill with water to just above the #1 and just below the rim.

  4. Wait 30 seconds, then stir.

  5. Fill with water again up to #1. Set timer.

  6. Screw lid (with pre-wet filter in it) to the top chamber. (*We hope you used the funnel in step 2, or this could get awkward.)

  7. When timer reaches 2 minutes, turn over* and press.

*Turning over is really just like pouring from a regular spout. Turn it confidently, and you will have no problem.  

METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION. 

Recipe: 33g fine grind coffee, 113g (mL) of water

METHOD:

  1. Place filter in Aeropress & preheat by pouring hot water through it.

  2. Add coffee to bottom chamber of Aeropress & place on scale; tare scale to zero with cup underneath the Aeropress.

  3. Start timer and add 113g (mL) of water.

  4. When all the water has been added, stir the slurry (coffee & water mixture).

  5. When timer reaches 1 minute, stir slurry, add top chamber and press like mad.

This will produce a concentrated drink that can be enjoyed on its own or can be diluted with equal parts hot water to produce a more American-like beverage. 

How To Brew Aeropress Coffee

How To Brew: French Press

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Recipe: 55g coarse grind coffee, 1L of water

METHOD:

  1. Add ground coffee into press

  2. Add water, just off the boil. Pour water in with lots of turbulence, saturating the grounds

  3. Stir with a non-metalic spoon

  4. Place the lid on, and press just below level

  5. Let stand for 4 minutes

  6. Press. Pour. Enjoy!

 

Check out our video instructional below!

 

 

 

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METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION

Recipe: 40g medium-coarse grind coffee, 672g (mL) of water

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Method:

  1. Preheat your french press with hot water

  2. Place freshly ground coffee in press

  3. Start the timer & begin pouring hot water into the press

  4. Completely saturate the grounds with all the water. Stir.

  5. Place the lid with the plunger up on the press

  6. When the timer is at 2 minutes, remove the lid & stir the coffee again

  7. Using two spoons, skim the oils & remaining floating grounds off the top of the brew. This will produce a cleaner cup & will stop the coffee from extracting

  8. Place the plunger back on top & press down slowly

  9. Decant into your favourite mug.

 

How To Brew French Press Coffee

Minga - Working Together for Great Pineapples

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In the Cauca region of Colombia, four women travel together from one pineapple farm to another. Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima do a Minga every day. 

What's a Minga?

A Minga is the idea that when many people work together, everyone benefits. In this case, it's a traditional process where a group of people agree to rotate between each others' farms to work as necessary. In this case, these women have essentially formed an unstoppable group of pineapple farmers!

Many of the 42 members of the Pineapple Association we work with participate in a Minga. Together, they cultivate pineapple and sell it to Fruandes, the Fair Trade Organisation we partner in Colombia. In return, they receive the best price for their pineapple and the whole community benefits. Win-win! 

 Pineapple growing on a farm in Cauca, Colombia.

Pineapple growing on a farm in Cauca, Colombia.

 Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima

Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima

Meet Albeiro. Golden Berry Farmer.

Meet Albeiro Chamorra. Golden berry farmer and leader of the golden berry farmer association. 

 

Meet Albeiro. Golden Berry Farmer
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Albeiro is a husband, father, and is one of fifteen farmers who grow organic golden berries as a member of Biofruit NAPOLI. 

He is a trained Agronomist from Bogota (the "big city"!). When his father, Hernan, joined the golden berry association, Albeiro moved back to Nariño to join his family. Albeiro, with his University Education, has been a great asset to the community where the average education ends at elementary school. 

He is now the leader of Biofruit NAPOLI, the golden berry association, and advocate for organic production. 

 

 Albiero (centre left) and his father (centre right) along with the women who work on Albiero's farm.

Albiero (centre left) and his father (centre right) along with the women who work on Albiero's farm.

 Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Bolivia Coffee: From Crop to Cup

Imagine this: you wake up, gently stirred by the smell of freshly ground beans. They’ve been scooped into a French press, bathed in hot water, and eventually pressed. The steaming brew has been poured into your favourite ceramic mug, combined with cream (or sugar, if you so please), and slowly brought up to your lips.

Coffee: it’s a morning ritual for many, but how did those beans get from the crop into your cup? The following is the journey from crop to cup for our organic coffee from Bolivia.

 

Meet Pedro.

 
 Hugo (Level Ground), Stacey (Level Ground) with Pedro, Pedro Pablo, and Daniella.

Hugo (Level Ground), Stacey (Level Ground) with Pedro, Pedro Pablo, and Daniella.

 

 

This is where the journey of coffee begins: at origin, with dedicated farmers like Pedro and his family. Together they run Agricafé, which coordinates the crop of small-scale organic farmers in Bolivia. In the middle of the night, farmers line up in taxis to deliver their green beans to Agricafé. It’s a late-night process, but it’s worth it on both ends: farmers get the best price, and Agricafé always gets the best beans. Agricafé works hard to improve capacity and quality for farmers by providing resources and workshops. Because Agricafé works directly with farmers (no middle man), more money goes directly into the farmers’ pockets. Pedro and the Agricafé team combine the green beans from the farmers, and put the beans through rigorous quality testing (such as UV lights and hand sorting). From this they start to prepare the shipment, and send us a sample of what we can expect.

 

 

In comes Josh del Sol, our Roastmaster and Quality Expert.

 
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At home in Victoria, BC, Josh receives a 350g sample of coffee that represents a 40,000lb container! Josh and his team will confirm quality through roasting, and then cupping the sample. Cupping is a coffee tasting where any flaws in the beans are exposed. After cupping, the team will (hopefully) approve the entire container based on the sample received. Once approved, the container is loaded and heads out on the ocean.  

 

 

We receive the coffee, and then our roasters do their magic.

 
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After testing the coffee again, and again, the roasters get to work. Roasting is equal parts art and science. Once roasted, the coffee is packaged by our team and then shipped out. All so you can wake up and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.

 

Good from crop to cup.

 
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New Fruit!

Introducing ... our new fruit lineup! 5 organic dried fruit options, now including banana and dragonfruit!

Launching today are the bright, new, beautiful packages. So what's new?

  • They're all organic. Certified organic golden berry, mango, pineapple, banana, dragon fruit and cacao from Colombia.
  • Two new fruits: banana and dragon fruit on their own for the first time ever! 
  • New farmer faces. Each fruit features a unique farmer face of a member of that growers' association. 
  • Convenient snack size. They're a little bit smaller, to allow you to grab and go with them. The perfect hiking/camping/airplane snack! 

Plus, all of your favourite things have stayed the same:

  • No added sugars, preservatives, or sulphites. Just delicious fruit.
  • Fair Trade fruits grown by small-scale farmers in Colombia.
Level Ground dried fruit packages
Level Ground pineapple package
Level Ground banana package

Meet Orlando.

Meet Orlando, Leader of the Banana farmers association, and king of organic. 

Even without a word of English, Orlando is one of the most hilarious people you will ever meet. His smile and laugh announce his presence everywhere he goes. Quick to make jokes, Orlando draws people near: family, friends, and visitors. But don't let that fool you - Orlando is dead serious about one thing: organic farming.

Orlando creates organic mixtures to solve any problem on his farm. If a plant needs more nitrogen, he's got a blue bin for that. More calcium? There's a bin for that! He shares the mixtures with members of the association, ensuring they all have a healthy harvest.

So how does he make all of these mixtures? It's a science. He takes organic materials from his farm, and neighbouring farms, and combines with precision. One key is using run-off from his neighbour's pigs. They take the organic material that pigs expel, allow it to ferment, and use the nutrient rich material. (Side note: the gas resulting from that process is used to power their homes!) 

Orlando's success has allowed him to spread the impact throughout his family. His brothers, who were stuck working in coca production, called Orlando to ask for help. His response: to take them in without hesitation. Now, all the brothers live together, producing healthy plants that give life. 

 Each blue bin contains a different organic mixture, designed to combat pests and disease.

Each blue bin contains a different organic mixture, designed to combat pests and disease.

 Dave (Level Ground), Orlando, Robyn (Level Ground) and Pacho (Orlando's brother). 

Dave (Level Ground), Orlando, Robyn (Level Ground) and Pacho (Orlando's brother). 

 Orlando and his famous soil!

Orlando and his famous soil!

Meet Simon.

Meet Simon, Leader of the dragon fruit farmers association.

Simon and his wife Nancy live just outside of Pitalito, Colombia. It's a small town, even by Colombian standards. The trek to Simon's farm is incredible, the colours of each building flash by as you ride in the back of his truck. The ride is never made alone - when we travelled in January 2018, Simon's son (Simon Philipé) and labourers joined us for the journey.

As the leader of the dragon fruit farmers association, Simon's role is to bring the five farmers together. He builds capacity, amalgamates orders and takes care of the members. The five members of the association consist of himself, his brother Fernando, and three men who used to be labourers on Simon's land. 

Fair Trade wages have allowed Simon's labourers to purchase land of their own, and join the association. They're even able to hire more labourers to work for them! This means more families are seeing the effects of a stable income. 

Because you choose to purchase this dragon fruit, these families have a stable income and can afford to hire more people to work together on their land. Purchasing thoughtfully allows the financial impacts to continually ripple outwards. 

 

 Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

 Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

 Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

D.R. Congo - A look at 2017

What does Fair Trade look like in the D.R. Congo?

In 2017, Direct Fair Trade Premiums (the extra we pay on each shipment of coffee), went towards capacity building. More specifically, it paid for:

  • 55 new hand picking tables - this provides good working conditions for the women who sort each coffee bean by hand!
  • Training on pruning practices for farmers
  • Over 250,000 coffee trees to be planted
  • Practical tools, like saws for pruning

Interest is growing in this unique coffee. In 2018 we will double the amount of green coffee we buy!  

 Each coffee bean is hand sorted.

Each coffee bean is hand sorted.

D.R. Congo Medium Coffee
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 Co-founder, Hugo visits with children of coffee farmers in D.R. Congo.

Co-founder, Hugo visits with children of coffee farmers in D.R. Congo.

Golden Berries - Biofruit NAPOLI

Biofruit Napoli - the organic golden berry farmers association in nariño, colombia.

What's in a name? Biofruit NAPOLI was started in 2007 by six members:

Nancy, Alba, Piedad, Osvina, Leonardo*, & Lilliana.  (*Leonardo was the only Male founder of the association!)

The association has 16 members, 15 of which are farmers. Giraldo Rosero the only non-farmer member operates a nursery for golden berry plant starts. He carefully nourishes the seeds into starts, then farmers come to purchase and plant the starts in their farmers. 

Each member owns a farm. Collectively they hire 81 workers who harvest and sort the leaves. The vast majority of these workers are women, which is a welcomed change in Colombia. All of the members meet on the first Sunday of every month. They gather to share success stories, organic practices, and encourage each other in their work. 

 Hernan Chamorro, member of Biofruit NAPOLI

Hernan Chamorro, member of Biofruit NAPOLI

 The nursery for Golden Berry plant starts.

The nursery for Golden Berry plant starts.

 Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Golden Berry Package

Meet Menaka.

Meet Menaka, a seasonal worker for Ethical Inspirations, our spice partner in Sri Lanka. 

 

Menaka is responsible for leading the others in cleaning, shrink sleeving, labelling and packaging the spice bottles.

She is a woman who was marginalized in the local community. She was born with multiple disabilities. Her mother sent her to school, but as she grew, she struggled to find employment. Her physical limitations restricted her from finding livelihood employment. 

Menaka was born with only seven fingers on both her hands; and only one foot. She has to depend on an artificial foot to move. Her limitations have made her determined to stand up in life as an independent woman. 

Menaka is married to Weerasinghe, a young man plagued by polio. Weerasinghe drives a trishaw that provides an income for the family. Weerasinghe ensures that his wife gets to work on time and picks her up after work. Menaka has the opportunity for dignified work and to make an income for her family.

 Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

 Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices.

Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices.

Pineapple - Regrowing Peace through Pineapples

In the Cauca region of Colombia, the Balanta family has worked for years advocating simultaneously for peace and for pineapples. 

It's a region that was known for conflict; it's main crop, coca leaves. Because of the coca production, guerrillas occupied the area, soon followed by the military. This combination led to heavy violence in the area.

Cesar (Nilsen Lucumi), Susanna, and Gustavo (Amaifi Bonilla) Balanta grow pineapple from their farm in Cauca. Even though they have formal education, and hold other jobs in Law and Human Resources, they never left Agriculture. This family has deliberately chosen to stay in Cauca, through conflict and war. They advocate for pineapple production, a welcomed alternative to coca, and are passionate members of the pineapple farmers' association - Asoagronorca (Agriculture Association of Northern Cauca). 

Now, this region cultivates peace. What was previously an area known for drug production and violence is now a community who comes together to produce pineapple and work together. 

 Cesar Balanta in one of the Pineapple farms in Cauca.

Cesar Balanta in one of the Pineapple farms in Cauca.

 The finished product. Our pineapple package features the face of Susanna Balanta.

The finished product. Our pineapple package features the face of Susanna Balanta.

We Moved!

It's official, we're in our new home. After 20 years of Fair Trade on Keating X Road (in various locations), we are excited to be in a brand new facility. 

Our roots lay deep on the Saanich Peninsula. We have moved 800 metres up the road to Sean Heights! 

So why the big move? 

  • We're growing! To accommodate our staff and the 45 containers of Fair Trade products we bring in every year
  • Hospitality! We love to host tours. This facility was designed to show you behind the scenes of our operations
 

Our new address is:

1757 Sean Heights

Victoria, BC

V8M 0B3

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 Our front door! Ready to welcome you in Monday - Friday, 9-4. 

Our front door! Ready to welcome you in Monday - Friday, 9-4. 

 A view down our warehouse. The green mural wall is one of our favourite parts of the building!

A view down our warehouse. The green mural wall is one of our favourite parts of the building!

 Home sweet home. Our views of Brentwood Bay. 

Home sweet home. Our views of Brentwood Bay. 

 A welcomed sign in our roasting room: caffeine! 

A welcomed sign in our roasting room: caffeine! 

Meet Maria.

Meet Maria Chari. The face of Peru Coffee.

Maria is a coffee farmer and Matriarch of the Machiguenga First Nation in Pangoa, Peru. 

Like many of the co-op members, Maria produces coffee as a cash crop. She employs biodiversity in her crops to cultivate healthy food.

Maria, her family, and other members of the First Nations group grow organic coffee and cacao. They are members of a long-established co-op with 680 members. The co-op is called 'Co-operativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa' (now, that's a mouthful!), or 'CAC Pangoa’ for short.  

The organic coffee we purchase is grown exclusively by the Machiguenga First Nation. 

 Maria seeing her face on a package of Peru coffee for the first time!

Maria seeing her face on a package of Peru coffee for the first time!

 When we visit, members of the Machiguenga First Nation throw a celebration and wear their traditional (and colourful) robes.

When we visit, members of the Machiguenga First Nation throw a celebration and wear their traditional (and colourful) robes.

Peru Coffee