|Logos courtesy of casabrasilcoffees.com|
I was in Austin, Texas recently and I was fortunate enough to meet the folks that started the fantastic company, Casa Brasil Coffees. Lisiane (born in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil) and Joel Shuler (originally from Michigan), now run a business that sells coffee beans with a "harvest to home" philosophy. Here is a blurb from their newly refashioned website that explains what that type of business model entails. Casa Brasil began in 2005 as a Brazilian Cultural Center in Austin, Texas with a three-part mission: to facilitate the lives of Brazilians living in the United States, to provide a place to touch Brazil, and to promote Brazilian culture.This passion for Brazil combined with a passion for coffee led Casa Brasil to change its focus in 2007 to sourcing the highest quality Brazilian coffees. We purchase most of our coffees directly from producers, vacuum-sealing the green coffee in Brazil, importing the beans, then roasting to order.
Casa Brasil also offers a "Learning Center" on their site that gives detailed information on the proper way to brew a cup/pot, the history of coffee in Brazil and around the world, scientific analysis of the Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora plant species, etc., etc. They also just started a bicycle delivery service for local Austin business and households. For those of you who do not live anywhere near Texas, they offer mail orders as well. If you will be in New York City from November 12-19, there is going to be a Cafés do Brasil Week that Casa Brasil will participate in. Also follow them on Facebook here.
While I was in town, I was able to do more than simply chat with the Shulers. In order to assist me in making a documentary for my senior thesis in Anthropology, they invited me and a friend into their home to film and photograph some of their friends from Brazil making pamonha (a Brazilian-style tamale) from scratch. To read about that amazing day and get more details on my project, read the post here from my blog The Gringa Eats Brazilian.
In the meantime, at least think about the importance of what they are doing that raises the bar for the ethical actions of coffee distributors. I am normally a big advocate for buying local versus the importation of far-away goods UNLESS it is in a situation like this! After all, I cannot grow coffee beans in my backyard, can you? Therefore, coffee farmers in far-away places like Brazil need the support of companies like Casa Brasil to ensure that they get treated fairly in the money-hungry "free" market system. It also preserves the traditions and improves the quality of life of folks gracious enough to give the world its coffee. Bottoms up!