Thursday, November 5, 2009

Planet Bean

Tuesday night, as soon as I got home from a long day of work I popped in the house, grabbed my car keys and headed to Guelph.

Why would I want to drive to Guelph after a long day, instead of stay home, make hot chocolate and curl up with my puppy and a good book?

(Of course I can't write a post mentioning Caillou and not posting a picture of The Cutest Dog Ever, so I'll get it out of the way now.)

Good coffee of course!

And not just any good coffee. Planet Bean good coffee.

I discovered Planet Bean on one of many research blitz online, read all about them on their website, and then emailed them asking about their wholesale offerings. I heard back shortly thereafter, by none other than Byron Cunningham, their CEO. He goes on to tell me all about the company, and I like this place more and more every line I read.

See Planet Bean sells fair-trade, organic coffee - just like several other suppliers I found in Toronto. Unlike many of those other suppliers, they are wholly commited to fair-trade, the certification, and quality of their product.

They are certified by TransFair Canada ( - the nonprofit certification organization that promotes and licences fair-trade operations in Canada. You've probably seen the logo :

If you're not sure what fair-trade really means - read about it here.

One of their best selling coffees is called Cafe Femenino, and I was sent home with a bag of it. It's delicious coffee, and even better, it comes from a wonderful place. The first of it's kind, a cooperative of women in Peru started growing their own organic, shade-grown coffee, and using the profits to support their community. According to Bill Barrett of Planet Bean Coffee "Women in these rural areas are said to be at a 70% risk of sexual assault. They have few resources, no support network limited education and no control over the household income." This allows them to take control of their lives, the education of their children, and increasing their quality of life.
This network has grown, and now involves over 750 women, in 50 different communities.
Read more about it here.

While sipping samples of some of their single-origin coffees, Byron explained to me that this principle carries through everything Planet Bean does. The company is employee-owned, and the driving principles of the company are to be ethical, operating in a democratic manner, and ecologically sustainable.

Now that is the kind of partner I want in a coffee supplier.
We talked about my plans for Cafe Novo, and how together we can help educate coffee lovers about fair-trade practices, and dispell the notion that fair-trade equals lower quality, more expensive.

I got to peek inside the magic room - where the roasting takes place. The smell was out of this world. (Although as opposed to the picture, the roaster wasn't present - just imagine what the steam coming off those beans would smell like. Heaven!)

You wouldn't believe the smell, thetaste of some of these coffees - by the time I left with four more samples of coffees I hadn't tried, I was brimming with excitement. I drove home absolutely giddy about being able to share them once the cafe is up and running.

Ahhhhh, I now cannot wait to get home, and make myself a coffee.

I'll leave you with a link to an interesting article about the health benefits of coffee, as reported by Harvard researchers - enjoy!


1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth, This is all so wonderful. I hope to visit Toronto once Cafe Novo is opened - it sounds like just the sort of place I would love! Here in Rhode Island, we have a great coffee roaster, New Harvest Coffee Roasters. They source fair trade and "relationship" coffee (it sounds like the same idea as the Peruvian farmers growing coffee for Planet Bean - working directly with small farms to improve their standard of living), and our Slow Food chapter showed the movie "Black Gold" then Rik from New Harvest spoke about how they source their coffee. It was fascinating, and the movie is fantastic, yet completely disturbing - worth seeing if you haven't already.
    Best of luck to you on your new venture!