Member Profile – Just Us! Coffee Roastery
Co-Founder: Debra Moore
Producer: Just Us! Coffee Roastery
Q:Tell us about Just Us! Coffee Roastery & Museum and how it started?
A: Jeff and I were looking to make a change in our work life. We were social workers so our professional and volunteer work had been focused on social justice and we wanted to continue this type of work. it came together that we would start a coffee co-op doing fair trade coffee and we were the first in Canada to roast Certified Fair Trade & Organic Coffee.
The museum started because we had always felt from the beginning that our coffee was a way to educate people on organics and the exploitation that was happening with small producers around the world.
Q: What inspires you about Nova Scotia?
A: In Nova Scotia we value small, we value good food and we value community. This has proven to be very important for the growth of our co-op. We have the added benefit of having about 450 people in Nova Scotia that have invested in us through the CEDIF program. They are our best friends in that they promote us, they challenge us and they purchase our products.
Q: What are some interesting facts about coffee?
- Dark coffee has slightly less caffeine than a lighter roast.
- A shot of espresso has slightly less caffeine because the amount of time it is in water is less then brewing.
- Our coffee is all high-grown coffee from the Arabica plant. It takes 2 to 3 years for a coffee tree to mature and it produces 1 to 2 lbs of roasted coffee.
- When you put the coffee in the roaster is shrinks in weight by between 16 and 20%.
- Now there are about 17 roasters in Nova Scotia.
Q: What’s involved in roasting coffee?
A: There is both science and craft to roasting coffee. Simply put, you are putting green coffee beans into the hot drum of the roaster. It spins around for a certain amount of time. During this time you will experience smells, cracking of the beans and the beans turning different colours. The Roaster uses all of their senses when roasting coffee. Once it is ready to come out you must cool it as fast as you can so there are big fans that draw the heat out of the beans. At that point it must go directly into a bag with a one way valve to maximize the freshness. That is one of our secrets is that the customer orders it one day and the next day it is roasted and shipped to them. They are getting fresh coffee and you can taste it in the cup.
Q: Tell us about the Small Producers symbol and what it means?
A: When we first heard from our producers that they weren’t happy with the direction TransFair was going we listened to their concerns and tried to help them within the Fair Trade system. The only route to go was for the producers to develop their own symbol. This has not come easy and there have been lots of pressures to abandon it, but they have stuck true to what they believe and now people are supporting it in a big way. By being the ones that own the symbol, they are now truly in charge of their destiny. In agricultural today we are seeing that it is small scale farmers that are growing our food and that their methods are sustainable.
Q:Why is it important to support local?
A: Our Co-op is firmly planted in Nova Scotia and more importantly in an agricultural community. We feel a real connection to the struggles that small scale farmers are having right here in the Maritimes and can see how important it is that they to organize to create a sustainable agriculture plan. As we began to look at how we can have an impact right here at home, it led us to developing the Centre for Small Farms that has become an important resource for organic and small scale producers in the Maritimes. It also put us right in the middle of the local food movement.
Q: What inspires you about the farmers you work with?
A: The fact that they were able to organize and accomplish all that they have to better their lives. Today Fair Trade is eroding and the international body is loosening the criteria. For many of the producers they were not happy with this and felt very strongly that the model of organized cooperatives was intrinsic to Fair Trade. In the past 7 years they have managed to organize themselves to develop their own label that stays true to the founding values of Fair Trade and they are being well supported by Roasters like us around the world.
Q: Do you have any additional comments to share?
A: At Just Us! we are proud that we were able to create good jobs in Nova Scotia and this could only happen because customers all over Canada have supported us as we grew and developed. We won’t pretend it has been easy but it has all been worth it to bring great products to our customers and to purchase from and get to know small scale producers around the world. Supporting the Small Scale producers both here and around the world is so important to our future and our food security.
WIN a Just Us! Gift Basket
HOW TO ENTER > If you love Just Us! products as much as we do it’s your lucky day. We’re giving away the beautiful gift basket pictured below. To enter, send the name of your favourite Just Us! product to firstname.lastname@example.org.