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What we mean…Relational Trade

What we mean when we use the word… 

When we started this adventure of profoundly good coffee Porch Culture had one direct trade connection from our time spent living in the Dominican Republic.  We knew that we would want to and need to expand our offerings from there which quickly brought up the questions of “How?” and “Where do we begin?”

relational trade

“Relational Coffee” is another ambiguous term in the coffee world.  Like Direct Trade it is not a certification but a subjective phrase that can vary in meaning.  For us relational coffee is the bridge that helps us cross over into more direct trade relationships.  You will notice a lot of overlap from our direct trade definition.  The primary difference being the relationship in “relational trade” involves a go-between.

Our 4 point definition is as follows.

Price | We pay above fair trade minimums and work through smaller importers or other direct trade roasters to establish price.

People | We communicate with those that have direct trade relationships with farms and ask specific questions to know both the people and the land connected to the coffee are cared for.

Quality | Its still gotta be profoundly good.  We look at cupping scores and talk with other roasters already using the bean.  In most cases a sample is requested before making a larger scale purchase.

Land | Shade grown with sustainable growing practices already in place.

Our goal is to build new farm relationships by creating connections with other roasters that have their own direct trade relationships.  Until all four of the direct trade criteria are met these coffees will be labeled as “Relational” rather than “Direct”.  Our current hope is to build 3 to 4 Direct Trade relationships, farms and/or cooperatives that we look to partner with for the long haul.  This means that only some of our Relational Trade coffees will make the transition to Direct Trade.

Those that don’t make the transition will come and go for various reasons but will always fill an important role for our business.  Before it is anything else, coffee is a crop that grows from the earth.  This means a couple different things for us as roasters.  One, there is a finite supply from each farm each season.  Two, coffee is subject to the unpredictabilities and risks of anything cultivated | drought, flood, cold snaps, bugs.  It is for these reasons that our relational trade offerings fill such an important role for us as roasters and you as Porch Culture patrons.  In addition to providing fun and variety in our Porch Culture offerings, relational trade coffees are farms/importers we can look to as trusted pinch hitters, special features, substitutes when other coffees become unavailable for whatever reason.

Spirit Mountain drying and storage from above

Our current Relational Trade offering is our Ethiopian Harrar.  The small importer we work through is committed to providing a viable, vibrant sales market to Ethiopian farmers, all small cooperative growers.  There is an established mutual commitment between these farms and the importer that is creating a great cup of coffee for you and a living wage for growers.  Profoundly good from farm to porch.

Next up on the blog | What we mean…Fair Trade

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Come Together

Have you ever read a story with just one character?  Perhaps but they are few and the  point of those stories is most often that we can’t do things all on our own.

The story of Porch Culture has M A N Y characters.  All forward movement in the story of Porch Culture is credited to those that have come before us and those that have come along side us.
Today we joined stories with another Tyler based project we would call profoundly good, Come Together Trading Company.

In their own words “Come Together Trading Co. is a Christ-Centered Fair Trade Retail Store seeking to help people living and working in unfair conditions across the world by providing them with a marketplace for the beautiful products they produce…[The shop] was founded on the simple idea that if we could just “Come Together” we could help one another.”

Come Together originally started with a location in Canton, TX.  As of November 2012, the shop is now operating out of Tyler in the Bergfeld shopping center.  The inspiration for the shop is a beautiful story indeed.  In a nutshell, founders Tammy and Terry Marshall took a life changing trip,  identified a need, took a risk, and a store that exists to restore lives came into being.  You can read the full story at cometogethertrading.com.

We are stoked and humbled that they have allowed our coffee to be sold alongside such story-rich, beautiful products.  But its not our coffee after all.  It belongs to the farm and those that labored to get it to us and ultimately to you.

So if you live in Tyler and are in need of profoundly good coffee…or chocolate, or earrings, or a winter hat, or any number of beautiful things…stop by Come Together Trading and join us and them in telling a better story with the things we buy.

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Vision | farther up and further in

create | give | restore

Where we want to go we cannot go alone.

create |

To create a love for profoundly good coffee among the people of Tyler and friends of Doulos across the map.
There is good coffee, which tastes good, and then there is profoundly good coffee, which tastes good and is good to all the people involved in the process of bringing it to you.

A lot of people love coffee.  Our hope at Porch Culture is for people to love people through coffee.

Porch Culture coffee beans come to us direct from the Dominican Republic.  Our connection with Spirit Mountain Coffee Plantation and Ecological Reserve began before Porch Culture was even an idea.  The farm is connected with Doulos, the school we worked for in the Dominican Republic.  As part of our jobs we had the privilege of leading student camping trips and hosting US work teams on the farm.

This was our transition from a love for coffee to a love for people through coffee.

You may not ever meet our friends on the farm or at the school but when you choose profoundly good coffee you are choosing to love those friends of ours through coffee.

give |

To give generously and be a channel for others to do the same.

Our plan from the beginning has been to be a coffee business that is built around community and giving.  We are not the first “profit with purpose” business.  There are many outstanding examples that proceed us.  We gleaned from their experience and developed a giving plan for Porch Culture.

$3. That is where we arrived. $3 from every bag sold online is given to Doulos.

But we are just a channel for giving.  It is your choosing Porch Culture coffee that does the giving.

We also know other profoundly good work is going on around us.  Which is why we offer Porch Culture fundraising campaigns  for local non-profits, churches, and schools.  $3 from every bag of coffee through a Porch Culture fundraiser goes to the work of partnering non-profits.

restore |

To be a catalyst of restoration and renewal on the farm, in education, and within the city of Tyler.

On the farm.  There is so much to say about Spirit Mountain.  They are not just a connection we happened to have but a project and a place that we deeply believe in and a story we were eager to be a part of.  In addition to 80 acres of organic coffee, the farm is also an ecological reserve with 1000’s of trees planted over the last 10 years.  The farm is still more than that; it is a learning extension for Doulos, where students come to experience the outdoors as a classroom.

When you purchase Porch Culture you are choosing a farm that loves people through agriculture

In education.  Doulos ignited our imagination with what education can be.  A school dedicated to building bridges, equipping leaders, and serving the community.  Just like Spirit Mountain there is so much to say about Doulos.  They are also a story we are eager to be a part of.  They are the beginning of our story in fact.

When you purchase Porch Culture coffee you are choosing a school that loves people through education.

Within the City.  After being away for several years we are just getting to know Tyler again.  It did not take much searching to find there are profoundly good stories of restoration taking place.  We want to help those stories along and bring more people into them as well.

When you purchase Porch Culture coffee through a Tyler based fundraiser you are choosing to be a part of loving you neighbor through coffee.