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Weaver Street Market: We Own It!
Counter Culture Coffee: an Inside Look Print E-mail

By Peter Giuliano, former Director of Coffee

CounterCultureNicaraguamen.jpgPeople sometimes forget that great coffee is the produce of a small farm, just as heirloom summertime tomatoes are. The big difference is that coffee can’t be grown around here, and so coffee drinkers have traditionally felt little connection to the farms where their coffee was grown. 

We wanted to change all that. Because we spend so much time with coffee farmers in the exotic lands where really delicious coffees come from, we know that coffee farms can be beautiful, extraordinary examples of sustainable agriculture. The people and cultures in coffee lands are thrilling and inspiring. It became our goal to communicate a little about these farms, people and cultures to the folks who drink these incredible coffees. This idea, to bridge the gap between North Carolina coffee lovers and our partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia, became our mission.

CounterCultureNicaraguabeans.jpgAnd that’s why our new bag is as chock-full of information and color as it is.  In a departure from the coffee industry’s habit of obscuring the coffee’s real source with clever blend and roast names, we proudly sell each authentic coffee marked with the real name of the farm or co-operative where the coffee was grown.  We’ve worked together with the farmers and local artists to create specific artwork, inspired by the culture of the people who grew the coffee. (For example, the Ikawa Rwanda symbol is an example of the indigenous Imigongo painting style; the Finca Mauritania sun was created by a Salvadoran artist; and the Golondrina swallow was taken from a matchbox I found in Colombia.) Each bag also has a detailed description of the coffee, along with tasting notes, and a map of the farm’s location. On our website you’ll find stories about the farmers, and pictures of the farms, surroundings, and of the farmers themselves. It’s our way of bringing coffee farmer and coffee drinker just a little closer together.

CounterCultureNicaraguawomen.jpgBecause I have the job of traveling to our partners’ farms throughout the year, I wind up carrying stories of coffee farmers and coffee drinkers back and forth between the hills of the Piedmont and the mountains of Central America, the hills of East Africa, and the islands of Indonesia.  I can tell you that the fair, sustainable coffee model that we’re building together is invigorating and inspiring coffee growing communities around the world.  Plus, it’s fun to tell coffee farmers about the lawn at Weaver Street in Carrboro.  They never believe it.


All of our profits are returned to owners, donated to our community, or used to strengthen the cooperative. Cooperative businesses are honest, open and fair, behave with integrity, and remain accountable for their actions.