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Pittsburgh-based roaster and retailer Commonplace Coffee has organized a group of eight Pennsylvania roasters to participate in a fundraiser called Be The Bridge, offering eight distinct commercial roasts of a single high-quality green coffee.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of each bag sold is being donated towards efforts to address food insecurity in the Keystone State.
Each roaster is handling the same green bean however it sees fit, yet all are packaged in the same bag type under a Be The Bridge label. A customized secondary label identifies the roaster and roast date.
Each company is selling 12-ounce bags through their own sales channels for $16.50, of which $5 will be donated to Feeding Pennsylvania, a nonprofit association of nine food banks located throughout the state. The first roasted coffees sold for the fundraiser shipped last weekend, and sales will continue as long as supplies last.
The coffee for the project comes from Minneapolis-based importer Cafe Imports. It is a Colombian bean from El Tambo, Cauca, produced by AMACA (Asociación de Mujeres Productoras Agropecuarias del Cauca), a group comprising 140 smallholder members who are women farmers and heads of households.
For consumers, the project offers an enticing way to sample eight different interpretations of a single coffee. Between these companies, the one Colombian bean is passing through human hands, plus two Probat roasters, two San Franciscan roasters, two Diedrich roasters, one Mill City Roaster and one Bellwether machine.
“They’ll not only multiply their impact with each bag of coffee they purchase, but they’ll also get to have some fun identifying and enjoying the differences and nuances between roasting styles,” Lauren Young, marketing and communications manager at Commonplace Coffee, told Daily Coffee News.
The project follows a similar effort in which nine different Minnesota-based roasters took a pass at a single bean to benefit service industry workers under the name Minnesota Roasted.
For many of the roasters involved in Be The Bridge, the project represents a way to give back to people and communities that have helped support their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Going through an experience like that with a great group of people helped us to bond, and reminded us never to take anything for granted,” Matt Marietti, president and founder at De Fer Coffee & Tea, told DCN. “And it was absolutely humbling to see how many customers were truly concerned about us, and went out of their way to support us and help us survive.”
Be The Bridge is a particularly fitting tribute from Arriviste Coffee Bar, whose roasting program emerged as a direct result of the pandemic. Heavily reliant on the student population for its business, Arriviste acquired a Bellwether roaster with the help of a URA recovery loan in order to expand beyond just cafe sales.
“It was a way to immediately diversify our sources of revenue to include something that wouldn’t be too sensitive to lockdowns or guest capacity limits,” Kim Lopez, managing partner at Arriviste, told DCN. “Roasting for ourselves was always a part of the future growth strategy but COVID actually accelerated it.”
The Be The Bridge coffee is being sold primarily as whole beans, although customers may be able to order single-cup pourovers at certain cafes, such as Commonplace locations. The roasters collectively purchased 1,389 pounds of the coffee for the project, which will amount to a donation of over $7,500 once all the bags are sold.
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.