Grounded & Steadfast

The journal of Chris Bowler, a collection of thoughts on faith, business, design, and the creative process.

How Important Is the Source?

I was intrigued when I first heard of Ethical Coffee Chain (ECC). I was just getting to know the writing and work of Adam King when Pat Dryburgh mentioned this project based on social entrepreneurship. And hey, it involves coffee … that's enough to pique my interest on its own.

Months later, I was glad to see Adam and the team at ECC get this project up and running. And because I believe in what they're doing, I signed up immediately.

Why?

What's important about ECC? Knowing the source, period.

My wife and I are big on the idea of buying local. Support the industry and people around you, and know as much as possible about where the products and services you are consuming come from. It's a concept that our culture, with all its Walmart's and big box retailers, needs to embrace. When I hear the term global economy, this verse from Amos always comes to mind:

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”

Without digging into all the context (always dangerous when quoting Scripture, I know), these words speak to me. How do my purchasing decisions affect the lives of others? Are people being oppressed when I buy even the simplest of goods, such as chocolate?

The more I know about the product and the process of getting it to my door, the better.

Of course, buying coffee from a farmer in Nicaragua isn't exactly "buying local". The fact is, coffee can only be grown in the climates of the bean belt. But I love coffee. So if I'm going to continue to partake in the beverage, I'm awfully glad there are companies like ECC enabling me to make better decisions — and to feel good about it.

How Does it Compare?

All right, sermon over. How does the Gus's coffee taste? I must admit, there was a slight worry that I would be supporting a good cause, but drinking sub par coffee. After the first pound, I'm happy to say this is not the case. These beans are on par with what I would buy from Starbucks or Kicking Horse Coffee.

For context, I've tasted this coffee in an Aeropress, a French Press and a run-of-the-mill drip brewer. A clean, bold cup is the result in each. I sadly still use a cheap blade grinder, so getting a great cup of coffee with this setup speaks to how good the beans are.

Also, ECC shows their passion in the whole package. My first shipment came with a nice handwritten note, telling me how much they appreciate my decision. I was also one of the first ten subscribers, the first from BC and the furthest away customer. The note included a personal email address and phone number to send in any suggestions or feedback.

This is a business run by people.


If you care about how your choices as a consumer affect our world, you're already on the look out for companies like Ethical Coffee Chain. If you buy your Starbucks beverage without much thought, then I encourage you to take some time to stare into your cup and think about every step, every ingredient that was required for you to enjoy this drink.

Remember that there are people behind each step, and they deserve our time and attention.