Walking into Flat Land Coffee Co., it seemed like I had walked into a shop in Toronto. Minimalist white walls with beautiful local art. When seeing me walk in, the owner, Chad Ermel, smiled and welcomed me, and I was quickly reminded I was still in friendly Manitoba.
Chad and I sat down to talk about what it is like running a small business in rural Manitoba, the issues that exist in the coffee industry, and why buying premium coffee is so important.
In a town of five thousand, Flat Land Coffee Co. is one of four shops in Gimli, Manitoba. It distinguishes itself from the rest by serving premium coffee. While sipping on a latte, I chatted with Chad, who told me a bit about the coffee scene in the town and some info on the industry.
Chad has been working in the industry for over a decade and decided to open Flat Land Coffee Co. to make a life doing what he loves in a town he loves. He says an issue in the industry is everyone’s perception of coffee. The general attitude is that coffee should be cheap and there is no thought about the quality or where it comes from.
The coffee industry is an interesting one in that it’s so large and so easy for companies to lack transparency. It’s one reason why supporting local shops like Flat Land Coffee Co. is necessary. While I was talking to Chad, he told me they were currently featuring a Colombian coffee from 49th Parallel. While doing research for this post, I looked into 49th Parallel, its a roasting company from Vancouver who imports beans from all over.
I got really excited while on 49th Parallel’s website because it has what they call “transparency reports” which shows where the all the money they spent on coffee beans went. I was happy to learn that 68% of the money they spent on their Colombian roast went to the farmers. (Check here for the whole report.)
Here are a few things to know about your cup of joe:
- 90% of the world’s coffee production takes place in developing countries (When buying coffee at premium coffee shops like Flat Land Coffee Co., you can be assured those farmers are paid properly)
- There are about 25 million coffee farmers in the world
- Fairtrade coffee only a small portion of the market
- The coffee is a $100 billion industry (let’s bring more of that to Canada)
- Coffee shops have a 7% annual growth rate
Chad said he is slowly trying to educate people, if they’re interested, about the industry and why the prices of premium coffee are essential.
When grabbing a cup from your local coffee shop, you’re purchasing coffee that was ethically made and traded for, supporting a local business which in turn supports multiple employees, and you’re getting a great cup of coffee.