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Column: Finding the perfect cup of local coffee, part 2

Cara Lindberg

Last month I highlighted Alakef Coffee Roasters, a Duluth roastery that incorporates sustainability into its decision-making and operations. This month we are going to take a look at another local business that is working diligently to serve us the perfect, and most sustainable, cup of coffee.

Duluth Coffee Company, located at 105 E. Superior St., opened its doors in October 2012. However, owner Eric Faust began his coffee-roasting journey long before that. Faust worked in other cafés developing and honing his roasting craft. In 2011, the Duluth Coffee Company was officially born as a wholesale coffee roaster. The retail café opened shortly after.

Faust and his team of five employees are serious about their craft. Sourcing the best coffee based on the dynamic seasons is the first hurdle. “We are constantly sampling and looking for coffees that are fresh and in season. This involves working closely with importers and sometimes directly with people at origin,” Faust said.

Once the very best beans are found, the careful science of roasting can begin. The entire process takes place at the retail store in downtown Duluth. In fact, stop by and there is a good chance you will see and smell the process in action while enjoying a cup yourself. The challenge in roasting is that each batch of beans comes with its own flavor profile. This is where the Duluth Coffee Company team excels. “Roasting, to us, is the art of blending, caramelizing and carbonization. Both are aspects of the roast process that change between each country of origin and from day to day. We use the natural flavors of the coffee as a starting point and see roasting as our opportunity to influence the coffee,” Faust said.

Duluth Coffee Company is an organic-certified facility, but they do not use certifications to market their coffee. Rather, they market based on quality, with which they have found success. Because of the conscientious sourcing process, the team has found that, more often than not, the farmers have been paid more than the fair trade price and the beans have been grown in a sustainable and ethical manner.

Quality and environmentally superior coffee is only the first step in Duluth Coffee’s mission. They also use sustainability as an opportunity to make business decisions. Faust said, “Sustainability to us means being conscious that our decisions have ongoing effects and influence on the environment around us.”

Sustainable initiatives include:

• Using compostable bags for coffee beans.

• Serving to-go coffee in compostable, eco-friendly cups.

• Recycling coffee grounds.

• Delivering coffee by bike.

• Paying employees a fair, living wage.

• Sponsoring sustainable efforts locally.

Duluth Coffee has also teamed up with another local newcomer, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. They will begin canning Cold Press Black, a coffee beer. Stay tuned for the release this coming fall.

We are all faced with choices each day and have the opportunity to choose the best options possible.

I encourage you — challenge you, even — to think about the effect your daily purchases have on our community. When we spend our money locally with companies that employ our friends and neighbors and keep the health of our environment in the forefront, we all win.

I hope to see you all out and about this summer enjoying a cup!

Part 1 appeared in the May 18 Budgeteer.

Cara Lindberg is the board president of Sustainable Twin Ports, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. She is trained in The Natural Step, a science- and systems-based sustainability framework. Cara can be reached at lindberg.cara@gmail.com.

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