I was recently introduced to a coffee company out of Memphis called Ugly Mug Coffee. The first practical thing for me is that the coffee tastes good. Otherwise I’m not that interested in a new coffee company.
Well I can say that it was a very good cup of coffee.
My friends used to live in Memphis and were telling me more about the company itself and then I got really impressed.
First of all, their humor is great. I mean, come on, “Ugly Mug”? How funny is that?
Second, they take the ‘behind the scenes’ of coffee production seriously. You’ve probably all heard of ‘fair trade’ coffee, but they actually put some thought into it all and Ugly Mug Coffee is doing something better than Fair Trade:
The idea behind fair trade coffee involves paying farmers a “fair” price for the coffee they hand pick and bring to market. The price we pay for fair trade coffee is most often above the market price for that coffee. The majority of the difference is what goes directly to the farmers which is anywhere between 10 to 18%. Unfortunately, this system is not without its limitations…Farmers have to pay to have their crop fair trade certified and we have to pay to certify that the coffee is fair trade. That is money that does not make it to the coffee farmer.
To correct this problem…our plan is to identify coffee growing regions our coffee comes from and setup an economic assistance program in those regions that support the farmer directly…The unique factor driving this endeavor is equipping the coffee farmers with tools and skills that make their coffee more valuable on the commercial market.
Eventually, as our company grows, we would like to move away from fair trade coffee completely and into a more hands on role like our partnership with Grower’s First and the economic development programs. Until then, we continue to use only fair trade certified coffee as available on the market.
Third, they do their own roasting. At first I thought, “Memphis has fresh coffee”? Well, turns out they get their coffee green (mostly from Latin and South America) right off the boat and roast it themselves:
Soon as we order that finest of fine coffees in a way that benefits those farmers, we have it shipped up the Mississippi to Memphis and roast it with the attention most people give babies.
From pallet to roaster to your fist. Fast equals fresh.