Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blazing a Coffee Trail

You gotta love Portland's neighborhoods. And I'm not talking about shopping on the latest "it" boulevard or eating at the hottest new resto in the hood. I'm talking about being able to hang out on your front porch and chat with your neighbors who pass by about the new baby or a house going up for sale or house-training their puppy.

Take our neighborhood, for instance. Mostly a mix of middle-class working folks, some with children in school or, like ours, all grown up. Gay and straight, singles and couples, we've got neighbors from Fiji, Vietnam, upstate New York, California and, in rare instances, right here in Oregon. From cabinet-makers to chefs and graphic designers to experts on native pollinators, people are editors, writers and coffee roasters.

In that last category is our neighbor Charlie Wicker of Trailhead Coffee Roasters. I see him biking by almost every morning, towing a trailer laden with pounds of fresh coffee or large samovars full of brewed coffee to an event or a waiting customer.

The beans he roasts come from the Café Femenino Coffee Project, a social program for women coffee producers in rural communities in Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru. In addition to buying beans from the project, Trailhead also gives a percentage of profits to The Café Femenino Foundation, selecting a specific initiative, like a water project in Peru, so customers know exactly where their money is going and who is benefiting from it.

Charlie's been thrilled with the quality of the beans he's been getting and is convinced that Cafe Feminino is the perfect fit for his company. And his coffee, as well as his bike-powered deliveries and business operations, have caught on with several grocery retailers looking to expand their selection of local roasts. You can also find him at the Interstate and the Lents farmers' markets.

So needless to say, I love my neighborhood. Now if I can just rig up a traffic bump on the street so one or two of those bags of coffee might just fall off the trailer…

Details: Trailhead Coffee Roasters. Coffees available at Whole Foods markets, New Seasons, Food Front Co-operative, Market of Choice and Pastaworks. Complete list with addresses here. For a complete schedule of Portland farmers' markets, click here. You can also find Trailhead coffee at Café Velo and Florio Bakery.


Deborka said...

Ah yes... We love Trailhead in our hood.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Is it a PDX twist on the "good fences" saying, perhaps? "Great products make great neighbors"?