Story

Tanager Coffee Roasters takes its name from a beautiful group of songbirds that thrive in trees and woodlands throughout the Americas. Tanagers are unique and very important to the growing process of coffee and their migration patterns are a contributing factor to healthy environmental conditions in the growing regions. Western Tanagers in particular, find their home in the western U.S. and are commonly seen in Portland, OR the place we proudly call home. During their migratory season, they are found in number as far south as Costa Rica, eating bugs and living temporarily among larger trees and coffee shrubs.

The story of the Tanager has inspired us to look at roasting coffee in a different light. We must be committed to investing in our neighborhood and city as well as the regions where our coffee is grown.

As roasters, we are first and foremost, storytellers. It is our responsibility to tell the story of where and how the coffee was grown and more importantly, who grew that coffee, to our community of customers. It is also important to tell the story of our customers to the farmers so that they in turn can be proud of their product and also develop their growing practices to continue to produce excellent coffee.

So how do we go about telling these stories? Tanager Coffee Roasters is committed to three foundational elements that guide us in each decision we make: Quality, Sustainability and Community.

 

Quality

A good storyteller pays close attention to context and our approach to roasting is no different; all of our coffees are roasting contextually. We let the coffee speak for itself; we do not categorize it into light, medium or dark roasts. By listening (or drinking) to the coffee carefully, we understand how to bring out the complexities, balance and body that each coffee possesses.
Initially, we are sourcing our coffees from well-known green coffee importers who are meticulous in their approach to quality and pride themselves on ethical purchasing. As our company matures, we will begin to forge relationships with farmers directly.

Sustainability

One of the key issues facing our world today is climate change and it also greatly affects our ability to continue enjoying delicious coffees. In the last few years, coffee producers have noted how changing weather patterns due to climate change, have been impacting normal growing patterns. Coffee is a very particular plant that loves to grow and thrive in certain sorts of environments, and when that environment changes, it stops producing quality fruit or it slows down its production. Coffee processing methods can also have a severe impact on local pollution and can create hazardous situations for the farmers, villages, cities and so on. The most readily apparent impact is on drinking water and soil degradation from the waste water run-off at coffee mills where the coffee is de-pulped, washed and sorted for export.

Our enjoyment of coffee also greatly impacts the global climate as well. Because we must import the coffee from all over the world, sometimes it takes months to reach our shores by ship and then it is hauled by truck all over the U.S. to finally reach its destination: your cup. One cup of coffee can represent a huge carbon footprint. Coffee packaging materials are also a huge waste concern; are the bags recyclable or compostable to lessen the environmental impact?

Sustainability is a huge concern for Tanager Coffee Roasters. We are committed to not just using green packaging or investing in carbon offsets, but also to develop tangible sustainable farming practices in partnership with the farmers who grow our coffee. Our goal is to not just lessen the environmental impact of producing, roasting and consuming coffee, but to also, and most importantly, have a positive and enriching influence on the climate and ecosystem locally and globally. This is going to take a lot of work and will truly be a community effort, we need your help.

Community

As coffee roasters, we have the ability to be present and invested in our city and in the coffee growing regions. Tanager Coffee Roasters is committed to interacting with our neighbors and city as well as the farmers we work with, in a way that encourages and develops community. Our ultimate goal as coffee roasters is to create links so strong between our customers and farmers that we no longer think in terms of “Seed to Cup” or “Farm to Cup” but rather, “Table to Table.” What does this look like in the mean time?

Creating Community Locally-
We love to drink coffee. We love to drink coffee with friends, neighbors and strangers. Coffee brings us together, spanning all walks of life. But drinking coffee together and meeting at coffee shops should not be the end of coffees ability to create a sense of community. Tanager Coffee Roasters is committed to developing community in our neighborhood and collaborating with other organizations that share that common thread, coffee related or not. Whether through creative initiatives that bring us all together to create a sense of place and beauty or supporting a local non-profit or small business, be on the look-out for ways to get involved or simply buy our coffee and enjoy the stories you will be an intricate part of.

Creating Community in the Coffee Growing Region-
Rolling vistas, punctuated by tall, sharp, volcanic peaks. Trees sway softly to the cool, high altitude breeze, leaves rustling peacefully causing explosions of intense green throughout the hillside. As dawn breaks, and the birds start singing, hundreds of thousands of coffee farmers begin their collective days work in growing regions across the world. So many questions cross their minds as they are carefully nurturing and tending to the small trees bearing the beautiful fruit that will eventually be filling your cup with delicious, aromatic coffee. “Will my children have shoes to wear and a school to wear them to?” ponders an Ethiopian farmer as he surveys his small hillside farm. “How will the changing weather patterns affect my coffee production?” asks a Guatemalan farmer as her coffee trees begin to flower.
Harsh economic conditions have always existed for the majority of small coffee farmers and their families. With the uncertainty of climate change a whole new set of worries are hitting the people who grow coffee. With these realities staring us in the face, we must begin to do business with and relate to those who grow coffee in a more connected way. Tanager Coffee Roasters is committed to being a part of the farmers story and collaborating with them to not only learn how to raise the quality of their product, but to also ensure their families are healthy and thriving.
Our aim is to move beyond Direct Trade partnerships, which are amazing, beneficial and a stepping stone into a more community focused business model. Community to us means making decisions together, three-dimensional storytelling and listening(Farmer, Roaster, Consumer) and a deep commitment to each other. Relationships like these often take years to develop and we are excited to bring you along on this journey.