I don’t drink coffee.
Wait, let me clarify. I can’t drink coffee, even though I love the stuff - it’s my stomach that isn’t as enamoured. Coffee gives me bad belly-aches, and after a few years of foolishly-enduring them, I gave it up.
But then we got to Just Us!, and I climbed back onto the coffee wagon for a day.
Dana, having lived on the east coast for years, was already well-aquainted with this social justice-driven venture in Nova Scotia. On their website, they offer the company’s story in both “quick” and “not so quick” versions, so I will try for a happy medium between the two.
It all began with co-founder Jeff Moore’s personal discovery of the wonders of freshly-roasted coffee, during a trip in Ethiopia. While attending a Solidarity conference in Havana, he heard Latin American producers express their desires for reasonable prices for their products, not charity, and realized the potential of the fair trade coffee industry. With no experience or customers to speak of, Jeff and his wife Debra put up their home as collateral, and bought their first 10 tons of organic coffee beans from a cooperative in civil war-torn Chiapas, Mexico. They began roasting, and demand came instantly. Now, some 20 years later, they can still barely manage to keep up.
There are multiple Just Us! locations, but their main roastery (which we visited) is located in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia.
Along with the roasting facility they also have a café, fair trade museum, and chocolate workshop, so it’s a fun place to explore.
To start off, we both got (very good) cappuccinos, because as they say, “When in Rome, suck it up and deal with the stomachache.”
Then we toured the Fair Trade Museum, which is small but packed with information.
Finally, we bought some of their impressively good chocolate to take on the road. We won’t say just how much we bought, but it was enough to keep us going for a while. And look at these....
It’s possible to get involved with this remarkable company in more ways than just buying their products. There’s the Just Us! Development and Education Society, for example, which “raises public awareness of fair trade and responsible purchasing…. [by] providing educational resources and facilitating partnerships,” as well as the Fairtrade Investment Fund, which you can read about here.
Was my cappuccino good? You betcha. Did it give me a bellyache? Absolutely. But I don’t regret a single one of those marvelous, fairly-traded sips.