For those that know me, coffee is life. I wake up, I drink coffee. I sit in the carpool lane, cup of coffee right next to me. Writing for my dear readers? Yup, you guessed it – coffee sittin’ right here! That delicious brown brew has been a part of daily life for as long as I can remember. I even switched coffee brands recently to this company out of L.A. called Angelino’s Coffee. This is a HUGE deal for me because I’ve been loyal to my Starbucks for soooooo long, you guys! But I have to say, I don’t think I am ever going back.
When I bought my Keurig, I kind of just went straight for the Starbucks because it was what I knew. I’ve tried some other brands here and there, but nothing really stuck out to me. But then I was at a friends house the other day (the same one who turned me on to this AMAZING and HEALTHY chocolate hummus recipe) and she popped one of these Hazelnut Crème Angelino’s pods into her brewer. I have to tell you – YUM! Seriously, I was hooked immediately. She was even nice enough to send me home with a few pods (thank you!) to hold me over until I could get my own order in, which arrived in just a few short days.
So, here’s the thing – I did some reading while I was waiting for my delivery. I found out that Angelino’s is a small, independent roastery that is family-owned and really seems driven by some amazing values and a dedicated team. You can read all about it here. Their story is really inspiring and I enjoyed getting to know more about a company that I’m buying from.
All of this got me thinking about small business in general and how it’s more important than ever that we support them. I mean, these are our neighbors. Our friends. The people we stand next to at check-out. All of that being said, I wanted to share with you guys some of my thoughts and why I’m really happy that I made the switch to an independent roaster.
I Know Where My $$ Goes and How It Helps
Every time you spend money with a small business, you’re helping drive the local economy. The money you spend helps small business owners pay for their child’s braces (which I recently discovered are INSANELY EXPENSIVE), cover that unexpected bill, and put money into their employee’s pockets. Independent coffee roasteries are no different; they invest money back into the community all the time. From employing skilled workers to buying supplies from other small companies, they create a more circular economy. You simply can’t say the same for large multinational brands.
I’m Helping a Family Succeed
One of the coolest things I learned about Angelino’s was the family story behind the coffee. Starting with the father passing along his love for coffee to his son, and then his son building an entire business around that passion – really inspiring! This really drove it home for me after that first cup. And, the seriously fresh flavor – let’s not pretend that wasn’t a huge factor 😉
Anyways, for me, stories like this are really starting to influence my decisions in a big way. Take my candle obsession (understatement of the year…) as an example. I love candles and DEFINITELY have too many of them (is there such a thing?). So, recently I discovered this company called Frères Branchiaux (Gill Brothers). Not only does this company have THE BEST soy candles, it’s also run by 3 young brothers who started the whole thing just because they wanted money to buy toys – what?! You need to check them out.
These stories just reinforce the whole small business thing for me – when you invest in these independent ventures, your money goes toward a real person. Not a board of executives, not a greedy salesman, not a cleverly developed algorithm. You’re not funding someone’s third mansion or a new yacht. Instead, you are helping a real family keep doing what they love most.
Independent Roasteries Legitimately Support Coffee Farmers
Another incredibly important point for me is ethical sourcing. What’s ethical sourcing, you say? Remember how I said I grew frustrated with large coffee brands for not being transparent about their labor? So, here’s the thing: sometimes with larger coffee companies, not enough attention is paid to how their products are actually grown and produced. This can be a really big problem because it means money is sometimes spent with people who produce via child labor, or who don’t pay fair wages. That’s a big no-no. This is where ethical sourcing, sometimes labeled as “fair trade” or “sustainable”, comes in and helps make sure your sip of coffee wasn’t produced by taking advantage of someone. If you really want to dive deep into all of this, watch this documentary.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to give up my drink of choice for my morals. Small, independent roasteries like Angelino’s have a far better track record with their coffee farmers. Because they aren’t as big, they can control where their beans come from—and how the workers are treated.
Going Beyond the “Fair Trade” Labels
While fair trade sourcing is a good thing, sometimes good intentions can have unintended consequences (I’m looking at you oh-husband-of-mine who thought it would be a good idea to put my skillet in the dishwasher). As it turns out, being certified as “fair trade” is expensive and many farming families simply can’t afford it. Should those families be left out of the coffee trade entirely, even though they’ve been doing it for many, many generations? Of course not.
This is where I think Angelino’s Coffee, for instance, does a really good job of actually helping. They work directly with independent farmers all over the world, from Colombia to Ethiopia. The founder regularly visits these coffee farms to forge meaningful relationships with the coffee farmers AND they pay these farmers twice the amount “fair trade” certifications set for coffee. At the end of the day, that means farmers get more money in their pocket and are treated with the dignity they deserve.
Take Angelino’s Colombian Nariño coffee; they only purchase this coffee from the local Azahar Coffee Company, a trusted name in the industry who pays higher than fair market prices to coffee farmers.
Small Roasteries Put Their Heart and Soul into Each Order
Another selling point for small roasteries is the care they put into each order; trust me, you’re not just another nameless order number running through the cog. Your orders are treated with the love multinational chains just can’t offer.
Plus, the customer service is just exceptional (I’m looking at you, Angelino’s!). If you ever have any problems with your order, I’m sure someone on the other side will be more than happy to help. For an independent coffee roaster, each order is personal, and so they put more thought into keeping you happy.
You can really taste the difference that little bit o’ heart and soul makes in the coffee. Ever heard of farm-to-table? Now, you can experience farm-to-cup (ha! See what I did there?). Because Angelino’s was able to cut out the middle-man, their K-cups don’t sit for months in a warehouse. Instead, the beans are roasted, ground, and shipped to you in a matter of days. This means your coffee will never taste stale. You can thank Carlos, the master roaster at Angelino’s, for the strong and fresh taste.
There’s Greater Transparency
There’s that word you hear a lot these days – transparency. Why? Because it’s important. Customers want to know who they’re dealing with and what’s going on. It’s also important to highlight how transparent small businesses tend to be. When you reach out to customer support, chances are you’ll be talking to someone who has a real stake in the company. I know they will be happy to answer whatever burning questions you have.
Angelino’s is a prime example of this. I love how dedicated to transparency they are. They’re straightforward with their goals and values and let you get a behind-the-scenes peek at how they produce outstanding coffee. There are no smokescreens or marketing schemes – just good people and good coffee.