We met in the summer of 2013 after moving to the same apartment in Brooklyn, NY. After a few mornings in the kitchen it became clear we had several things in common, that being a love for traveling, a desire to make a difference and a passion for coffee.
Basically living in coffee shops, we would evaluate the qualities and characteristics in each cup all while building authentic relationships with baristas and roasters across town. We started to take notice that there was something different about the coffees we had a personal connection to. Then one day over americanos we suddenly realized that we knew absolutely nothing about the people involved in these coffees prior to arriving at the shop. Of course a talented roaster and barista were essential, but what about the people before them? Were they not equally or even more important to producing an amazing coffee? Where was their credit?
We quickly learned the coffee industry wasn't always fair but refused to believe it wasn't possible. There had to be a way to create a fair exchange of giving and receiving! Before we knew it we packed our bags for Costa Rica with one goal in mind: create a company based on fairness, transparency and damn good specialty coffee.
After our arrival we began meeting with coffee farmers through importing companies. Though straightforward, we quickly noticed that their main focus was on high cupping scores while overlooking aspects like the fair treatment of workers and environmental standards which was equally important to us. It became clear that we wouldn’t find any company with the same standards as us so we came to the only logical (and totally insane) conclusion we could find... we had to do it ourselves.
Following the decision to work on our own we met with exporting agencies, and through the connections of friends began meeting farmers naturally throughout our trip. By taking this path we build mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with the farmer and their families, which is why we are saying goodbye to third party sources and instead giving the farmers the credit they've deserved all along by sharing their story with you. When studies confirm that many coffee farmers don’t make enough to live on, we feel we are doing our part to make sure our farmers do.
By being apart of our Gaia community, you’re tangibly contributing to a larger effort to transfer the coffee industry back into the hands of hardworking farmers and their families. When the average coffee drinker drinks over 86,000 cups in their lifetime, we feel there's a way to make a positive change in each cup.
Co-Founders of Gaia Coffee Co.
Daniela Auñón & Anna Helmke