The green bean
The Hub coffee shop moves beyond Fair Trade
Over the course of an hour, one cyclist after another rolls toward the entrance of The Hub Coffee Co., chains their bikes to the giant vertical bike rack on the patio, and, in tight and shiny outfits, orders coffee.
Joey Trujillo, who opened The Hub in late June with his dad, Mark Trujillo, grinds the beans and carefully places the grounds in a French press. When it comes to talking coffee, Joey, 19, rivals an excitable sommelier: “hints of grapefruit, notes of blackberry and chocolate.” He offers a cup of “The Excellence,” an award-winning Guatemalan blend so rare and celebrated it costs $7 a cup. (All coffee here is French-pressed, and most blends cost $2 per cup.) It’s the kind of cup where it seems sacrilege to muddy with cream or sugar, though both are discreetly offered if required.
“Bikes and coffee have always gone together,” says Joey. It’s like Italian culture, and as locals have already noted, a theme the late Deux Gros Nez café adopted nearly 25 years ago. More than that, however, is an overall theme of sustainability the Trujillos are trying to bring to their new venture.
First off, the father and son converted an old, 400-square foot garage off Cheney Street into their café, rather than do major construction somewhere new. The garage door’s white trim still frames the café’s entrance. They also compost their spent grounds and encourage customers to ask if they can take some to compost themselves. Then there’s the elaborate bike wall, constructed handsomely from recycled steel by David Kardonowy. And their baked goods come from Dish Café, which sources many of its ingredients from local and sustainable sources.
But primarily, it starts and ends with coffee. The Trujillos, who also own Waldens Coffeehouse, decided to use Bay Area-based Barefoot Coffee as their sole roaster at The Hub after searching for a company that would be sustainable to coffee growers and the environment. Often using direct contact with the farmers, be they in rural El Salvador, Ethiopia or Guatemala, Barefoot buys only coffee that’s grown sustainably, which may mean organic, Fair Trade, co-op grown, shadegrown, or a combination of those. All are grown in native species shade and without pesticides.
“When it comes to sustainability, it’s necessary not only to prolong the coffee industry, but the quality from cup to cup,” says Joey. “Shadegrown and intercropping, it adds a little more spark to these coffees. You can taste it’s Ethiopian. You know it because you can taste these other Ethiopian plants it grew with.”
While certified Fair Trade ensures farmers are treated and paid fairly in good working conditions that don’t harm the environment, Barefoot takes it a step further. For example, this Fair Trade licensed roaster pays its growers 60 percent more than the Fair Trade minimum. They also ensure that the farm owners they work with pay their pickers 33 to 70 percent more than the going rate.
“Fair Trade is just the start,” says Joey. “A lot of people feel farmers don’t get compensated nearly enough for what they do. … It’s more than a commodity. It’s an agricultural product harvested for its quality, its tradition. It’s one giant circle.”