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All photos courtesy of Francis Bueckert.

Bike-powered coffee for a good cause

By Maria-Helena Pacelli on May 18, 2016

When Francis Bueckert decided to study abroad and volunteer in Ecuador, he had no idea it would lead him to start exporting direct-trade coffee and selling it on a coffee cart from his bike.

Six years after visiting Ecuador, Cloud Forest Coffee is now launching its bicycle coffee cart where you can purchase direct trade, shade-grown coffee directly from the community he visited in Ecuador. This way of growing coffee is bird-friendly and mixed with native plants, and provides organic coffee farmers with economic opportunity that doesn’t threaten the environment.

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“I am a firm believer in buying locally and reducing pointless global trade in things that can be produced close to home, however coffee unfortunately can’t be grown in Northern climates. So since people are not going to stop drinking coffee anytime soon (we love it way too much) we need to look at how to get our coffee in an ethical way.” says Bueckert.

Cloud Forest Coffee is directly traded, which means it gives the opportunity to small communities who pay their workers fairly but cannot afford to pay for fair trade certifications.

Beyond importing ethical coffee in a biodiverse ecosystem through direct trade, this community based in the Intag Valley of Ecuador has also been mobilizing to defend their environment from resource extraction. So when you’re buying Cloud Forest Coffee here in Ottawa you’re not only supporting a local small business and some of the best direct trade coffee in the world, but also supporting the work that this community is doing to defend their land from the damage threatened by mining corporations.

“This community is important to me because they are just regular people, often quite poor, who have mobilized to defend their land, water and air from the ravages of mining corporations. They are truly inspirational,” said Bueckert, who believes that we all have a duty towards ecological conservation.

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There is a growing awareness of folks looking for delicious organic coffee and who want to enjoy their morning brew knowing that it’s doing something good for the world.

The resistance of the community in the Intag Valley is ongoing. With large companies developing partnerships and limited economic opportunity in the region, the community is now divided, with some accepting jobs in mining out of necessity, and others resisting the threat of deforestation and environmental contamination on their land and livelihoods.

Bueckert hopes that this way of distributing coffee will not only make ethical coffee more readily available here in Ottawa, but that it will also give people an opportunity to reflect on the connection between decisions made in our nation’s capital and this community’s resistance to Canadian mining companies who would destroy their land.

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While Cloud Forest Coffee is not the first coffee available on a bicycle cart, this is the first one in Canada. This method of distribution takes things to another level, cutting out fossil fuels from local distribution.

The coffee cart will be on the corner of Bank and Clemow where FarmTeam Cookhouse has generously allowed them to serve coffee on their property. They can be found there on Friday (9-2), Saturday (9-4) and Sunday (10-4) every week.

To learn more about Cloud Forest Coffee and the community it supports, find them online, on Facebook, or on Instagram.


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