Profile: Just Us Coffee, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

in Buying Coffee, Fair Trade and the Environment

An amazing thing happened to me last week…I stumbled upon a remarkable (and giant) coffee roastery and its story in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada.  It was the first time that I came upon a roastery that I hadn’t intended to visit, but once I arrived, it was hard to leave.  I’ll do my best here to capture everything I saw but do yourself a favor and visit the website of Just Us Coffee yourself for the full story about this company.

Wolfville is in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, one of four Atlantic provinces.  Wolfville boasts of a population of 3,772, and while Just Us Coffee’s roots are planted there with its coffee house and coffee museum, they also operate three other coffee houses throughout Nova Scotia.

Just Us Coffee was Canada’s first Fair Trade coffee roaster, and sells only organic Fair Traded coffee.  The story of how the company was founded starts with Jeff Moore travelling to Mexico in the thick of a civil war over who would control the country’s coffee production.  Jeff made his way high up into the mountains where farmers took pride in growing organic coffee, and he also saw the poverty in which they lived.  As the company has developed, it has stood for a quality product backed by a social and environmental responsibility.  This is the quick version of the company’s story.  Click here to learn much more about how Just Us Coffee was founded.

As I drove into Wolfville, the sight of this massive roastery and coffee house came out of nowhere.  I recognized the name immediately and swerved in to pick up a pound of coffee, check out their much revered coffee and fair trade museum, and listen to anybody who would talk to me.

Here’s Doug, who had enough of watching me in the coffee museum like a kid in a candy store.  Doug was good enough to walk me through the museum and even show me the roasting operation himself.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve met somebody so proud of his job, and Doug explained that the company is an employee-owned co-op so that he was as much a proud owner as a proud employee.

Here are some other shots from the Fair Trade Museum…

It was unfortunate for me that I didn’t get as much time as I wanted to go through the museum.  It only means on a return trip that I will need to set the time aside.  I figure I could spend at least an hour, maybe two looking at all of the information made available on everything from the growing of coffee, fair trade sourcing, roasting, and cupping.  It is an amazing not-for-profit production.

Of course, I could not forget the coffee itself.  I picked up a pound of Just Us Coffee’s Jungle Blend, bringing together “the zing of Central American beans with the sweetness of the Andes”.

Doug was able to show me the industrial roasting operation.  Laws in Nova Scotia mean that customers can’t get close to the roasting equipment, so Just Us Coffee has a built-in window in an adjoining conference room where I was able to see the operation in action.  Five days a week, Just Us Coffee roasts as much as 3,600 pounds of coffee that it ships to its coffee houses, its grocery store customers, and as far as Vancouver, British Colombia, on the west coast of Canada.

Check out the website of Just Us Coffee and if you’re anywhere near Maine or Atlantic Canada, set the time aside to visit the main coffeehouse and museum in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

2 Comments

  1. I wanted to add to Marc’s blog by saying that I was also in Wolfville NS in October 2010 and visited the Just Us Coffee shop located on Main Street in the old Acadia Theatre entrance. They have an excellent assortment of coffees, drinks and fresh baked goods to satisfy the palate.
    I couldn’t help but think what a great idea to help support a standalone business like a one-screen movie house that might otherwise just fade away … a place well worth a visit! PW

    Comment by Peter Wolf — November 2, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

  2. Thanks, Peter. My brother first stumbled on Just Us on behalf of our family by seeing it on the NS grocery store shelves, and giving it a shot to support a local business. They have developed a great presence in Nova Scotia.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — November 13, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

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