Ampersand goes beyond Fair Trade and Organic to create a substantial impact in coffee communities all over the world.
Finding a Passion in Coffee That Goes Beyond Caffeine
Kurt Hans, the founder of Ampersand, started his career not in coffee but in finance, where lots (and lots) of coffee was a necessity. The more he drank, the more he wondered, “how did this magical liquid make its way to my coffee mug?” Did coffee come from a plant, a bush, or a tree? Who grew it, and who roasted it? There was a ton to learn. Thankfully, Kurt was up for it.
As he dug into the coffee industry, he discovered a dirty secret; coffee production often wrecked the environment, the beans could be full of harmful chemicals from pesticides, and growers were rarely fairly compensated for their labor.
Being a numbers wiz, Kurt did the math and saw an opportunity. “I saw that coffee could be grown in healthier environments and in a fair trade manner that better supported the farmers that grew it — while still powering a healthy and lucrative business.”
Fast forward a few years, Kurt was ready to take the plunge and dedicate himself to creating a coffee brand that supported the environment and coffee farmers. All of the beans that Ampersand purchases are organic and Fair Trade — a value that Tin Top Coffee also shares.
Why Fair Trade and Organic?
Fair Trade Certified coffee guarantees farmers a minimum price, giving them a safety net as prices fluctuate. This gives farmers the security to cover their average costs of production. Beyond the price, cooperatives are paid a premium so they can invest in projects that lift up their communities, improve their businesses, and protect the environment.
Organic farming is designed to promote the health of the agroecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock, and people. Organic farming standards prop up farming practices that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment — benefiting not only the coffee drinker but the community surrounding the coffee farms as well.
Making a Lasting Impact With Women’s Empowerment
This is where Ampersand’s story gets even more inspirational. Yes, supporting organic and Fair Trade coffee practices is essential, but Ampersand didn’t want to stop there. The team asked themselves, “If this company is going to exist for another 100 years, what impact do we want to make?” Ampersand saw an opportunity to make a tangible difference in places that could use outside stimulus and support, and they were not going to pass it up.
After much research, Ampersand honed in on women’s empowerment. There are many challenges coffee farmers face; one of the largest is gender inequality.
Women make up more than 70% of the coffee farming workforce while also working in the home. Women have gained equal rights by law in most coffee regions, but social conventions and engrained power structures continue to make it challenging for women to succeed.
Supporting women in the coffee workforce doesn’t just support those women directly but the entire surrounding community. Studies have shown that men and women use their income in different ways. While men spend a great deal on consumables, women will reinvest 90% of their income into the household, leading to a more educated, sustainable community with less illicit activity.
To show their commitment to women's empowerment, Ampersand partners with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) and Cafe Femenino, two trail-blazing organizations working tirelessly for gender equality in the coffee regions to show their commitment to women's empowerment. Find out more here.
Where is Ampersand Now?
Ampersand first opened its doors in Gunbarrel, Colorado in 2015 and has been growing ever since. They added a new production facility in 2022 where they can increase their production by five times. (Even Ampersand’s roaster is a testament to their commitment to the environment — the Loring roaster uses about one-third of the energy of a typical roaster.)
Their organic, fair trade and women-aligned coffee is not only on moral high ground but also high-quality, well-crafted, and downright delicious. We’re so glad Kurt ditched his finance bros, immersed himself in the coffee industry, and created a business that substantially impacts people's lives and the environment.
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