Fair Grinds Coffeehouse announces a “Community Welcoming” on Saturday, December 10th from 10AM to 2PM at 3133 Ponce de Leon Street near Esplanade (www.fairgrinds.com) to introduce the community to the many new changes over recent months with new management and new ownership of the oldest exclusively fair trade coffeehouse voted by the readers of Gambit as the #1 coffeehouse in New Orleans for 2011. The welcoming will include an art auction, display and demonstration of biodiesel conversion by the New Orleans BioDiesel Project, coffee roasting demonstration on the new, local fair trade coffee brewed by Fair Grinds, new menu featuring local bakers and chefs as well as fresh juices and sandwiches for the first time, music by local musicians, rides on becaks (Indonesian rickshaws), and more!
Over recent months the 10-year old New Orleans coffeehouse which was the first to offer exclusively fair trade products has changed ownership and management from Robert Thompson and Elizabeth Herod to Wade Rathke. Their legacy will be memorialized at the “welcoming” with a special dedication at noon of the Social Justice Table. This celebration is in line with Fair Grinds new logo, two cups linked together joining the worlds of producers and consumers in common cause and new motto: Great Coffee for a Change. Rathke has previously announced that Fair Grinds is a special “low profit limited liability corporation” or L3C under Louisiana law and as a “social venture” business is dedicating part of its weekly gross and its net product to support community development and community organizing in the slums that are homes to its coffee exporters in Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and elsewhere.
In one of the most significant changes all of the fair trade coffee being brewed at Fair Grinds is now being sourced from the Port of New Orleans to benefit New Orleans commerce and the unionized longshore workers of New Orleans and their livelihoods. Additionally the coffee is now also locally roasted in special blends for Fair Grinds by Coast Roasters of New Orleans and Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The Fair Grinds New Orleans blend is a first, combining Honduran fair trade coffee with chicory grown in Nebraska. Fair Grinds has announced that after this current harvest much of its fair trade coffee will come directly from COMUCAP to New Orleans through a partnership with this all women’s coffee and aloe vera growing cooperative in Marcala, Honduras. Fair Grinds has weighed in on its concerns about the disputes over fair trade certification between Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade International and argued for a more direct engagement that assures benefits to both producers and consumers, rather than the current system which seems to favor corporate coffee and the certifying groups themselves (www.acorninternational.org and/or www.chieforganizer.org).
The Fair Grinds Community Welcoming is an opportunity for Fair Grinds to say thanks to the Mid-City and New Orleans community and introduce all of the small, but significant changes being made to make New Orleans best coffeehouse even better, as well as showcasing the work, workers, and changes to come.