As Sacramento’s reputation for specialty coffee continues to brew, one of its local purveyors is expanding.
Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, the midtown Sacramento co-op that works with small growers in five countries, recently installed its first local coffee bean roaster. And in August, Pachamama will open its third coffee cafe, on 36th and J Street in East Sacramento.
For Pachamama’s co-founder and CEO Thaleon Tremain, the new roaster – a polished, black and chrome Ambex with a 66-pound roasting capacity – is “a defining piece of the puzzle” in the company’s business model. Until recently Pachamama had outsourced its green coffee bean roasting to other local roasters, including Sacramento-based Coffee Works.
“We control our coffee every step of the way now,” said Tremain. “We grow, we import, we roast, we package, we sell.”
The new roaster, which cost roughly $35,000, also means Pachamama can compete on a new level with Sacramento’s specialty coffee celebrities, including Temple, Insight, Old Soul and Naked.
Pachamana’s expansion comes as Sacramento’s profile in the specialty coffee world is rising. In December, four local coffees – two each from Temple Coffee and Old Soul – landed on the Top 30 Best Coffees of 2014, according to Coffee Review, the industry’s influential guide.
Cole Cuchna, trainer and educator for Temple Coffee, said he welcomes the expansion of specialty coffee roasters and retailers like Pachamama. “There’s room for it...A lot of people think about new specialty places opening as competition, but it’s a little different in the coffee industry.”
While companies like Starbucks and Peet’s hold a huge share of the coffee business globally, Cuchna said, specialty coffee shops are small businesses that need each other to grow their influence. “If we are trying to change the culture and introduce craft coffee on a larger scale, we need more people, more business contributing towards the effort.”
Small coffee purveyors like Temple and Pachamama also embody Sacramento’s “farm to fork” ethic, he said.
U.S. coffee consumption remains strong: 59 percent of Americans say they drink coffee daily, according to the National Coffee Association. And the appetite for specialty coffees, those made from beans grown in distinct geographic regions with special micro-climates, is growing. Specialty coffee represents almost 55 percent of the $46 billion U.S. coffee business market value, according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Pachamama’s Latin American roots were born out of Tremain’s time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, where he said farmers were growing high-quality products but didn’t have access to connections that would enable them to reach U.S. markets. In 2006, he started Pachamama in Sacramento to help small farmers sell their organic beans to American coffee drinkers.
Today the company has about 142,000 member-owner coffee farmers in Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Ethiopia. Each country’s owner group – which has its own board of directors and a 20 percent share of the overall company – has a say in all Pachamama decisions.
“This is a story of some really great, small-scale coffee farmers who have made a difficult investment in the United States to better themselves and sell the best coffee they produce,” said Tremain. “For them to invest in more than survival is a sacrifice, but they have been able to get themselves organized and invest slowly but surely in this business.”
The name refers to Pachamama, the Andean goddess known as “mother earth.” Ancient Peruvians offered her a portion of everything they consumed – whether corn, potatoes or beer – in hopes she would reciprocate at harvest time. In the same way, Pachamama Coffee Cooperative seeks to reciprocate to its growers, Tremain said.
About 80 percent of Pachamama’s business is wholesale, subscription and web-based. Its two local cafes – in Davis and midtown Sacramento – account for the rest of sales. On average, the company sells and ships around 10,000 pounds of coffee monthly, according to Tremain.
On Saturday, Pachamama will celebrate the addition of its new roastery at its midtown location, the alley entrance at 919 20th St., with a roasting demo at 11 a.m, a bean-sourcing class at noon, coffee tasting at 1 p.m., and home brewing instruction at 2 p.m.. At 7 p.m., Pachamama is hosting a party featuring local wine and beer, a taco truck and music.