Toasting to roasting: Inuit-owned coffee company teams up with Indigenous farmers in Peru – North

The idea began brewing over a pot of steaming coffee.

That’s how Pamela Gross describes launching Kaapittiaq, a new Inuit-owned coffee company rooted in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

“What more of a way to feel proud of our culture than having a business that’s Inuit owned and run,” said Gross.

‘What more of a way to feel proud of our culture than having a business that’s Inuit owned and run,’ says Pamela Gross of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Kaapittiaq means “good coffee” in Inuinnaqtun, a regional Inuit language in western Nunavut. Gross is the executive director of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society, which owns Kaapittiaq.

The society hopes to create a steady stream of funding for cultural programs such as parka and qulliq-making workshops, and teaching children their Inuinnaqtun language.

But while researching how to get into the industry, Gross says, she learned the business could also help indigenous coffee bean farmers in Peru, by buying the beans directly from them.

“They have the climate to grow the beans and harvest them,” said Gross.

“We have the opportunity to sell them to different people who come up north.”

The coffee-growing region in the Colasay district of Peru is so remote, farmers haul the beans off the mountains using donkeys. (Submitted by Erci Vasquez)

North-south connection

Kaapittiaq is sourcing the beans through Cafe Vasquez, in Barrie, Ont.

Owned by Peruvian native Erci Vasquez and her husband Stuart, the company buys coffee from farmers in northern Peru — for a fair price — and transports it to larger centres to sell to coffee distributors.

Now, for the first time, Cafe Vasquez is helping to facilitate direct trade between the farmers and coffee companies.

“The idea is to [connect] the people from the Arctic to my town,” said Vasquez. “It’s fantastic.”

This is the company’s first collaboration outside of Peru.

Coffee beans picked in San Francisco, Peru, will travel to Cambridge…

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