Just Us! celebrates 20 years!
Twenty years! It is quite a landmark for a little renegade coffee company that wanted to do the business of coffee fairly and responsibly, right from the small organic coffee farms in Latin America to the fine cup served in Atlantic Canada.
This year, 2015, marks the 20th anniversary of Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op – Canada’s first Fair Trade coffee roaster. Just Us! Coffee started very humbly roasting small batches of coffee in the basement of a tiny house they purchased in New Minas, Nova Scotia. After moving in, they were told that the zoning regulations required that they turn the upstairs into a retail café. That ended up being the best thing that could have happened. There was an endless stream of curious coffee lovers.
They grew quickly and within a couple of years they had the difficult task to find a bigger production space with good public access. They found the perfect place, ironically in “Hortonville”, which is now part of the UNESCO Grand Pre World Heritage Site. Today the location includes not only the roastery but also a coffeehouse, Fair Trade Museum and Chocolate Factory.
In time, they opened more coffeehouses. One in Wolfville, where Just Us! Coffee is a 50/50 partner with the Acadia Cinema Co-op in the historic Acadia Theatre which houses the coffeehouse and performance venue. In HRM , Just Us! Coffee now has two coffeehouses. One is on Spring Garden Road in the beautiful historic home once owned by the family of Margaret Marshall Saunders, Canada's first million selling author and inspirational social reformer. The other is located at Kings Wharf as part of the amazing redevelopment of the Dartmouth waterfront. Both coffeehouses now have the distinction of being among North America's first cafes to be unionized.
In addition to their economic and social development in Nova Scotia, Just Us! Coffee has been a leader in Fair Trade around the world and helped to develop the new Small Producers Symbol which will distinguish products purchased from small-scale, organic producers within the Fair Trade system.
The newest development is the Centre for Small Farms in Grand Pre which has developed into a valuable resource regionally and internationally for small scale farmers.
As a worker co-op, all long term workers are expected to become members of the co-op. They are encouraged to make a modest investment in Just Us! Coffee and share in the profits. Just Us! Coffee believes in a triple bottom line looking out for “people and the planet before profits” but as co-director Britt Mastroianni says: “What we mean by this is that we have to make profits to survive as a business but we don’t want to make profits at the expense of people and the environment. “
Celebrations for this special year for Just Us! Coffee will happen throughout the year including a launch of their new coffee packaging and Anniversary Blend in Spring 2015. The year will culminate with a big anniversary celebration on October 1st. Check out our website and Facebook pages for details. (justuscoffee.com)