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May 2009

DIRECT-TRADE COFFEE

11:05 AM / April 10, 2009/ Posted by Victoria von Biel

“Want to wow you hosts with a gift that’s as green as it is delicious? Show up at their weekend house or dinner party with a bag of direct-trade coffee. That’s the term for coffee that’s even more socially conscious than fair-trade. The label “fair-trade” guarantees that the importer has a long-term sales relationship with the farmer and pays prices that add up to a living wage. “…

“Direct-trade coffee purveyors often have higher-than-market pay minimums, as well as quality that exceeds that of their fair-trade brethren.”…


By MATT GROSS

“…Take the two-year-old Ace Hotel, where I stayed for much of my sojourn. This boutique reincarnation of what was once the mildly dingy Clyde Hotel is in the heart of downtown, steps from major public transit stops. It was comfortable beyond what I’m accustomed to, with richly rugged wool blankets from Portland’s Pendleton Woolen Mills on the bed and crushed-pearl-and-charcoal soap-on-a-rope by the sink. And, at $75 a night, it was eminently affordable, although I had to forgo an en suite bathroom and embrace the unexpected thrill of walking down the hall — in nothing but my Adidas and my Ace hooded bathrobe — to the sparkling shared (but private) showers.

But it was the freebies that seduced me. Stacks of of-the-moment magazines — Frank, Color, Tokion, ReadyMade — lay about to read on lobby couches or take to your room. Elegant Jorg & Olif bicycles were available free to hotel guests. At the adjacent Stumptown Coffee, powerful French press brews were free Monday mornings till Tax Day. Rarely do I really like to hang around hotels, but like a cosmopolitan version of an all-inclusive Caribean resort (the kind you swear to resent but wind up in a codependent relationship with), the Ace kept me in its warm, value-added embrace longer than I thought possible.

…”


…Businesses are catching on, say entrepreneurs like Funk, because there is a sense in both cities that inspiration and financial reward are not mutually exclusive. Matt Lounsbury, head of operations for Portland’s hometown java empire, Stumptown Coffee, says this word — inspiration — comes up often in his dealings with clients in Brooklyn, where the company recently opened a roasting plant in the sparse industrial neighborhood of Red Hook, and where a dozen or so local restaurants and retailers are serving and selling Stumptown’s coveted fair-trade brews.

“Manhattan is the big city; Brooklyn has that neat indie feel that we’re all about,” says Lounsbury. “People in Brooklyn ‘get’ Portland. There is definitely a mutual admiration.”

STACEY WILSON