Portland’s Best Globetrotting, School-Building Coffee Company

From Willamette Week’s “Best of Portland” issue, 7/23/08:

Putting a label on the “best” coffee company in Portland is like determining who’s the most heroic superhero in the Hall of Justice. Our city is unsurpassed when it comes to socially conscious, environmentally friendly, goddamn tasty coffee roasters. So, why’d we single out Portland Roasting ? As much as the company is passionate about making great coffee, it’s been equally focused on creating small-scale humanitarian projects to improve living conditions in its farmers’ communities . Its “Farm Friendly Direct” program goes beyond buying directly from farmers—it’s getting its growers blogging, providing computers, Internet access and instructors in Costa Rica; planting shade trees in El Salvador; installing clean water pumps in Ethiopia; and building schools in Papua New Guinea. And even though Portland Roasting’s won tons of awards locally, nationally and internationally, there’s a good chance you’ve never tried its coffee. It has no retail storefront in town and sells mostly wholesale to local green-friendly outfits, like PSU, Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel and about 350 other businesses as far away as Japan. “We’re definitely not your stereotypical small coffee company,” says managing partner Mark Stell. “Our focus is people first, coffee second. And it’s becoming this simple business model that’s really paying off.”

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