Here they are in their own words (from justcoffee.coop):
We started Just Coffee to work with Zapatista coffee farmers in Chiapas, MX when coffee prices were at an all time low. After meeting and getting close to some radical farm families, it was plain to see that the coffee market was doing them wrong. Returning to Madison we thought that it would be easy to get local roasters and regional importers to partner up with these folks. Turns out it was not.
When we went back to Chiapas we walked to a fiesta nestled in a tiny hamlet in the mountains of Southern Mexico. We had no good news for the farmers there. “It’s alright because YOU will buy our coffee. You can sell it,” the president of their new co-op said. And we agreed due to positive peer pressure and an intense desire to make a difference.
Back in Madison we became “reluctant entrepreneurs” trying to organize Just Coffee as people who had absolutely no business or coffee roasting training. Not only did we not have any training, we thumbed our noses at anything that smelled of standard business practices. The approach did not always work well, but it sometimes worked brilliantly.
We became known in Madison as the people who showed up on bizarre bikes to farmer’s markets, protests, and other events doling out coffee and talking about better ways to trade. We honed our roasting skills over time, rolled forward over our missteps and succeeded due to our energy and momentum.
Over the years we have grown and are now available from Portland to San Fran to Austin to NOLA to Lexington, KY and places in between. We have over 20 people in our organization and we continue to move forward. Our coffee is second to none and our relationships with the small farmers we partner with are strong. We are small players in the coffee industry with a loud voice– the people who won’t shut up. And we love it.
Every time we buy something we support the system that was used to get it to us. We want to get you the best tasting cup of coffee imaginable and to transparently show you where it came from, who grew it, and how your choice affects them in a real way. Through a total commitment to complete quality– from the farmer to final cup– we continue to redefine how the coffee industry can work.