A few months ago, a bag designer from KEEN walked into the Nossa Familia Espresso Bar in Portland and spotted a special coffee sack through our window to the roastery. The sack was made of fabric instead of the traditional jute or burlap, and being interested in textiles, the designer’s interest was piqued. He asked a barista about the bag, and what has unfolded since has been an inspiring upcycling partnership that allows everyone involved in the process to maximize their positive impact.
The fabric coffee sack comes from a textile factory in Guatemala called The New Denim Project. Arianne Engelberg, the third generation owner of the factory, worked with her father Jaime to begin upcycling fabric after trying to come up with ways to turn textile waste and excess into new fabrics for new goods. Her process includes breaking down the fibers of denim waste and secondhand clothing, and combining it with virgin cotton that other factories won’t use because it’s too dirty. Her factory is able to clean the cotton and turn the fibers into new and beautiful fabrics used in a variety of products.
We receive coffee in the fabric sacks from a few farms in Guatemala. The factory partners with Guatemalan coffee producers, including our suppliers Finca San Jerónimo Miramar and De la Gente cooperatives to ship coffee in sacks made of the new fabric. Doing so allows those farms to get away from using jute, which is actually an import product into Guatemala. Finca San Jeronimo Miramar also takes the cottonseed and other organic material leftover from the cotton cleaning process and incorporates it into the compost pile and fertilizers.
Last June, a few representatives from KEEN traveled with Nossa Familia to visit the farms that use the sacks as well as the textile factory. They learned about the process of coffee from seed to cup, as well as the upcycling chain from clothing waste to fibers to new fabric. This month, KEEN is launching their new line of products made from the coffee sacks, continuing the chain of upcycling with these premium bags and pouches with leather accents.
Noosa Familia staff will be at the KEEN Garage in Portland on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning this weekend, and you’ll find us sampling Nossa Familia coffee and sharing the story.