Two weeks ago, I was not at market due to chance of rain, but RML told me that a new stand had set itself up near our usual spot. I got to meet Atrac of Big Bean Roasters this past Saturday and was impressed both by his coffee and his story.
Atrac (below) is a neurologist at Duke Hospital. During his summers, he has done charity doctoring in Uganda, and has purchased plots of land there on which growers grow his coffee, then export it to the U.S. Atrac has mostly focused on wholesale selling, but recently got this market set-up put together to promote the bean. He sells for $1.50 a cup (cheap!), and all the coffee is brewed by French press on premises.
No one else at the market is doing French press as far as I know, and all his proceeds go back to supporting orphanages in Uganda. I'd say his whole concept is rather unique.
One other note: Because we sell coffee too (Counter Culture), it would appear that we are competitors. But really, drip coffee and French press are two different animals. I happily sent patrons Atrac's way who wanted French press. Also, 1) coffee is a small part of our product mix and 2) we are actually moving into cold drink season where I will start introducing some cold flavored teas.
[I just learned Atrac will not be at market the next two weeks due to travel.]
I asked Atrac if he wanted to put up a little bio. This is what he sent me:
"For decades Uganda has been producing some of the worlds best coffees. In fact, even until today Ugandan coffees are ranked among the top three in the world. Bugisu AA is the premiere arabica coffee grown in Eastern Uganda. Today this bean is quickly bought up when the season starts by large corporations and mainly used to blend into lower quality coffees to enhance the overall taste of blended coffees. Many don't know this but blending coffee is a scheme to make more money and rarely about taste. Most coffee companies don't want you to know what is inside their bags so they call them world or regional blends. Many will mix three fourths low quality beans with one fourth high quality bean in huge roasters, roast until burnt to hide bad tastes, and call it some exotic blend. We don't do that. We import the best arabica bean grown in Uganda called Bugisu, named for the region it is grown in. We give credit back to Uganda by labeling exaclty what the LOT number is or occasionally our cuppers will recommend a unique idea to blend, creating a new fruity ceamy taste. We never roast past medium-dark. The Bugisu that we sell is unblended rich and bold, remaining pure from tree to cup; coffees that can be traced back to a single orgin plot of land tucked away in Mt. Elgon. No one would dare blend a high grade specialty coffee- why ruin a good thing. It takes so much energy from the trees to grown in high altitudes. But from these regions we get coffees rich flavorful, that fruit from ancient coffee trees growing in lush misty volcanic mountain climate unique only to Uganda. This same climate produced the first coffee trees millions of years ago and today is home to the endangered mountain gorillas.
Our goal is to continue to bring our beloved customers coffees from remote places on Earth. We also want to bring attention to Uganda and its coffees by selling naturally grown single origin coffee that are imported ethically and sold at a fair price locally so that all can enjoy. We do not pay any large corporation to set local 'fair trade' wages in the small villages that harvest these beans for the world. Instead we fly to Uganda where we have set up our local offices to help hand cash money in the hands of a farmers and to all employees. We select handle and process our coffees by ourselves. We focus on maintaing consistant quality and supply chain logistics. Coffees are either roasted in Kampala Uganda or Durham NC in large and small batches. We brew our coffees locally in french press style to preserve the common undertones of cherry peach chocolate and honey. We sell green bean and roasted bean container shipping wholesale retail both arabicas and robustas.
In the end it is never just about money but rather having fun by linking local communities here to local comunities thousands of miles away sharing and exchanging experiences so that we all can benefit from each other.
Please email us or stop by to incorporate business ideas "
Atrac Kay, MD
Suzanne Kerns, MD
P.S. Our website is being programmed and Uganda will soon be called and part of East African Union.