Three Tree Coffee Roasters, which just opened its own coffee shop in Midtown Market, is a small Statesboro-born business with a global ethical outlook. Three Tree has been supplying carefully chosen, locally roasted beans to retail coffee brewers, and direct to consumers, for almost two years.
About 300 people flocked to the Saturday evening grand opening of the shop, which will also sell breakfast items and a light lunch. It has an upstairs meeting room and a patio furnished with tables.
However well the shop does, owners Philip and Anna Klayman say it will not distract them from their mission to help empower coffee farmers and combat human trafficking. Nor do they intend for serving fresh brewed coffee to diminish their sale of beans to other shops and restaurants – quite the contrary.
"We think this is an amazing opportunity to expand our market for the roaster, and we've already seen that happen," Philip Klayman said. "The roasting aspect has been invited to more events over the past three weeks than we ever have over the past two years."
Coffee and causes
Anna grew up in Statesboro and studied at Georgia Southern University before going to the University of Georgia for the final year of her degree in international affairs. Philip also graduated from UGA, with a degree in agricultural economics. The Klaymans met while working at a summer camp for special needs children. They worked as baristas for Two Story Coffee in Athens, but at different locations, before moving to Statesboro.
They didn't come back here with plans to open a coffee business.
"But then once we were here for a little bit, we had to go to Savannah to get some of the best coffee," he said. "I said, 'Well, what if we just started roasting it here on our own?'"
Starting with a roaster that held just one pound of coffee, the Klaymans began buying dried green coffee beans, roasting them to suit different tastes, and selling them at the Mainstreet Farmers Market. After seeing the demand, they equipped a roasting room near Mill Creek Regional Park.
That's where the beans, from coffee growers in Costa Rica, Peru, Rwanda and Honduras, are processed.
"One of our passions is that you taste the differences of the coffee," Klayman said. "A coffee from Costa Rica is going to taste very different than a coffee from Rwanda or Peru, and so we want to roast it to reveal those differences."
But from the start, Three Tree has espoused higher aims than just facilitating the enjoyment of coffee. Its website, 3treecoffeeroasters.com, expounds a three-limbed mission: empowering the farmer, ending human trafficking and engaging the community.
Most of the coffee beans Three Tree buys are certified by Fair Trade USA, which requires a minimum price, considered a livable wage, for coffee farmers.
Besides being Fair Trade certified, the Rwandan coffee Three Tree buys is from Café Feminino, an all-women's cooperative, many of whose members are widows and many of whom are illiterate, Klayman notes. The co-op bought the women sewing machines to make clothes for their villages, and has also supplied an organic fertilizer so that the coffee is certified organic and commands a higher price.
Three Tree's Costa Rican coffee is not Fair Trade USA-certified, but is purchased through Thrive, an Internet platform for buying coffee direct from farmers in Central America. It pays them double the Fair Trade price, Klayman said.
Right now, a former Three Tree research intern, Cody Dyer, is visiting coffee farms in Colombia seeking a partnership with a farmer for Three Tree. Dyer does this while working at another job, teaching English.
"Whatever avenue we're looking into, we want to make sure that there's transparency in the production chain and we know who the farmers are, how they're being paid, how they're being treated, just to know that they're being empowered," Klayman said.
The second mission, opposing human trafficking, meshes to a limited extent with empowering farmers. In countries just beginning to develop modern economies, coffee farmers are sometimes paid so little that it could be deemed labor trafficking, he said.
But the Klaymans envisioned this in a broader way after a trip to Indonesia during which they met victims of sex trafficking.
Last year, Three Tree hosted Free Coffee for Free People, an event that raised money for the International Justice Mission and also for Rahab's Rope, a project that employs women in India who are escaping sex-trafficking situations. They make burlap items and jewelry, which Three Tree sold during the event.
A coffee shop gives Three Tree a face-to-face space to talk to people about these two parts of its mission. That, in fact, is the third part, engaging the community.
Of course, the shop is also a place to try their coffee beans the way they brew them, and a place to have breakfast and, for those who aren't too hungry, lunch.
Breakfast items will include muffins, yogurt, granola and kolache, a European-style sweet pastry. For lunch, choices will be limited at first to a soup of the day, chicken salad and a sandwich. One planned sandwich is a "local PB&J" with peanut butter made in the shop from locally grown peanuts, jelly from another Statesboro business, Braswell's Foods, and bread baked at Sugar Magnolia.
Sugar Magnolia and the Daily Grind are among other local places that will still carry Three Tree coffee. Zach's Brews in the GSU library serves its own special blend made by Three Tree, and supermarkets such as Food World carry its beans. The GSU Dining Commons serves Three Tree Espresso Blend.
Since the birth of the couple's first child, Abigail, in January, Anna Klayman has been working less at the roasting room. Philip Klayman left his previous job with Farmers & Merchants Bank a couple of weeks prior to opening the shop. They have hired more help for both locations.
They have also provided a new front tenant for Midtown Market. The red brick commercial center on South Main Street was completely vacant earlier this year, but the long-awaited 441 Pubic Kitchen & Bar opened in early summer, JJ Puccio's State Farm agency moved in more recently, and Three Tree Coffee Roasters gives the commercial center three tenants.