Thaleon Tremain works alongside 200,000 farmers who jointly own Sacramento’s Pachamama Coffee Cooperative. He co-founded the organization in 2006, and the company claims it’s the world’s first fully farmer-owned and governed coffee company with a United States headquarters. Now Tremain’s spearheading the opening of the cooperative’s fifth cafe, planned to debut at the Sacramento Natural Foods Cooperative on November 4. The grocery store is one of the largest, most successful food cooperatives in North America, running since 1972. But this is the first time a consumer co-op has organized with a farmer co-op to create a cafe — if not ever, then certainly in Northern California. “It’s the first fully cooperative supply chain, from coffee farmer to coffee consumer,” Tremain says. “This specific cafe is going to be really interesting.”
Thanks to the cafe, thousands of Sacramento consumers in Sacramento will be directly connected to Pachamama’s farmer-owners in Perú, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and Ethiopia. The 20-year-old coffee company has roasted in Sacramento since it started in 2006, focusing mostly on wholesale. Currently, the only cities with Pachamama retail cafes are Sacramento and Davis, though earlier this year Berkeleyside reported the company was scoping a location in Berkeley. Tremain says the cooperative has since decided against moving to the East Bay — at least for now. The business has been selling in Bay Area grocery stores and cafes for 15 years, so the next step is opening its own cafe. “We’re not like Peet’s coffee, “Tremain says. We’re owned by farmers. We’ll head down to the Bay Area one of these days. We’ll bide our time and put a good one down there.”
Offerings at the new Sacramento cafe won’t be terribly different than many other espresso-based menus; think lattes and drip. Seasonal specials will be on deck, though, like the cooperative’s maple brûlée latte. More importantly to Tremain is how this cafe reflects what he says is the future of food: shorter supply chains. Direct buying models, rather than multinational buyers and their inevitable supply chain complications, work better for buyers and sellers. Both consumers and producers stand to gain by shaving off costs historically associated with negotiators and middle-buyers. “The bigger picture of our story is a bunch of farmers saying ‘You’re going to sell my coffee for $20 a pound? I can do that myself,’” Tremain says. “When you buy a latte for $5 at our shop, you’re giving a farmer $5.”
Pachamama Cafe at Sacramento Natural Foods Cooperative will open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week on Friday, November 4.