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It's a Coffee World at UNC, but where does that coffee come from?

UNC students have become accustomed to studying in the small coffee shops in the nooks and corners of Carrboro and Franklin Street. The many cafés in the area are home to groups of students and coffee lovers alike. 

And many of the local coffee shops are also home to ethically-sourced coffee beans.

Tama Tea recently opened across from Walgreens on Franklin Street. They offer coffee, smoothies, boba tea and of course, a wide variety of teas. Students on campus have responded well to this new tea shop. 

Tama Tea gets their coffee beans from Counter Culture in Durham. 

Employee Lawrence Perkins said Tama Tea has a great relationship with their supplier. 

“They are local, they are from Durham and their coffee is really good, and they have really high quality standards,” Perkins said. 

He and other employees toured Counter Culture facilities and received training while they were visiting the facility. The training included making basic espresso shots. 

Counter Culture’s mission is to help farmers use sustainable, innovative practices to grow coffee beans. They use ethical beans and practice fair trade. They also work with farmers to adapt to the changing environment to ensure that their coffee beans are the best of the best.

Starbucks is located one restaurant down from Tama Tea on Franklin Street. While Tama Tea relies on Counter Culture for their coffee beans, Starbucks has various suppliers. 

“We do try to purchase through people that follow our ethical practices, what we call café practices, coffee and farmer equity,” Starbucks manager Adam Mason said.

Many other local coffee shops in Carrboro are common places for students to study and work as well. Open Eye Café and Caffé Driade get their coffee beans from Carrboro Coffee Roasters. 

Caffé Driade has been working with Carrboro Coffee Roasters for around 10 years.

President of Carrboro Coffee Roasters Scott Conary travels for half the year to meet with the farmers that supply the beans to support them in any way possible. Carrboro Coffee Roasters gets its beans from Central America, South America, Africa, various parts of Asia and the Pacific. 

Conary said it is important to have a direct, transparent relationship with the farmers. He said he wants to create an understanding among consumers and that it is important to stop treating coffee as a commodity. This partly means recognizing the money, effort and hard work that it takes to grow and take care of coffee.

Conary said Carrboro Coffee Roasters has created its own standards in terms of fair trade.

“Eventually we get to a truly sustainability place, so these farmers can count on us, just like we can count on their coffee," he said.


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