Two indigenous communities from different hemispheres have teamed up in the coffee business

By September 28, 2017

An Inuit-run coffee company has teamed up with Indigenous farmers in Peru to support the preservation of indigenous culture in two opposites spheres of the world.

The Kitikmeot Heritage Society is a nonprofit working with indigenous communities in Nunavut Canada, to preserve and promote the history, culture and language of the Inuinnait people. In partnering with local Peruvian farmers, the society will launch their own new Inuit-owned coffee company, called Kaapittiaq, meaning ¨good coffee¨. Indigenous farmers from northwestern Peru will provide the coffee beans.  

The income the coffee brings in should provide funding for cultural and educational programs in both Peru and Nunavut. The discovery of this potential coffee partnership stemmed from Peruvian cafe owner, Erci Vasquez. Based in Barrie, Ontario, Vasquez already had contacts with local indigenous farmers.

The coffee is grown in five villages in the remote Colasay district of northwestern Peru. In these locations, farmers need to haul the beans off the mountains using donkeys, and are often forced to sell their crops at much lower prices because of their lack of access to larger cities. With Peru supplying the perfect climate to grow and harvest the coffee beans, Nunavut is able to sell them to people up North. This promotes both cultures.

Pamela Gross is the executive director of the Kitikmeot Heritage Society and owns Kaapittiaq. She said  to Global Citizens that “hopefully they’ll be able to sell and distribute the coffee at their stores across the North and that will bring pride to people — knowing that they can buy a product that is tied to our people”

The collaboration will further provide support on the society’s campaign on issues related to Indigenous rights and citizenships.