Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op
The Just Us! Co-op set out in 1995 to become Canada’s first Fair Trade coffee roaster. It was a small, but bold experiment to show that the coffee business, and all businesses, could be done differently, putting “People and the Planet before Profits”™ locally and globally.
We wanted to make connections with small-scale organic coffee farmers around the world and conscientious consumers in Atlantic Canada and beyond.
Eventually, we would also get into tea, chocolate and sugar but our collective aim was always the same:
To come together to do something meaningful, to make a difference, to make it exciting and hopefully to make it minimally profitable so we can continue to have our jobs.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead
We called ourselves Just Us! because we were just a small group of friends who had very little in the way of business experience or resources, but really believed we could do our bit for social "justice".
And it wasn't just talk. We wanted to be true to our convictions and consistent with the standards set out for Fair Trade co-ops in the Third World.
-Work for the common good
-Accountable to members
This is very unusual, even for businesses involved in Fair Trade. If you look at our organization, our mission and our values, our reporting and distribution of profits, you will see these standards reflected.
And we didn't just dip our toe in the water. We jumped in with both feet and went well over our heads. Those were exciting times, but not easy. It might have been better if we had known what we were getting into - but then again, if we had known, we probably wouldn't have done it.
Once we got going, it was nuts. We just had to run to keep up. We grew phenomenally and faced new opportunities and risks at every turn. Early on, we were made aware that "Fair Trade" was also badly needed by local family farmers and became involved in the local and organic food movement.
Basically, our mission is: People and the Planet before Profits
It came out of a real passion for social justice in Latin America. Rather than simply giving moral support and emergency aid to rural communities in Latin America, maybe we could give them a fair price for their quality coffee and, thereby, some control over their own destinies, as Moses Coady would say. Simple idea, but it made sense, and it works if you do it right.
We are a worker co-operative that contributes to a sane world where peoples' needs and the wellbeing of our planet are put before greed.
Building on our success, we continue to foster a more democratic workplace and supply chain, where everyone can participate and benefit. This is an important struggle that will take commitment on everyone’s part.
Our efforts are focused on small-scale sustainable agriculture working towards healthy communities and a healthy world. Through our fair trade products and education, we promote awareness on development and trade issues, always looking for a way to be a vehicle for change.
Just Us! Values
Authenticity: “Our commitment goes way beyond just selling stuff.”
Co-operation: “To be a shining example of business – doing good for workers, farmers and the world”
Community: “There is no them and us, just us!”
Instinct: “Just Us! just came immediately to us and that was it. There was no question”
Justice: “Right from the beginning we were set up to challenge the status quo.”