Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing an old friend who happens to work at a local business with a very global impact. Their product is something consumed all around the world, every morning. Have you had a cup, today?
The product is coffee, and the friend is Andrieu Doyle. Andrieu works at Caravela Coffee, a green coffee bean importer located on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill, NC, housed in a rather nondescript office building. Though the outside is not what you might picture for a business that does so much work with farmers on-the-ground, it is sustainably-built, just like the business inside. Caravela’s goal is not to draw you inside their office building; they’re not involved in a showy business necessitating much flash. They’re more substance. It’s when you walk in and are greeted not only by warm smiles but a warm cup of joe that you really fall in love with the place and their mission.
Founded in Colombia in 2000 as Virmax Coffee exporters (originally also importing other tropical fruits), Caravela is the importing side of the socially-responsible business, and was established here in Chapel Hill in 2010. They focus on developing, sourcing, and exporting quality coffee, and have since grown beyond importing solely Colombian coffees. Currently they import from eight Latin American countries, employing 6 people in their North Carolina office as well as more than 120 local people on the ground in Latin America, working directly with the more than 4,500 farmers from which they buy coffee.
To learn a bit more about the business from someone who has worked both on-the-ground in Colombia and in North Carolina, I asked Andrieu for his perspective on some aspects of the business.
What makes Caravela different?
How has Caravela Coffee found its place in the North Carolina food chain?
Have you taken any steps to be more eco-friendly than other companies, for example, in your packaging?
What is your favorite part of working at Caravela?
Last one— what is your favorite scent or flavor, of all of the ones from the coffee growing and processing you have worked on? It’s a hard world to connect to if you’ve never been there.
A huge thank you to Andrieu for spending the time to answer my questions and show me around their operation! I look forward to watching your community connections strengthen.