Fourteen companies throughout the US have been awarded the annual Good Food prize in the coffee category. The 2021 edition of the competition that awards their prize to the most transparent, fair and with an excellent final product food companies, is the 11th ever held. The winners were selected among 25 finalists announced last fall. The event was held last Friday, virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. This year's coffee roaster winners are the ones I'm going to focus on here.
A Good Food Award is given to outstanding companies in the food industry that not only produce an exceptional product but follow outstanding ethical and sustainable practices. To be listed for the award, companies must be US or US territories based, as the award is focused on North America only.
Their products should be traceable down to the single farm or cooperative, and their standards must exceed the ones of the Fair Trade certification. That means publicly stated policies and in-place processes. All the sourced food must be bought from farms and cooperatives where an emphasis on pursuing sustainable agricultural practices is one of the key operating parameters. All these practices must be transparent and documented, or otherwise they can't qualify.
You may imagine that not that many food companies can guarantee all that. Not only in the US, but worldwide. Moreover, specifically for the coffee roasters, the Good Food jury considers only roasters that implement locally more policies and processes to be even more sustainable, inclusive and ethical.
That includes prioritizing water and waste reuse, recycling and composing; the conservation of the source of energies used to process the coffee is another important parameter that the roasteries must implement to be able to run for the Good Food awards. An emphasis on the local condition of work for both workers and the product is another parameter that must be followed. Roasters are checked that they regularly monitor the air quality within the area where the coffee is roasted, for the workers' health, and that the afterburner is capable of burning at temperatures high enough to incinerate particulates.
Roasters that promote policies like wage transparency, offering development opportunities to the local workers and sponsoring or participating in social and environmental projects are the only one that are considered as possible participants for the award. And if all this wasn't enough, also every roaster has to have a good master roaster that is committed to equity, justice and inclusion on all levels of the coffee processing is another strict requirement for coffee roasters to be selected for the award.
Who are the winners?
Given these requirements, not many companies can even hope to run in the competition. That is part of the mission of the Good Food foundation, to provide strict requirements so only the truly best food companies can be hopeful of running for the prize and, eventually, win it.
A selection of judges tasted the coffee from each running company in two rounds, the second of which only the best coffee could participate in. The final winners are:
- Abracadabra Coffee Co. (from Woodstock, Vermont), Mexico Finca Santa Cruz Natural
- Bend Roasting Co (from Bend, Oregon), Layered Fermentation from Abore Washing Station Shatawene Village Sidamo
- Big Creek Coffee Roasters (from Hamilton, Montana), Ethiopia Guji Uraga
- Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (from San Diego), Cerro Azul
- Campos Coffee USA (from Salt Lake City, Utah), Colombia La Negrita Natural Gesha
- Eastlick Coffee Company (from Oldsmar, Florida), Sudan Rume, Inmaculada Coffee Farms
- Huckleberry Roasters (from Denver), Phantom Limb Blend
- JBC Coffee Roasters (from Madison, Wisconsin), Ardent Ethiopia Natural
- Modest Coffee (from West Chicago, Illinois), The Collector: Costa Rica – Familia Monge
- Noble Coffee Roasting (from Ashland, Oregon), Ethiopia ‘Benti Nenqa’
- Onyx Coffee Lab (from Rogers, Arkansas), Panama Lamastus Family
- Peach Coffee Roasters (from Alpharetta, Georgia), Costa Rica Cordillera de Fuego
- PT’s Coffee Roasting Company (from Topeka, Kansas), Ethiopia Tigesit Waqa Natural
- Triple Coffee Co. (from San Francisco), Pacamara Natural (Abel Giron, Honduras)
Next to each roaster's name is the coffee origin that was tasted and earned the prize for them. As you can see, there's a prevalence of representation among the winners for the South (Eastlick Coffee, Onyx Coffee Lab, Peach Coffee Roasters) and the Midwest (JBC Coffee Roasters, Modest Coffee, PT’s Coffee Roasting) and the central plains (Big Creek Coffee Roasters, Huckleberry Roasters).
The winners will have access to the Good Food online shop to sell their excellent coffee, reaping then direct monetary advantages for their valuable efforts for the coffee community.
“By fermenting, curing, and crafting truly nourishing food, you create healthy communities better able to face both once in a century pathogens and the strains of everyday life,” Good Food Awards Founder Sarah Weiner told the guests. “It wouldn’t be long until good food becomes mainstream. Until then, you are the blueprint for this change.”
About Good Food
In 2008, Sarah Weiner and Dominic Phillips worked together to produce Slow Food Nation, to celebrate the best and most sustainable food out of North America. Then in 2010, they founded the Seedlings Projects, which over time and lots of contributions from other associations, became the Good Food Foundation of today. That wouldn't have been possible with the help of some sponsors as well, that they collected on the apposite sponsors page on their website.
The main aim of the awards is to "exists to celebrate, connect, empower and leverage the passionate and engaged, yet often overlooked, players in the food system who are driving towards tasty, authentic and responsible food in order to humanize and reform our American food culture.". Thus not just the best tasting food, but a focus on the humanity aspect of the food industry in the US.
The Good Food Awards have been one of the first to recognize coffee as an artisanal product created by masters of their craft, and not simply as a product to be consumed. Past winners have been a who’s who in coffee roasting, from major industry names like Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle, Olympia, Equator Coffees, and Onyx Coffee Lab to then-rising stars Tandem, ReAnimator, and Ruby.