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Traverse City, MI
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Higher Grounds Coffee

It all started with a trip to Mexico. Owner and co-founder, Chris Treter, was living and working among coffee farmers at the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico as part of a post-graduate internship in 2001. For the farmers, poverty and a lack of access to basic resources such as education and water were simply a way of life. As he neared the end of his internship, Chris asked his farmer friend, Jose Perez Vazquez, “How can we keep helping you?”

“You could sell our coffee,” said José.

And that’s exactly what Chris did. From selling Maya Vinic Co-op’s coffee at his local farmers’ market, Higher Grounds grew. Eventually they also sought out coffee from other sources and joined forces with a handful of other roasters to form an importing cooperative, Cooperative Coffees. Every trade relationship they have is modeled after that first one, and every year they still purchase from Maya Vinic. Furthermore, Higher Grounds Coffee donates 1% of their sales to On the Ground, their partner nonprofit. On the Ground empowers coffee farming communities through gender and social equity, environmental sustainability, and economic security.

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