A collaboration between NATIFS and Fairwave Specialty Coffee Collective = education in a cup 

As Indigenous Food Lab (IFL) and the IFL Market ramp up mission activities, collaborations with selected outside organizations with aligned missions offer a unique opportunity to spread the word about Indigenous food access and education. 

One such current opportunity is the collaboration between NATIFS and Fairwave Specialty Coffee Collective, which owns and operates coffee brands around the US, including local Spyhouse Coffee Roasters. 

When Fairwave set out to explore Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, they say it was important to include Indigenous voices, and reached out to NATIFS.

“Part of our mission at NATIFS is to educate people,” says Jason Garcia, IFL General Manager. “To help open people’s eyes to Indigenous food products, but also local and Indigenous plants in this area and how they can be used in cooking or food preparation. So having somebody who has a broader footprint than what we have right now is really helpful to us. It gets us in front of more eyes, and hopefully, that will help inspire people to look at what we do here.” 

Every quarter, Fairwave updates its menus with specialty and seasonal drinks and this season, baristas were tasked with a competition challenge: consider a list of Indigenous ingredients provided by NATIFS and utilize at least one of those ingredients in a coffee drink. 

The winning beverage, the Hearthfire Mocha, created by Avery Phipps, is a spicy, complex mocha, incorporating chile de arbol, Balsam Fir, and cacao– three ingredients with a rich history of Native cultivation. Jess Iverson, Marketing Director of Fairwave Collective describes the final product as “spicy, floral, complex, super balanced, and super delicious.” 

However, she adds, this work is about more than just making tasty coffee drinks.

“Hopefully this will make customers curious, and want to learn about how they can help support Indigenous makers and producers.” 

Emily Halberg, NATIFS’ Event Coordinator, concurs that the collaboration doesn’t end with the drink and that the partnership and education effort will be ongoing, and could include a collection of other events including Indigenous craft markets or storytelling nights in coffee shops, and by summer, hosting a booth at Spyhouse’s Northeast Minneapolis location, which receives massive foot traffic during Minneapolis annual festival Art-A-Whirl. “We’re really excited to bring an Indigenous presence to such a big event.” 

This collaboration seemed like a particularly good fit for NATIFS because Fairwave took a back seat, Halberg explains, and allowed NATIFS to lead the conversation and guide the narrative.

“This kind of thing helps bring our education to a wider audience and community to potentially start conversations about these important topics with people that might have never heard of some of these ingredients, or even being Indigenous– and what that means for people who have never even been in a space like Indigenous Food Lab before.” 

All proceeds from the Hearthfire Mocha will be donated to NATIFS while it’s available in cafes, now through the month of April.

Halberg sums up the project: “It’s a simple but unique opportunity for two very different organizations to come together and do something pretty powerful, even if it feels like it’s on a small scale. This is just the start of something new– we’re excited to see where it goes.”

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