Mount Vernon record store-coffee shop Baby’s on Fire is linking up with Stevensville small-batch roastery Open Seas Coffee for some signature beans that will also help to reinvest in the communities abroad that are growing them.
The Baby’s On Fire Blend, set to debut this Friday, is made of coffees from Brazil, Sumatra and Guatemala, with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, almond and cedar, with a hint of citrus. “I’m super happy about it,” Baby’s on Fire co-owner David Koslowski said of the flavor.
David and his wife and business partner, Shirlé Koslowski, are also thrilled to be collaborating with a friend. The pair met Open Seas founder Bryce Roszell at the Baltimore Coffee Festival this past March, when the company was among a host of roasters and other coffee firms presenting at the Baltimore Convention Center.
After stopping by more than a half-dozen roasters’ booths and tasting coffee “pretty much all day,” Open Seas ended up being their favorite vendor there, David said.
They arranged with Roszell to start selling Open Seas’ single-origin coffees—i.e., from one specific region of a given country—at their shop on Morton Street. Shortly thereafter, they asked Roszell if he would be interested in creating a signature blend for them, “something that since we opened we had in the back of our minds,” David said.
Roszell agreed, crafting one with a similar flavor profile as Baby’s on Fire’s existing house blend, made by Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon.
Since their introduction, David said developed a friendly relationship with Roszell. “It all kind of happened very organically. We just hit it off as like friends and people. We like the same music and bands and stuff, one of the those things.”
Open Seas has operated out of Stevensville, in a location steps from the Chesapeake Bay, since June of 2016. Roszell and his family relocated that year from Laos, where he had been manufacturing water filters for work.
While there, they befriended local coffee farmers with whom they’d pick coffee cherries and learn about the trade. They also became aware of the paltry earnings their friends were making, despite using best practices for growing their crops. Even after a good harvest, they’d still be going hungry, Roszell said. Meanwhile, their coffee would be shipped throughout Asia at profitable rates for suppliers.
When he got to Maryland and started Open Seas, Roszell made sustainability and investing in his client coffee farmers part of his business model. He launched his 10-4 Farmers initiative, 10 percent of all profits back to sustainable coffee-farming projects and communities. He’s also sought to directly trade with his farmers, cutting out middleman businesses to be able to pay the producers more.
To date, Rozsell said his donated profits have paid for water filters in those countries—as well as education for schools and villages on using them—which has translated into around one million liters of potable water.
Baby’s on Fire’s new blend, to be sold in-house at $15 per 12-oz. bag, will reinvest the same 10 percent cut of profits, with Roszell determining which villages receive them.
Open Seas’ founder noted the importance of getting retailers on board. “I’m a wholesaler, so we need partners on the shop side that can really connect people to that–that can really help people to understand the value of what [farmers] are doing, and about the commoditization of food,” Roszell said.
The Koslowskis “really care about that same vision,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier.”
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