Nestled in the Grand Traverse Commons community, is Higher Grounds Trading Company, where some awesome things are happening! Chris Treter (Owner and Co-Founder) explains, “We are a mission driven organization that works hard to have direct relationships with our growing partners in an environmentally sound and social just manner, engage in our local community, and provide the highest quality coffee to our customers.”
Higher Grounds started when two Michigan natives spent time living and working in Chiapas, Mexico. When that time was up, the Michiganders wanted to know how to keep helping. The response: “Sell our coffee.”
Higher Grounds is comprised of: The Roastery, The Office, and the Coffee Bar. The Roastery is where employees are roasting, packaging, or preparing delicious blends of coffee. The company creates coffees from fair trade, organic beans from around the world with several unique flavors. The most popular sell being the Highland Humanity Blend. “It is a dark and medium blend of Latin American coffees. It provides the rich, full bodied flavor that Michiganders prefer without being too dark and bitter,” explains Chris.
Higher Grounds is proud of its products and its “wholistically sound” way of approaching the coffee business. The Coffee Bar is working just as hard as The Roastery to make positive choices for the environment and consumers. “For the sake of the Earth, we believe it’s worth it to wash a few dishes at the end of the day instead of contributing to the trash can,” says Chris. That means, customers use ceramic mugs that were either donated by fellow customers, or commandeered from local thrift stores—even if they take the delicious beverage to go!
Not only are Higher Grounds’ awesome coffees available at the Coffee Bar, but also they can be found in grocery stores, specialty shops, restaurants, cafes, churches, and schools throughout the Mitten. Not to mention in select areas throughout the Midwest and East Coast.
Another awesome thing Higher Grounds does? All local coffee deliveries are made by bike, year round. That’s dedication to a positive business plan in Northern Michigan winters!
Chris and his fellow employees in The Office work to take orders, prepare finances, and make sales calls. Also, he travels to work on the importation of coffee and to maintain relationships with growing partners. “We are 100% fair trade, organic and purchase directly from growing groups around the world, we roast all out own beans from farmers we visit regularly and have long term direct relationships with,” explains Chris.
As another project founded by Higher Grounds, On the Ground is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting sustainable community development in farming regions around the world. Other projects include: Run Across Ethiopia which is working to increase awareness of the plight of coffee farmers and to build schools for children, as well as building potable water systems in Chiapas, Mexico. Essentially, Higher Grounds is constantly striving to make an awesome impact around the globe and in the Mitten!
Visit their website to learn more and find out about special events/special offerings on their Facebook! ~Joanna Dueweke, Regional Director