Sustainability is a big buzz word amongst specialty coffee businesses, but for today’s feature it’s more than just a talking point. Founded by coffee professionals across the supply chain, including Tanager Coffee’s CJ Speelman and Sebastian Villamizar and Felipe Sardi of renown Colombian coffee producer La Palma y El Tucan, Futura Coffee Roasters in Portland, Oregon was created to highlight regenerative agriculture both at home and at origin.
Focusing on coffees from Colombia (though they do offer other growing regions as well), Futura seeks to raise awareness of the ecological benefit of farming in a sustainable way but as well as the flavor potential it holds. To this end, Futura is committing 3% of all sales to a soil regeneration fund, which at the end of the year will be split evenly between Colombian farmers looking to transition to more regenerative farming and local Oregon farmers and gardeners to do the same. It’s a radical and frankly exciting approach to running a cafe and roastery in the United States. To learn more, we check in with Futura’s Sebastian Villamizar.
As told to Sprudge by Sebastian Villamizar.
For those who aren’t familiar, will you tell us about your company?
FUTURA is a coffee roastery on a mission for soil regeneration.
Our purpose is to inspire people to make their daily choices count towards regenerative agricultural initiatives within the coffee industry itself.
FUTURA was founded in Portland, OR, in 2021. It emerged from a business partnership between CJ Speelman—a socially-minded coffee entrepreneur—and an international team of specialty coffee partners, including Sebastian Villamizar of La Palma y El Tucan. Everyone came together with the understanding that there is no time to lose to protect our planet, and FUTURA is the direct result.
Can you tell us a bit about the new space?
Our first coffee shop is open on NE Glisan St in the Montavilla Neighborhood. We wanted to highlight the natural beauty found within the space. We’ve used some unique elements, but remain committed to our core, environmental-based values. We were able to use sustainable materials and recycling as much material as possible, such as hand-made lamps by Colombian artisans or our tiles from McIntyre Tile based in California. The tiles we chose are finished in a way that allows each one to be different to the last, adding it’s own unique character and limiting waste in the production process.
What’s your approach to coffee?
With FUTURA, our team is proposing a shift for the specialty coffee industry towards regenerative agriculture, given that the coffee production is expected to experience a 50% decrease by 2050, due to climate change. By investing in soil regeneration, we contribute hope to do our part to aid the industry in a transition to save it’s future, so you can see where the name comes from…
We truly believe that coffees that come from regenerative agricultural settings truly stand out in their quality as much as their impact on the environment. FUTURA exists to showcase this beautiful harmony in space to match. Our coffee program have both traditional and exotic coffee varieties, as well as different processing techniques, to explore a wide range of flavors. We roast every week on our 12kg Probat to keep things fresh and exciting.
Any machines, coffees, special equipment lined up?
The shop is around 1,400 square feet. For grinders we have a Mahlkönig EK43 for batch brew and brew bar and two Mazzer Major V’s for espresso. We are currently using a brand new La Marzocco GB5 S. We have a FECTO for batch brew and are using Origami drippers and AeroPress for our brew bar.
Our coffee selection has three blends and oh-so-many seasonal single origins. At the moment we have:
Act: A timeless blend offering a delicate and refreshing experience full of fresh fruits and floral notes. This blend is composed of outstanding coffees with innovative processing methods from diverse regions of Colombia.
Love: A wild blend offering sweet red fruits and chocolaty flavors. Composed of natural-processed traditional varieties from the Panama highlands and complemented with a bright and elegant Colombian from the Tolima region.
Change: A super wild blend composed of fine varieties from the volcanic regions of Panama. This coffee transports us to the warm tropics with its rich tropical fruit flavors and distinctive nutty sweetness.
A single Castillo varietal from Jesus Medihueta´s farm in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta region of Colombia, from Delagua Coffee Paradise.
A single Castillo varietal from Antonio Niño´s farm in the Cundinamarca region of Colombia, from La Palma y El Tucán.
A single Catuai varietal from Fernando Cruz´s farm in the region of Boquete, Panama, from Creativa Coffee District
How is your project considering sustainability?
“Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are showing us clearly that life-supporting systems need us all to make better choices, consistently, on a daily basis. As coffee lovers we bring FUTURA as a daily reminder that everyday counts, and we will make every day count for soil regeneration and biodiversity preservation,” says Sardi, a founding partner.
We are taking five actions to create a new reality for our planet:
Soul regeneration fund: 3% of FUTURA’s daily sales will go to a Soil Regeneration Fund. 50% of the annual amount collected will be reinvested at origin to accelerate coffee producers’ transition. Portland’s Neighbors Associations from Montavilla and Mt. Tabor will be invited to shape the future of the other 50% to support local farmers and gardeners in their soil regeneration efforts in Oregon.
Highlighting coffee from regenerative agricultural projects: Our coffee program will always provide at least one choice of coffee that comes from a farm that is transitioning to regenerative agriculture. Green coffee buyers will be key to help us grow our regenerative single origin offerings. We are currently serving coffee from La Palma y el Tucán, Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is a farm that started implementing regenerative agriculture principles in 2017 and has been increasing soil organic matter significantly year after year.
Choosing suppliers that share our purpose: Suppliers of key menu ingredients are being called to engage in the mission of soil regeneration. Plants and flowers inhabiting our Glisan St coffee shop come from local gardens that share our purpose.
Using compostable coffee bags: The coffee bags consumers will be left with have been selected to better serve compostability purposes alongside the functionality of quality preservation. Our retail bags have been specially selected to compost in certain conditions, while maintaining a high standard of coffee quality over long periods of time.
Partnerships to visualize the message of a net positive future: We will work hand in hand with experts, artists and digital entrepreneurs to build an engaging learning journey for customers, employees and communities to better support soil regeneration and recognize it as a key enabler for a net positive future.
Consumers, employees and green coffee buyers, will also be called to engage in this multi-decade mission while enjoying FUTURA’s selection of thoughtfully curated specialty coffees.
What’s your hopeful target opening date/month?
FUTURA Coffee Roasters opened on January 30th, 2022