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Coffee-loving folks of conscience are waking happier these days in the Sault and Algoma, thanks to Shane and Heather Hoffmann. And their five-year-old son Harry.

Coffee-loving folks of conscience are waking happier these days in the Sault and Algoma, thanks to Shane and Heather Hoffmann.

And their five-year-old son Harry.

The Hoffmanns have just gotten started in the coffee business and already it's starting to smell quite aromatic for the St. Joseph Island newcomers. visited them at their roasting 'shack' (actually a very nicely reclaimed old outbuilding on their farm).

They are the area's first coffee roasters, St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, and they deal exclusively in organic, fair-trade products from around the world.

The Hoffmanns sell their coffee in biodegradable bags and sell it steamy-hot in biodegradable cups at farmer's markets and coffee shops.

They roast small quantities of the green beans they import so every bag they sell is as fresh as it can be.

"Over time, coffee loses its flavour and aroma," said Shane Hoffmann. "Unfortunately, due to marketing and other things people are buying really bad coffee. People are used to drinking stale coffee."

And the natural oils in the coffee that are released during the roasting process will go rancid over time, he said.

Hoffmann said some people who have complained of getting upset stomachs or heartburn from drinking coffee have been able to drink St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters brews without any problem.

The Hoffmanns attribute that to good quality, fresh, organic beans that are freshly roasted and ground before brewing.

Although the family has only been selling its coffee for about six weeks, they've been developing it for some time, starting with research and continuing through trials that were meticulously documented for quality control.

They've been busy making market contacts too, and now import fair trade coffee from diverse areas such as Peru, Kenya, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Mexico and Guatemala among other countries and regions.

The Hoffmanns say they will soon offer coffee from Rwanda, Ethiopia and Colombia.

"I wanted to get some coffee in from Rwanda because of the atrocities that have been happening over there," said Shane. "The whole idea behind fair trade is to help rebuild those countries from the grassroots level."

Fair-trade organizations help producers in developing countries by offering them a fair market price for the goods they sell to people in developed nations.

They help producers who've been abused and taken advantage of by their governments and large multinational corporations to develop their communities and improve socioeconomic conditions.

Fair-trade organizations also set social and environmental standards for the production of the goods they purchase to encourage sustainability both of the environment and culture of the people they deal with.

So Hoffmann says to expect to pay more for fair trade products in many cases, but expect to get a good-quality item that was made with as little negative impact on the environment in which it was produced or on the producer who made it.

While the Hoffmanns continue to develop new relationships with suppliers of green coffee beans, they also continue to look for new outlets for their roasted coffee.

Right now it can be found at Dinelle's II Meats & Grocery and Ambeault's Confectionery in Richard's Landing, at Kentvale Merchants and the Island Bar & Grill in Hilton Beach.

In Sault Ste. Marie it is available at Scale Meats and the Garden of Eden Health Food Store.

Shane says it should soon be available at the Country Way as well.

St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters coffee is also being served at Arcadia Coffee House, Minutia at the Algoma Art Gallery, Bar 1 and Café Natüra in Sault Ste. Marie.

Heart Rocks Cafe in Searchmont is also serving it.

The Lighthouse Grill and Mom's Restaurant on St. Joseph Island are serving St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters coffee, too.

"There is a lot of great coffee being sold in the area," said Shane. "Most of it's being brought in from Southern Ontario but we think there's a niche for a local roaster to fill."

He said that people in the area seem to be becoming more aware of and concerned about social, political and environmental issues facing people in coffee-producing areas and; therefore, more interested in fair trade, organic coffee.

The Hoffmanns believe that interest will extend to fine quality, locally roasted fair trade coffee.