Perhaps there is no business that represents the essence of the Gainesville community better than Sweetwater Organic Coffee. Their motto, “from crop to cup,” encompasses their commitment to sourcing coffee from small-scale organic farmers, connecting communities and encouraging “conscious consumption.” Most importantly, they serve coffee that they believe is among the best in the country.
Founded and headquartered in Gainesville, their passionate team roasts their coffee in micro-batches in order to roast their products to excellence. They only source their coffee from small-scale cooperative farms in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua and Mexico, among other locations.
Sweetwater is sold in a number of local grocery stores and outlets, including Ward’s, Satchel’s, Karma Cream, Earth Fare and other independent grocers across the state and the Southeast. They ship their coffee nationwide via their website and sell wholesale to coffee shops. They also sell their coffee every Saturday at the Haile Farmer’s Market.
Sweetwater is committed to fair, direct and transparent trade and strives to give their small coffee farmers a voice in the production process by ensuring better prices and terms of service. Sweetwater believes this transparency allows a more fluid connection from the farming of the products to the consumer.
“Customers are so much savvier than they used to be. They seek knowledge about the products they buy. In a world where a lot of the connection is lost to the consumer on how and where their food products are made, we believe that by giving our farmers and producers a voice in the process gives our customers more confidence in what they are purchasing and the authenticity and freshness of the product,” said Nema Etheridge, marketing director for Sweetwater Organic Coffee.
Sweetwater is a B-corporation, meaning that they are committed to creating value for all of their stakeholders and believe business can be a positive change in the world. The company also participates in third-party audits so that their farmers know they are conducting the fairest business practices.
Sweetwater Organic Coffee is proud to be a part of Cooperative Coffees, a group of 23 Fair Trade green roasters from across the country who pool their demand to import organic coffee from farms in 14 different countries. Stretching from Washington to Florida, these roasters are committed to selling sustainable fair trade coffees.
“Sweetwater embodies much of what makes Gainesville great,” Etheridge said. “This community is so invested in local business and food, and residents want to support businesses that are committed to the good of the community. Customers love the coffee and love the taste, and in turn, they are invested in the mission of Sweetwater. The same can be said for our team who are all helping to produce a great product they believe in—the taste fuels the mission and the mission inspires the taste!”
What’s next for Sweetwater? Etheridge says their future goals include continuing to serve the needs of Gainesville and its residents.
“Gainesville is such a dynamic city, and we want to continue to share the message of our mission and product,” Etheridge said. “We want to share best brewing practices with small businesses and consumers and keep them informed about our commitment to serving the best product created in a fair and sustainable way.”
Sweetwater Organic Coffee roasts all their beans to order using the following styles:
Light Roast (Light)
A lighter, more flavorful roast characterized by light to medium smooth body, high, clean acidity, and bright flavor. The bean will be dry and brown with no surface oil.
Full City Roast (Medium)
This roast is a medium brown. The bean may be dry or have faint patches of oil on the surface. Rich and flavorful, this roast retains the bright flavor and smoothness of our lighter roast and gains the body and sweetness of darker roasts.
Viennese Roast (Medium Dark)
A medium dark roast. These roasts have the richness of French Roast without the carbon-smoky flavor. The bean will be dark reddish brown and only slightly oily.
French Roast (Dark)
Darkest roast. These coffees have a very bold and rich, caramel-smoky and syrupy flavor. The bean will be dark brown with a shiny surface. Caramelized, not carbonized!
By Tracy Wright