A leader who loves Peruvian Peace Coffee, pirate ships and supporting small farmers

This is part of our new blog series, Local Leaders on a Mission, where we spotlight a local leader who shares our kind of passion and drive to make the world a friendlier place. Everyone has a purpose and everyone has a story...

This is Ryan's story... (Peace Coffee edition:)

Originally he's from: Peoria, IL area
He came to the Twin Cities: About 11 years ago and says, "Minnesota wooed me from a young age." Ryan spent 2 weeks every summer up north MN near Longville and made his way here after college.
What he loves about the Cities: We have so much to offer!! If you want the city experience, we definitely have that and it's ever-changing. If you want the outdoor experience, you don't even need to leave the city limits to find yourself on lakes, in the woods or exploring historic places. And the food!! I have to say that I spend a good amount of time convincing my friends and family that they have to come here for the food and beverage scene here, we are very lucky!

Working for Peace Coffee

You've worked for Starbucks, Dunn Bros.. what brought you to Peace Coffee?
I have always been enamored with coffee/coffee shop culture. Ever since this little café in my hometown, called 'The Freudian Sip", opened I was hooked. I hung out at a place called Einstien's (not the bagel joint) all through college and made a little family there. We decided we wanted to open a shop someday, but I'm the only one working in coffee currently.

Peace Coffee was the first coffee I drank upon coming to Minneapolis. I lived 1 block from the Birchwood Café, and immediately fell head over heels. I watched the website for jobs religiously, though I've been in the professional coffee world for 8 years.

Tell us about what makes Peace Coffee so special to the Twin Cities?
The Twin Cities are home to so many wonderful coffee companies. We've become a sort of center for all types of coffee shop culture, comfy spots for respite like Caribou and the funky franchised locally-roasted model from Dunn Bros to the quality-obsessed places like Dogwood and Spyhouse. We've got it all.

I think Peace stands out in that we were the first to offer 100% Fair Trade coffee to the scene here. We've remained committed to providing that kind of coffee for all of our patrons and we're 100% transparent in how we work with our farmers. We offer coffee that is not only good for those who grow it and the world it's grown in, but also holds its own amongst the many talented roasters around town. 

What are some worthwhile events or partnerships Peace Coffee has been part of?
We are privileged to sponsor so many meaningful happenings in our area. I've loved being a consistent sponsor of Minnesota Fringe Fest and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. They highlight our artists in so many great ways, and we're proud to support them.

We also do consistent work with Open Arms MN, which is a really fantastic non-profit that delivers from-scratch meals to folks in the area with terminal illnesses (and their families). One of my favorite events of the year is the LifeWorks Annual Celebration, where we pull out all of the stops to support this remarkable organization that employs so many people with developmental disabilities in the metro. Their clients are in our roastery a few times a week, labeling our bags and doing lots of other important tasks in our production space. We love working with them!

What's your favorite thing about working at Peace Coffee?
ENDLESS COFFEE!!! I mean come on, how can you argue with that? But honestly, it has to be the people. Everyone here is so unique and passionate, not only about their work but about so many important things outside of our little coffee roasting world.


Ryan's Favorites  

What's your favorite Peace Coffee blend?
I'm stuck on the Peruvian and have been for a while. It's consistently the best tasting coffee we have, in my opinion. It's a true medium roast with craveable milk chocolate and hazelnut notes, with so much sweetness! Nocturnal is my favorite seasonal, but that may be just because Autumn is the perfect time of year to be drinking coffee in Minnesota.

What's your favorite Peace Coffee specialty drink?
It's a tie between the Es Alpukat (Summer of 2014), essentially an avocado and coffee milkshake and the Black Lemonade Bruleé, which is a burnt-sugar and cold press sparkling lemonade. It's on the menu at our locations through August and it's not to be missed!


If you could create your own blend, what would it be, what would the artwork be?
I've always wanted to try a blend of our Ethiopian Sidama and a lighter-roasted coffee from Mexico (Triunfo Verde, used for Alchemy 11), I think it would be a great combination of floral and chocolatey! Art would probably be a pirate ship, not because there are pirates involved, but because the ship represents the journey those two coffees would take to be together and pirate ships are by far the coolest kind of ships.

If you were CEO, what organization (local or not) would you set up partnerships with?
I've always been fascinated by the coffee stories coming from Uganda and Cameroon. They are both countries with tumultuous pasts, but the coffee production has survived through those tough times. Both countries are producing beautiful coffees and I think Peace Coffee could play a vital role in telling the story of their perseverance and passion for their trees.


Ryan's outlook


Scenario: A newbie comes to experience the Twin Cities for a week. What do you suggest to them?
Woah, where do I start? I think you've got to do it all! Go see a show at the Guthrie or in the Hennepin theater district. Visit one of our fancier dining destinations like Alma or The Bachelor Farmer. Take one night to spend downtown St. Paul on Harriet Island, in Lowertown visiting Saint Dinette and/or Dark Horse. Visit our best breweries like Dangerous Man and Surly. Go for ice cream at Izzy's near Gold Medal Park and climb the path to the top for some lovely views. I could go on and on and on!

What does equality mean to you here at home and the rest of world?
Equality is about access. I think if you're going to teach anyone about what equality looks like, you have to start with access. Access meaning the ability for anyone to hear your message and act upon it based on their means to do so. You must consider your purpose when talking about equality, because for it to matter, we all have to be able to start from the same line and be able to reach the same shelves. It's a very big idea that can seem unattainable, but it's a really great lens to view our goals as we try to bring people together on an issue or initiative.

For us here in the Twin Cities, that means giving a voice to everyone that is equally heard from the margins to the majority. And we try to do that every day in our coffee business, we’re trying to bring small farmers the same amount of access to markets all over the world, hoping to give them true equality by honoring their work and treating them fairly.

Wow, what a beautiful message from Ryan. The people of Peace Coffee truly are remarkable people. We're so honored to be partnering with them for our launch party this Friday, and will continue to support their mission throughout the years as they are a lifetime Innovation Sponsor to this chapter. Thank you for sharing Ryan, and for all that you do!