El Parche coffee company takes over Perk in Schwitzer Student Center

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After multiple changes in coffee companies including Starbucks and Metropolis Coffee Company, El Parche now supplies their coffee products to the Perk I in Schwitzer Student Center.

Husband and wife Patrick Meyer and Natalia Cruz co-founded El Parche. The Cruz side of the family, along with other coffee growers in the Restrepo Colombia, began a cooperative to grow coffee throughout Colombia in 1961, according to a presentation provided by Meyer.

“The Cruz family has been very active in politics, coffee and they’re a proud family of lawyers and folks that stand up for the local Colombians,” Meyer said. 

Meyers said that El Parche roast, process and package their coffee at origin. This differs from the vast majority of the coffee industry, which buy unroasted green coffee in bulk and ship the coffee elsewhere to be processed and packaged, Meyer said. Producing finished coffee products at origin allows people in every step of the growing process to take part in the coffee industry, according to Meyer.

“We [produce coffee at origin] because, No. 1, we’re able to… and we do it No. 2 because it’s our family there,” Meyer said.

El Parche does a lot to support women in the coffee industry, Meyer said. According to Meyer, many of the workers on Colombian coffee farms are single-earning women, many of whom have children. El Parche provides these women with social programs such as medical care and counseling, he said. Furthermore, women hold executive roles in multiple steps of the coffee-making process, including one woman who runs El Parche’s production plant, Meyer said.

Photo by Brett Pinna The Perk I in UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center is now branded with and serves El Parche coffee products. Their products are also served at over 20 locations in the Chicago area.

According to Meyer, El Parche’s Pure Canopy product in particular is a direct impact product. This means that some proceeds of Pure Canopy purchases go directly to a specific cause.

“While there has been… a lot of companies with products that leverage their success to give back to earth-space ecology programs, we wanted to create Pure Canopy coffee to be very specific in impact,” Meyer said. “When you [buy] that bag of coffee, it says right on the bag that you are going to save rainforests.”

El Parche partners with Rainforest Trust, Meyer said. According to Meyer, Rainforest Trust uses funds from Pure Canopy product sales to buy rainforest land, place the land in a protected trust and give the land to local leaders. The trust is set to save close to four million acres of rainforest in 2020, Meyer said.

“That is part of the Pure Canopy personality and how we align our brands with the things that are important to us, and obviously important to our customers,” Meyer said.

The UIndy location is branded El Parche due to a partnership with Quest Food Management Services and UIndy, according to Meyer. The brand is served at over 20 locations in Chicago, Meyer said. According to Meyer, Quest, who runs UIndy Dining, liked El Parche’s story, and they asked El Parche to work with them to brand a location at UIndy. El Parche then began conducting product tests to ensure the UIndy community was comfortable with the change in branding.

“We have really enjoyed the time, experience and meeting the folks that we have down at the University of Indianapolis,” Meyer said. “We hope we’re there for many years to come.”

Correction May 6, 2020 at 12:27 a.m.: An earlier version of this article Colombia was spelled incorrectly. This has since been updated to the correct spelling.

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