Coalatree makes outdoor clothing from spent coffee grounds and plastic bottles. They’re a smallish company in Utah that sells directly to the consumer – that’s their fundamental business model – but also sells to Europe and through a few international chain stores.
The corporate philosophy centers around “giving back,” which translates into making surplus fabric into blankets for the homeless, supporting a regional program of wilderness preservation, therapy for at-risk youth, building and maintaining wilderness trails and terrain, and dedicating a portion of product income to a Navajo Elders program.
Most goods are made from recycled or repurposed materials, produced sustainably from fabric through final seam and packaging. An excellent side effect is that the performance features of their clothing come from the nature of the fabric, not additives. Performance never washes out!
Coalatree started in 2010 as an organic farm in Colorado with a “reap what you sow” mentality. They soon launched a line of clothing created to work well outdoors. Read a story or two in the “Detours Blog” and you’ll realize that company staff achieve noteworthy goals in outdoor adventures as well as in their work lives. “It’s all about a balance,” said founder Charlie Bessey, in a 2019 interview, “In their Words: Charlie Bessey.”
And On to Coffee
To make many products – socks, hoodies, pants – Coalatree first collects coffee grounds from shops in and around Salt Lake City, Utah. They grind these, dry them to eliminate oils, then grind them even finer. Meanwhile, they gather bottles from recycling centers, shred and melt them, and extrude fibers. The fabrics from this combination take a variety of forms: yarn for Java socks and knitted items; stretchy performance fabric for hoodies, tops, and pants; and denim for Decaf Denim jeans.
They keep the product line lean; Coalatree aims for “quality, functionality, sustainability, and the recycled and sustainable focus on the production side,” says Director of Brand Development J.M. Fabrizi. “The goal goes beyond simply making products, but we don’t aim for full-on fashion.” He explains that the fashion-focused manufacturers must create four seasons’ worth each year, which leaves behind a volume of last season’s styles. Instead, Coalatree puts time and energy into R&D to create heritage pieces like the Trailhead pants, that continue to sell energetically, year after year – made with coffee grounds.
This month we celebrate Panama with a coffee from smallholds perched well above sea level (1350 – 1500 meters up there). Its delicious flavors come from a combination of elevation, cloud cover, humidity, and volcanic soil. As usual, the coffee is grown with organic practices, responsibly processed sans chemical additives, and comes to you immediately after careful roasting.
We’ll send some to Coffee of the Month Club members. If you haven’t joined the club yet, maybe June is the time to consider taking the leap.
One of a wide variety of premium coffees the isthmus produces, Panama Boquete offers clear acidity and a variety of caramel, grape, milk chocolate, and toasted almond notes.