Loom Coffee Co. began to take shape in early 2020 when our community of coffee professionals was confronted by the limitations of the coffee industry under pandemic circumstances. The cafes we love were shuttered, service workers were laid off or faced with under-employment, and coffee-producing countries endured massive labor shortages and public health crises under Covid-19. The pandemic challenged our notions of community, laying bare the issue of precarity among laborers at all points in the supply chain.
Loom Coffee Co. founders, Christopher Pierce and Ashley Griffeth in the roasting space, February 2021.
For our founders, Christopher Pierce and Ashley Griffeth, this shift offered an opportunity to reevaluate our relationship with the coffee industry. Speaking with Eric Ginsburg of Southeastern Dispatch about the decision to start a worker-owned coffee roastery, Pierce elaborates,
“..A lot of people got laid off very abruptly. Where do these folks go? And how can we build our own thing, where it’s owned by the workers and those workers have more equity and protections in those situations - where they’re not just at the whim of the ownership and management’s decisions?”
Loom Coffee Co. is dedicated to providing equity, opportunities for personal and career growth, and a Living Wage to all employees, and strives to encourage other coffee businesses to do the same.
"..The businesses models that we see in Greensboro are predicated on cheap coffee and cheap labor,”
“Folks don’t want to see the price of a cup of coffee go up. They assume that coffee should be cheap and a ubiquitous commodity. And when it comes to the labor side, those types of business models tend to rely on the tipping system to pay pretty close to the minimum wage.”
Griffeth - who brings over ten years of on-bar coffee industry experience to Loom as Operations Manager and Lead Roaster - said of her motivations toward workers-empowerment,
“We don’t feel that there is unskilled labor at any point in this supply chain. When a living wage is not the standard, it puts us in a position to incentivize a living wage to café owners. For us, the bottom line is a living wage.”
“What we would like to foster is excitement about coffee and all there is to do in the industry. I never saw myself in a leadership position, I never saw myself as a self-starter. It’s the same industry, but it’s a very different energy than working for another person that doesn’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.”
"When we decided that we wanted to work withLiving Wage cafes and businesses, we found ourselves in aconundrum:there were no Living Wage cafes in Greensboro when we opened in 2020," Pierce says.
Christopher and Ashley had found their mission - to build a coffee company that would embody their commitement to workers-empowerment, and would exemplify their collective dedication to quality coffee.
“Our model is based on having the best coffee in town ..and if cafes want to interact with our brand and want to carry our beans, they’ve got to get in alignment with our values.”
Griffeth echoes Pierce’s explanation.
“The quality is the incentive (for cafes) to make these changes,” she says.
From seed to cup, coffee's journey is made possible by an intricate global tapestry of cooperation; from the connections between farmers, importers and exporters, roasters, and baristas to the connection we each have with our own daily coffee rituals.
Our vision is to weave together these stories into a thoughtfully curated and uniquely enjoyable coffee experience, highlighting the good work done by every hand in the value chain.
We try to engage with the global coffee trade in a way that aligns with our values — by seeking transparency in the sourcing of our green coffee and ensuring that producers are paid a fair price for their labor. We believe that all workers deserve a living wage, equity and ownership, tangible material benefits and freedom from exploitation.
These values are embodied in the coffees that you'll find on our menu, like our Honduras offerings which are sourced by direct-trade through our friends at De La Finca Coffee Importers. By fostering equitable, mutually supportive partnerships with the people and communities producing our coffees, we hope to bring a greater sense of connectivity and depth to your experience of these coffees.
How it's going:
From humble beginnings in 2020 - roasting five-pound batches on our Buckeye BC-5 DW roaster - we were warmly received by both the online coffee community and our local coffee scene. In the Summer of 2021, Loom Coffee Co. found its first Living Wage cafe partner, Borough Coffee - the first coffee shop in Greensboro dedicated to paying its baristas $15+ per hour.
In 2022, Borough Coffee expanded to two locations, creating more Living Wage barista jobs in Greensboro.
We leveled up our roasting capacity that Spring, investing in a 15-pound capacity BC-15 DW roaster to accommodate the increased demand for our roasts.
Christopher R. Pierce
Chief Executive & Green Coffee Buyer
Chief of Operations & Lead Roaster
Community Engagement Project Manager
Design & Creative Vision
We continue to invest our time and resources in honing our craft.
You might find our team members hosting educational coffee events, providing barista training sessions or performing maintenance and repairs on espresso equipment for our cafe partners around town. Our commitment to quality, coupled with a passion for learning and sharing have allowed us to build some amazing, mutually supportive relationships in the coffee community - and have opened up the doors to some remarkable opportunities.