Food & Garden
The Beauty of Organic Coffee With Ally Walsh of Canyon Coffee
Today we bring you Ally Walsh, Co-Founder of the ever-growing in popularity, Canyon Coffee in LA’s Echo Park. Ally gives us glimpse of the heart and intention that went into Canyon Coffee and their passion for implementing organic and sustainable practices into their business.
“We saw something missing in the specialty coffee world that we felt we could contribute — and contribute in a way that was a true expression of what coffee means to us. We wanted to source top quality, certified organic coffees, but speak about and share them in a way that conveyed what we found most special about coffee — the warmth and mindfulness of the coffee-making ritual, and how coffee brings people together.”
– Ally Walsh
“Coffee punctuates life’s quietly meaningful moments: reaching for a favorite mug; a morning pause; the aroma drifting across the house; a Saturday in bed; a conversation with an old friend; the daily rituals that become part of our stories.
Canyon is inspired by savoring life’s details through the coffee we drink daily — made with exclusively single origin and certified organic beans, all roasted in Los Angeles. Deliciously smooth, perfectly balanced, and purposefully versatile; for brewing whichever way you like, whenever you want it.”
First of all can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to start a coffee company and the evolution of Canyon?
My partner Casey and I had always toyed with the idea of starting something together, and over time, coffee emerged as our true shared passion. We had developed that passion together over time — diving into the coffee industry through our travels, trying to make better coffee at home, and eventually working in the industry itself.
We saw something missing in the specialty coffee world that we felt we could contribute — and contribute in a way that was a true expression of what coffee means to us. We wanted to source top quality, certified organic coffees, but speak about and share them in a way that conveyed what we found most special about coffee — the warmth and mindfulness of the coffee-making ritual, and how coffee brings people together.
Why was making sure the coffee was organic so important to you?
In our own lives, we always sought to purchase organic products and support organic farmers. It has as much to do with the implications of organic practices on the farm and the soil as it does with the health of the produce and other products we consume. We care about the land and the people working it, just as we care about how what we put in and on our bodies affects our health and well-being. So to not commit to certified organic coffee from the beginning would have felt hypocritical. It’s certainly more work, and has impacts on what coffees can be sourced and selected, but it just felt like the right thing for us to do.
That said, we also have purchased from producers who lack organic certification, but are nonetheless engaged in sustainable or regenerative practices that we could verify. Obtaining organic certification can be a challenge for different producers, and this can even have to do with the infrastructure (or lack thereof) in a given country. Just as we support farmers at the farmers market who can attest to their organic practices but lack the certification, we care mostly about supporting that approach to agriculture. But having the seal is like a guarantee, or form of assurance, to our customers that they can trust the coffee inside is truly organic.
And you guys recently introduced organic regenerative coffee which sounds amazing! Can you tell us a bit about what this is?
Yes! We are very excited to be one of only four roasters to have introduced the first Regenerative Organic Certified coffee to the US. To us, this certification is really the future. It builds upon existing certifications like Organic and Fair Trade, but incorporates environmental, economic and social factors that have been missing from other certifications — like soil health, liveable wages, and animal welfare — that result in an approach to agriculture that is truly sustainable and will lead to drawing down carbon levels from the atmosphere.
At the heart of the certification are regenerative farming practices themselves, which involve playing off a farm’s unique climate, terrain and surroundings to produce a more harmonious ecosystem. It encourages farmers to plant ground cover, hedges and shade trees that can in turn be monetized (think beans, avocados, and trees for timber). So the solutions to creating healthier soil aren’t purely environmental, but can also have a better monetary impact on farmers.
Have you seen any impacts of climate change on the coffee industry?
Definitely, in many ways. Increasingly violent storms have severely damaged harvest crops. Environmental devastations and crop failure has led to one of the greatest crisis for farmers in Latin America, which is that farmers and laborers are leaving the farms behind to emigrate north for better opportunities. Increasing temperatures have led to greater risk of disease like “coffee rust” spreading and affecting yields.
In the face of this, regenerative organic farming practices have proven to be more resilient. Conventional, chemically-intensive farming practices deplete the soil and leave plants less able to deal with adversity. So supporting regenerative agriculture is even more important in the face of climate change.
“We care about the land and the people working it, just as we care about how what we put in and on our bodies affects our health and well-being. So to not commit to certified organic coffee from the beginning would have felt hypocritical. It’s certainly more work, and has impacts on what coffees can be sourced and selected, but it just felt like the right thing for us to do.”
– Ally Walsh
Terra Kaffe takes a global approach to culture with a local focus on coffee. We love their beautiful yet simple super automatic coffee machines for zero waste brewing and an at home ritual that speaks to taking a moment to yourself. Born in Berlin and raised in Brooklyn, Terra Kaffe is raising the bar on espresso and we are thrilled to be working with them. We love to use ours using Canyon’s Organic coffee, a reusable cup, and then setting some nice intentions for the day.