Peace Corps service plants seed for Tiny House coffee business

Tiny House Coffee Roasters is a new coffee company in Austin that buys beans directly from farmers in Nicaragua. Photo from Tiny House Coffee Roasters.
Tiny House Coffee Roasters is a new coffee company in Austin that buys beans directly from farmers in Nicaragua. Photo from Tiny House Coffee Roasters.

After getting a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Tennessee, Blake Thomas decided it was time to join the Peace Corps.

His assignment? Head to Nicaragua and work in a small mountain town whose residents made a living by growing rice, beans and coffee. It was there he started building relationships with coffee growers, and when it was time to return to the U.S., Thomas decided to find a way to sell their beans directly to consumers.

He moved to Austin and started Tiny House Coffee Roasters, which sources its beans directly from the producers he met while living in Central America.

By buying beans directly from the farmers, Thomas could ensure they were getting more per pound than if they went through a distributor, but he has also established a revenue-sharing model that he says helps the producers make twice as much as what they would get selling to an exporter.

After buying the beans, Thomas roasts them here and has started selling one-pound bags at the Barton Creek Farmers Market, Lakeline Farmers Market and the Sustainable Food Center Farmers Market at the Triangle. You can also buy the coffee online at tinyhousecoffeeroasters.com.

Author: Addie Broyles

Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360.com.

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