Takelma Roasting Company was founded in 2017 and is owned and operated by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe, which is located in Southwestern Oregon. Takelma is the traditional language of the Tribe, and is only spoken in that region.
The Tribe launched the company after realizing how much they were spending to supply coffee to the Seven Feathers Casino, hotels, restaurants and the local truck stop. These businesses were going through about 20,000 pounds of coffee per year. Tribal leaders saw an opportunity to start a Tribal coffee roasting business rather than purchasing from outside.
Today, Takelma supplies coffee not only to Tribal entities, but to local businesses such as offices, banks, call centers and more. Production manager Eric Albecker said one of the main goals of the company is to make quality coffee available to all.
“There was a need in our market for high-quality coffee,” he said. “There’s also too much terrible wholesale coffee out there. We’re here to make great coffee available to the masses.”
Atlas Coffee Imports, located in Seattle, supplies coffee beans to the company from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil and Sumatra. Atlas invests in environmental sustainability by sourcing Fairtrade beans from local farmers and ensuring those farmers can cover the costs of maintaining sustainable productions.
Takelma Roasting is a three-person business focused on supporting the community and the Tribe. Two of the three employees are tribal members. In addition, the company brings on an intern from the Tribe every summer, allowing them the opportunity to make meaningful connections and learn more about the industry.
The company also donates coffee to local fundraisers and causes. Albecker said the coffee is frequently gifted to other tribal governments and visitors, reinforcing the company’s commitment to making cultural connections.
“The core element of Takelma’s business is our Tribe’s history and culture,” Albecker said. “And that’s why it’s important to partner with a company like SweetGrass who understands our history.”
In the Takelma language, the Umpqua people are known as the Nahankuotana. Takelma Roasting Company was founded as an extension of the Nahankuotana’s cultural connection to both people and place.
Over the last two centuries, the Takelma language began to diminish. The number of Takelma speakers dwindled, making the language nearly dormant.
Through the persistence of elders, leaders and community members, the language has started to be revitalized and is now coming back to life. According to the Takelma Roasting Co. website, “Takelma truly is at the heart of our rich and vibrant culture, one of reverence towards the land, its resources and our elders. It is through our oral traditions and Takelma language that our heritage and life’s important lessons are passed down from one generation to the next.”
Each Takelma Roasting coffee profile has a Takelma word associated with it, as a nod to the Nahankuotana culture and a way to spark conversation. Each batch of coffee is hand crafted and roasted to order, staying true to the company’s commitment to high quality.
Learn more about the company at www.takelmaroasting.com.