Coffee Roasters Gone Farming — How Lykke Kaffegårdar Wants to Change an Industry
Lykke Kaffegårdar means Lykke Coffee Farms, and that is precisely (but not all) of what we are. What started as a crazy idea on a mountain top in El Salvador is now a thriving business and passion project with farms in El Salvador, Peru, Brazil, Uganda and Panama.
But first things first.
We are a bunch of coffee roasters who decided to become coffee farmers, in order to make a bigger impact in our industry. An industry that has a history of being pretty shitty in a lot of ways. Some noteworthy examples being; the fact that coffee is sold as a commodity where price always is the main focus, meaning the people growing the coffee can seldom make a worthy living.
The hunt for a lower price point brings production to an industrial scale, where coffee plants are grown in a monoculture*, in order to facilitate machine harvesting. The plants grown in such an environment become weak and dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to continue producing at volume. The monoculture also means deforestation and impacts wildlife as well as people negatively.
*Monoculture = the cultivation of a single crop in a given area.
At Lykke we decided to change this. To work in different and smarter ways with the ambition that nothing and no one gets harmed when you enjoy a good cup of coffee. And that is also the origin of our name.
Lycka or lykke is an old nordic word that describes a closed-in plot of farm land. It is also the word for a type of knot shaped like the number eight — a loop that never ends. But nearest to the heart of Lykke Kaffegårdar is the more common modern meaning of of the word: Lycka means a feeling of well being. A feeling we are all striving towards: To feel good by doing good things.
“Lycka means a feeling of well being. A feeling we are all striving towards: To feel good by doing good things.”
Those good things are a constant work in progress, but they include making smart business decisions and questioning the normal way of doing things. Like when we decided to build a smaller roastery for ourselves to save on resources, but tying connections with other friends and roasters that have over-capacity that we can use for when we have peaks.
“We absolutely did not go in to the coffee growing business with some colonial ambition of owning a bunch of land.”
Another important thing was the way we setup our farms in the coffee growing places. We absolutely did not go in to the coffee growing business with some colonial ambition of owning a bunch of land, but rather we see our farms as inspirational hubs and education centers where we can set a standard for sustainable farming practices and inspire our neighbors to do the same. And when our neighbors are on board we are happy to buy their excellent coffee at a premium, selling it under the Lykke brand without middle persons.
Apart from the coffee growing side of the project, which is our cornerstone, we are all nerds at heart and take the pride and craft of coffee producing through in all things that we do. Be it roasting and quality control or finding the best compostable bag with the coolest design to present the coffee in. It is all a craft. It all takes time. But it is totally worth it in the end.