Farming for Health Podcast #26: Brandon Bir

Farming for Health Podcast #26: Brandon Bir

Brandon Bir, the director of sustainability for Crimson Cup, was meant to have a career in coffee! At a young age, he would visit the 100-year-old German grocery store in his neighborhood, spending his allowance by grinding coffee that he’d never drink because he loved the smell so much.

At the age of twelve, he bought an espresso machine at a garage sale and, despite the fact that it was a terrible one, that started his life as a barista. Brandon always loved exploring flavors, which he did with his espresso machine. This is also the time when he started a youth organization to pick up trash and otherwise help to keep his community clean, which he thought was important.

He continued his path by attending culinary school and then going to Columbus, Ohio for graduate work where he got a job—in, of course, the coffee industry.

Brandon’s journey into sustainability also started as a young age. Growing up in a farming community, the effects of climate on crops was a regular topic of conversation, and then he studied sustainability academically. 

When he began working with Crimson Cup in 2010, he would point to a bag of coffee and ask the owner who produced it. The owner would name a country—say, Kenya—but Brandon wanted to know more about who, specifically, grew those beans. He wanted to be able to tell the story of each bag of coffee, build a relationship with that coffee farmer, and elevate its quality and sustainability.

The result: the Friend2Farmer program that goes beyond fair trade by becoming directly involved in the coffee growing communities. People producing the coffee beans, Brandon points out, don’t necessarily have access to the information about sustainability that he does, and he feels privileged to share his education with them and advocate for them.

To learn more about Brandon’s unique journey, listen to Sustainability, Koji Coffee, Being Intentional

Past Episodes of our Farming for Health Podcast

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