When you take a sip of your coffee in the morning, do you think about the journey that coffee took to get to your cup?
This is something a lot of us take for granted. The coffee is simply there, ready for us to enjoy. Whether you brew your own or you buy a cup on your way to work, most of us don’t think about our coffee beyond what is right in front of us.
The Tonyan family of Apple Valley, California, do think about where the coffee comes from and the people who grow it, and they established a business around this consideration.
Tonyan Coffee Roasters has one permanent location in Apple Valley, but they are an area staple. In 2007, the family began roasting their own beans right in their garage.
Rachel Tonyan spearheaded the effort, then brought in her parents, John and Dee Dee Tonyan, as business partners. Together, the family operated a nearby kiosk where they sold brewed coffee and various coffee drinks, but the heart of the operation was right at home.
As they grew in popularity, they moved from a 650-square-foot space into a much more comfortable 1,500-square-foot space. There, they endeavored to bring their philosophy to the masses.
That philosophy? Fairness — fairness in product and fairness to the people who produce that product. Tonyan Coffee Roasters is the embodiment of the idea behind fair trade.
“It flows from our personal lives and our desire to do justice in the world,” John Tonyan told the Victorville Daily Press. “The reality is the playing field in this world is tipped. A huge portion of coffee growers are small farmers who function on an acre or two. The way they work, as they figured out, is to work together, literally in the hundreds, to produce one large batch of coffee.”
The Tonyans put incredible thought into the products they buy and serve. They know that the farmers around the world — the farmers who supply the coffee, tea, and cocoa — are making a living, sustainable wage (and the products are sustainable to boot). It’s all about responsible business practices and global awareness.
Every single product they offer is both organic and fair trade. And it’s not just the coffee. It’s the tea and chocolate, the freshly baked pastries and snacks, and even the syrups, milks, and creamers. Tonyan Coffee Roasters is fair trade in action.
Their reputation within their own community goes beyond responsible business practices — people who rely on their delicious products in Apple Valley.
Initially, Tonyan Coffee Roasters operated during standard business hours. But they soon realized that in order to best serve their community, a slightly different schedule was needed. They wanted to be there for the teachers who had to be at school by 7:30 a.m. The Tonyans didn’t want people to have to choose between a fresh cup of coffee or getting to work on time.
Opening earlier meant no one had to make a choice. And when your business is surrounded by several schools, it just makes perfect business sense to operate on a teacher’s schedule. As John Tonyan puts it, “We’re trying to serve the people around the roastery the best way we can that meets their needs.”
In 2013, Tonyan Coffee Roasters took convenience a step further. They added simple online ordering and paying. This way, all you have to do is order online and swing by the roastery to pick up your drink. Not a second is wasted. For a lot of us today, this sounds relatively normal. You can order Starbucks right from your smartphone. But in 2013, this was a game-changer, especially for a small roastery like Tonyan Coffee.
Since opening their larger facility, Tonyan Coffee Roasters has also become a place for community events. The roastery hosts live entertainment, including local bands. They even have an open mic night for any musicians who want to get their sounds out there. Supporting the local arts means a lot to the Tonyans.
Today, Tonyan Coffee Roasters is going strong. They’re open Monday–Saturday, 7 a.m to 5:30 p.m., and they’ve earned each and every one of their five-star ratings on Yelp, Facebook, and Google “fair” and square. Everything they do is a reflection of their commitment to their community at home and the communities of farmers around the world.