Coffee is a ubiquitous part of modern society. It’s the language of love, community, culture and history. While it’s omnipresent, we often fail to consider its origins or the journey required to deliver the hot cup of morning Joe.

A collage of Native Root press images.

The idea is simple — produce a quality product while paying fair wages. Yet somewhere along the line, coffee commerce, like most industries, became more about profits than people. Native Root Coffee set out to change that.

Related: Coffee prices spike, thanks to climate change 

Native Root Coffee Company founder Ervin Liz has always had his finger on the pulse of the market. Raised surrounded by the industry as a third-generation coffee maker, Liz not only has a deep understanding of how the coffee is grown and prepared but also appreciates the impact and benefit of the industry’s demands on growers. 

With an emphasis on paying growers fair wages, Native Root Coffee works directly with Indigenous Colombian farmers. This helps remove the middlemen between the plants and the production. 

According to Native Root, “It’s estimated that the average U.S. coffee drinker consumes 2-3 cups per day and that last year alone, Americans consumed an estimated 3.3 billion pounds of coffee alone.” While this mass consumption requires mass production, Native Root doesn’t focus on quantity. Instead, the company underscores the importance of building relationships with small-scale farmers. The relationship is two-sided, with farmers providing batch beans and Native Root providing payment 10-15% higher than average. In addition, the process allows for a high level of traceability, so every bag of coffee can be traced back to the actual farm and farmers who nurtured and harvested it. 

A collection of Native Root Coffee products.

It’s a connection to the cup and a link between the consumer and grower. Native Root also grows its own beans, but it continues to rely on supply from nearby farms to directly contribute to an improved quality of life for those farmers and the community. As a third-generation Nasa Indigenous coffee farmer, Liz has a passion for the industry and wants to see Colombian coffee continue to develop a rich history while providing a living wage for working families. This connection between farmers and consumers fulfills the company’s mission to make drinking coffee a more meaningful experience — not only through a better understanding of the source but also in the production of quality, small-batch, craft coffee selections. 

The Native Root website features an interactive quiz that helps identify a roast that will match your preferences. Simply select your preferred boldness, taste profile and interest in trying something new, and they’ll recommend an option for you. The company also offers a 20% discount on your first order, a free sample bag with a promo code, various subscription options and gift cards. 

The front and back of a packet of coffee.

Review of Native Root Coffee

The company offered to send me a sample bag, so I let them make a selection for me based on my tastes. The Ember River blend arrived quickly and packaged without plastic in recyclable and biodegradable materials.

The sample was a generous 12 oz. bag, so I’ve had several opportunities to try it using both drip and French press processes. I’ll admit, I’m pretty much a coffee snob. I mention it because, like all food and drinks, opinions are subjective. So for reference, my preference is for a dark and complex roast with low acidity. My family drinks a lot of coffee, always prepared via ceramic drip or French press. We are even members of a monthly subscription that delivers small-batch, sustainably-sourced coffees from small roasters. So I feel qualified to offer a comparison of the Native Root brand and am happy to announce I have already ordered more so I can try different flavors. Everything about it is uplifting, from the packaging that proudly shares the company’s story and mission to the PR code right on the front of the package with a link to find out more about the farmers who grew the beans in the bag. 

A packet of coffee.

Perusing the website, I found that Native Root currently offers five coffee options. Ember River is one of the two darkest selections, labeled as medium-dark. The flavor is smooth and almost creamy in texture. I immediately picked up cherry on the nose and in the first sip. It’s a balanced flavor and not overbearing. I found it interesting to sample the coffee alongside different foods. With cheese rice crackers, the cherry flavor was muted and the hazelnut shined. Similarly, I thought pears would mask the coffee profile, but it proved to be a delightful match, perhaps highlighting the raw sugar cane flavors. 

+ Native Root Coffee

Images via Native Root Coffee and Dawn Hammon

Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Native Root Coffee. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.