Higher Grounds Coffee Shop Works to Pull Farmers From Poverty - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop Works to Pull Farmers From Poverty

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It all started with a trip to Mexico.

“First time I was in Mexico I was working in human rights in Chiapas,” said Director of Higher Grounds, Chris Treter. 

And a fateful meeting with Jose, a coffee farmer, that would change Chris' life.

“He's somebody that is extremely intelligent but has an 8th grade education, who's a hard worker that wants to stay at home with his family but doesn't have access to work other than his coffee and is somebody very spiritual yet he lives in one of the most devastated places in the world,” said Chris.  

Working sun up to sun down -- just to ensure food for his family.

In Chris, it sparked an idea.

Fast forward 15 years and here we are today. At Higher Grounds.

Coffee is imported from Honduras, Mexico, Venezuela, Nicaragua and about 10 other countries as well.

“I’ve chosen my time and where to work in some of the most inspiring places in the world,” he said. “For example, in Chiapas is where the Indigenous people have risen up in a peaceful way in order to end economic and ethnic oppression.”

He's developed not only strong business relationships with Jose and the other farmers, but strong personal relationships, too.

Calling each other up just to hear about one another's day and how their families are doing.

“It's evolved into a much deeper than just a business relationship and that's what higher grounds was founded on -- we hope to deepen those relationships both at home and also abroad,” said Chris.  

Because higher ground--after all--means more than just a coffee shop.

“Connecting those communities around a common bond which is humanity and making the world a better place is something we are very passionate about.”