Drink Coffee, Do Good with Roast House

February 3, 2023

By Mitchell Clark, Conservancy volunteer

If you’re into good coffee, you may be familiar with Roast House – the name may also ring a bell if you’ve attended an Inland Northwest Land Conservancy event, as its brews are often served to volunteers. And if you follow either organization closely, you may even know that they’ve collaborated on a coffee called Grounds For Good, and that proceeds from it go towards helping the Conservancy protect our lands and water.

But you may not know the story behind the coffee, or how sustainability lies at the heart of what Roast House and the Conservancy do, both together and in their separate endeavors.

Starting with the Grounds for Good, Roast House co-founder Deborah Di Bernardo (Deb for short) says it’s similar to the company’s popular Café de Americas blend. If you imagine yourself drinking a really good cup of classically-flavored, full-bodied coffee, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Grounds for Good is like.

Deb’s work with the Conservancy is an extension of her general philosophy for running Roast House. She started it with a “commitment to be 100% sustainable” in a way that wasn’t just marketing. That involves sourcing organically-grown beans (often from women-run groups) that are grown without the need for deforestation, polluting chemicals, or worker exploitation.

While that feels like it should be the norm, Deb says that’s not the case. Working as a wholesale manager, she discovered the high cost of cheap coffee. “As I kept learning, I was like ‘this isn’t fair. This isn’t right,’” she said. But not everyone felt the need to change. “We keep justifying why we should do business the old way.”

So Deb and her husband created Roast House to prove it could be done better. And doing things a different way has been working – the business celebrated its 13th birthday in January, and Deb’s proud of how she can pay her staff a living wage alongside making excellent coffee.

Part of her goal is to leave a legacy. “What’s important is what’s going to happen in the future, even if I won’t be here,” she said. The Conservancy has a similar goal with its conservation efforts, making sure that our ecosystem is preserved for generations to come. That’s part of what drives the partnership between Roast House and the Conservancy, according to Deb. “If I’m trying to preserve land thousands of miles away where coffee is grown, why wouldn’t I do that in my community too?”

If you’d like your coffee habit to help protect special places both far away, and right here at home, why not pick up some Grounds for Good today?

PS – if you go to Roast House (423 E Cleveland, Spokane) to pick up a bag of Grounds for Good, be sure to bring a reusable container. You’ll get a discount for doing so, and it’ll help with the sustainability mission that’s core to both Roast House and INLC.