Coffee and nature blend together to form a new partnership

Nature and coffee have officially teamed up.

Populace Coffee partnered with the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy (SBLC) — the first of many conservancies across the state — for its Conservation Bag program. Half of the sales go directly to SBLC.

“It’s a really neat collaboration because it still supports a local business and it supports the land conservancy, and they’re our friends,” says Zachary Branigan, executive director of SBLC.

The money raised from the program is undesignated and unrestricted, meaning that it can be used for anything SBLC needs.

“Especially during the pandemic, that kind of resource was more important than ever,” Branigan says. The SBLC’s main fundraiser, the Osprey Awards, was canceled for 2021 and resulted in a significant loss in terms of operating revenue.

The funds from the coffee will likely support ongoing restoration stewardship projects. For example, SBLC is working on restoring the riverbed along the west side of the Saginaw River near the Iron Bridge. The agency plans to open the area to the public as a nature preserve roughly one year from now.

Additionally, SBLC will be doing more outdoor adventure programming such as field photography workshops, snowshoeing, kayaking, or hiking.

“We want to do our part to make sure people are connected with the actual resources here in the region to get out on trails,” Branigan says.

The funds from the coffee will likely support the Conservancy's ongoing restoration stewardship projects, such as restoring the riverbed along the west side of the Saginaw River.And Populace is doing its part for the environment.

“They’re trying to make responsible decisions for the environment, so it seemed like a natural fit to support conservation with sales, which is pretty cool,” Branigan says.

Branigan says Dave Daniele, owner of Populace Coffee, asked environmental professionals how to strategically plan to reduce its footprint. Branigan says Populace was among the first in Bay County to use paper straws and compostable bags and cups.

“I know that they’ve been working on this since well before they’ve recited any of that to the public,” Branigan says. “They’ve been trying to do it because it’s the right thing to do and not just from a marketing standpoint. That’s the most genuine and authentic expression of that I think that you can possibly have.”

Each bag is filled with Populace’s House Blend of beans from Guatemala and Columbia, with roasting done on-demand. It’s a medium roast with notes of chocolate, cherry, and caramel. The package, which is compostable, is custom-printed with original illustrations by California artist Justine Yeung.

“It really fit with the vibe we were going for with the coffee packaging,” Branigan says. “We wanted it to be kind of friendly and fun and approachable, and that really fit the bill.”

SBLC connected with Yeung on Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer site. The Bay Area Community Foundation gifted a membership to this site to local nonprofits. The site helps nonprofits connect with professionals willing to volunteer their skills.

The coffee can be purchased online. To see what SBLC is up to, follow its Facebook page.