Pangaea Organica

Here’s a producer profile I created for People’s Food Co-op in Portland, Oregon last year. Founder Rick Riehle showed me how they roast their beans and made me a delicious cup of French press coffee. No cream or sugar needed!

Pangaea Organica, an artisan roaster of organic fair trade coffee, operates in a commercially zoned live/work space in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. A consumer cooperative with four member-owners founded in November 2006, Pangaea imports their organic green coffee beans only from fair trade certified cooperatives, including Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, the Ethiopian company featured in the 2006 documentary Black Gold. Pangaea also sources beans from Brazil, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and Sumatra. Green coffee beans are roasted in a vertical stream of hot air, which distributes the heat evenly throughout the bean preventing scorching and the development of bitter flavors. A vent over the roasting chamber vacuums away the chaff, the thin outer membrane of the coffee bean; in other roasting methods the chaff turns to ash as the beans heat, introducing unwanted flavors into the final roast. A fine water spray followed by air-cooling prevents the beans from over-roasting. Pangaea also provides equipment, repair, and consulting; home roasters can purchase green beans from their website.

The Board of Trustees for Pangaea is composed of two classes of members: voting members and advisory members. Voting members are employee-members of the company who exercise votes. Advisory members are non-employee-members of the company. The employee-members of the company, via instant runoff election, elect both classes of members of the Board of Trustees.  Pangaea uses Policy Governance at the board level. “Cooperatives tend to operate with a social conscience as a consequence of several factors,” states founder and president Rick Riehle, “they eliminate investors who have no other interest in the company other than investment returns, they align the interests of their constituents, and they operate from a paradigm of multiple bottom lines.” Pangaea believes in a triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit. Its primary purpose is service, not profit. “We’ve gone one step simpler than a mission statement,” says Rick, “Organic, Fair Trade, Cooperative.” Their core philosophy can be distilled even further in the meaning of their name, Pangaea: entire earth.

Pangaea Organica

2311 N 45th St. #325

Seattle, WA 98103


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