photos provided by Cindy Moffitt and Sophie Putka
Cindy Moffitt, owner of Prosum Roasters, never thought she would find the path to her new career through her high school prom date. But find it she did, in a chance encounter online while buying coffee beans.
A few years ago, Moffitt was working for Hewlett-Packard as a financial analyst. She felt unfulfilled in her career. But as an avid home coffee roaster, Moffitt would scour the Internet for green coffee beans enthusiastically. One day she stumbled across a buyer with a strangely familiar nose—he was the same Matt Fury she had known from high school. She sent him a message and they reconnected. In 2014, Fury took Moffitt on her first coffee buying trip to Ethiopia, where she finally decided to drop her corporate job and pursue coffee full time.
Fast forward three years and Prosum is now one of Albuquerque’s new standout specialty roasters, supplying wholesale coffee to a diverse range of local businesses; from Tia B’s La Waffleria, to Elaine’s in Nob Hill, to the Boiler Monkey Bistro downtown. Prosum operates out of a moderate industrial space tucked away off of Carlisle. There’s even a small cafe open to the public where Moffitt and her staff hold occasional tastings.
The most important part of Prosum is the way Moffitt does business with coffee farmers around the globe. Not only does she buy directly from small coffee farms in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Brazil and Central America, but also takes concrete steps to make the lives of the farmers better. 10% of all profits go toward projects to improve the quality of life for the coffee farmers and their families. Prosum also works with Cafe Femenino, a branch of a fair-trade coffee coop based in Peru, that allows women to earn an income and to participate in every stage of coffee farming and trade, a rarity for most women in coffee communities.
When visiting one of the coffee washing stations at a source farm in Ethiopia, Moffitt noticed two children with signs of malnutrition. “I was like, ‘oh my gosh we have to do something about that,’” she said. “I’m a mom. When I see that these children I have to step in and do something. I can’t sleep at night knowing that these people are drinking dirty water that a donkey just walked through.” Moffitt is now working on a collaboration with the farm to develop a clean water source separate from where pickers and farmers wash their clothes, bathe, and water their livestock.
Set one foot in Prosum’s roastery and you’ll see how imperative those relationships are to the final product. The small space is full of small signs of the pride Moffitt and her staff take in their work. There are pictures of Moffitt’s travels all over the globe, amongst farmers she knows personally. Her personal collection of coffee gadgets sits on a shelf, and the roasting workspace is adorned with handwritten reminders and repurposed coffee bags. The espresso machine and coffee roaster gleam; well cared for and well-used.
Moffitt herself radiates the enthusiasm for her business and for her staff, although her huge laugh betrays the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s just happy she never has to don another pair of heels for work – and though she says she is almost always the only woman on coffee-buying trips, Moffitt makes a point of hiring women and training them in every stage of the roasting process. “I think women have so much to offer, and I think that they are such an underutilized resource,” she said. “I am more than happy to give young gals a chance, especially because I see a lot of myself in them. There are people who had to step out and take a chance on me.”
Moffitt’s newest barista, Amanda Turpin, says Prosum’s focus on direct trade and social consciousness was what drew her to the roaster in the first place. When she was an assistant manager at a now-closed local cafe and heard about Prosum, “I was just really enthused with the whole business model. I really loved that the business didn’t have to be cutthroat but it didn’t have to be a handout either.”
Despite having spent many of her adult years in Seattle, the gold standard for small-batch specialty coffee, Moffitt is happy to call Albuquerque home. “I love the small town atmosphere and the kindness of the people that you have here,” Moffitt said. “It’s fun to be here in Albuquerque at this point because the coffee scene is really changing.” Moffitt says consumers are beginning to demand higher quality coffee, which Prosum and other independent roasters can supply. “Larger companies realizing they need to up their coffee game,” Moffitt said. “Customers are beginning to notice. Gas station coffee just doesn’t cut it anymore.”
Moffitt, along with fellow roasters in the New Mexico Coffee Association, hope to see a trend of local coffee replacing industry giants like Starbucks by joining with one another. “Anything that we can do to promote locally roasted coffee – all boats are going to rise together,” Moffitt said. But for now, there’s no need to change what Prosum is doing. And to Moffitt, it’s just good business. Moffit said, “We get great coffee – we know the farmers are being treated well, get what they deserve. It’s a mutually beneficial thing.”
Prosum Roasters: 3228 Los Arboles Ave NE, Albuquerque, 505-379-5136, www.prosum.com
Sophie Putka is a Massachusetts transplant in love with New Mexico. She writes, makes lattes, and haunts Albuquerque eateries in search of a good bagel. She can usually be found in the kitchen trying to use up as many leftovers as possible and plotting her next adventure.