Student center

Coffee company El Parche takes over Perk at Schwitzer Student Center – The Reflector

After several changes in coffee companies, including Starbucks and Metropolis Coffee Company, El Parche now supplies its coffee products to Perk I at the Schwitzer Student Center.

Husband and wife Patrick Meyer and Natalia Cruz co-founded El Parche. The Cruz side of the family, along with other coffee growers from Restrepo Colombia, started a cooperative to grow coffee throughout Colombia in 1961, according to a presentation provided by Meyer.

“The Cruz family has been very active in politics, in coffee and is a proud family of lawyers and people who defend local Colombians,” Meyer said.

Meyers said El Parche originally roasts, processes and packages its coffee. This differs from the vast majority of the coffee industry, which buys unroasted green coffee in bulk and ships the coffee elsewhere to be processed and packaged, Meyer said. Producing originally finished coffee products allows people at every stage of the cultivation process to participate in the coffee industry, according to Meyer.

“We [produce coffee at origin] because, #1, we’re capable of … and we do #2 because that’s our family there,” Meyer said.

El Parche is doing a lot to support women in the coffee industry, Meyer said. According to Meyer, many Colombian coffee plantation workers are single-earner women, many of whom have children. El Parche provides these women with social programs such as medical care and counselling, he said. Additionally, women hold leadership positions at several stages of the coffee-making process, including a woman who runs the El Parche production plant, Meyer said.

Photo by Brett Pinna UIndy’s Schwitzer Student Center Perk I now bears the brand and serves El Parche coffee products. Their products are also served in over 20 locations in the Chicago area.

According to Meyer, El Parche’s Pure Canopy product in particular is a direct impact product. This means that a portion of the proceeds from Pure Canopy purchases goes directly to a specific cause.

“While there have been…many companies with products that are leveraging their success to give back to earth-space ecology programs, we wanted to create Pure Canopy Coffee to have a very specific impact,” Meyer said. “When you [buy] this bag of coffee, it is written directly on the bag that you are going to save the rainforests.

El Parche is partnering with Rainforest Trust, Meyer said. According to Meyer, Rainforest Trust uses funds from sales of Pure Canopy products to purchase rainforest land, place the land in a protected trust, and donate the land to local leaders. The trust is expected to save nearly four million acres of rainforest in 2020, Meyer said.

“It’s part of who Pure Canopy is and how we align our brands with the things that are important to us, and obviously important to our customers,” Meyer said.

The UIndy site is branded El Parche due to a partnership with Quest Food Management Services and UIndy, according to Meyer. The brand is served at more than 20 locations in Chicago, Meyer said. According to Meyer, Quest, who runs UIndy Dining, liked the story of El Parche and they asked El Parche to work with them to score a location at UIndy. El Parche then began conducting product testing to ensure the UIndy community was comfortable with the rebrand.

“We really enjoyed the time, the experience and the meeting with the people that we have at the University of Indianapolis,” Meyer said. “We hope we will be here for many years to come.”


Correction May 6, 2020, 12:27 a.m.: An earlier version of this Colombia article was misspelled. This has since been updated with the correct spelling.