Vancouver-Based Coffee Company Helping Thai Village Flourish

Vancouver-Based Coffee Company Helping Thai Village Flourish 
LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/11/12 -- It's a
well-known fact that Vancouverites love their coffee and in a city
brimming with big brand coffee shops on nearly every corner, coffee
connoisseurs also know that not all beans are created equal. One
local coffee company has taken this belief to heart. Vancouver-based
Doi Chaang Coffee Company has been rated in the top one per cent of
coffees worldwide by the leading independent Coffee Evaluator. It
operates in a "Beyond Fair Trade(R)" business structure, which means
the majority of its earnings flow back to the indigenous Akha coffee
farmers in Northern Thailand, where the company purchases their
As part of their partnership, the Akha farmers are reimbursed in
excess of the recommended Fair Trade price, and in addition to
keeping 100 per cent of the profits from the sale of their beans,
they have been gifted 50 per cent ownership in Doi Chaang Coffee
Company. This unique coffee partnership is internationally renowned
and has won numerous awards and recognition as a role model for its
economic viability and socially responsible business practices. Most
recently, Doi Chaang Coffee Company was named in the top 10 small and
medium sized enterprises of 2012 at the World Business & Development
Awards during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable
"We're really proud to be a local, family-owned business that allows
us to give back and support our global community," shares John M.
Darch, chairman of Doi Chaang Coffee Company. "Our relationship with
the Doi Chaang Farmers was not motivated by the usual business
approach of maximizing returns with minimal investment. It really
stemmed from our desire to help a community that despite all their
dedication and determination, have not been successful in helping
"By purchasing our coffee, our customers are really investing in the
welfare of the farming families in Thailand, enhancing their standard
of living, health care, education and cultural heritage and identity.
When the growers are able to benefit from the sustainability and
prosperity of their goods, they gain financial independence,
security, dignity and control of their own well-being. With basic
survival no longer a priority, these farmers are motivated to sustain
production and quality control. And that, simply put, is why our
partnership with them continues to strengthen and flourish." 
Increased consumer awareness is also helping to fuel Doi Chaang's
growth. After the company's "Beyond Fair Trade" partnership with the
Akha farmers was made aware to the public, sales grew exponentially,
and in just one year, sales of Doi Chaang coffee more than tripled.
Darch is confident this growth will continue, especially across
Canada and into the United States as consumer demand for high
quality, fair trade and organic coffee grows. In order to meet
consumer demands, Doi Chaang recently secured funding from First West
Capital to significantly increase its inventory of coffee beans. 
"With the expected growth of our company, we needed additional
working capital in order to increase our inventory," says Darch. "We
were first introduced to First West Capital by Canadian Western Bank
who told us of the team's innovative approach in handling their
clients' needs. After many decades of dealing with the major Canadian
banks, I can say that our experience with the First West Capital team
was very refreshing and satisfying. Robert and the entire team were
very engaged in helping us succeed. Plus, they took the time to
understand the unique characteristics of our company and our
financial needs in order to expand our operations in North America,
Europe and Australia." 
"As soon as I had spent a few hours with John and the team at Doi
Chaang Coffee Company, I knew we were dealing with some very special
individuals who had devoted considerable time, talent and money to
building a partnership with the Doi Chaang farmers," says First West
Capital vice president, Robert Napoli. "This is one of the most
unique companies we have ever funded and we are so proud to be a part
of their growth journey. By building a strong business, John and the
team are able to devote resources to building the Doi Chaang
Foundation, with the end goal of building a new school for the
village children who currently do not have access to education."  
Napoli adds, "Not only is their coffee outstanding, but the fact that
we're helping them make a difference in so many individuals' lives is
truly remarkable." 
Doi Chaang is now sold in over 400 grocery stores, including Safeway,
Costco, London Drugs, IGA and Shoppers Drug Mart, as well as over 200
coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and universities. 
About Doi Chaang Coffee Company Inc. 
Doi Chaang Coffee Company is one of the most innovative, socially
responsible, yet economically viable, specialty coffees on the
market. Rated among the top 1% in the world, the coffee is the only
single-estate, 100% Arabica, USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade
Certified and shade grown coffee grown in Thailand. The beans are
cultivated and processed by the indigenous AKHA hill tribe in small,
family owned gardens in Doi Chang Village located in the Chang Rai
Province of Northern Thailand, but freshly roasted and packaged in
Vancouver, Canada. For more information, visit 
About First West Capital 
First West Capital is First West Credit Union's newest division, and
is a $100 million fund established to provide subordinated debt and
mezzanine financing to small- and medium-sized businesses. Led by
Kristi Miller and Robert Napoli, the First West Capital team has more
than 25 years of commercial lending experience including 18 years in
subordinated debt financing. 
Formed through the merger of Envision Financial and Valley First
credit unions, First West Credit Union is committed to local decision
making and taking advantage of local business knowledge. The same is
true for First West Capital. With on-the-ground knowledge of its
local markets, First West Capital has the advantages of speed and
flexibility. For more information, visit  
About First West Credit Union 
First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength,
comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a
large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities
and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner,
First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $6.6
billion in assets under administration, more than 169,000 members and
close to 1,400 employees. It operates 37 branches throughout the
province under the Envision Financial and Valley First brands. For
more information on First West Credit Union, visit 
Follow us on twitter: @firstwestcu
First West Credit Union
Cheryl Shaw
Media Contact
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