Be a Part of Something Greater
Joe Van Gogh’s culinary program reflects the foundations of our purposeful coffee sourcing practices. We seek to develop deep, immersive relationships with all our suppliers—from our green coffee producers to the local farmers and artisans who provide many of the ingredients that go into our scratch-made breakfast and lunch menus.
Culinary Director Audra Thomas has collaborated with our talented kitchen staff and local vendors to create a thoughtfully curated menu. She incorporates ethically sourced ingredients that benefit the community and the environment.
Whenever you dine at a Joe Van Gogh cafe, you are participating in an ethical supply chain that provides a vast array of social, economic and ethical benefits:
- Reliable, high-quality ingredients
It is important that we uphold the quality of the products that we source by building relationships with like-minded vendors. When it comes to sourcing our green coffee, we foster long-standing relationships with farms, co-ops and importers that help generate reliable, high-quality beans year after year. When we source our ingredients locally, we form a stronger connection with the producer and the food, ensuring fresh and reliable ingredients for our kitchen.
- Reduced carbon footprint
Sourcing products from businesses just 15 miles away requires much less energy than sourcing from producers a half world away. This, of course, is challenging when it comes to green coffee, which only grows in countries near the equator. We offset these challenges through efficient green buying strategies and by sourcing the wide range of menu ingredients locally whenever possible.
- Stronger, more sustainable communities
Our ethical sourcing strategies are designed to keep as much money in the producer’s local economy as possible. When we’re sourcing green coffee, we look to ensure that the producers get paid fairly and have the economic resources to maintain their communities. Similarly, when we buy ingredients like eggs, milk, flour and fruits locally, we create more local ownership and job opportunities. This also distinguishes local character and develops community awareness.
Local Relationships Rule
Here are a few of the local producers who provide the high-quality ingredients you’ll find in a wide array of offerings in our cafes.
Latta’s Egg Ranch
Humanity has forever pondered which came first; chicken or egg? Within our food program we believe it’s the egg. When Audra set out to integrate local ingredients into the menu, she started at Latta’s Egg Ranch. The ranch is situated just miles from our roasting facility in the scenic countryside of Hillsborough, NC. Founded in 1946 by Lantham Latta, Latta’s Egg Ranch has been in the Latta family for over two generations. Currently operated by Lantham Latta’s two sons and three grandsons, special care is given to the hens. About half of the chickens are pasture raised and all of the chickens are open air. Supporting a farm that values quality of life, makes us more aware of the connection we have to the food we are proud to incorporate into our plates.
As part of our ongoing involvement with our producers, we had the pleasure of visiting the farm of our longtime partner and dairy source, Homeland Creamery. The land, located in the picturesque town of Julian, NC, has been farmed by the Bowman family for over six generations. Onboard the one-of-a-kind Homeland Creamery hayride, our tour-guide and seventh-generation farmer, Paige, gave us the scoop (the delicious ice cream made on the farm would come later). We learned that cows in low-stress environments are scientifically proven to produce a greater volume of higher quality milk. One of the many ways Homeland works to decrease stress levels is through sustainable farming techniques. Homeland recycles manure and practices No-Till Soil Conservation. Their commitment to sustainability reduces soil erosion, water runoff and greenhouse gasses.
Similarly integrating sustainability into their business model are our good friends and primary produce provider, Ford’s Produce in Raleigh, NC. This family-owned company sources from local farms and growers as much as possible. This guarantees freshness and reduces fuel emissions. Within the community, Ford’s plays a significant and positive role. Any healthy but unsellable produce is donated to the Inner Faith Food Shuttle, an organization that distributes to local food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens. Ford’s also maintains an extensive recycling program, producing reusable delivery boxes with local recycled material.
Inspiring a Generation
When we source our ingredients ethically, we inspire our customers and staff to care more about what we’re preparing and consuming. When speaking about this, Culinary Director Audra Thomas says, “I feel a lot better about what I’m making and selling when I can source high-quality ingredients that support our producers and their communities.” The amount of care that Audra and the kitchen staff have for the food is evident.
The menu embodies the Piedmont; incorporating fresh, seasonal ingredients. One of our Spring Menu favorites, the Garden Frittata, represents the innovative use of locally sourced goods. This dish is a savory balance of eggs from Latta’s Egg Ranch, cream cheese from Homeland Creamery and veggies from Ford’s Produce. It’s almost lunchtime at our Woodcroft café, the line at the register slowly extends as people gaze up at the menu and Audra explains “we are so lucky to give people the opportunity to come here and use their money to benefit the people around them.”
At Joe Van Gogh, we strive to partner with vendors who echo our intentions of sustainability and community empowerment. We are passionate about serving coffee and food, but we are equally passionate about the story behind what we serve and without you, the story wouldn’t be complete.