In celebration of Black History Month, we’re shining a light on one of our community’s most respected leaders. We had the pleasure of chatting with Amber Senter about her new business, Landrace Origins, where she sells speciality coffee and expertly pairs it with flower to enhance the flavors and experiences of both.
You may know her as the founder and CEO of MAKR House, a cannabis house of brands. Or maybe you know her as the co-founder, Chair of the Board, and Executive Director of Supernova Women, an organization dedicated to empowering people of color to become self-sufficient cannabis industry shareholders. Or maybe you’ve heard that she was able to work with the City of Oakland to establish the first cannabis social equity program in the nation. Clearly, Amber is a creative force to be reckoned with and a respected leader in the cannabis community, and we think her newest venture can teach the cannabis industry a thing or two.
In this two part interview series, we’ll talk about building inclusivity in manufacturing, what the cannabis industry can learn from coffee, and about championing community and legalization.
Coffee and cannabis — a time honored pairing, but we’ve never seen a business catered to it. Tell us a little more about Landrace Origins. Where did the inspiration for it come from?
The classic pairing of cannabis and coffee served as the inspiration. The purpose of pairing the two was to improve both the flavor profiles and the effects of each.
Landrace Origins seems like such a personal project that’s deeply tied to your advocacy work in cannabis. Building inclusivity into the supply chain is an important cornerstone of the business. We know your cousin roasts the beans in Los Angeles, but could you tell us more about the rest of the supply chain? How did you go about sourcing each step of the process?
We source our signature single-origin coffee, Congolese, from the women's collective Rebuilding Women's Hope. With the proceeds from their coffee sales, these women have been able to construct infrastructure in their village. We source primarily our Durban Poison, from a woman-owned farm called Ghost Dance Ranch in Lake County.
Sourcing is intentional and a collaborative effort between myself and my cousin. We talk with our partners about what we're doing in addition to actively seeking people out - they're always helpful. For example, we approached our importer and expressed our desire to work with women-owned farms and washing stations; combining those conversations with my googling expertise, we have a recipe for success.
I used my network to get our cannabis. People who know me and my work are aware of the caliber of partners I seek, someone reached out to me about Ghost Dance Ranch because they thought they'd be a good fit.
The coffee industry has seen a huge shift in the last few decades as they cater to newer consumers’ appreciation for the origins of the bean and their desire for sustainability and ethical sourcing practices. What can the cannabis industry learn from this?
Cannabis users share a similar sentiment. I've advocated for consumers to become more knowledgeable about cannabis strains. We've taken it a step further with Landrace Origins, providing consumers with an understanding of how specific cannabis strains interact and how they can be enhanced with coffee. In terms of implementing sustainability, both industries can learn from one another. However, the cannabis industry should study the coffee industry to understand sustainable practices and the significance of sustainability. Creating a strategy to raise the cannabis industry's awareness of environmental issues should be a cannabis brand’s next step.
Tell us about your Congolese supplier, Rebuilding Women’s Hope. Have you visited their operation?
I'm thrilled to have partnered with Rebuild Women's Hope (RWH). Although the politics surrounding cannabis are not very progressive in the Democratic Republic of Congo, RWH follows and supports Landrace Origins and my account on Instagram, knowing I'm quite candid about cannabis. They have been a great partner and supporter of the brand.
Rebuild Women's Hope (RWH) is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by gender equity pioneer Marceline Budza in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rebuild Women's Hope works to maximize the economic potential of coffee in creating opportunities for female smallholders on Lake Idjwi.
And I have not yet visited, but I hope to do so soon. Having partners like RWH helps us achieve our goal of creating an inclusive supply chain with a focus on gender equity.
It’s our understanding that you recommend all of the pairings. What’s your daily coffee routine like? We’ve heard about your extensive collection of coffee-making apparatuses.
Around 10 AM PT, after drinking a few glasses of water (I am almost at a gallon per day), I am ready to start my coffee. From there, I typically prepare a vanilla latte after extracting my morning coffee using an Aeropress – and I limit myself to one cup per day. Sometimes I may use a Chemex to bring out the lighter notes in our lighter roast coffees, such as our Kenyan or Ethiopian varieties.
What is Landrace Origins most looking forward to in 2023?
Our goal is to spread the origin story of our coffee, getting into more homes and coffee shops. With new products, including a decaf blend, as well as pairing partnerships with cannabis farmers and brands, we intend to empower people by demonstrating that great coffee can be brewed at home.
In this, we are also hoping to normalize the conversations around cannabis – and the overall pairing experience. The right mix of coffee and cannabis can promote creativity, enhance a person's well-being, and more!