Where coffee, cannabis and Indigenous culture connect
The mandate of Two Row Coffee is to connect cultures and educate customers about the importance of treaties and pre-colonial law. Available for order online in three different blends: #LandBack Bold, Eastern Door Mild, and the Seven Oaks hybrid, Two Row coffee is always on at the Potshoppe in Tyendinaga.
TYENDINAGA – Few things go together better than fair-trade coffee and organic craft grown cannabis – especially when they’re infused with the Mohawk culture and worldview. That’s exactly what’s going on in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory where Two Row Coffee Co. brings a Mohawk perspective to selling coffee in partnership with The Potshoppe, one of Tyendinaga’s best weed shops.
Two Row Coffee is owned and operated by Sha’tekayenton Andrew Brant, who belongs to the Mohawk Turtle Clan. Brant’s business is based on a grass-roots trading relationship with a family-owned business of coffee roasters in Toronto who source all their coffee from certified fair-trade coffee farmers in Ethiopia.
According to Brant, “We regularly interact with the farmers over social media and they are happy to see how their products are being enjoyed by people here in Tyendinaga. We are very excited to bring this wonderful beverage from one sovereign unceded Territory to another.”
Ethiopia has a strong and ancient culture, and is one of the few African countries to have never been colonized by Europeans. Coffee as a beverage and a ceremony is central to the cultural practices in many Ethiopian villages. Two Row Coffee’s fresh green coffee berries are sent directly by Ethiopian farmers to a roaster in Toronto who roasts and packages the product. The coffee then arrives in Tyendinaga at its peak freshness – within a day of being roasted.
Available 24-7 at the Pot Shoppe in Tyendinaga
Packages of the three main Two Row Coffee blends are available for purchase online, or you can stop in at the Pot Shoppe’s 24 hour drive thru where you can get your coffee by the cup or by the bag. As Brant notes, “It makes sense to sell our product through the Pot Shoppe because coffee and cannabis go hand in hand.”
All of the beans sold by the company are Arabica, which means that they grow at higher altitude and have deeper flavour profiles than their Robusto cousins. Brant points out that “the way you roast the bean correlates to the cultivation of cannabis strains. Our #LandBack Bold is akin to an Indica, our Eastern Door Mild is like a sativa, and the Seven Oaks blend is more like a hybrid that provides more of a body buzz and is better for a night-time relaxation cup of coffee.”
Coffee as well as Two Row merchandise including coffee cups and sweaters and hoodies are available for purchase at the Pot Shoppe. Within a few months of providing coffee at the Pot Shoppe, Brant has noticed that locals are already changing their shopping habits: “They’ve left Tim Hortons and McDonalds and now come to get coffee at the Pot Shoppe. If you live and work in Belleville it’s right there. It also helps that you can get your cannabis with your coffee – without even leaving the comfort of your vehicle. At the Pot Shoppe, the pot is always on, and the store runs 24-7.”
Our three signature blends
Two Row Coffee comes in three signature blends:
#LandBack Bold: A bold coffee roasted to its darkest. It’s not over-roasted, but carries strong, deep and rich earthy flavors. It’s the kind of coffee that makes you think about getting your land back.
Eastern Door Mild: Provides a huge kick of caffeine for the morning that will keep you wired all day.This is our least roasted and most fragrant blend of coffee, and one which will energize you for the day ahead.
Seven Oaks: This is our middle of the road roast which was developed just for us by our roaster in Toronto. It combines the rich aromas of Land Back Bold with the floral undertones of Eastern Door Mild and is named in honour of the Metis battle of the Seven Oaks.
Two Row Coffee is also producing cannabis-infused sugar to go with your coffee. Each jar of infused sugar contains 500mg of THC per jar. Each teaspoon is only 25mg so drinking a double-double is roughly equivalent to smoking a joint. Because it is made from distillate, there is no THC aftertaste in your coffee.
Coffee and Indigenous Culture
In addition to his passion for coffee, Brant is driven by a strong wish to preserve and disseminate Mohawk culture. Brant studied at Trent University’s Mohawk language program before joining the Queens’ University Aboriginal teacher education program. Brant then taught for 10 years in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and made a point to always have coffee available in his classroom for students. “If you want coffee, you’re not leaving my classroom” Brant said with a smile.
Though he’s now out of the classroom, Brant hasn’t relinquished his passion for learning and teaching others. According to Brant, “the Two Row Coffee Company was developed with the idea of educating people from all walks of life about the importance of treaties and pre-colonial law. I am Turtle clan and my wife is Wolf clan. Together we are asserting our sovereignty to live under the laws of our ancestors, while upholding and educating all others through the enjoyment of coffee and education combined into one cup.”
Brant’s politics and orientation to education shines through in his media efforts, most notably on the Credible Mohawk website and through his work in co-editing Real People’s Media and being a radio host on Real People’s Radio 87.9FM.
Brant’s politics and the message he puts out is rooted in the Onkwehon:we notion of the good mind. “It’s about going ahead and making relationships with outside nations, not hurting anyone, and improving things by adding enjoyment and bringing pleasure to our lives. I don’t deal with the Canadian system. My trade is all going back to our people and benefiting the people involved. We don’t just sell jars and bags of coffee. We educate people about the Two Row Wampum and who the Haudenosaunee are. On the back of the #LandBack Bold coffee bag we talk about ‘landbacking.’ Everything we do we put a message in it. Our products have a message and they get people talking about it.”
Looking to the future
Moving forward, Brant has big goals. He wants to set up his own shop where coffee can be roasted on site with a space for outdoor education, with a yard with gardens and a place where people can speak and talk and learn. This would be a space where Brant could share his entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge to encourage local businesses.
According to Brant, the idea is that “we’ll have people in the cafe who are trained and knowledgeable in Mohawk customs and traditions. You’re going to have to take a training course in our culture to be able to work at our shop. Our staff and customers will have the chance to learn the Mohawk language and use it throughout the day. Once we’re roasting we’ll have people coming in and they’ll be able to learn with us as we discuss different topics. Like the Two Row Wampum belt or the Creation story. If people have questions, everyone will be able to hear our answers. Our goal is to make our shop a space where if people need extra credit or community hours they can come and learn.”
This means manifesting Mohawk practices in the DNA of the company itself. Brant explains it like this: “At Two Row Coffee Company everyone works together but they get by on their own means. Following the teachings of the Two Row Wampum they work towards the same goals without stepping on each other’s toes.”
In the meantime, customers can build a closer relationship with the Two Row Coffee Company and stay abreast with all of Brant’s plans by becoming a member in the company. This program is designed to help the company stay true to its vision of sustainability for the next seven generations by letting members of the Two Row Coffee Company purchase the product in glass jars and exchange them rather than buying a new bag. Members receive a one year 10% discount on everything in stock, including coffee and merchandise, and are also the first to receive updates on any new products, merchandise, or promotions from the company.