Do you love coffee with a conscience? Look no further than Frog Friendly Coffee, a local Shuswap-based, female-owned and operated roastery delivering rich, delicious and sustainable coffee one cup at a time. When Karla Ferster initially co-created Frog Friendly Coffee, her ethically sourced and tasty coffee roasting company, she had one goal in mind: create the perfect cup of steaming hot coffee while maintaining respect for the environment, the people and the process at every step of the way.
Karla started Frog Friendly Coffee with her business partner, Pedro, 16 years ago when she discovered her passion for sharing a sustainable cup of coffee with every Canadian home. Raised in Mexico, Karla has spent her life feeling incredibly connected to Mexico, where she always feels at home, inspired and clear of purpose, and wanted to bring a piece of its rich culture back to share with her Canadian community. What started as a huge dream, a deep connection to the land, and a lot of passion so many years ago, Frog Friendly Coffee has grown into a thriving business situated on the shores of Shuswap Lake in Canoe, BC.
Located only 100 feet from where Karla, her husband Frank, and their four children live, Frog Friendly’s roastery is the final step in their international coffee bean journey and is where the company’s four blends of coffee are prepared and roasted: decaf, medium roast, dark roast, and espresso beans.
Karla has always maintained the importance of ethical sourcing and sustainability for her products at every step of the process. The coffee beans are grown naturally wild in the biodiverse mountains of the Oaxaca Occidental region of Mexico. With lush greenery, rushing waters, and the active sounds of life, the self-seeded coffee beans are grown in the last remaining intact cloud forest in all of Mexico. Passionate about maintaining the natural ecosystem of the area, Karla’s team makes every effort to minimize its impact and footprint throughout the harvesting journey. From November to February each year, their team hikes in to harvest the beans, transporting them back out by donkey in two burlap sacks at a time before they arrive back in Oaxaca City and are shipped to Canada by boat.
One of the only Canadian companies to own their beans at every step from the forest harvest through to packaging and shipping, Karla also ensures Frog Friendly does not use any chemical sprays or pesticides, instead utilizing natural solutions for pest control. Once the beans have arrived at the roastery in Canoe, BC for storage and final roasting, Karla’s husband, Frank, roasts them in small batches. A true craft roastery, they limit the number of beans roasted at each time in order to allow the utmost quality control measures and ensure a perfect roast every time.
With Karla’s priority to manage a sustainable business creating as small of a footprint as possible, she is constantly looking for new ways to reduce their environmental impact, including packaging their coffee blends in 100% recyclable bags. Knowing her company is not adding to a landfill while also delivering their unique blends to suppliers and coffee lovers alike is just one more reason why Karla’s 16-year-old vision for creating a sustainable process has become a resounding success.
Karla takes pride in running an honest, transparent business model, and that’s how she runs her personal life too. As a business owner and busy mom of four, she wakes up early each day to pour herself a cup of her own Frog Friendly Coffee and gets as much work done as she can before the rest of her family wakes up and she resumes her role of ‘mom’.
“We are fortunate that we have built a business around being real,” Karla explains when asked how she balances the demands of work and personal life, especially with her family at home more during COVID-19. “So I feel no shame in the daily struggle of trying to be all I can be for our business, our kids, and trying to support my husband as he navigates production and growth in the time of COVID.”
Karla’s passion for sustainability transcends beyond each cup of coffee and has shaped her business vision around her values and striving to leave a positive legacy. That legacy doesn’t stop at what she has already achieved; Karla has big goals for the future.
Within two years, she plans to introduce other sustainably harvested food products from the cloud forest where Frog Friendly’s coffee beans are sourced. Produces such as wild vanilla, cacao, and cinnamon are just a few of the expanded product offerings she hopes to have available.
Truly speaking to her corporate values, Karla reflects that her real pay comes when she visits the cloud forest in Oaxaca and sees the positive impact Frog Friendly coffee has on the communities there. Growing from her desire to support the local residents, in five years Karla hopes to be hosting eco-tours in the cloud forest where Frog Friendly beans are harvested, evolving in her relationship to their source, as well as potentially supporting other like-minded initiatives in Southern Mexico.
“It’s literally a gift to live your values out loud and to always be growing in that context,” she explains. ”Don’t get me wrong; it’s hard and there are challenges beyond measure but it just makes the wins sweeter.”
With Karla’s incredible vision, unwavering ethical approach to her business initiatives, and drive to achieve what she sets out to do, Karla Ferster is undoubtedly a Woman to Watch.
Next time you’re at the grocery store or shopping online, add some Frog Friendly Coffee to your cart, so you can experience the hot, steaming hug-in-a-cup that Frog Friendly brews up every time. You won’t regret it! For a detailed list of suppliers where you can find purchase Frog Friendly Coffee, along with more information about Karla and her incredible company’s story, check out www.frogfriendlycoffee.com.