Larry's Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place. 100% of our coffee is Fair Trade, Shade Grown, and Organic, all slow-roasted to bring out every note of indigenous flavor. Our green-o-vated facilities use passive solar construction, active solar systems, radiant floors, zoned heating, composting, and rainwater harvesting to minimize our impact on this awesome planet. We offer 15 Creative Blends and 15 Single-Origin Blends, along with limited-roast favorites like Rockin' Holiday Blend and Woodstock Blend. Read more on our Media Page.
Raised in the land of espresso bars and local roasters, Larry grew up with love for coffee and an appreciation for the nuance that make one cup more interesting than another. He headed to the Southeast to attend graduate school in economics, but soon got sidetracked by his obsession with coffee, working as a roaster in Raleigh's first coffee house and then starting his own coffee house and roastery. But his love of roasting soon led him to focus full time on the roasting business. From the start, he was all about taking time with his roasts and treating blends like his own drinkable art form. He wasn't just about good coffee. He was about unique coffee.
For Larry, Fair Trade began simply as a way to find coffee from smaller farms in remote growing areas. As he puts it, it was "a way to find more wildly unique coffees for my blends." With this in mind, he took part in a delegation to visit the Fair Trade farmers in Chiapas, Mexico, where the quiet courage and deep dignity of the farmers made a life-changing impression on Larry (in Chiapas, farmers must deal not only with a lack of government services, but the frequently hostile presence of army forces). He came away with the realization that Fair Trade "was more than a way to get amazing coffee, it was about creating a new business model, where everyone gets what they want and no one is exploited along the way." So he led Larry's Beans to become a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, the first and still the only U.S. cooperative of independent roasters exploring Fair Trade beans directly from farmers.
"Hmmmm, why can't I do that," thought Larry after attending an event where some NC State students demonstrated that an old Chevy Suburban could be converted to run on veggie oil. So, Larry put the uber- resourceful Kevin Bobal (Larry's partner and VP of Operations) on the case. Kevin got an old school bus, converted it to run on used veggie oil and made arrangements to pick up used vegetable oil from local restaurants, donut shops and a peanut roasting facility. All Larry's sold in the Triangle Region is delivered on the veggie bus, which we also use for other tasks, most recently transporting indie music fans from one rock club to another during the Hopscotch music festival.
"Once you start doing stuff to make the world better, it becomes addicting," says Larry. "As I learned more about sustainability and climate change, I realized how much building use and energy can make a difference, so we started meeting with engineers and designers about how to lighten our footprint." "Step one was cutting open the length of our roasting plant's roof and installing a massive passive solar clearstory to let sun shine in. Next, we put in super-efficient spray foam insulation and zone heating (to focus just on work areas). Then, we took our administrative offices and installed solar water heating panels and put in a radiant heat floor." To save water, Larry installed dual flush toilets and two gargantuan rain water harvesting tanks, which are used to provide water for the bathrooms. Improvements to keep Larry's footprint light are continuous. Here's our ever-changing list.
"Business shouldn't be a separate mind space where you forget your values and passions. It's a part of life. All the so-called "socially responsible" things we do make our lives more interesting. They lead us to friendships and relationships with great people. It feels good to know you're doing your part to make the world better, not worse. And we always keep in mind that there's more to life than business. Me, I'm a dancer. Several nights a week, you can find me waltzing, tangoing, Tennessee two-stepping or some other kind of dance. (There's at least 10,000 Reasons to Dance!) Kevin is a master at the didgeridoo and he also skateboards. At the Bean Plant, we have surfers, musicians, bikers and people doing all kinds of worthwhile things. As a company, we love to be a part of music and arts festivals. "Sustainability' is only worth it if you have something to sustain, so we enjoy life around here and try to help others to do the same."