Inside a tight 8-by-8-foot coffee shop space in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood hang two large flags — a rainbow pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag — that firmly signal the little shop’s big ambitions toward inclusion and equity.
The shop is called Finca to Filter and it was recently opened by Kayla Bellman, a queer woman leading a small but diverse staff of five.
“I spent so much of my life hiding who I was from myself and others,” Bellman recently told DCN. “I wasn’t going to make that have to be my truth. I wanted to create an affirming environment for my staff, so they know they aren’t just tolerated, they are celebrated for who they are. That’s what we strive for… So many neighbors comment on our flags in a way that it’s more than just a piece of fabric; it’s saying what this space will and can offer you.”
Yet the business, whose name references the Spanish word for farm, has ambitions that reach far beyond its own four walls and into the entire seed-to-cup supply chain.
That begins with sourcing coffees from progressive local and Georgia-based roasteries for a multiroaster coffee shop model. Coffees from eight different roasters have reached the shop’s bar, including offerings from Portrait Coffee, Verb. Coffee, Ébrīk Coffee Roasters, Radio Roasters and Firelight Coffee, all of which are based in Atlanta.
“We believe that the Atlanta coffee sector is at this burgeoning moment,” Bellman told DCN. “Across our platform you’ll see the diverse faces represented and highlighted who make the coffee sector rich.”
Finca to Filter technically launched last November, partnering with local roasters for online coffee subscriptions, pop-up bars and farmers markets. The brick-and-mortar shop opened in March, while a grand opening featuring drag bingo and pastry popups took place in May.
Originally from Phoenix, Bellman earned a bachelor’s degree in sustainability and global studies from Arizona State University and eventually joined Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, traveling the country to work with coffee producers who were receiving some forms of assistance from green coffee buyers.
“I became unsettled with how the coffee sector failed to live up to the promises of prosperity that it offered,” Bellman said. “I started to think about it more critically.”
Bellman enrolled in Atlanta’s Emory University, where she participated in coffee-related programs, such as Grounds for Empowerment and the Transparent Trade Coffee program, before receiving a master’s degree in development practice. Bellman said her studies routinely led her back to specialty coffee as a next course in life.
“I spent a lot of time thinking about Finca to Filter, and then with that one ‘yes’ we started partner-collabing with coffees and taking them to market,” Bellman said. “We were having conversations about transparency in coffee. We kept building.”
Bellman said the shop will continue to push transparency through its coffee partnerships, as well as diversity and inclusion. Bellman recalls being asked by one roaster how they can do better with gender equity. Her answer: Be critical.
“As a woman coffee professional, this one is hard because I find it hard to take up space, and to just exist in this business feels hard,” she said. “To be the nagging, critical one feels counterintuitive, but it’s so important. Be critical in your buying practices and program. Gender equity doesn’t happen by accident.”
Finca to Filter is now open at 1010 White St SW in Atlanta.
Chelsey Dequaine-Jerabek is a writer and digital marketing professional working and living in Madison, Wisconsin.