On my way to becoming an established independent coffee roaster in the Bloomington community, I wanted to create a coffee blend that celebrates my roots in Northwest Indiana. Although I was born in Southern Indiana, I have a strong attachment to the dunes and wetlands found in the northwestern part of the state. I started working as an independent coffee roaster in 2014, and before opening the Coffee Bar & Roastery on the East side of Bloomington in 2017, I served freshly roasted coffee weekly at Chesterton’s European Market, near the Indiana Dunes. Cowles Bog Blend, a wonderful blend of fair trade certified and certified organic coffee beans from Mexico and Honduras, celebrates the uniqueness and ecological diversity of this landscape.

The blend is named after Cowles Bog, the wetland in the Indiana Dunes National Park where Dr. Henry Cowles, a professor at the University of Chicago, conducted his historical plant studies. Dr. Cowles’s studies of plant succession in the dunes helped to establish ecology as a science and led to the preservation of the Indiana Dunes. Unfortunately, although the Indiana Dunes is renowned as the birthplace of ecology, the region’s ecosystems have been in jeopardy for more than a century. The construction of steel mills, harbors, and breakwaters has altered the landscape, reducing the size and ecological diversity of the dunes and exposing the wetlands to a host of invasive species. According to the National Parks Service, the invasion of these plants reduced habitats for “waterfowl and other animals that depend on healthy wetlands to survive.”

As a woman-owned independent coffee roastery invested in preserving human and animal ecologies on both a local and global scale, Needmore Coffee is closely allied with initiatives to redress the damage caused by unchecked development. Since 1952 an organization called Save the Dunes has been working to protect and restore the region’s ecology. This environmental group, founded by Ogden Dunes native Dorothy Buell, is committed to preserving the Indiana Dunes so that their natural splendor will remain available to be enjoyed by all of the diverse human and non-human organisms who call this region home.

The Cowles Bog Blend is designed to celebrate the fight against environmental degradation and to raise awareness about the ecological benefits of knowing where your food comes from. As an independent coffee roaster, I feel a deep connection to the land and to those who work it. My parents are from the Indiana Dunes area; I love taking hikes in the dunes and around Cowles Bog to enjoy the unique beauty of the landscape. I hope that the complex flavors of this blend, which are inspired by the diversity of these Indiana dunes, will energize and inspire you to not only go and enjoy all the region has to offer, but also to get involved with the fight to restore, protect, and preserve these parks for future generations.