My name is Joshua Smith and through the generosity of the Running Strong Dreamstarter Grant, I am pursuing my dream of opening a native owned, socially conscious coffee roasting company: Ekowah Coffee. 

From the moment of initial inspiration for Ekowah Coffee to now, just days before our website launch, this dream has seemed to have a life of its own. As much as I love coffee – and I do, seriously love coffee – my true passion for this project is the opportunity to build a business that will benefit my people. I believe that this purpose has given wings to my dream; logistics that I thought would be difficult or could derail my plans have come in to place more naturally than I could have imagined. From making a chance connection with the perfect contact to source our beans, to securing the ideal roasting setup with little capital risk, to receiving the amazing support of the Running Strong Dreamstarter Grant, every step of the way has been blessed. I firmly believe that if I pour my heart into Ekowah Coffee, it is destined to succeed.

So far, the most significant challenge has also been the most enjoyable: finding ways to weave Osage identity and values in every expression of business and brand. The difficulty was not in inspiration but in the amount of careful attention it is taking to cultivate the voice of Ekowah Coffee. The first and most obvious branding identity task was to select our business name.

“Ekowah” is Osage for “friend”, a simple word that holds so much significance to my dream. I am personally determined to treat people with the respect and goodwill of friendship. Ekowah Coffee is my opportunity to be a friend in the way my family taught me: to benefit my community with generosity, to fairly compensate my employees and partners, to mindfully ensure environmentally sustainable practices, and to provide buyers with the kind of delicious excellence that communicates respect for them and pride in our product. Even before officially selling our first bag of coffee, we have been able to put these values into practice. I cannot wait to see how this aspect of my dream grows and evolves in Ekowah Coffee in the years to come.

On July 22, 2019 Ekowah Coffee will officially launch our coffee line through our website: I would be honored if you would join us in sharing our coffee with a friend.

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