THE TINY HOUSE CREW
Blake is the co-founder of Tiny House Coffee Roasters. Originally from Austin, TX, Blake studied economics at the University of Texas. After college he traveled to New Zealand, where he lived and worked for 6 months on vineyards, cattle ranches, and apple orchards.
In 2012 he received his M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Tennessee. He then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua, where he was first exposed to the coffee industry. Blake was inspired to begin working with several farmers and initiated several coffee-related projects. He and his team received a grant from USAID to construct water filters for post-harvest processing.
In July of 2014 he returned home to Austin, TX to start a business connecting coffee producers and consumers. That fall, he and Helen Schafer launched Tiny House.
Helen was born in Maine and grew up on a horse farm in North Carolina. After graduating from the University of Miami, she went to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps.
She was stationed in the small town of San Fernando, where she lived with a coffee-producing family. The father of her closest friend in Nicaragua is Donaldo Cuadra, Tiny House’s local director of operations. During her service, she led a team that educated migrant coffee pickers about HIV transmission and prevention. She was able to learn even more about coffee production, traveling to farms all over the country and meeting hundreds of workers and producers.
She empathized with the farmers who toiled for unpredictable and often meager earnings. With the Tiny House model, Helen is excited to directly connect farmers with consumers in a way that benefits both.
Trey grew up between Texas and Arizona and studied English at Georgetown University in DC. After graduating he began working in Austin public schools, but in 2011 he embarked on his Peace Corps service in Jalapa, Nicaragua as a TEFL teacher/trainer. There he developed a deep appreciation for the coffee culture of Nueva Segovia and befriended fellow voluntarios Blake and Helen. He returned to teach in a bilingual school in Austin, but when Blake approached with the idea to help launch Tiny House, Trey couldn’t say no. Austinites get great coffee, while segovianos get fair and dependable pay for quality work. With Tiny House, everybody wins. (Except middlemen.)