While living in Sambava, Madagascar for two years, Kurtis and Holly Jones connected with the Malagasi people in ways they never expected.

“We took a road trip one weekend and the roads were horrendous, and we got stuck on the road because there was a big truck that broke down,” says Kurtis. Unable to drive for the rest of the evening, they found a settlement and spent the night there with a few of the locals. “We played games, we taught them how to play spoons and really dove in, and that’s what got us deeper into their perspective. From that point on, those relationships flourished.”

This connection with the Malagasi is what inspired the couple to establish Sava Trading Co. after moving back to the U.S. in 2014—working directly with co-ops in the Sava region to source the most aromatic Gourmet Madagascar Vanilla Beans and 100% Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract.

“The professionals are the Malagasi, they’re the ones who know vanilla,” he says. “We want to just share that with everybody we can.”

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Photos: Courtesy of Sava Trading Co. and Brianna Coleman