Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

Service members send their thanks

Troy Morken and fellow serviceman in IraqWe know our coffee donations to “The Mudhouse” at Camp Taji in Iraq are appreciated.

We all need a place to connect with one another,” writes Army Chaplain Troy Morken. The coffee house is staffed by volunteers and offers a place where troops can relax, talk with chaplains, write letters home, and get a good cup of coffee.

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Coffee Brings Us Together

Ed Canty and Edgar Blandon cupping
Having farmers visit us in Vermont is part of our unique approach to sourcing coffee, and one of the ways we develop a deeper relationship with our producer partners. We hold “calibration cuppings” to make sure our palates are aligned and producers know what our customers expect in the cup.

Edgar Blandon from a Colombian cooperative

Here, GMCR Coffee Buyer Ed Canty cups coffee with Edgar Blandon, General Manager of a Colombian coffee cooperative called CorpoAgro, based in Tolima. Later, Edgar spied a bag of his coop’s coffee during a tour of our warehouse.  We use Edgar's coffee beans in a few different coffees, including our Colombian Fair Trade Select in K-Cups and Single Origin Whole Bean.

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Extremely limited Special Reserve offering: Bolivia Chijchipani Cup of Excellence

We just roasted our latest Special Reserve whole bean coffee:  Bolivia Chijchipani, which won this year's Bolivian Cup of Excellence award.  Doug just brewed a pot here in the Consumer Direct office, and the strong floral notes are a delight.

Familiar with our limited Special Reserve program?  About four times a year, we artistically roast a very small batch of unique, hard-to-find, super-high-quality coffee beans.  We usually roast only enough to produce about 1,000 bags.  To make sure you get your bag of each exclusive Special Reserve, we recommend you sign up for our Special Reserve Tour.  With the SR Tour, we'll automatically send you each new SR coffee just after roasting.

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5 Stars for Double Black Diamond K-Cup

You guys seem to love it! We launched our new Extra Bold Double Black Diamond K-Cup about six months ago.  Ever since, we've received fabulous feedback on it from all you K-Cup fans out there.  As of 5/20/08, DBD has received 21 consumer reviews for an average rating of 5 Stars (out of five!)!  Here's one of my favorites:


My descriptions of fine wines and coffees are the same-BOLD, not acid, strong, full bodied, and yum!!! This cup of coffee is like sitting in Vienna or Florence and sipping!!! I'm hooked.
-
MJ, from Statesboro, GA


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What to do with our stuff?

The New York Times ran an interesting article last week on biodegradable home furnishings.  In it, they highlight merchants offering biodegradable sofas, pillows, blankets, and the like and share various opinions on the logic of such products. Is Your Sofa Green? The author connects the growing availability of such products to the growing visibility of the "Cradle to Cradle" model of William McDonough and Michael Braungart (learn more at www.mbdc.com).  According to the article, branding your product as biodegradable is becoming an increasingly popular way to catch the attention of the growing number of consumers who are interested in understanding the environmental impacts of their purchases.

The "Cradle to Cradle" model posits a closed loop manufacturing system, where everything we make is designed, in advance, to be disassembled into either technical nutrients (which can be reincorporated efficiently and with no loss of quality) or biological nutrients (which can be reincorporated back into our natural systems through composting).

Seems like a great idea and a great model.  As with all great ideas though, execution on a large scale is problematic.  The "Cradle to Cradle" model is not a simple model, nor will the process of evolving design, manufacturing, and waste disposal principles, techniques, and infrastructure to fit the "Cradle to Cradle" model be easy.

In the interim, we're likely to see half-measures and part-way solutions, such as biodegradable sofas.  By half-solutions, I mean products that use part of the model in order to gain some traction in the marketplace, without any demonstrated intentions or plan to keep evolving towards a full use of the model.

Just because something can break down in nature does not mean that we want it to break down in nature...

Biodegradable sofas are a great example of such a half-solution.  It seems like a nice first step, but let's remember that biodegradability is not the same as compostability.  Just because something can break down in nature does not mean that we want it to break down in nature; at a minimum, one would need to understand the presence of the residual materials in this hypothetical sofa (chemicals, dyes, etc.) and their potential effect on the local ecosystem before you could conclude that you would want to compost the item.  Assuming the eco-toxicity issues, check out, how many people in our consumerist society actually do compost?  Not many, I would bet.  Of those who do, how many would be willing or able to actually put their sofa on their compost pile?  Would a commercial or municipal composting facility, with much larger capacity than a home composter, accept such a product?

The "Cradle to Cradle" model holds a lot of promise but that promise can only be realized when the entire model is taken seriously and manufacturers, along with government, make the long-term commitment to re-engineer how we design, make, use, and dispose of the things we buy.  We're trying to do that with our packaging - for example, our cold to-go cups and hot ecotainer cup, for instance, are made with entirely renewable materials and the packaging film for our Newman's Own® Organics line is 19% PLA (poly-lactic acid, a biopolymer made from starch-based sugars).  And we are working hard on the environmental challenge embedded in our K-Cup® portion packs.

However, if, instead, the most visible signs of adoption are merely marketing campaigns without the research and commitment, we will not only fail to make progress, we will confuse consumers with additional labels and make it even more difficult for all of us to let our values inform our purchases.

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Peru's APAVAM in Alto Mayo Wins National Business Award

The Association of Farmers from the Alto Mayo Valley (APAVAM) - won a 2007 Peruvian Business of the Year award. The prizes are awarded by the Business of the Year organization, a non-profit that strives to stimulate healthy competition among Peruvian businesses. APAVAM won the award for best coffee producer in the Alto Mayo region of San Martin, Peru (Map). The prize recognized APAVAM's efforts to improve the quality and reputation of coffees from the region, as well as its solid business management. We buy their coffee to use sometimes as the base for the Fair Trade Seasonals line.

Winning the award was a milestone in APAVAM's history. Two years ago, the co-op separated from a government administered project for coffee cooperatives in Alto Mayo, and ever since, government officials have criticized the cooperative for its autonomy. This prize is the first time since the co-op left the government project that APAVAM has been recognized in the national sphere for its organizational strengths and quality coffee.


Located in the Valle Alto Mayo, in the northwestern province of San Martín, the farmers of APAVAM live in a region of political and environmental turmoil. Following the construction of a local highway in 1985, the area was wrought with narcotics trafficking, guerrillas and indiscriminate destruction of virgin rain forest. Many local farmers replaced their coffee fields with coca crops. APAVAM was established as a USAID project in 1996 and was turned over to the farmer members in 2000.


Although the coop has shrunk a little since then, it has a solid base of 250 farmers and great leadership from their manager Heine Davila. (Pictured accepting the award on behalf of the coop). Last year, they produced 6 containers, which is about 225,000 pounds of green coffee, which makes them about the size of our good friends the La Trinidad Coop in Southern Oaxaca, Mexico. (Map)


Some of APAVAM's coffee can be found in our Fair Trade Organic Peruvian Select.


Some or all of this copy comes to us courtesy of our good friends at Sustainable Harvest whose mission is to improve farmers' lives by creating a transparent and sustainable coffee supply chain, ensuring that quality coffees are sourced from the finest producers and that coffee arrives reliably in its highest quality state to preeminent coffee roasters.

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Scars from the War in Nicaragua

Notes from the SCAA Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota


We were in a hotel conference room at the SCAA conference, the kind that the caterers can dress up in the evening and make it look actually semi inviting. It was a reception that we hosted for Volcafé Specialty Coffee, who is one of the coffee importers we use to help us find great coffee. Naturally there were some producers in the room and one of them was José Adan, the Vice General Manager of one of our Fair Trade Organic suppliers in Nicaragua called UCASUMAN (Union de Cooperatives Agropecuarias de Servicios Unidos de Mancotal). Based in Jinotega in the heart of coffee country, UCASUMAN is one of the coops I got to visit this past February on a trip with Ed Canty, our Fair Trade Organic green coffee buyer.



When José walked in the room, we instantly recognized each other and I got him a cold beer from the porta-bar that the caterers wheeled in, served by the friendly barman Chris. Chris was going to put a lime in Jose’s Corona, but I stopped him and asked him if he wanted it – pointing out that it was an American thing, not even a Mexican thing! (He said no thanks.)



After we got caught up on things and the harvest, he told me and a couple of other Green Mountain Coffee employees that a couple of videographers had made a video of their coop and he would send us a copy so we could see. He said not to get too excited because the camera work was a little shaky at which point he showed us proper camera panning movement. I asked him how he knew that and he casually said, “Oh, I was a videographer during the war.” The war... Of course! the Nicaraguan Revolution.



Since he looked to be about the same age as I am (42), I was surprised and asked him how old he was at the time. “Oh I was 16. I worked as a videographer filming things.” Then José rolled up his sleeve to show an arm riddled with scars from shrapnel... the result of an encounter with a land mine. He said he almost lost his arm but was lucky to be able to keep it. He also told us which side he was on (sorry, I won’t tell you which)  but in the end it doesn’t matter. He said he doesn’t wish that experience on anyone, especially his three kids. Then he proceeded to take out his cell phone and show us some video of his three year old boy dancing and playing a toy guitar.

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Our Colombian K-Cup is Now Fair Trade Certified

Colombian FT K-CupsHow do you improve a top selling K-Cup coffee?  Make it Fair Trade Certified.  Our Colombian coffee in K-Cups is now Fair Trade Certified.  We used to call this coffee "Colombian Supremo", but its new name is "Colombian Fair Trade Select".  It contains the same delicious coffee as our bagged, whole bean offering of the same name within our Single Origin line.

Fair Trade certified means the famers are guaranteed a fair price for their harvest.  With a Fair Trade price, farmers can afford to invest in time-honored techniques that produce the finest beans.

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May 10th is Fair Trade Day!

Look for this Label!We're very proud to offer over 28 Fair Trade Certified™ coffees, including all of our Seasonal offerings. And we're very happy to see that many organizations are working together to declare May 10th (and the 2nd Saturday of every May) as "World Fair Trade Day". This year's them is "Fair Trade + Ecology". Learn more at the World Fair Trade Day web site.

Looking for Fair Trade Certified™ k-cups? Click here.

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