Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

GMCR and Root Capital at the Clinton Global Initiative

Last week, I had the honor of representing Green Mountain Coffee Roasters at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, as we made a joint Commitment to Action with Root Capital to improve the financial literacy and management skills of rural-based businesses in Latin America and Africa, which include many of Green Mountain Coffee’s coffee suppliers.

Jane Wales, Chair of the Clinton Global Initiative’s poverty alleviation working group, recognized William Foote, President and Founder of Root Capital, and me, on behalf of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, on stage as part of a session focused on cutting-edge efforts to enhance agricultural productivity and inventive models that help small farmers gain access to markets.

View the webcast here or listen to the podcast here:  Part I or Part II.

Our commitment was to support Root Capital’s efforts to expand its financial training with a five-year, $450,000 grant – the largest single grant in the coffee company’s history. Since its launch, Root Capital has provided more than $100 million in loans to cash-strapped farmers, artisans, and other small-holder producers, including nearly $50 million specifically to Green Mountain Coffee suppliers.  

In 2006, with our support, Root Capital launched a pilot financial education and training program in northern Latin America and has since provided financial education to 1,300 business leaders from 50 grassroots businesses in northern Latin America.

Our new commitment is part of our continued dedication to supporting the coffee-growing communities that make up our supply chain (learn more here) and will support Root Capital in the next critical growth stage of its innovative PorFin financial literacy program. Through this partnership, we will enable Root Capital’s launch of the program in South America and Africa, addressing the immediate need for strong financial management within grassroots businesses, while building the long-term financial capacity of entire rural communities. In total, from 2009 to 2012 Root Capital will build the financial expertise among the leaders of 150 grassroots businesses, representing nearly 100,000 farmers and artisans in 12 countries.

Root Capital’s innovative work in providing financial services to the underserved global community of grassroots businesses has helped us better serve all our stakeholders and meet our own goals around reducing poverty and hunger in the communities we touch.  Our partnership helps create economic opportunity, supports entrepreneurial activity, and provides economic incentives for sustainable natural resource management in rural communities worldwide.

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Thank you, Paul Newman

A message from our CEO, Larry Blanford:

 

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Paul Newman. Paul Newman's talent was exceeded only by his compassion and generosity. He was an inspiration and role model for those who believe in using the power of business to make the world a better place. His success as an actor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist will never be forgotten. He was a man with an extraordinary heart.

Green Mountain Coffee sources and roasts seven varieties of coffee for Newman's Own Organics. The Company will make a donation to the Hole in the Wall Camps in honor of Paul Newman, its founder. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

Larry Blanford,
CEO, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters


 
To learn more, please visit the Newman's Own web site.  Paul volunteered for and donated to many charities.  But particularly close to his heart were the Hole in the Wall Camps, now the leading global family of camps for children with life-threatening illnesses, which Paul started over 20 years ago.  To make a donation to this family of camps in honor of Paul Newman, visit www.HoleInTheWallCamps.org.

UPDATE, 10/17/08:  There have been many wonderful articles written recently about Paul Newman's many contributions to society.  Here is a nice article describing his leadership at Newman's Own.  And here is an AP story about how he planned his charitable legacy.

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Earn free K-Cups for you and your friends

Love your Keurig Single Cup Brewer?  Know someone who'd enjoy more convenience in their coffee routine?  Share your love of the Keurig brewing system and receive FREE coffee!

If you own a Keurig, sooner or later a friend or relative is going to be impressed with it.  I've certainly enjoyed a few Keurig "What the heck is that?...Wow, that's cool!" moments with house guests.  In fact, I bet a few of you have already convinced loved ones that they need a Keurig brewer.  Well, now you can spread the good word AND earn free K-Cups.

Refer a Friend to purchase a Keurig Single Cup Brewer and if they buy a brewer from Green Mountain Coffee, you'll receive 2 FREE Regular Variety Samples

Simply supply us with some basic information.  We'll search for your friend in our database, and if they qualify, we'll send them an email notifying them of the referral.  (To qualify, your friend must be someone who has not been previously referred by another person).  Once your friend buys a brewer from us, we'll automatically ship both you and your friend 2 FREE Regular Variety Samplers.

Your friend benefits too.  Not only will you recieve free coffee, but your friend will also receive 2 free regular variety k-cup samplers and free shipping on their brewer order.  That's a $38 value.  Click here to start.

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Helping Mexican Farmers Expand Health Services

Laura Tilghman of Sustainable Harvest recently sent us this report from Oaxaca, Mexico.  We very much appreciate all the great work that Sustainable Harvest does at Origin.

About two weeks ago, late on a Wednesday evening, I was standing in the Veracruz, Mexico airport, the air thick with tropical humidity even inside the terminal. I was waiting for Dr. Richard Hirsh,

Co-op executive committee members stand with Dr. Hirsh and Josafat, the Huatusco municipal President

 a radiologist who Green Mountain had enlisted to come to Mexico and evaluate the viability of helping the Huatusco coffee cooperative bring mammography services to their town. The cooperative has a strong program to help its members access health services, and the farmers have worked with support from Green Mountain and Grounds for Health to open a women's health clinic at the local hospital. Adding mammography services was the co-op's next goal.

Rick Peyser had asked me if I would volunteer my time to accompany Dr. Hirsh on his evaluation trip. So after picking up Dr. Hirsh at the airport, we set off on a whirlwind two day trip. With the leaders of the Huatusco cooperative always at our sides, Dr. Hirsh and I were able to accomplish a lot --- meetings with hospital staff and administrators in both Huatusco and the neighboring city of Cordoba, meetings with the municipal president in Huatusco, meetings with state-level representatives from the Veracruz health system, and even a breakfast with the cooperative's community health promotors.

During one meeting in particular, I witnessed first hand how support from Green Mountain (as well as entities like Grounds for Health and Sustainable Harvest) helps the co-op navigate the complicated state and federal bureaucracies. The meeting was tense. State health officials, the co-op executive committee, Dr. Hirsh and myself, were discussing the possibility of the project to donate a mammography machine and training for the hospital staff in Huatusco. The state representatives began insisting that the mammography project should not be carried out in Huatusco, but rather in the city of Cordoba. (The Cordoba hospital is over an hour drive from the town of Huatusco and is where Huatusco patients in need of specialized care are often referred.) The conversation became a tug of war over the mammography resources and training that Dr. Hirsh was offering, and the state officials were lobbying hard to implement the project in Cordoba.

In response, the Huatusco co-op manager Josafat began, "I would like to remind everyone here of the genesis of this project." He continued, pointing out that Dr. Hirsh's visit and the potential mammography machine donation were generated by the coffee cooperative's request to its international client and partner, Green Mountain, for assistance in serving the women of Huatusco. Josafat pointed out that while state and local support were important for the project, ultimately the project had to meet Green Mountain's expectations that the mammography services would be brought to Huatusco, where the company's business interests and relationships were located. Listening to Josafat, Dr. Hirsh whispered to me, "Wow, he's good." Josafat knew that using Green Mountain's support and the international business it brought was a powerful point of leverage for the farmers, and he used it well to argue the case for the mammography project's implementation in Huatusco. In that moment, I witnessed one way that the direct relationships between the Huatusco coffee cooperatives and Green Mountain empowers the farmers to better serve their community.

After the meeting, standing in the parking lot outside the building, Dr. Hirsh and the cooperative agreed that if they can get approval from the state and local health officials, they will bring mammography services to the town of Huatusco in 2009. Thank you again for inviting me to support this project for the coffee farmers and the community of Huatusco.

Best,
Laura Tilghman
Sustainable Harvest at Origin
Oaxaca, Mexico


We use coffee beans from the Huatusco coffee cooperative in many of our coffees, including Mexican Decaf Huatusco Cooperative

Most 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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Our largest Country Of Origin grant to date

The Country of Origin Team recently approved a grant request for $450,000 over five years from Root Capital, a non-profit social investment fund that is providing financial training and financing for farm associations in the developing world.   The grant will support financial literacy education and training for members of our coffee supply chain in Latin America and Africa, by assisting these producer organizations to develop business skills, with a focus on bookkeeping and basic financial management.  This will enable organizations managed by people with limited or no formal classroom education to compete in the global marketplace.  This grant follows on the heels of a pilot program grant that GMCR has supported over the past four years.  During the program's first two years, it provided direct training to 2,000 individuals from 55 organizations in six countries.  Twelve of the organizations are GMCR suppliers, which represent over 10,500 farmer members

Financial literacy training is helping the members of many coffee producer organizations move beyond short-term survival tactics that can have a negative impact on their environment - like illegal logging, poaching and burning off tracts of forest for limited crop production - and is enabling them to plan for a sustainable future.  One of the challenges rural businesses face is obtaining capital, and having the expertise available to best manage it.  Organizations which have this expertise in-house develop access to buyers, local, national and international banks, and obtain better opportunities for their farming families to improve their quality of life. Root Capital is helping farm organizations develop this vital local expertise.

Last week, the Root Capital Board of Directors visited us and held their Board meeting here at GMCR.

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Balam from Tanzania is now Married

Balam and Suzy are now Married

Our good friend Balam Hinyula, the coffee liquorer (cupper) from the Kanyovu Coffee Cooperative in Tanzania where we get our Tanzanian Gombe Reserve, just got married to a woman named Suzy. Balam was here in Waterbury, VT., last year for a week of cupping and quality calibration. We wish Balam and Suzy the best of luck in their new life together!

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GMCR and Tully's

Big news for us here in Waterbury, VT.  Please click on the link below to read today's press release:

GMCR Announces Asset Purchase Agreement for Acquisition of the Tully’s Coffee Brand and Wholesale Business


Learn more at the Investor Services section of our web site.

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GMC at DNC

We believe that both Democrats and Republicans, heck all Americans, deserve a great cup of coffee.

Over the past few years, we've had great success selling our coffee throughout the Denver area.  This is a result of hard work from sales folks such as Jim Martin, Lisa Hovey, Jeanne Benecke and many others.  Recently, Lisa Hovey was able to have our coffee sold at the 2008 Democratic National Convention held in Denver, CO.

GMC Team at the DNC

Here's is Caitlin's report from the big event:

Green Mountain Coffee had the pleasure of being a coffee supplier for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado last week.  Six GMC employees from all over the country met in the mile-high city armed with Fair Trade Organic French Roast and Fair Trade Organic House Blend Decaf ready to serve the thousands of people descending upon the Pepsi Center for this historic event.  And they drank a lot of coffee!

Over 10,000 cups of Green Mountain Coffee were served over 5 days at the convention.  We brewed our delicious coffee 20 hours per day for the likes of the Obamas, the Clintons, Dan Rather and other famous newscasters, Teddy and Caroline Kennedy, media from all over the world, secret service men and women, speechwriters, delegates, fire fighters, doctors, actors and musicians.  Green Mountain Coffee was even featured on the local Denver Fox news channel as a great product not only for its quality and Fair Trade designation, but also for the company’s dedication to environmental and social responsibility.

Compliments abound from people all over the convention about the quality of our coffee.

Day 1 at DNC

Some even coined us the “most popular people at the DNC!” All in all, it was a great event and it was wonderful to be able to share our product with people from all over the world and all walks of life. -- Caitlin Falzone


Thanks to all the GMC folks who worked really hard to make this event a success:

  • Tom Companion

  • Matt Smith

  • James Chamberlain

  • Caitlin Falzone

  • Jeanne Benecke


9/19 UPDATE:  Thanks to Lisa Hovey's hard work, we are now the coffee served at all Pepsi Center events in Denver.

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Follow up to Juan Ramón from UCPCO Visit

Juan Ramón from UCPCO - Unión de Cooperativas Productores de Café, based in San Juan Rio Coco in Madriz, Nicaragua, was here last week spending a week cupping in our lab. We had a great time and learned a lot from each other. We made a quick video of his visit: some clips of him cupping with us and of him meeting employees. To see, click on the video below. If you want to try some of our coffees that use UCPCO's coffee, go here.

 

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Community Meetings in Northern Peru

Stacy Bocskor with new Peruvian friend

I just returned from Peru with Stacy Bocskor (GMCR Coffee Dept.), Claudia Aleman (Sustainable Harvest Coffee Co.), and Sam Fujisaka (CIAT - International Center for Tropical Agriculture).  Our goal was to assess quality of life issues in communities that grow coffee for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in northern Peru.   Over eight days, we visited communities that were generally 4-5 hours from a paved road, where homes were constructed of mud bricks, and families ate food that they grew.   Most of the mountains in this part of Peru are deforested, so their terrific organic coffee is grown in crevaces and in the valleys, usually near the communities. Each day we held 3-4 community meetings attended by 8-50 people who actively participated in the discussions led by Sam.  The purpose of the meetings was to determine what the community relied upon for sustenance and income, what challenges the participants faced relating to coffee production, and what community issues were most important.

Rick Peyser with coffee farmers from San Ignacio, Peru

At the end of the trip, it became apparent that food security was not the issue that we uncovered in Central America.  The greatest challenge is "tired soil."  Over the coming months we will investigate opportunities to assist these communities with this challenge.  Overall it was a very worthwhile trip.  Perhaps best of all, this was Stacy's first trip to Peru, and her first experience eating cuy (guinea pig).   It was great traveling with Stacy, Sam, and Claudia, who couldn't have done a better job keeping us organized.  Here is my full report from the trip: peru-2008-trip-report.  Click here to see where these three Peruvian coffee co-ops (Aprocassi, Chirinos and APROBAT Tabaconas) are located.

(These photos come to us courtesy of our good friends at Sustainable Harvest whose mission is to create transparent and sustainable supply relationships, investing in training for farmers and ensuring that coffee arrives reliably in its highest quality state to roasters.)

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