Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

The Strategic Summit: Nicaragua - April 23, 2008

by Amanda Cooper (who joined Rick Peyser on this trip)

In the summer of 2007, CIAT (The International Center for Tropical Agriculture) conducted over 175 household interviews in communities that supply GMCR with coffee in Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to better understand the challenges and opportunities these communities face.  The one-on-one interviews were conducted with coffee farmers or their spouse, and provided information about the interviewee’s family size, their levels of education, size of their land holding, types of coffee grown, earnings from coffee, costs of production, other income generating opportunities, and how the farmer and his/her family dealt with health and food security issues.

Rick Peyser accompanied the CIAT team and conducted a number of interviews with coffee farmers in northern Nicaragua, where a phenomenon known locally as “los meses flacos” (the thin months) surfaced during every interview he participated in, and was later confirmed when the results were complied from all three countries.  During “los meses flacos,” families are unable to maintain their normal diet. 

In Nicaragua and much of Central America, the coffee harvest begins in November and ends in late February.  By the end of May most families’ income from the harvest is largely depleted.  This comes at a time when the price for their basic grains (corn and beans) are at their highest of the year, for these crops are not harvested until the autumn.  This leaves coffee farming families in Nicaragua with 3 months when their financial resources are very limited and the price for their basic food staples are very high.  Since most families in the area do not grow their own food, they deal with these months in three ways:

1. by eating the same foods, but consuming less of them
2. by eating less expensive foods
3. by borrowing funds (i.e. going into debt) to purchase food

In early December 2007, Rick met with the management of CECOCAFEN, the cooperative in Nicaragua where the research was conducted, to share the results with the co-op’s leadership.  They agreed that “los meses flacos” is a serious problem, and were receptive to Rick’s suggestion that GMCR help facilitate a process that would ultimately result in a pilot project in the communities that participated in the interviews. 

In early February 2008 Rick met again with the CECOCAFEN leadership team, to design the process, which resulted in the following:

• March, 2008: Rick and a team of 4 students from the Tuck School (Dartmouth’s business school) returned to the communities where the interviews were conducted to share the results of the one-on-one interviews with the participants. In addition, the team confirmed the seriousness of “los meses flacos” with the communities and asked those in attendance in each meeting for their solutions to this problem.  Before leaving Rick and the Tuck students shared the results of their community meetings with the CECOCAFEN technical team.

• April, 2008: Rick and Amanda Cooper returned to Matagalpa for a Strategic Summit, which included interview community representatives, members of the CECOCAFEN leadership team, and local NGO’s.   Sam Fujisaka (CIAT) facilitated this meeting using a group participatory methodology that encouraged participants to list potential strategies to eliminate “los meses flacos.”  Once a list was compiled on a white board, Sam copied the list on an easel paper, and participants held active discussions while they moved 100 coffee beans around on the easel paper and placed them next to the strategies to rank them in importance. This process lasted about 45 minutes, and was not completed until everyone was happy with the ranking.

• Two months after this Strategic Summit, GMCR received a proposal from CECOCAFEN to fund a pilot project that will last 3 years.  The two strategies adopted by the communities are:

o Diversify each farmer’s coffee parcel by growing food for consumption and profit.
o Growing and storing basic grains

GMCR is supporting a “ground-up” approach to this project, believing that the
coffee farming families know better than anyone what the solutions to “los meses flacos” are.  The company’s role has been to facilitate and support these coffee communities in the development of their solutions to this food security challenge that threatens the health, education, earnings, and self-esteem of their families.

Watch the slideshow of the strategic summit, narrated by Rick Peyser.


Attending the CLAC Conference in Guatemala

Below is a report sent in by Rick Peyser, Green Mountain Coffee's Director of Social Advocacy and Coffee Community Outreach, while attending a two-day CLAC conference in Guatemala.  CLAC (Coordinadora Latinoamerica del Caribe Pequeños Productores de Comercio Justo) is a Latin American Small Fair Trade Producers Assembly held every two years.  Last time this assembly was held in the Dominican Republic.  This week, it is being held in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua was the first capital of Guatemala before it was destroyed in an earthquake.  It is a beautiful colonial town with cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings and many ruins - some as a result of the earthquake.  It is surrounded by at least three volcanoes.  Today was a beautiful day, although I had very little time to enjoy it because we were indoors all day. 

This morning’s session began with a welcome from the Economic Minister from Guatemala to welcome the attendees.  The first working session was focused on FLO’s (Fair Trade Labeling Organization International's) new strategic plan and business model.  That was presented to many of the people who were here.  Most had seen it before, but some of it was brand new, and others had not yet seen it, so it was a topic for discussion in a variety of areas. 

This afternoon’s session focused on competition – talking about unfair competition from the multi-nationals corporations / transnationals that have gotten involved in Fair Trade.  There is a tremendous amount of concern on the part of small scale producers around this competition.  Other topics wrapped up the day.  The overall tone was very, very positive.  The news about Starbucks doubling their Fair Trade purchased was well received here overall by producers. 

Late this afternoon, we broke into more working groups focused on a few different themes.  The group I was in worked on producer relationships and how buyers could perhaps collaborate on different areas to support the regional producer networks, of which there are three.  CLAC is one, obviously, in Latin America.  There is also an African producer network, and an Asian producer network.  The first of our group's work was looking at ways companies and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) can support and strengthen the producer networks which, in turn, will help the co-ops that work within their system.


Fair Trade: Trick or Treat?

As daylight dims and diminutive ghosts and goblins prepare for Halloween's curious traditions, so, too, does twilight fall on the our annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.

The purpose of Fair Trade Month is, of course, to celebrate the achievements of the Fair Trade movement, and to encourage consumers to shop for, and to ask for Fair Trade certified products: coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, grapes, pineapples, rice and -- what every little monster hopes to find in his or her trick-or-treat bag — chocolate.

Still, a great many folks have still to hear about Fair Trade. And some who *have* heard of Fair Trade are under the impression that it's "just another marketing thing." So it's not only fair -- it's important -- to answer the fundamental question: is Fair Trade really fair? Is it equitable? Is it a viable solution to the price crisis that has plagued coffee for years? In a nutshell -- Fair Trade: trick, or treat?

The ideals of Fair Trade are simple and well-intended: break the cycle of poverty by offering farmers a price floor and a ready marketplace for their products, and in exchange win assurances of eco-friendly and sustainable farming practices. In theory this cycle should lead to an upward spiral of increasing economic stability and product quality, and in practice, it does. There are a great many success stories that can be told...

  • ...of the coffee farmers in Colombia who have been empowered to make a stand against drug lords — their lands now produce coffee that earns them a livable wage, they no longer need to grow coca.

  • ...of the farmers on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala who have been able to distribute medicine to the growers' children and improve their nutrition, eliminating what had been an appalling infant mortality rate. (Those children are now enjoying a newly expanded school, too, which I felt privileged to visit.)

  • ...of the farmers in Huatusco, Mexico who have reforested their surrounding lands, bringing their ecosystem back from the edge of destruction, and in so doing have earned organic certification bonuses.

  • ...of the cooperative in East Timor that has not only built clinics and schools, but served as an island of calm and refuge as lands around it erupted in civil war.

  • ... of the cooperative in the highlands of Aceh, Sumatra, that not only has been able to offer micro-loans to its members to fund new and diverse business, but was able to donate tons of food to tsunami victims in Banda Aceh, to build and repair 34 homes, and fund continuing support for orphans and widows in the community following the disaster.

Fair Trade certified cooperatives build not only increased wealth and operational capacity for their members, but also social, cultural, health and educational support networks. It's these networks that will ultimately prove to be the real force for sustainability in these coffee communities... Fair Trade price supports simply served as a springboard.

In short, Fair Trade has proved a positive force for change in coffee-growing communities around the world, and increasingly in coffee shops, college campuses and family kitchens across these United States. Speaking of which, you better check your chocolate supply... there's ghouls due at your door most any moment now.


Recipe: Pumpkin Mocha Supreme

One of our most popular seasonal Fair Trade coffees is Pumpkin Spice.

Pumpkin Mocha Supreme

People tell us they can’t wait for fall…and then they stock up on Pumpkin Spice like little squirrels. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavors are even better when you add a touch of hot chocolate.  Try this yummy Fair Trade recipe:

Pumpkin Mocha Supreme



Fair Trade Provides Hope for the Future

Indonesian coffees are prized for their complexity. The unusual processing techniques used by the farmers create a distinctive coffee experience; a mosaic of heady aromas and pungent flavors that tumbles around in the mouth.

We began working with farmers from the areas near Lake Tawar in 1997, when we provided start up money to create an organic coffee cooperative.  Since then, we've helped the cooperative build a community center, a water supply system, and a seedling nursery. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami-earthquake, many of our employees donated money for disaster relief, and the company matched their donations.

Today, the cooperative is thriving. With the premium received from Fair Trade prices, the community has been able to build new roads, schools, and a clean water supply.

Lindsey Bolger, our Director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships, recently visited the Lake Tawar region to meet with farmers who contribute to our Fair Trade Certified™ Sumatran coffees. She was introduced to Fauziah, a 30-year-old farmer who was looking forward to a brighter future.

"Now that we've joined a Fair Trade Certified co-op," she told Lindsey, "we know that there will be funds available to help us improve quality and yields."

Single Origin Sumatran Lake Tawar has a syrupy body with notes of clove and cardamom. Independent coffee critic Kenneth Davids gave it 89 points in October, 2007.


Donating Fair Trade Coffee

Did you know all of our coffee donations are fair trade certified organic coffee? In 2006 we made a commitment to donate only fair trade certified organic coffee through our product donations program.

Fair Trade Organic Sampler

We realized that we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the fair trade model in domestic communities by donating fair trade coffee through our product donations program. The organizations we work with use our coffee donations for fundraisers, events, or for operational support. In this way they help us tell the Fair Trade story and more people have the opportunity to taste the difference of fair trade organic coffee.  

In the past three years Green Mountain Coffee Roasters donated close to 70,000 lbs of coffee to non-profit partners in communities where we work, live and conduct business. This amounts to some $700,000 worth of product donations since 2005!

Visit Brewing a Better World to learn more about our product donation program.


Sourcing Fair Trade Coffee With Sustainable Harvests

Sustainable Harvest imports high quality sustainable specialty coffees from around the world.  We have worked with Sustainable Harvest for over 12 years, and through this business relationship, Green Mountain Coffee has developed strong ties with many coffee farmers, their communities, and their farm organizations. 

Many of the coffees that Sustainable Harvest sources for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are organic and Fair Trade certified, which helps insure that the environment and coffee farming families are respected and protected from local and global forces. In fact, about 50% of our Fair Trade coffee is sourced through Sustainable Harvest, including coffee used in our Fair Trade Organic House Blend™ and Newman’s French Roast.

Jorge Cuevas, is Director of Trade Operations for Sustainable Harvest, and is based in Oaxaca, Mexico.  In his role, Jorge oversees new business development both at origin and in the U.S., trying to match specific buyers with specific coffees and their growers.

Video Interview with Jorge Cuevas from Sustainable Harvest. held in the coffee lab at Green Mountain Coffee.


Fair Trade Nation

In the past few years both Scottish and Welsh governments were actively attempting to become the "world's first fair trade country." In Wales, the campaign to make Wales the world’s first Fair Trade country was launched in 2004 by the National Assembly for Wales.  In Scotland, First Minister Jack McConnell pledged that Scotland will aim to become a "Fair Trade Nation" in 2007.

This past June, Wales succeeded in achieving this goal.  But just what is a Fair Trade Nation?  As defined on the Fair Trade Wales Website: Being a Fair Trade Nation is a journey, not a destination.  Fair Trade supporters across Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities have committed to choose and promote Fair Trade products, and to raise awareness of the difficulties facing producers in developing countries.

In 2006 a series of targets were agreed to measure the progress that Wales was making on this journey.  Targets included having Fairtrade campaign groups in 55 percent of towns in Wales, every county in Wales working towards Fairtrade status, and a commitment from the Welsh Assembly Government to use Fairtrade products.

Today in Wales there are Fair Trade groups in 58 towns, all 22 welsh counties, and in less than a year over 400 schools have committed to learning about Fairtrade and using Fairtrade products. Last year you might remember that Brattleboro, Vermont became the 2nd Fair Trade Town in the U.S. (Media, PA being the first).  The Fair Trade Town movement began in the UK in 2000, and currently includes over 250 towns in Western Europe.  Creating Fair Trade Towns, States, and Nations are powerful tools to acknowledge global issues and define solutions.  It also helps to open up markets for companies like Green Mountain Coffee to sell Fair Trade products.


Fair Trade for Every Season

I gave a bag of coffee to a friend of mine recently as a housewarming gift. She took one look at it and said "Do you have anything that's Fair Trade?"

I confess, before I started working for Green Mountain Coffee, I didn't understand what Fair Trade (FT) meant exactly. Even when I settled on FT Organic Espresso as my coffee of choice, the fact that it's Fair Trade had no impact on my decision whatsoever. But now that I know what it means and how it impacts the lives of those who grow our coffee beans, I get even more satisfaction out of my morning cup.

One category of coffee that's exclusively Fair Trade is our Limited Edition Seasonal coffees. Three years ago, GMC decided to make the seasonal coffees Fair Trade across the board. The idea was to grow awareness of Fair Trade to more coffee lovers like you so that we could expand our FT market and ultimately make a difference in more farmers' lives. Why seasonals? Well, I don't know about you, but when I see "available for a limited time", I've got to have it right now, and lots of it. What better way to introduce Fair Trade to as many people as possible who will not only anxiously await the next arrival, but will stock up? It's true, even through our current economic situation, folks are ordering cases (yes, cases) of Pumpkin Spice before it's gone. Maybe they're depending on the aroma of mom's pumpkin pie to get them through the tough times. Either way, it means coffee farmers are getting a better life.

Is your favorite coffee among our Seasonals? If so, I'm curious. Was it because it was the socially responsible choice, or because you associate its aroma or name with a different time or place, or simply because you like the taste? What I love about the Seasonals is that, no matter what your reason, there's a seasonal coffee that you can call your own. My second favorite coffee would have to be FT Organic Joyful Season Blend (available mid-November) because a) it's Fair Trade; b) it's organic; and c) I love the holidays. So much so, in fact, my Christmas tree stayed up until August one year. Apparently I have a problem with letting go. So if you're wondering if I replaced the housewarming gift with a Fair Trade coffee ... you betcha. If it helps coffee farmers survive, and thrive, in light of their long-standing economic troubles, shouldn't everyone get Fair Trade?


GMCR makes Forbes' 200 Best Small Companies list

GMCR was again included on Forbes' list of "Americas 200 Best Small Companies."  We were ranked #55, up from our 2007 ranking of #88.  This year, Forbes gave us a special call-out in the "Everyday Tech Stars" section for the Keurig brewer.

Click Here for our inclusion in the "200 Best" introductory piece.  Below is a nice quote from their story.

"Yet there are also many other companies utilizing technology affecting our everyday lives. Take Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (nasdaq: GMCR). Its Keurig Single-Cup Brewer has revolutionized coffee making for those not interested in making a whole pot. The single-cup market rose 59% last year to $176 million, according to research firm NPD. Single-cup penetration is still only 5% of U.S. households, leaving lots of room for growth."

Click Here to see the nice GMCR call-out in their "Everyday Tech Stars" section.  Forbes wrote:
"Green Mountain's Keurig single-cup brewer is an enabler for java addicts. Pop a coffee pack into one its machines, and a cup of the good stuff is a simple touch of a button away--no grinding, no measuring, no mess and no physical evidence (that can't be washed away)."

Click Here for Forbes' summary of our financials.


Sourcing our Fair Trade Colombian Coffee

Submitted by Joel White

Joel White, Product Marketing Director at Green Mtn. Coffee, recently went on a source trip to visit the co-ops where we source our Fair Trade Colombian coffee.  The week-long adventure included high-mountain jeep trips to several small, remote coffee farms and cooperatives.  He was greeted and welcomed along the way by many Colombian farmers including an indigenous group known as the Guambianos.

The Guambianos are considered one of the most traditional indigenous groups in Colombia.  They have preserved their culture remarkably well given their proximity to, and contact with, the ‘civilized’ world.  They speak their own language, dress traditionally and still use rudimentary farming techniques.   They’re also excellent weavers.

Here is a map of Colombia, on the NW corner of South America.  The Colombian coffee we buy comes from the western mountain ranges, in particular the Popayan region, which is highlighted on the map.
Colombia Facts:
•  Population: 44M
•  Biggest Cities: Bogota (7M), Medellin (2.2M), Cali (2.1M)
•  President: Álvaro Uribe
•  Famous Colombians:
    - Shakira (pop singer)
    - Fernando Botero (sculptor)
    - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (writer)
    - Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria – (former Red Sox)
• Third largest coffee producer in the world (11.3 million bags), just behind Brazil (27.8 million) and Vietnam (17.9 million) in 2007.
•  Top producer of Arabica coffee in the world.  Produces 3 times more than the next largest Arabica producer (Guatamala 3.7 million bags).

How we interact with the cooperatives in Colombia is known as “direct sourcing.”  We know who produces our beans.  We work to help them improve quality.  And we offer them programs to help fund development projects including schools, water-systems and programs to help them diversify their crops so they are not victims of the “in between” seasons when they are waiting for the coffee crop to mature.  We continue to work with these co-ops to make them more sustainable, which ultimately improves the quality and reliability of our supply-chain.



Going to the Source of Fair Trade

Alfredo Rayo Granados from Finca Mil Flores

In January, 2007, I went on a “source trip” to Nicaragua with Green Mountain Coffee.  Over 18% of our employees have traveled to coffee-producing countries to learn about the hard work that goes into growing and harvesting high-quality coffee. 

One of the most valuable parts of the trip is the chance to talk directly with farmers and representatives from coops about how Fair Trade has affected their communities. 

For example, we visited Finca Mil Flores, a coffee farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  Alfredo Rayo Granados gave us an impeccably presented tour of the farm, which is owned by his father.  Through Fair Trade, Alfredo received a scholarship that enabled him to attend a university – the first step in his dream to become a history professor. 

Mercedes from Solcafe

At Solcafe, a dry mill in Matagalpa, we learned that Fair Trade benefits producers and their families by providing better medical attention and improved working conditions.  Mercedes, Solcafe’s 23-year old pro-cupper, praised Fair Trade and says it helps to support Solcafe’s emphasis on quality coffee.

On right, Guadeloupe Castillo from Finca Apaguis-Miraflor

In Esteli, Nicaragua, we inched up rough mountain roads to the farm of Guadeloupe Castillo.  Guadeloupe explained the benefits of Fair Trade in his community:  “There’s a social benefit.  One of the things Fair Trade provides is scholarships…People are paid fairly for labor which is important.  We have also been able to renovate some of the fincas, which provides work to people in the community and invests back into the finca.”

Through our travels, Fair Trade became more than just an abstract concept after hearing farmers speak about its benefits and seeing them with our own eyes.  We returned with a greater understanding of the meaning of Fair Trade and with many memorable first-hand experiences to share with our co-workers back home.


Nell Newman Reflects On Her Trip To Source

When we first started sourcing and roasting coffee for Newman’s Own Organics, we took Nell Newman down to Guatemala to meet some of the farmers who grow organic, Fair Trade Certified™ coffee.

Nell is President of Newman’s Own Organics and the daughter of the late Paul Newman.  Like many people on their first trip to source, she was struck by how labor intensive coffee farming is.  Her trip to the La Voz Cooperative would make a lasting impression on her.

Photo: Bill Kinzie, 2much Media

Nell Newman (left) and Lindsey Bolger (right) with Guatemalan girl

“I think it’ll really make me think a lot more about every single cup of coffee that I have,” she said.  “I don’t think about every little bean that goes into that cup of coffee that I drink, but it really gives you a very different perspective when you hike up to 5300 feet and see people carrying down your coffee.”

Nell was also impressed by the medical support, education, and better quality of life that farmers enjoyed because of Fair Trade.  See more about Nell’s trip and hear her thoughts in this brief video.

Nell Newman with Fair Trade organic coffee farmers

Green Mountain Coffee is proud to source and roast seven varieties of organic, Fair Trade Certified™ coffee for Newman’s Own Organics.


Fair Trade Facts

Being immersed as we are in the Fair Trade movement, it's all to easy to take some of the successes of Fair Trade for granted... at least until we back up a bit and take a look at the larger landscape. Then some of the numbers are a little bit startling.

Here's a few of the facts that make us sit up and take notice that what we're up to isn't just a market, but a movement:

  • More than 50% of the world's coffee is grown on small, family-run farms.

  • More than 800,000 farmers and their families sell their coffee through the Fair Trade register.

  • Through the Fair Trade market, family farmers in Fair Trade cooperatives can earn three to five times more than farmers selling conventionally (depending on the market price of coffee, or the "C".)

  • Fair Trade Certified® coffee is the fastest growing segment of the $11 billion US specialty coffee trade.

  • According to the journal Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, 63 million Americans base their purchase decisions on how the products they consume affect the world.

  • Imports of Fair Trade Certified green coffee have grown about 75% a year since 1999.

  • More than 400 US college campuses serve Fair Trade coffee.

  • For every daily coffee drinker in the United States there is a worker in the world who depends on coffee for his or her livelihood.

For all that, there's still so much work to be done...


Non-profit Coffee Partnerships

The term partnership is defined as a relationship between two parties. Green Mountain Coffee takes great pride in its partnerships and does whatever it can to foster those relationships. The following are proverbs that support the initiative behind the partnerships GMC has created.

Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This old adage has generations of human footprints behind it. The saying lives on throughout time because it speaks the truth. Heifer International® is a non-profit organization that gives livestock to those in need and teaches them to use their livestock as a resource to sustain a way of life; and to take that one step further Heifer International encourages sharing these learning’s and livestock with neighbors. We partner with Heifer international to make a Fair Trade Certified coffee called Heifer Hope Blend.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings beings it has a song. What better sound to awaken to than that of a song bird? Lucky for us, Green Mountain Coffee partners with National Wildlife Federation® to produce a Fair Trade Certified National Wildlife Blend. This coffee is grown in environments rich in biodiversity, under canopies of shade that provide excellent winter habitat for migratory songbirds that summer in North American backyards.

Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire. We invite "viewers like you" to enjoy great taste while preserving both natural habitat and one of America’s greatest national treasures – PBS®. Green Mountain Coffee partners with PBS to promote community, as well as global awareness with our Fair Trade Certified PBS Blend. The beans for this coffee are grown in the lush, tropical rain forests surrounding the El Triunfo Biospheres in Mexico.

All three of these coffees carry the Fair Trade Certified™ label, which guarantees farmers a fair price for their coffee harvest and enables them to reinvest in their communities. Fair Trade Certified fully utilizes the positive impact they have on the world, both at the beginning of their life and at the end. Fair Trade Partnership coffees are all about empowerment… empowerment to the one who grows the beans, empowerment to their namesake, and empowerment to the consumer.


Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Top-Scored Coffee

"Where there is coffee, may there be peace and prosperity." ---Traditional Ethiopian blessing

The coffee ceremony is an important part of Ethiopian culture.

Ethiopia is considered the birthplace of coffee because botanical evidence suggests coffee first grew wild in Ethiopia's fertile highlands. Perhaps this is why coffee is an integral part of Ethiopian daily life—more so than in any other coffee-producing country. Ethiopians use an elaborate coffee ceremony to welcome guests and show friendship or respect. The ceremony, which can last a few hours, involves three cups for each guest. After the third cup is consumed, Ethiopians believe a blessing is bestowed and one's spirit is transformed. Beans for our Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe come from the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, the largest Fair Trade coffee producer in Ethiopia. In a country where most people live on a dollar a day, Fair Trade provides a steady source of income and hope for a better future. With the extra revenue generated by Fair Trade, farmers in this cooperative have been able to buy new washing stations and set up a repair fund. Investments like these allow the coop to continue producing an elegantly sweet coffee with orange blossom fragrance and vibrant lemony tones. Independent coffee critic Kenneth Davids gave our Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe high praise and an outstanding score of 93 points. Discover why Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is the choice of coffee connoisseurs around the world.

Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe “This coffee declares its essential Yirgacheffe character immediately: perfumy and pungently menthol-toned in the aroma, shimmering with floral and lemon notes.” Kenneth Davids,, Score:93, March 2008

Lindsey Bolger participates in a coffee "cupping" in Ethiopia


Fair Trade leads to long-term relationships

We have been working with members of the Unión Regional de Pequeños Productores de Café cooperative in Huatusco since 1996.

Rogelio Jacome participates in a "cupping" with Patty Vincent, Coffee Product Manager, at our lab in Waterbury, Vermont.

Throughout the years, we've been able to create a common language to talk about quality.  We've exchanged visits several times to discuss the particular taste characteristics we are seeking, and spent hours together in "cupping" sessions. Huatusco producers are now so attuned to our quality needs, they have a specific "Green Mountain Prep" they use on the beans they sell to us.

We've also supported the co-op's efforts to become organic-certified, helped pay for improvements to their wet-mill, and provided credit to help them through the harvest season. The increased revenue that Fair Trade and organic coffee provides has enabled the farmers to establish education facilities in rural areas, and build regional healthcare centers for several villages.

"Our work with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been fruitful and profitable," said co-op manager Rogelio Jacome. "They've helped us with health programs and student scholarships. The cupper's training has been a big help, especially in terms of quality control. We truly believe that this relationship keeps getting stronger."

Miguel Garcia Suarez with a bag of his coffee.

Our Fair Trade Mexican Decaf Huatusco Cooperative offers brisk, lime-citrus acidity, and sweet notes of sugar cane and agave nectar. Its finish is engaging, vanilla-toned and sparkling clean.


Fair Trade gifts: spread the word

If you've been visited our blog at all lately, then you know that October is Fair Trade month.  Hooray!  But did you know we've made it convenient to spread the word about Fair Trade by putting together some wonderful Fair Trade gifts?  Share some Fair Trade items this Holiday season.  Friends and relatives can enjoy wonderful Fair Trade treats while you support hard working coffee farmers.  Please consider these gifts:

  • Brewing a Better World Gift Bag.  Dagoba chocodrops, Robin's chocolate sauce, Green Mountain coffees, Zhena's Gypsy teas, and a coupon for 1 pint of Ben & Jerry's FT ice cream - all in a reusable tote bag - all helping to build a better world.

  • Fair Trade organic coffee sampler.  Three great coffees that help make the world a better place: FT Organic Breakfast Blend, FT Organic French Roast and FT Organic Sumatran Reserve.

  • Fair Trade K-Cups.  Did you know we offer over 10 different K-Cups with Fair Trade certified coffee?  Any Keurig brewer owner would love to see these at Thanksgiving dinner or under the tree.

We hope all your gift giving efforts are a success this Holiday.

Interviews with Fair Trade Farmers in Peru

Ed Canty, one of Green Mountain Coffee's green bean buyers, was in Northern Peru last summer,  along with our good friends from Sustainable Harvest, to visit some of our Fair Trade Organic suppliers.  While there, Ed recorded a few interviews asking farmers - What does Fair Trade mean to you?  Here are links to two of these interviews.  (The videos are in Spanish, so we're providing written translation below each video link):

FT Interview with Heine Dávilla Ruíz. President and farmer at APAVAM in Northern Peru

Interview with Fair Trade Farmer in Peru - Heine Dávilla Ruíz


I am a producer of APAVAM.  I have been participating in being certified Fair Trade.  I have been selling Fair Trade for two years.  During these two years, what we can obtain from producing Fair Trade is - we can improve our parcels, we are improving our infrastructure, improving the condition of our lives, our families.  We believe that this market has reached those of the poorest class.  And I thank every one in the Fair Trade family for this great opportunity.

Link to APAVAM’s Location on Google Maps:



FT Interview with Luis Fernando Peña, General Manager of APROCASSI in Northern Peru

Interview with Luis Fernando Peña of APROCASSI 


Fair Trade has contributed in three fundamental aspects of development of our organizations:  in the aspect of social development, in the aspect of identity, and in the fundamental aspect that is the sustainability of the business.  With Fair Trade this premium, or increase of prices for the quality of the coffee that the producer has it is possible for all the organizations to be sustainable in the long term.  We hope that Fair Trade has more fluid communication between organizations, buyers and roasters to bring us long term development because it benefits the family.  It is Fair Trade that allows families to get the most from their land.

Link to APROCASSI location on Google Maps:


On Becoming a Fair Trade Town

On June 26, 2007, the Brattleboro, Vermont  Select Board approved the Fair Trade Resolution making Brattleboro, Vermont the First Fair Trade Town in New England & the second in the nation - following in the footsteps of Media, PA, (
The Fair Trade Town movement began in the UK in 2000, and currently includes over 250 towns in Western Europe. The criteria set forth by the Fair Trade Federation includes five main items that a town must meet: a minimum number of businesses that offer Fair Trade products for sale; educational events; a steering committee that meets on a regular basis; a significant amount of media coverage; and for the town council to pass a resolution.

A thorough overview and list of criteria can be found at: Fair Trade Towns
The Fair Trade Brattleboro campaign also promotes local products.  Their motto has been “Buy Local, Buy Fair” or buy local, and when that is not possible, buy Fair Trade.  This understanding has promoted a supportive and encouraging response from the Brattleboro community.
The Fair Trade Brattleboro Project was started by Sara Stender of Ayllu, Inc. (, a Brattleboro based nonprofit specializing in Fair Trade product development and sales.  On the heels of this success, Sara is involved in a group organizing Vermont as the first Fair Trade state.

What better way to celebrate Fair Trade Month than by getting involved with Fair Trade in your community.  Could your town become a Fair Trade Town?