Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

The Hidden Benefits of Fair Trade

Mercedes and Rick Peyser from GMCR in front of the new school addition

Mercedes Isabel Sota is the Superintendent of Schools in Mancotal, north of Lake Apanás, in Northern Nicaragua. The kids in that school probably fear her like I used to fear Mr. Armstrong. He was my high school history teacher and was so respected and feared by all students that we always tried our best and then some. You never wanted to let him down or cross him. Never miss a class, never be late, never have your shirt untucked. Ever. 

I got the sense that Directora Sota is like Mr. Armstrong. We got to meet her this past November on a trip to a small Fair Trade Cooperative from whom we buy some nice Nicaraguan coffees for blending in some of our Newman’s Own Organics coffees. The Coop is called UCA SUMAN and is based in Jinotaga. The leaders of the coop wanted us to see this district’s central school, called Jose Dolores Estrada, because the coop had paid for a small addition to the school with some of the extra money the farmers had made selling Fair Trade Organic coffee.


You could tell right away that she was in charge. The coop leaders, all of them male, all from the area, (a few were former students), were completely deferential to her. When we arrived, we went to a small office – kind of like the principal’s office, where she sat behind the only desk in the room and the rest of us sat in chairs arranged around the desk.


Juan de Dios and José Adan from UCA SUMAN meet with Mercedes Sota

 She gave us a history of the school and her various positions there as well as some of the projects they were working on in partnership with UCA SUMAN; many of the school’s parents are farmer-members of the coop. She told us how she has to borrow a horse, from a coop member, to ride to the 7 other schools to check on them and how she can do about 1 school per day. “The government in Managua won’t even give me a motorcycle!”, she said. She told us how they were waiting for electricity at the school. She pointed up at the ceiling and sure enough there were light bulb sockets and conduit – but no juice. They were waiting for a final inspection.


 


She took us on a tour of the school, the kitchen, and the little two bedroom dorm for the teachers. When were in the kitchen, it was a little dirty and you could hear the cleaning woman getting scolded very quickly and quietly under her breath, thinking we wouldn’t be able to catch it. The best way to describe the cleaning woman’s expression was that she had that “oh, I’m going to get it later look.” When we visited the somewhat untidy dorm house, unannounced, she also dished out some scolding to the teachers.  


I’m glad she’s not my boss or my teacher. But if I were a parent in the area, I would love to have her running my kids’ school. In fact, she had been offered a promotion recently but the community protested so much, she ended up staying.  

One of the nicest things she said was that “thanks to the respect the coop gives the school, we’re able to keep moving forward, making progress". And you could tell that meant a lot to Directora Sota.
________________________

:: Try some coffee from this Coop
:: See where the school and the coop are located

 


 


 


  

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Wired magazine calls Keurig Mini a lifesaver

A hearty "thank you" to Wired magazine for their extremely favorable review of our Keurig B30 Mini Brewer.  They actually call the cute little brewer a "lifesaver".  Our favorite quote from the review is this:
For busy professionals, the Keurig Mini single-cup brewer can be a lifesaver. Operation is simple enough for sleepwalkers: Pour water into the tank, pop a fresh K-Cup cartridge of grounds into the holder, and push a button. In three minutes, you've got a steaming cup of joe.

Click here to see the full review.
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Growing Coffee is a Dirty Job

I stumbled on this coffee segment on YouTube called Dirty Jobs:Coffee Growers. It's the Discovery Channel's show with Mike Rowe. If you have 6:37 minutes to spare, check it out.
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Join us in raising a mug...

Can the holidays really be here already?  

I love this time of year: the crisp air, the bustle, the parties, Thanksgiving.

At the same time, it's so easy to be swept up in the rush.  In the coming weeks, we're giving out coffee at a number of events in the Boston area.  When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, we hope you'll join us!

And, while you've got that coffee in your hand, join us in a collective deep breath and moment to reflect upon the holiday season's unique ability to help us all focus on the things that really matter.  Whether your list of things-that-matter includes time with family and friends, the collective spirit of goodwill or just the virtue of a great cup of coffee, there's a revelation in every cup.

For your revelation (and some coffee), join us at the following locations:


Cheers!

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Keurig TV ad hits the airways

Have you spotted our new Keurig television ad on FoodTV, The Today Show or one of your other favorite shows?  Our new ad just started hitting the airwaves this week.  Kudos to the Keurig team down in Reading, MA for doing such a nice job with this ad.  Take a look:

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Thanks, U.S. News World Report!

We'd like to thank US News & World Report for the wonderful Green Mountain Coffee article that was published this week.  Click here to read it.  Here's my favorite quote from the article:
 The company's roots are in specialty coffee sales, but its crown jewel—the Keurig machine—is the market leader among single-cup brewers, accounting for more than half of all machines sold.
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Better Days Ahead

"Better Days Ahead" By Dustin Johnson Organic Trading Products Company
Luis and Alberto and Father and Son and both organic coffee farmers

From one of our importer partners comes this nice succinct snapshot of the complicatedness of coffee in Colombia. If you'd like to try some coffee from this area, order some Fair Trade Colombian K-Cups.

In the southern State of Cauca, Colombia, the red blooms of the cachimbo tree have painted the lush mountainside canopy, creating a temporary contrast against the vibrant green canvas. The tree blooms once a year in the spring, but only if the temperatures have been moderate. A cold winter will prevent the cachimbo from blooming all-together and be the first indicator of a problematic year for the coffee harvest. Even though this year's temperatures have been adequate for coffee production, the cachimbo won't indicate rainfall, a problem that coffee throughout Colombia has been struggling with.

Cauca generally has a warm summer with several months of sun that allows the coffee to grow, mature, and be harvested on a predictable schedule. This year the summer never came. Rain and clouds cover the skies and still are having damaging effects on the coffee cherries and trees. Too much precipitation and moisture will "burn" the coffee leaves, lack of sunlight will reduce the production and slow the maturation process while heavy rains can knock any ripe cherries off the bush before they are harvested. This kind of climate change, even for one season can be detrimental to thousands of farmers within a region.As serious as this change of climate has been it is only part of the issues that our producers are facing this year out of Colombia. The value of the Colombian Peso has plunged over the past year with the devaluation of the US dollar. Producers who sell their coffee at the same price or even better than the previous year are finding that their annual income is dramatically less than before. Less money as prices have doubled for basic goods, food, and transport can have a crippling effect on these producers who have only small farms to sustain their families throughout the year. Another threat is the presence of national and multi-national corporations who see the small cooperatives as competition for the coffee they have controlled for decades. As cooperatives organize more and more small producers, working with them to improve quality and implement social programs within their communities, less coffee is available, and large corporations have to pay higher, fairer prices. To change this, these companies are trying to buy up coffee before it gets to the cooperative, at even higher prices the small cooperatives cannot compete with.

Those small producers that live year round on one salary have a hard time passing up such "opportunities." In the meantime the cooperatives lose out, and cannot afford to continue to organize. Once the cooperative goes under, the large companies will dominate the market again and pay the price they choose to. Those dealing with such issues are dedicated farmers like Alberto Buitrón. He owns three hectares of land south of Popayán, which has been producing organic coffee for the last 18 years. Alberto took on the farm from his father, Luis Fernando, who is 84 years old, and was a coffee farmer for 60 years. Their home sits amongst a small section of the farm, surrounded by tropical plants, fruits, and flowers, overlooking the valley and other small coffee farms farther down the hill. It is a beautiful spot that has taken generations of work to create, and continues to demand long hard days from Alberto to maintain.

As he shows us around, he explains the constant chores of his land. When we arrive at a covered patio he opens a large plastic barrel of liquid fertilizer, created from organic material from around the farm. It emits an overwhelmingly sweet smell of manure, fermented cherries, and honey. Creating this fertilizer takes time, patience and constant attention, as do all of the daily coffee farm duties. The fertilizer is just an example of the additional work and effort put forth by these small farmers to produce high quality coffee, coffee that is greatly affected by the ever-present dangers. Within the communities I generally ask producers how they deal with the struggles of producing coffee; the competition, the devaluation of currency, the rising prices of supplies, and the unpredictable weather. Here in Colombia, as in most countries we visit, the answer is the same; 'esperanza' or hope. When I ask Alberto about his hope for the coffee season he points to the flowering cachimbo tree and says, "That is a good sign." For him and his fellow cooperative members sometimes the hope of better days ahead is all they have to hold on to.

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I realized ...

Our search for great coffee is tireless.  When we find that perfect bean or peak roast, the resulting cup is more than a sip, a beverage or a handwarmer ... it's a moment of reflection, a chance to recharge and clear our heads.  It's a chance to get inspired.

These moments inspire us to focus on the things that matter to us - great coffee (of course!), supporting small-scale specialty coffee farmers and working to reduce our carbon footprint.

Mundane or earth-shattering, short and sweet or long and insightful - or even just plain fun - every cup holds a revelation that's personal, simple, inspiring and true.  What's your revelation?

With a coffee experience this good, it's worth sharing the enthusiasm.  Since shouting from the rooftops is a little impractical, we are going to Boston to spread the word.  In the coming days, we'll tell you all about it, including ways for you to join us, so be sure to check back here for all the latest news.

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Keurig On the Go!

DISCLAIMER:  While we find Tony’s story interesting (which is why we are posting it below), NEVER BREW COFFEE OR OPERATE DEVICES WHILE DRIVING.  I think everyone knows this, but…well, read below.

Our Keurig brewers are convenient, innovative and as Tony Moldovanyi can attest; fast.  Tony travels with his “Car-rig” brewer strapped to a crate in the front of his car. Following is the last communication he sent me in regards to traveling with his Keurig brewer:

Hi Heather,

It was great to hear from you! I have attached several pictures of my Car-rig. I just got back from a two week trip to Nags Head, NC and Richmond, VA. I must say, I don't know that I could have done all of that driving without this. All I did was make an AC/DC Power Inverter to plug the Keurig into the cigarette lighter.  I strapped it to a crate so it doesn't go anywhere … I also kind of tailgated one morning in a rest stop parking lot on the New Jersey Turnpike with an old couple that were riding their motorcycles to Florida for vacation, from Portland, ME. They had pulled in next to me as I was brewing a cup, and we got to talking. Long Story short, I went into the S#**#ucks at the rest stop to get two paper cups for them (for which they charged me $1.00!!).  And we sat and chatted in the parking lot, sitting in the back of my VW station wagon for nearly an hour, just drinking coffee and chatting. It was awesome! Unfortunately my camera battery was dead, so I didn't get a photo with them.

Anyway, it was an extremely interesting trip. I have much to write about, so if you have the time, check it out in the next few days, I'll be posting all of my travel stories.

Thanks again!
Tony


After reading Tony’s story I became interested in hearing about how the Keurig brewer has impacted other’s lives.  Leave us a comment and tell us about your Keurig brewer experience.

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Our 100,000th active Cafe EXPRESS member: Miriam Crump

Miriam Krump, 100,000th active Cafe EXPRESS member

We have just reached a wonderful milestone:  100,000 active Cafe EXPRESS members!  Hooray!  At roughly 11am EST on Monday, November 3rd we received a phone call from Miriam Crump of San Angelo, Texas.  Miriam, who absolutely loves her Keurig brewer, decided to get her K-Cups through Cafe EXPRESS.  And with this decision, our Cafe EXPRESS active membership totalled 100,000 for the very first time.  And it continues to grow.

I called and emailed Miriam to ask her why she signed up for Cafe EXPRESS.  She said its because of how much she likes her brewer.  Here's her email reply:

I would like to tell you the story of how I fell in love with the Keurig coffee maker and how I got one of my own.  While on vacation in New York I stayed with a friend who had the Keurig coffee maker.  My husband, daughter and myself were there and we all were very impressed.  It is nice because we all like different hot drinks.  My husband likes regular coffee, I like flavored coffees and my daughter likes flavored teas and hot chocolate.  With the Keurig you make one cup/mug at a time.  It is always hot with great flavor.  There is no coffee grinds or mess involved with the Keurig.  There are a great many choices of regular coffees, flavored coffees as well as all different kinds of teas.  When we came home my daughter asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I told her a Keurig coffee maker.  So I got one for Christmas and we have all been enjoying it ever since.  Thanks for reading my story.  Hope you enjoy!!    Miriam R. Crump
 

Rock on, Miriam!  And welcome to Cafe EXPRESS -- we hope you and your fellow 100,207  members (as of 5:38pm Nov 4th) stay with us for a long time!

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We got to meet the President

Ed Canty, Rick Peyser and Winston Rost have been in Coban, Alta Verapaz in Guatemala, visiting APODIP – Asociacion de Productores para el Desarrollo Integral del Polochic. We’ve bought coffee before from this coop and with this visit we hope to buy more. In 2006 and 2007, Green Mountain Coffee funded some research with CIAT and Food Lab to do some food security research with coffee farmers in the area and many of those farmers are members of APODIP. This morning we met members of the coop board, their General Manager Marvin Lopez Garcia, and their President Emilio Quim (Pictured with Ed Canty). It turns out that Emilio has never met a coffee roaster before and he has been a coffee farmer all his life and Marvin said that we’re the first roaster to make it up here to visit them.

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