Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

Food Security in Chiapas, Mexico

Sandy Yusen and Rick Peyser from GMCR joined Bryan Clifton, Alejandro Musalem and a team from Heifer International, in visiting projects in the El Triunfo Biosphere located in Chiapas, Mexico. Small-scale coffee farmers, who grow some of the beans used in Heifer Hope Blend, are acting as a buffer zone, protecting this pristine natural area and its biodiversity from the challenges of development.

Coffee farming families in this area, as in many other coffee growing areas in the region, suffer from an average of 3-4 months of food insecurity each year when they are unable to maintain their normal diet. This period of time is known as “los meses flacos” - or "the thin months."  GMCR has underwritten a fruit tree project which has resulted in the planting of over 11,000 fruit trees (avocado, apple, peach, macadamia, etc.) and a Heifer project that is delivering turkeys, sheep, pigs, chickens, and rabbits among other animals, to the members of CESMACH, a cooperative whose members are growing high quality Fair Trade and organic certified coffee.

The fruit trees will start bearing fruit within the next two years. While the team was in Chiapas it witnessed the delivery of some piglets and rabbits, which were a big hit among the children. Hutches had already been prepared for the animals’ arrival, and animal husbandry training had been provided all of the animal recipients, who will soon “share the gift” of the first animal offspring that arrive under their care.

A new rabbit owner!



A New Rabbit Owner!






    Before the fruit trees were delivered, sensibility training was provided to the families who were going to receive the trees. This training is credited with helping change the families’ view of “los meses flacos” from resignation to motivation, to overcome this challenge. The arrival of animals from Heifer is further strengthening their resolve and hope.

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K-Cup Storage Solutions

We get a lot of questions and suggestions about the best way to store K Cups, aesthetically speaking. We think we've got three pretty good solutions, though we're always searching for more.

k-cup-carousel

Our most popular storage device is our chrome K-Cup Carousel. It holds 27 K-Cups, looks great in any modern kitchen, and spins for easy use.  To learn more, click here.

 

k-cup-storage-baskets

For those seeking something more rustic and casual, we recommend our K-Cup Storage Baskets.  The baskets hold a total of 2 boxes of K-Cups (48+).  Click here for more details.

 

k-cup-tower

But maybe you'd like something more streamlined?  Try our K-Cup Tower.  It holds 30 K-Cups and rotates, lazy-Susan-like.

Still can't find what you want?  Come back in September -- we're adding four more storage options with the distribution of our new fall catalog.

Click here to see our full line of Keurig Accessories.

Have any k-cup storage ideas of your own?  We'd love to hear 'em -- please reply with comments or even e-mail us a digital picture at CustomerCare@gmcr.com .

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With great partners comes great coffee

One of the importers that helps us buy a lot of our Fair Trade Organic coffees is called Sustainable Harvest, based in Portland, Oregon. We all do a lot of quality training with our supply chain and the results are higher quality coffees. That’s great for producer groups because they can charge more for their coffee and it’s great for us because, well, we like great coffee.

sushar_stacy_nica

We just got in a report from them about some of the training activities. Our Coffee Department’s own Stacy Bocskor was in Nicaragua this past spring working with a bunch of our Nicaraguan supply chain. You can read all about it below. Text and picture courtesy of our friends at Sustainable Harvest.

Training Session 1 - Green Mountain HQ, Vermont The first part of the training series took place in at Green Mountain HQ in April. Eber Tocto (Chirinos Cooperative, Peru) and Astrid Bonilla (Federación Campesina del Cauca, Colombia) joined the Green Mountain team, along with Oscar Gonzales and Adam McClellan from Sustainable Harvest. While calibrating on coffees from around the world, the group discussed the criteria that GMCR uses to evaluate coffees, what exactly makes a coffee specialty grade, and strengthening the common language of taste between coffee grower and roaster.

Training Session 2 - UCPCO, Nicaragua For the second installation, the training program headed south to Nicaragua. Stacy Bocskor from Green Mountain was joined on this trip by four Sustainable Harvest staff: Debra Rosenthal, Fernando Seminario, Chabela Cerqueda Garcia, and Oscar Gonzales.

Sustainable Harvest imports more than 40 containers of Nicaraguan coffee for Green Mountain every year, and Green Mountain continues to expand its purchases of Fair Trade and organic certified coffees from Nicaragua. The commitment to these growers is based upon a shared dedication to specialty coffee, and this training session at origin was an opportunity Sustainable Harvest and Green Mountain to set the stage for consistent quality and manageable growth - shared priorities for the future of the Nicaraguan coffee sector for all business partners.

In attendance at the training were: Union of Organic Coffee Farmer Cooperatives (UCPCO), UCA Soppexcca, UCA San Juan del Rio Coco, Corcasan (a Honduran cooperative) and Prodecoop. To start off the day of training, Oscar Gonzales explained a tool he created - the 85 point pyramid. Once a coffee is classified as clean, the pyramid serves as a tool to grade the coffee from the initial 82 points it receives for cleanness, and to arrive at the desired 85 points. Stacy's participation reinforced these messages with her helpful suggestions based on the methodology used by the Green Mountain cupping team. When Stacy explained her role at Green Mountain and some facts about the company, UCPCO manager Heberto Rivas was incredulous at the amount of coffee processed each day, learning that Green Mountain runs through the equivalent volume of his co-op's entire harvest in less than one week.

The training culminated in a final cupping session of samples from each cooperative in attendance. Around the table were highly qualified cuppers, many of them Q certified, and this cupping session was a great opportunity to practice all they had learned during the morning session. Wilmer Estrada, a Q-Grader certified cupper from UCA Soppexcca, commented, "I want to thank you all for being here this week. Your presence shows us that you want to maintain a long-term partnership with us. Knowing that you value direct communication with us and are dedicated to helping us produce high-quality coffee motivates me to continue learning and working hard."

Session 3 - Sustainable Harvest Origin Office, Lima, Peru In June, Sustainable Harvest invited 25 cuppers and co-op managers from Peruvian cooperatives to the new "Center of Excellence" - Sustainable Harvest's coffee training classroom and laboratory. Understanding that training co-op staff in quality control is the best way to affect a positive change in coffee quality, the Center of Excellence is dedicated solely to training producers that provide coffee to Sustainable Harvest and Green Mountain to reach quality expectations, as well as to create stronger supplier groups and long-term relationships.

The course - which covered scoring, flavor descriptions, cupping vocabulary, and Oscar's quality pyramid, and Green Mountains quality expectations - emphasized quality calibration and creating well-rounded cuppers that speak a common language of taste. Manuel Rojas from the Perunor cooperative noted, "The course has helped me understand what the customer wants and what attributes they seek, and naturally this is going to help when we are putting together containers of coffee. I had general ideas, but now after this course, I have a better idea of what our coffee needs to achieve."

The next Center of Excellence training, planned for this August, will train another 25 Peruvian cuppers. This program will continue over the next three years, and will feature beginning, intermediate, and advanced cupping training.

Looking to the future of coffee quality The training courses in Vermont, Nicaragua, and Peru are part of an international, collaborative effort between Green Mountain, Sustainable Harvest, and Green Mountain suppliers. By approaching the path to consistent quality as an evolutionary process, one that must adapt to the changing needs of the farmer and the roaster alike, we are giving producers the tools they require to take the responsibility for coffee quality into their own hands. We look forward to continued success in this endeavor, as we work together to create the future of high-quality coffee.

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Volunteering on a Fly

By John Engelbert, Territory Manager (ME)

It is so very wonderful to work for a company such as GMCR (Green Mountain Coffee) and be given the time and resources to serve others. We call our volunteer program CAFEsm (Community Action for Employees) where all of our full-time employees get 52 hours of paid time to volunteer in their community.


 


Project Healing Waters, a national organization, has found a unique way to give to veterans. Many of those who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in Vietnam, experienced varying degrees of trauma and injury. Personally, I felt the need to give back to those who have served our country and have been injured or disabled in combat. Project Healing Waters  teaches veterans fly fishing, providing a form of healing recreation and camaraderie in the serene setting of the woods of Maine. Forest Lodge is located on Maine’s Rapid River, the location of Louise Dickenson Rich’s book, We Took to the Woods. It is deep in the woods, 17 miles from the nearest paved road, and is off the grid, with solar power and propane for lighting and cooking.


 


I know, I got stuck fishing as my choice of CAFE time (yeah, boo-hoo John), but ended up getting far more than I bargained for. Initially, I was only prepared to serve coffee, but after meeting Joe Taylor, an active duty injured soldier, my plans changed. Joe never had an opportunity to fly fish before. He had a quick lesson earlier that morning from the resident guide, so I asked him if he’d like to come out with me and try a few casts before lunch. He said he “sucked” at fly fishing and didn’t think he would do well, but I encouraged him to just enjoy the pristine setting and not worry too much about the results. (After all I myself am just a “super novice”). We walked down the trail to the river and practiced nymphing (a subsurface fly fishing technique) for a little while. A short time later, on his very first cast with a nymph, Joe caught, netted and then released a beautiful native brook trout. Joe was ecstatic! The joy on his face and in his eyes spoke volumes about the experience. Seeing him this happy made my day and my week. It was truly a healing experience both for him and for me.


 


The folks at Project Healing Waters and Forest Lodge’s host Aldro French were grateful for our donation of delicious, fresh brewed Nantucket Blend and breakfast. It was a challenge to brew coffee in the backwoods, but thankfully we had a generator so we could drink good, hot coffee each day.


 


I am very grateful to serve and give great thanks to GMCR for allowing employees time to give as a way of expressing our thanks to our communities. I am also thankful to Aldro French, a veteran himself, who along with his staff has made this lodge available for this wonderful event, sacrificing their own gain for the good of others.


John Engelbert and Aldro French enjoying a hot cup of Nantucket Blend


 


For those interested in learning more about Project Healing Waters, here’s a very poignant piece from ESPN’s Outside The Lines program from February 2009 that features the personal impact of war and a way to help people through the medium of fly fishing.


 


You can read more about the Forest Lodge, Healing Waters event in our local paper, Lewsiton Sun Journal

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Summer Camping? Don't forget the coffee!

Dr. Jane Goodall demonstrates her method for brewing coffee in the wild.

Recently, the CBS Early Show featured gear guru Paul Hochman talking about how more families are choosing camping vacations over more pricey visits to expensive resorts this summer.

There’s nothing like waking up in the wild on a chilly morning and greeting the day with a cup of hot coffee!  Green Mountain Coffee’s coffee experts are outdoor enthusiasts and never without their daily cup, so I polled them for their recommended methods for brewing coffee tentside. 

Ed just returned from a car camping trip up & down the East Coast.  He picked up micro-roasts from boutique coffee shops along the way and brewed them up with a hand-grinder and an insulated French press.

Don prefers the Mocha Pot, a dual chamber “stove-top” espresso maker.  A standard for homes in Italy, this is ideal for camping as it makes a concentrated cup with little heat and water.  Perfect for Don’s canoe and backpack camping excursions!

Lindsey also uses a French press, made of thermal stainless steel so it won’t break during her hard core adventures.  Inside the press, she stores a bag with enough ground coffee to last a few days. 

Winston also likes the French press and pre-ground coffee for his Adirondack adventures.  Even easier, he says, is the Chemex brewer, or the Toddy cold brewer.  With the Toddy you make up a concentrate in advance, and add water when ready to drink.  It can be served cold or heated on the stove for a hot cup.

Deb clued me in to the convenient Mini Minit.  These biodegradable filters are perfect for making one cup of coffee or tea at a time.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Jane Goodall demonstrate her rustic coffee-making methods in New York City when we launched our Tanzanian Gombe Reserve coffee.  She recycles the foot of a pair of pantyhose to use as a filter! 

Bottom line…with a little preparation and a small camping stove, you can make sure your next adventure is well-caffeinated.

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Little things add up

When it comes to buying green coffee for roasting, we're sort of the ‘customer'. But it's also a relationship business too and we highly value our relationships with the groups and people who sell us coffee. There are some obvious things we can do to help maintain those relationships – things like paying for their coffee right away, hosting people from source up here in Vermont , visiting them, and increasing our purchases.

Some of the less obvious things however can be very rewarding:

One of our suppliers in Nicaragua accidentally shipped a container (37,500 pounds of green coffee) to Oakland, CA, instead of New Jersey . Oops. Oakland 's kind of farther away than New Jersey and they would have been obligated to pay for the trucking from Oakland to New Jersey – to the tune of about $3,000. New Jersey 's where we keep a lot of our coffee before it makes the 7 hour journey up north to Vermont .

Lucky us Tully's in Seattle, WA., is now in our family, so we sent the coffee up north from Oakland to Seattle and it can used in one of Tully's fine coffees. Needless to say, the coop was thankful for our flexibility and for saving them that much money. They sent us a nice thank you note and it made folks here in the Coffee Department very happy.

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Watch Our Iced Tea K-Cups Brew

Wondering how to brew a refreshing iced tea using your Keurig brewer and our new Perfect Iced Tea K-Cups?  If so, check out the video demonstration below.  Hopefully Jessica's demo answers all your questions.  If not, give us a call at 888-879-4627.

We've also created a fancy Flash demo of these Perfect Iced Tea K-Cups, because there is no such thing as too much media, right?  I'm drinking the Unsweetened Black Tea as I type this, and it's delicious.  Give 'em a try!

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Take me to the Winooski River!

As we announced this morning in a Press Release, Green Mountain Coffee has joined a nationwide effort to keep America's waterways clean for a 5th year. As a sponsor of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup™, employee volunteers will use paid time off to clean a section of the Winooski River from July 20-24, 2009.

Green Mountain Coffee Employees pull tires & trash from Winooski River.

For me, this will be my third year helping coordinate and participate in the cleanup. The first year, we had beautiful summer weather, making a trip into the river a welcome experience. I got to meet fellow employees, many from production, who I hadn't had an opportunity to interact with before. That is just one of the many benefits of having a company volunteer program - employee camaraderie. I experience this every time I'm lucky enough to participate in our company volunteer program called CAFE (see my blog post's from our volunteer work at Bonnaroo). Last year, as the rain kept pouring down on VT, we could not get on the river, but helped cleanup the damage it made in Little River State Park and Hancock, VT.

My co-worker, Jasna Brown, coordinates the volunteer program at Green Mountain Coffee and the River Cleanup is a large undertaking to coordinate. Planning involves coordinating the sign-ups for over a hundred employees, transportation to and from clean-up sites, ensuring the safety of employees (especially educating folks on how to avoid poison ivy), disposing of the waste, feeding volunteers, and finally creating a commemorative t-shirt for all participants. Of course, she has the help of other passionate company volunteers.

Paul Comey, VP of Environmental Affairs, has been involved with the cleanup since it's inception and revels in the opportunity to whip out his kayak. water-shoes and waterproof -camera. Paul also works with the folks at Umiak, who help us out by donating canoes for the cleanup. Others from Corporate Social Responsibility, Facilities, Production and a host of other departments all work to make this event a success. Thank you and let's hope for dry, sunny weather for next week!

Green Mountain Coffee Employees cleaning up flood damage in Hancock, VT. (Photo: Gordon Miller)

If you're interested in learning more about the National River Cleanup, visit the American Rivers' website for ideas on how to coordinate your own event.

To learn more about our company volunteer program, CAFE, visit the Employee Volunteerism section on our Corporate Social Responsibility website.

Learn more about the history and other events on the Winooski River, check out the Friends of The Winooski River.

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Finally, Selva Negra

We’re roasting some very nice coffee from Nicaragua next week for the Special Reserve. You should order some right now.  It’s a fine coffee from a fine farm outside of Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Lindsey Bolger and Mausi Kuhl cupping in Waterbury, Vermont

This is the first time we’ve been able to buy and sell their coffee, though people from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have been there many times.

It’s one of the places our employees visit every winter on their Employee Source Trip to Nicaragua and it’s always one the places we hear about the most when employees get back. We hear things like, “Mausi and Heddy are so neat!” or “my word, the howler monkeys at night were the weirdest most deep jungle like thing I’ve ever heard” to “I woke up early and went to the pond by the restaurant and drank coffee watching a man in a small row boat pull up greens from the depths of the water to help make compost for the coffee and all the vegetables and flowers.”

After hearing these things for so many years, I finally got to stay at Selva Negra last fall, hear the monkeys at night, drink fine coffee and get a tour from Mausi herself of this sprawling organic coffee farm. Sprawling doesn’t even do justice to how many things go on at their farm. They raise their own chickens, meat, pigs, flowers, vegetables, make their own milk, and of course, grow a lot of coffee.

We thank Mausi and Hedy for the chance to offer some of their coffee and we encourage you to try some. If you’re looking for a great place to visit an organic coffee farm, look them up and go visit!

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NEW Perfect Iced Tea K-Cups!

That's right, you read that correctly:  ICED TEA K-CUPS

perfect-iced-teas

Our New Product wizards have worked with Celestial Seasoning's Blendmasters to come up with four delicous, ready-to-individually-brew iced teas.  Forget those weak powders.  Stop hogging the fridge with that big ol' pitcher.  Use your Keurig brewer, these Perfect Iced Tea k-cups, and the right cup filled with ice for the ultimate summer treat.

Refreshment is as easy as choose, brew and enjoy.  Click here for a fun demonstration of how they work.  Click here to see all four K-Cups.  Try them all:


All three sweetened teas use only naturally milled cain sugar with no artificial sweeteners.  Enjoy!

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