Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

CAFE TIME – Running to Keep Quebec Rivers Running Free

Last week I used CAFE Time to run a marathon which the organizers hope will generate increased public awareness about the few remaining major rivers in Quebec that have not been dammed for hydro-power. CAFÉ Time enables GMCR employees to do up to 52 hours per year of volunteer time with pay. My run was one of 50 linked marathons that will cover over 1,000 miles – with generally one runner per link.

The course started near St. James Bay on September 9th, in northern Quebec with Cree Indian runners who carried a baton that contained a letter from the Cree Nation that speaks eloquently about the immense value of open rivers to the people of the First Nation. The marathon will continue on to Montreal, Quebec City, and end at the headwaters of the Romaine River on October 18th, a river that is in the process of being dammed. Public meetings are being held in the major towns along the marathon route to help generate support for keeping the remaining major rivers in Quebec running free. While I had always considered hydro-power as “green,” I quickly learned that this shade of “green” comes with a price. Please visit: and for more information.

Early Friday morning I was picked up in Ottawa, Ontario by three volunteers in a Honda Civic working for a non-profit organization known as Alliance Romaine, which organized this chain of 50 marathons. We crossed the Ottawa River to Gatineau, Quebec, and drove 42.2 Kilometers (26.2 miles) north on Route 105/5 quickly leaving suburbia behind, and entering a land of beautiful rivers, foliage, and huge hills.

The morning was clear, in the 40’s, with little wind. In short, it was a perfect morning to run. I carried the letter-bearing baton in my left hand and started out. It was a real privilege to run this beautiful route, as hilly as it was. The support team followed closely behind me, and every half hour or so, pulled alongside me to offer Gatorade. In about 3 ½ hours we were back in Gatineau, where I navigated traffic lights, dogs, and construction, finishing about 20 minutes later.Rick nearing the finish line in Gatineau, Quebec

I was fortunate to have such a beautiful day and wonderful support team to make this run memorable. Hopefully my run helped advance the public discussion about keeping the remaining rivers running free.

Here is a stunning aero view of the Romaine River:


Circle Of Excellence award (again!)

coe_logo_vert_rgbA big thank you to BizRate, our web site satisfaction partner, for awarding us our second Circle of Excellence award!  Actually, we have you, our loyal consumers to thank.  The award is given to web sites with the highest consumer scores for:

  • Overall Satisfaction

  • Product Selection

  • Ease of Finding Products

  • Likelihood to Shop Again

  • Product Met Expectations

  • On-time Delivery

  • Customer Support

How does BizRate collect this info?  Rankings are based on survey responses from the pop-up window request after purchases on our retail site and all the other sites in the BizRate network.  Over 5,000 retail web sites participate in BizRate's survey system, but only the Top 3% of rated sites receive this award.

Thank you for all the positive and negative feedback you've provided through the BizRate survey.  Your feedback helps us improve our web site.

And while it's nice to receive this award, we do realize the transition to our new web platform has been rocky.  We deaply apologize for any problems you may have experienced.  If we can help out in any way, please call us at 888-879-4627.  Thank you.


There are donkeys in our supply chain

We have lasers that etch date codes in the sides of K Cups. We have a robot-run fork truck that stacks pallets of coffee 4 rows high, both sides, for 100 yards. We have server rooms for the computers and servers and those rooms have their own air conditioning systems. We have 500 solar panels on the roof, bio-diesel in our trucks, cell phones and blackberries galore.

And donkeys.

Ancient, but not outdated, Technology

These donkeys are in Peru, carrying coffee cherries to a mill run by a coop called ADISA, from whom we buy coffee. Apparently, the coffee in this batch was destined for us. In fact – you might be drinking coffee right now that was on the back of a donkey, not just in Peru , but in many other countries where we buy coffee. In this case – it is coffee that was carried by a donkey, but that also went on a floating barge-like vessel to cross a river.

So, if you're ever sitting there wondering where your coffee's from – we'll tell you – it came from far away, it's the result of many people's hard work, the result of high tech equipment and some very ancient technology.


Day 2 in Kenya - waking up to Zebras, Hippos and Fair Trade Roses

Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Coffee Community Outreach (we like long titles here at Green Mountain Coffee) is currently in Kenya. As posted in yesterday's on the road blog post, Rick is in Kenya for the Fair Trade Labeling Organization's (FLO) Board of Directors Meeting.

His update for today:

"This morning I woke up early to join other FLO board members before dawn, to visit some hippo's just walking distance from our hotel last night. Along the way we saw

Zebra at dawn - Lake Naivasha, Kenya

 herds of water buck, zebras, and giraffes (including two babies).


After breakfast we drove to visit fair trade flower producers near Lake Naivasha, about a 2 hour drive from Nairobi. It is a huge operation with 5,000 flower growers - all producing fair trade flowers (mostly roses and carnations) that are shipped primaily to Europe for sale. The flowers are

very beautiful, and are carefully packaged to maintain their shelf-life.

Roses fair trade flower producers near Lake Naivasha, about a 2 hour drive from Nairobi

The miles of greenhouses use geothermal energy, generated by a 2.5 MW power plant. The company (Oserian, part of the Mavuno Flower Network) also supports a wildlife sanctuary that is home to a number of rhinos, three of which have been born this year.

We just visited a primary and secondary school that the Fair Trade premium paid for. Four hundred students are now attending the school, with some continuing on to

the university system.

As always the children were great to spend time with. They got a kick out of seeing a group of people (FLO Board members) from around the world.

Fair Trade roses from Oserian, Lake Naivasha, Kenya

It has been very interesting to learn more about how Fair Trade is making a significant difference in this part of the world, even outside of our world of coffee."


Fair Trade in Kenya

Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Coffee Community Outreach is on the Board of Directors for the Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO). FLO is the organization that coordinates Fair Trade labeling on an international level. They set international Fair Trade standards, organize support for producers around the world, develop global Fair Trade strategy, and promote trade justice internationally.

As a member of their Board of Directors, Rick travels four times a year to different locations for FLO's Board's meetings. Right now, Rick is far away in Nairobi, Kenya. As part of this quarter's Board Meeting, they are visiting Fair Trade tea farms around the area.

Below is an update I received from Rick today, literally written on the road as he entered the Rift Valley, Kenya:

  "We are in one of our two buses on our way from Nairobi to our hotel in the Rift Valley.  We still have close to two hours to go.  We started today at 7 a.m. - long day.

It has been sunny and warm today, but is now clouding up a bit.  The country is in the midst of a severe drought.  I watched a report on TV yesterday morning that was about cattle that died due to no water - very sad for the animals and their owners.

As expected people are very poor, and it was heartening hearing from tea producers about the difference fair trade is making in their lives.

It is nearing dusk, and we just came to a spectacular view of the Rift Valley which we are starting to descend into.

 At any rate, it has been a long day, and tomorrow promises to be just as long and even more interesting


Click here for the general area of where Rick is.


No one had ever mailed me a package before

Lindsey Bolger, Green Mountain Coffee's Director of Coffee, cups with Juan Francisco Valladerez, Fair Trade coffee farmer

This from a 58 year Fair Trade coffee farmer from northern Nicaragua.  A few months ago we posted an article about Juan Francisco Valladerez that featured a letter he wrote describing his life. We were so touched by his letter, a bunch of employees wrote back to him, I translated the letters, I bundled them up with a GMCR calendar and some stuff with our logo and mailed it to his coop – UCPCO - asking them to deliver it to him.

On top of mailing things to him, we asked his coop to come visit us and bring Juan with them. It took awhile, but we got him up here. When we finally had the chance to meet Juan in person, of course I was dying to ask, “did you get the letters we sent?”

He said, “Yes, I did. No one has ever mailed me a package before and it made me really happy to get so many letters from you. And then when the coop told me you wanted to meet me, I couldn't believe it – I would never have imagined being invited to the United States to visit with you.”

Needless to say, it was his first trip out of Nicaragua , his first plane ride, the first time he ever had hot pancakes with Vermont maple syrup at the Old Stagecoach Inn.  And the first time he ever cupped coffee.

Tasting and evaluating coffee with your customer, the buyer, might seem normal for you, but there are millions of coffee farmers who never get to meet the person or company who is buying their coffee and even less frequently do they have the opportunity to visit and talk shop at the same table, in the same time zone, on a level playing field.

Thanks to the Fair Trade movement and to our customers who ask for the best and the fairest, Juan was able to do just that.

Try some of our coffee that might have some of Juan's coffee in it.