Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

ASOCAMPO: Growing Coffee and Putting Food on the Table

Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy Coffee-Community Outreach is currently traveling in Guatemala. Rick works and travels around the globe, visiting coffee farms where have outreach programs. Rick's work specifically addresses poverty and hunger in the coffee-growing regions where we source our coffee.

Here is an update from the ground in Guatemala:

San Miguel Pochutla is separated by one volcano from the communities along Guatemala's picturesque Lake Atitlan.  Nestled in the mountains above Pochutla is a small hamlet known as Candelaria, that is home to ASOCAMPO, a Fair Trade cooperative that produces high quality coffee for GMCR.
The co-op was founded in 2002, on what was a large coffee estate known as Finca La Florida.  The owner abandoned the farm following the coffee price crisis in 2001.  Many of the farm's workers purchased the farm with the help of the Guatemalan government. Today over 100 families produce just over one container of coffee.  This is double their production from last year, and the co-op is planning on serious growth, hoping to produce 5 containers within the coming years.

The photo shows a coffee plant nursery that currently is home to 40,000 young coffee plants that will be used to renovate and expand current coffee parcels.  In the coming months this nursery will be expanded to support 100,000 young plants.

Thanks to the support GMCR is providing through Catholic Relief Services, the farmers and their families are now diversifying the use of their land, and in addition to growing coffee are growing food to eat and to sell, as an additional source of income.
The co-op has recently built a green bean packing plant, with the assistance of the Guatemalan government.  Green beans grown by the farmers will be sorted and packed by 37 employees (new jobs!) in the community starting before Easter this year. The project is being facilitated by Cuatro Pinos, supplier of French green beans to COSTCO.
ASOCAMPO is developing rapidly, yet is on a path that is supporting sustainable livelihoods for its family members.

Try some of our coffee that might contain ASOCAMPO's beans.


Rhode Island #Revelation2Action idea

We're about two weeks into the Revelation to Action competition and the entries are starting to roll in! The online competition is looking for ideas that strengthen local communities in New England and New York. So far we've got 16 entries and 13 nominations!

Today, we're highlighting one of the online competition's most read ideas last week - this one from Rhode Island.

Meet ecoRI, Inc from Rhode Island, about Rhode Island:

Their mission is " to investigate issues and write stories that will catalyze positive environmental change in Rhode Island. The nonprofit journalistic initiative is devoted to educating Rhode Island policy makers and the public about the causes, consequences and solutions to local environmental issues.

According to their entry, "no other state features an online news organization that is solely dedicated to local, independent and investigative environmental journalism. doesn't have links to stories written by other sources and posted on other Web sites, and the stories, opinions and videos are written and produced by Rhode Island people about topics that matter to Rhode Islanders."

Rhode Islanders, what do you think? Let us know your thoughts below or discuss their idea on the Revelation to Action competition site.

Know another organization that is working to strengthen your community? Nominate them! If an organization you nominate wins, you win a Keurig B60 Single-Cup Brewer (just for nominating!!).

We're also holding re-tweet competitions every Friday during the competition, with a chance to win free coffee. Follow Changemakers and GreenMtnCoffee on Twitter for more information. You can also check out last week's Coffee Break video for more information.

For all prize and competition information, head to the Eligibility, Criteria and Prizes section on the Revelation to Action competition homepage.


Los Nacientes is Here!

Today as we speak, we’re roasting up the Special Reserve Costa Rican coffee called “Los Nacientes”. This is one of the farms that a bunch of employees and I visited just two weeks ago on an Employee Source Trip.

When I started working at GMCR in the Factory Outlet Store in 1991 (they weren’t called cafés back then), making $5.00 per hour part time, there were slow spots in the afternoon. I’d read the paper, or pick up a coffee book and brush up on coffee terminology, or read what was basically the employee newsletter.

One afternoon I read about what turned out to be the first of many, many employee source trips, at the time to Costa Rica. I thought that was coolest thing. And that was when my $5.00 per hour part time job stopped being an in-between-ski-season job and started being something that 18 years later is still morphing into interesting and satisfying work that pays me to drink coffee and travel to far off places and meet great coffee farmers.

I finally got to go to Costa Rica in 1996 and it was a trip I will never forget. Fast forward to 2010 and I get to bring employees to Costa Rica and meet interesting farmers like Marvin Rojas Alvarado, one of the many family members helping run the sprawling 200 acre coffee farm called Los Nacientes (The Springs) in Palmares, in the West Valley of Costa Rica.

In 1996 I couldn’t speak any Spanish, so it was hard to communicate with anyone, but since then I’ve gotten pretty good at Spanish and on this trip I was able to talk to Marvin directly. About the farm, his coffee, the two mills on the farm (one that is 100 years old and still uses an ancient stone pulping wheel), and what it’s like to be a coffee farmer.

We brought a plaque to the farm that had a few words (in Spanish) of thanks and appreciation and hope for a long future together. When we gave it to him, he read it to himself, looked up and said “wow – that’s really nice – no one has ever given me a trophy like this.” We could tell he was very touched. For me it was thrilling just to be having such a nice long conversation with him. The distant memories of killing time in the Factory Outlet store, dreaming of trips to coffee lands, were getting even more distant.

30 minutes ago the roasters brought in their first test roast for the Coffee Department to taste and approve. Approve we do! Like Lindsey Bolger says, it’s like a splash of orange juice and breakfast.

I told Marvin we’d try really hard to sell his delicious coffee, so please buy some here. If you have any comments you’d like me to pass along to him and his family (he’d be thrilled), post them here and I’ll pass them along.


What does fruit have to do with cupping training?

Plenty, it turns out.

Fruits, tea, and chocolate are great tools for teaching cupping.

We sponsor a training program with our friends at Sustainable Harvest in Lima, Peru that teaches coop members and farmers in Peru to cup. Cupping is the sensory evaluation of coffee using a rigorous, objective set of protocols that helps everyone in the supply chain fairly and accurately judge and grade coffee.

As I'm writing, there's a class going on right now in Lima, and they sent me a great picture of fruits and teas and chocolates. Olga from their office said,

"Here producers are smelling, tasting and feeling all the fruits, spices, and tea infusions so they can create a sensory memory for cupping and identify what is a note of clove, chocolate, citris, etc."


On-Mountain Coffee Sampling

The President's Day holiday weekend is typically one of the busiest skiing and riding weekends at resorts across Vermont.  This year proved to be no different, as thousands of visitors chose to learn what those of us who live here have known for generations -- for winter sports in the East, you just can't beat what Vermont has to offer.  We've been a little light on the white stuff so far this season, but all the ski areas were geared up, groomed, and ready to go nonetheless.

To join in the fun, we had a sampling team take to the slopes at Killington, where they dispensed hundreds of samples of, among other offerings, our delicious Fair Trade Winter seasonals -- Wicked Winter Blend and Golden French Toast.  Many of the samples came from K-Cups, brewed on the spot using Keurig B60 Special Edition Brewers.

Many more samples were distributed by mobile brand ambassadors, armed with special beverage-dispensing backpacks.  This intrepid coffee infantry was able to bring fresh, hot Green Mountain Coffee right to folks in lift lines and around the base lodges...right where people needed it most.

You know what they say about Vermont -- it's ten months of winter and two months of really poor sledding.  So don't worry if you haven't made it up here to frolic in nature's playground yet this winter, there's still plenty of time to do so.

See you on the slopes....


#Revelation2Action - Welcome to Coffee Break

It’s Changemaker Tuesday, and you know what that means – updates!  It’s been about a week since we launched the Revelation to Action Competition. We partnered with Ashoka’s Changemakers to launch this online competition to find and help fund creative solutions to strengthen communities across New England and New York (see last week’s blog post for more details).

Each week we’ll be working with Sarah and Noelle from Changemakers to post a weekly video – Coffee Break - on the progress of the competition. You can check out the first Coffee Break here. Below you can find the next episode of Coffee Break, featuring Kristen and myself at our Visitors Center in Waterbury, Vermont. From the Green Mountain Coffee side of things, we’ll be filming at a different location for each episode. Is there someplace on our Waterbury campus you’re curious to see? Leave us suggestions below and you may see us there on our next episode.

Now, for this week’s Coffee Break: We discuss the upcoming ReTweet competition which starts on Friday, 2/19.

For rules and regulations, go to and click on Eligibility. Follow Changemakers and Green Mountain Coffee on Twitter for more details.

Full ReTweet Contest Details:

Beginning February 19, 2010, there will be a drawing on every Monday at approximately 9 AM EST from all persons with a Twitter account (a "Tweeter") that re-tweets a specific message from Changemakers' Twitter account ( during the previous Friday from 9 AM EST to 4 PM EST. In order to win, the Tweeter must re-tweet the entire message with hashtag (#). The Tweeter must be a follower of both Changemakers’ Twitter account and Green Mountain Coffee's Twitter account ( and the Tweeter must be a US resident.  Prizes include one bag of Green Mountain Coffee ($8.49 ARV) and competition merchandise ($10.00 ARV). Follow #Revelation2Action on Twitter to participate. Void where prohibited by law.


Revelation to Action Competition Launch (#Revelation2Action )

Here at Green Mountain Coffee, we believe that real change starts at home.  It’s because of this belief that working together with Ashoka's Changemakers to launch an online competition to find and help fund creative solutions to strengthen communities across New England and New York.

The Revelation to Action sm competition aims to discover promising initiatives, explore fresh ideas, and encourage collaboration on the best ways to inspire community action.  Ideas could include rallying a regional group to support a local foodbank, helping a community address its carbon footprint, establishing a program to incentivize recycling, or mobilizing a neighborhood to do an annual river clean-up.

Take a peek at what Michael Dupee, Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. and Charlie Brown, Changemaker’s Executive Director, have to say about the competition:

Now, for the details:

The competition takes place at, where community members are invited to:

  • Enter solutions to strengthen the community,

  • Nominate individuals and organizations with community solutions,

  • Discuss and share ideas and success stories,

  • Comment on proposals, and

  • Vote for finalists after June 9, 2010.

Winners will be judged on innovation, social impact and long-term sustainability.  The best innovations – top 3 voted by the community, and then one from each New England state and New York - will be awarded prizes totaling $50,000.  For complete rules and regulations of this competition, visit and click on “Eligibility, Criteria and Prizes.”

Let the change begin!

Stay tuned for updates our blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, or YouTube channel. [And don’t forget about Changemakers – they’re on their blogTwitter, Facebook, and YouTube, too!]  We’ll keep you in the loop on the latest news, ideas, and innovation that this competition brings.

So, the question must be asked:  Are you a Changemaker?


Our Employee Volunteers are Closely Knit

One of the amazing benefits we have at Green Mountain Coffee is our CAFE time. We have 52 hours of paid time-off per year to volunteer. One of the challenges with this though, is finding a volunteer activity that fits with your work schedule and taps into your passions. Two women decided to create their own opportunity, building on their love of knitting.  Below is their story.

Jeannine Simpkins and Trish D'Arcy

Written by Jeannine Simpkins and Trish D'Arcy:

"Comfy Creations was born from a desire to meet with other people who love to knit and crochet, and to produce items for people in need.  A little research proved that as long as we were creating items for a 501C3, non-profit organizations, we could utilize the Café Time program that is offered by Green Mountain Coffee.  This program allows employees to donate time to a non-profit during their working hours, up to 52 hours a year, and be paid while volunteering. This hobby was the perfect opportunity for us to utilize Café Time and bring in more people who had the same desire to knit & crochet items for those in needs.

Our initial projects were making warm winter items for The Salvation Army and for Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  Our current effort is to make 7 by 7inch squares which will be sewn together into afghans for, for the benefit of Haitian earthquake survivors.

We currently have volunteers from our facilities throughout the country (Vermont, Washington and Massachusetts)!"

Hear it in their own words: