Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

Greenhouse Project in Mexico Feeds the Community

Written by: Mary Beth Jenssen

Think about the last time you went to the grocery store. How did you get there? What did you purchase? Was thereWomen in garden at Finca Triunfo Verdeanything you needed that wasn’t available?

For those living in Chiapas, Mexico, obtaining food can be a challenging and expensive journey. It is a journey that often leaves many empty-handed and in need of more food, or more nutritious food, than is available or affordable.

GMCR looks to build relationships at every level, including that of the coffee farmer. Recently, GMCR supported the Finca Triunfo Verde cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico, a project aimed at developing sustainable ways to combat hunger. In this cooperative, families face many months of hunger as food becomes less available and more expensive. This strain can lead to a having to make some difficult decisions such as choosing between putting food on the table and seeking medical attention for a sick child.

As a frigid, snowy winter or a hot, dry summer will prove, successfully growing produce is not always easy or reliable. Greenhouses have been used by many to combat the typical challenges of climate, pests and disease. In Mexico, not only do periods of extreme heat and drought create many challengesTomatoes growing in the Garden at Finca Triunfo Verdearound food production, so do the occasional heavy rains that can, in effect, drown a garden and prevent further growth. In search of a lasting way to alleviate hunger, the community joined together to construct greenhouses that could overcome such environmental challenges. These greenhouses would be used to grow organic vegetables that are not only a healthful addition to their diet, but also a potential money saving opportunity as families would no longer have to travel the great distances to acquire basic food staples.

Every member of the family worked together in the greenhouse to help nurture and grow the vegetables. These families enjoyed the fruits of their collective labor and produced many vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, cilantro, Swiss chard, onions,Boy with Cucumber and Chiles grown at Finca Triunfo Verdechile peppers, cabbage, kohlrabi, string beans and beets. This extra source of nutrition fed these families during a time when it is usually very difficult to not only purchase, but to grow food.

This greenhouse project united the community in its effort to work towards lasting change. The addition of these home-grown vegetables to their diet allows families to spend their limited income in other areas, such as an unexpected doctor’s visit. GMCR is proud to work with Finca Triunfo Verde cooperative to support the health and well-being of every member of the community.


Helping to Make a Shelter a Home

A couple weeks back, members of the Knoxville Facilities team took some CAFE time (our Before picture of floors at Knoxville Area Rescue Ministriescompany sponsored volunteer time) to volunteer at the Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries. The Ministries offer shelter and hot meals to those in need in the Knoxville region.  On average, over 400 people, including children, use the shelters and meals services each night.

The Facilities crew helped improve the facilities that they call “home” each night by helping with some of the behind-the-scenes “dirty” work. The team helped install a new floor system in women’s overnight shelter, called Hope Haven. They also labeled all the bunk beds, caulked sinks and painted the bathroom in the men’s overnight shelter, Samaritan’s Place. After pciture of floors at Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries

As you can see from the before and after pictures, the Facilities crew did a great job improving the Ministries’ own facilities. Thank you to the facilities team for coordinating this project and using your talents to make a difference!

GMCR Employee caulking sinks at Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries


Teaming Up with Fair Trade USA and USAID to Support Brazilian Coffee Farmers

We're pleased to participate with Fair Trade USA and USAID to support sustainable development for Coffee farmers in Brazil.  But instead of us telling you about this partnership, we thought you’d like to hear from Laura Ann Sweitzer, a Producer Services Project Associate at Fair Trade USA.   Read her guest post below, and see her on the ground in Brazil with coffee farmers.


We at Fair Trade USA are so excited to tell you about a new partnership in the world of Fair Trade, one that promotes biodiversity, conservation, and environmental education among Brazil’s coffee growing communities. We are teaming up with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Green Mountain Coffee® for a two year initiative called the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership Project. Our work together will help increase producer organizations’ understanding of and compliance with Fair Trade environmental standards and Brazilian environmental law.

Not only will the initiative support Fair Trade certification for new producer organizations and increase the amount of land under enhanced environmental protection, but the project will also support producer organizations interested in organic production and promote marketplace access for their products. It is a project that recognizes that biodiverse ecosystems form an important foundation for economic and social development, and that Fair Trade can be utilized as a tool for not only sustainable coffee production, but also for community empowerment.

“We fully endorse the goals of the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership in Brazil, which align with Green Mountain Coffee’s commitment to grow purchases of Fair Trade Certified coffee,” said Lindsey Bolger, Senior Director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships for the Specialty Coffee business unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. “We are pleased to participate in this comprehensive program that is focused on helping coffee farming families improve their livelihoods and the biodiversity of their farms. We are confident that this partnership will be a win for consumers and a win for Fair Trade coffee farming families in Brazil.”

Our partnership will build on the success of the recently completed Responsible Sourcing Partnership, which enabled participating farmers to continue making high-volume sales, while diversifying their client bases among new sustainability- and quality-oriented customers like Green Mountain Coffee. These farmers now look to the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership as a wonderful opportunity to direct focus towards sustainability initiatives.

“I am so thankful for the commitment and effort of Fair Trade USA and the Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project,” said Pedro Carnielli from PRONOVA, “the results have been incredible.  We look forward to the opportunity to continue work with Fair Trade USA through a new project, the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership Project. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue working as partners and continue to improve the quality of life for our producer members”

“Our collaboration with the work of Fair Trade USA has been without a doubt an important experience of professional growth and incomparable success” adds Beatriz Souza Pereira from Unipasv, “it has brought us many accomplishments that have deeply strengthened us as an organization.  Thank you for your confidence in us, for your dedication, for the partnership and for our friendship.”

In order to better support farmers and workers like Pedro and Beatriz, the two-year initiative is designed to maximize the sustainability of Brazilian small-holder coffee cooperatives by delivering assistance in three areas:

1) increasing the Brazilian hectareage under cultivation according to Fair Trade’s environmental standards

2) strengthening the ability of Brazilian small-holders to produce organic-certified coffees for export to the U.S. marketplace; and

3) building local capacity for more sustainable agronomy.

In essence, the project advocates for a better world by encouraging the production of coffee that is good for the consumer, the farmer and for the earth. It truly has the potential to positively impact the lives of thousands of Brazilian coffee farmers, giving them the tools necessary to invest in their futures.

“This project personifies the goals of Fair Trade by producing quality products that improve lives and protect the environment,” said Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “We’re excited to once again work with USAID and Green Mountain Coffee to promote sustainable and organic agriculture. The results of this program will offer these hard-working farmers long-term business skills and sustainable agriculture practices that will support these communities for generations to come.”


With Love: Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Today is about sharing love.  It's about saying, "I love you," to those you do.  It's about paying love forward by holding a door open for someone you don't even know.  It's about passing on your love of a family member in a cherished memory - or recipe, in this case.

Other than being one of our most devoted Pumpkin Spice fans, foodie Amber of Bluebonnets & Brownies fame has an arsenal of fantastic, easy, and heartwarming recipes on her blog - and she's graciously shared a personal - and delicious - one with us today.  So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day and sharing love with the masses, we're pleased to give the stage to Amber and her grandfather's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake:


Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake from Bluebonnets and Brownies

It's pretty safe to say that my grandfather, affectionately known as Gaga, was a huge coffee fan. When I was little, he would make us both some toast and cut it into strips. And then we'd both dip our toast into his milky coffee. The man never met a cinnamon roll he didn't love (with coffee, of course), and his favorite cake in the entire world is this chocolate mayonnaise cake.

I know what you're thinking - mayo and coffee in cake? It's actually one of the easiest recipes in the world because you don't have to worry if you've got eggs or oil on hand, and the end result is some of the most moist, flavorful chocolate cake you'll ever taste.

I never could understand why I had an aversion to chocolate cake from bakeries. I mean, we live not far from New York City, where some of the greatest diners and bakeries in the world are. But every chocolate cake I tried just fell flat with me. Then I asked my grandmother for Gaga's famous cake recipe.

As the plump little cupcakes came out of the oven, and that warm, rich, velvety flavor floated my way, I understood. This is chocolate cake. You see, without the mayonnaise and coffee to enrich and enhance the chocolate, cake just isn't as good.

Which coffee you use can affect your end result, too. I've made this cake with several Green Mountain Coffee varieties, from Fair Trade Rainforest Nut® to Fair Trade Espresso Blend, and even Nantucket Blend. Each lends its unique notes to the finished product. Rainforest Nut actually adds its own chocolatey notes, while the Espresso Blend is strong enough to give the cake a mocha flair. Blueberry or even French Toast would be excellent, too.


Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

2 cups all purpose flour (for cupcakes, add 2 extra tablespoons of flour)
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder – use a good quality like Scharffen Berger (for cupcakes, add 1 more scant tablespoon of cocoa powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup mayonnaise – no substitutes
1 cup cold coffee – I used Green Mountain Coffee’s Nantucket Blend

1 teaspoon vanilla


Sift together dry ingredients – set aside.
In mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, cold coffee and vanilla – add sifted dry ingredients, incrementally. Beat until smooth – scraping sides of bowl often. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 pan or 12 count muffin pan with paper cups. Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees. 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Chocolate Rum Butter Cream Frosting

3 sticks unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla or almond extract
2 lbs confectioner's (powdered) sugar
4 tbsps half & half
1 c. cocoa powder
2 tbsp dark or white rum

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, creaming well each time until completely incorporated. Add extract, salt, half and half and mix well. Add cocoa powder and mix again until light and fluffy. Then add rum and mix again. Frost cake immediately.



Ask the Coffee Lab: How to Use A French Press

“I always want to use my French Press!!! Seems complicated though, so it’s still in the box O_o Where should I start?”

- A grouping of a few questions on Twitter and the blog


Dear Soon-to-be French Press fans, I’ll show you how easy it is.

First thing's first:  Take the French Press (sometimes called a press pot) out of the box.   Run it through the dishwater and put it into service!

Some people get hung up with thinking that there’s a magic formula of grind size, amount of coffee, and time, but there’s no reason to be worried. The beauty of a French Press is its simplicity. Grind some coffee, pour it in, pour some hot water on top, let it sit for 3-4 minutes, press the plunger down, serve, and enjoy.

But it sounds like you're looking for more specifics to get started.

Grind: If you use the common 32-ounce pot, use 1.75 ounces of coffee ground at “coarse.” If you’re grinding at the store, just ask someone for the coarse setting. On a Bunn (the 1 pound grinder that you still see in grocery stores) it’s called “Electric Perc."  If you’re grinding at home and eyeballing the grind – you should be able to see some lighter colored flecks mixed in. That’s still coffee; it’s a part of the bean that would get ground up into smaller pieces with the more common auto grind.

Measurement: If you don’t have a scale to weigh out the grinds, go out and buy one.  While scooping your coffee for the French Press won't ruin the experience,  scooping is a suboptimal, volumetric way to measure coffee.  Why?  For example, the same volume of French Roast weighs less than the same volume of, say, Our Blend.  That's where weight comes in handy.

If you don’t have a scale, and you don’t want to do some trial and error to find the right ratio, you could start with putting in about 1 ½  inches of grinds at the bottom of the pot.


1. Boil up some water on the stove or from an electric kettle. Once it’s boiling, take it off the burner and set it aside for at least 10-seconds. That will bring the temperature to about 2000 Fahrenheit, which is the optimal temperature to brew coffee.
2. Pour the water into the pot until the “foam” gets to the top of the ring. (See how easy this is?)

3. Set your timer for at least 3-minutes.
4. When it goes off, stir the coffee like this:

5. Then press the plunger down, and - this part is important- leave it in.

6. Now, you can pour your French Pressed coffee in your favorite mug.  As studies show, with a nice warm beverage in hand, you’re more likely to be kinder to everyone, so a bonus for all!   Keep in mind that unless you have a thermal press pot, the coffee won’t stay hot for long, so just brew enough to drink right away (Or put it in a thermal carafe).

If you think the coffee is too strong, put less coffee in next time, and/or for less time too. If you want it to be stronger, put more coffee in, and/or keep it in there longer. There are no right or wrong choices for coffee to use, though I am partial to darker roast blends.  Fair Trade Organic Sumatran Reserve is very nice in a press pot, too.

Now that you know how it easy it is, you can make a fresh pot anytime you want.


GMCR Helping Guatemalan Girls Overcome Obstacles

Imagine you are a 12 year old Mayan girl living in the beautiful Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, yourfamily surviving on income from a small holding of coffee plants…

The end of the harvest is only a couple of months away, and you, like 3 out of 4 neighboring indigenous families, are living in extreme poverty and wonder how much you’ll get to eat during the “lean months” after the harvest this year…

You’d like to go to school, but it costs a lot, and while you are there, you can’t help your mother care for your siblings or pick coffee.  Your Mom never went to school, and she expects that you will be married early and start your own family…

Would you have the strength to advocate for yourself?  Would you convince your family, facing such hardships, to take on additional burdens for your education?  Can you even imagine a world where your education would make a difference?Starfish One-by-One Participant

GMCR is partnering with Starfish One by One, an organization that aims to reverse this cycle of lost potential in young girls, and instead put girls on a path to unlocking and developing their talents.  Starfish finds girls with great academic and leadership abilities but extremely limited financial resources and invites them into an academic scholarship and mentoring program.  These mentors are inspirational indigenous women in their community who have overcome similar barriers and have achieved a pathway out of poverty.  They cover topics such as self-esteem/leadership, personal finance, IT literacy, reproductive health, social responsibility, and environmentalism in addition to ongoing academic support beyond the 6th grade level. Most importantly, it works!  95% of girls in the program have demonstrated academic success which can lead to other positive social outcomes such as improved economic opportunities, delayed marriage, fewer children, and healthier families.

GMCR’s funding supports a 3 year education project in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala which has established two new mentoring groups of 15 girls each.  In addition, GMCR’s funding supports a learning center which loans books to schools, provides a resource center for students, and offers courses on topics such as nutrition, preventative health, and the environment.

We believe that an educated girl can change the world and are proud of our collaboration with Starfish One by One to empower girls in our coffee growing communities.


Working at GMCR: It Rocks!

I've been with GMCR for about 4 years. There have been lots of changes over those years, as we've grown not just in our family of brands, but in the number of co-workers as well.  I've grown as well.

I started with the company just out of college - wide-eyed and nervous to write an email to my very seemingly "grown-up" colleagues. I don't think I could have had a better introduction to the workplace than at Green Mountain. I've been given every opportunity to grow - from our outstanding Continuous Learning Program (education assistance, yoga and meditation on site), to our Wellness benefits (want to ski? or get a massage? or join a gym? GMCR will reinburse you 50% of the cost!) - I am proud to say that GMCR really is a great place to work! I'm not alone though - in FY09 93% of employees also think so!

Check out the video below to hear why our employees love working here!


Valentine’s Day Gift Pairings and Free Shipping

Are you a part of the perfect pair on Valentine’s Day?  Like peanut butter and jelly? Like ham and eggs? Like chocolate and coffee?

Oh, yes: you’re just like chocolate and coffee.   I can see it in your eyes – that’s an extra bold, deeply roasted love with hints of sweet cherries and mocha!  A love like that deserves a little chocolate paired with the right coffee.  Maybe something like:

Lake Champlain Chocolate Organic Truffles and Dark Magic Espresso Blend (regular or decaf)

Velvety smooth, dense ganache centers, rich and whipped Vermont cream and butter, hand decorated ... and now organic!  Take a sip of Dark Magic with a bite of a truffle – and you have a dark mocha mélange in your mouth!

King Arthur Flour Lava Cake Mix and French Vanilla (regular or decaf)

When we tried this chocolate lava cake mix, it took three ingredients and five minutes to make. After 14 minutes in the oven, we had an oozing chocolate treat worthy of a full-page photo in a fancy cooking magazine. The buttery and sweet qualities of our French Vanilla pair perfectly with this rich dessert.

Colts Chocolate Covered Marshmallows and French Roast (regular or decaf)

Colts wrap petite, fluffy pillow puffs in demi-dark chocolate and snuggle them inside a lovely gift canister. They’re perfect as an après-dinner treat, or for tossing into a hot mug of  French Roast.

Sound good enough for the other half of your heart?  Let’s make it sound a little more perfect: Free Shipping for Valentine’s Day! Use keycode LOVE-DAY at for FREE STANDARD SHIPPING within the contiguous U.S. until 2/7/11.  Remember: Offer valid from 2/1/11 – 2/7/11. This offer cannot be combined with any other offer. Café EXPRESS members are eligible and the offer applies to one-time orders only.  Cannot be applied to recurring Café EXPRESS orders.


Firefighter Cools Down with Coffee

Have you ever had a photograph stir you?  Just churn up something inside that manges to pull at your heartstrings and set your mind racing?  This is the exact feeling we had when we received the picture below in our Inbox:

All images copyrighted © Ed Pospisil.

After Ed Popsil, photographer and retired Captain of the Hartford Fire Department and honorary FDNY Deputy Fire Chief, sent us his photograph of firefighters and our coffee after a call, we knew we had to share the story.  In Ed’s own words:
“It was a hot summer day in Vermont. Smoke was billowing out of a 60-foot silo on a diary farm in Corinth, VT.  As in most of Vermont, ordinary citizens are our brave firefighters and this fire was no exception.  [Firefighter] Josiah Seawell was chosen to climb up the encased ladder to find where the fire was originating from. As you can see from this 1st picture (above), it was a dirty job but he found the fire about 40-feet from the ground inside of the silo.

It turned out to be a 7-hour fire fight and our Vermont volunteers, our brave and hard-fighting firefighters, fought this long, hard fire. After this tiring job, Josiah (2nd picture, below) found the relief he needed. In the spirit that is so often found in Vermont, The Corinth Country Store came to Josiah and the rest of the firefighters with Green Mountain Coffee...the only coffee that these Green Mountain Firefighters drink!”

All images copyrighted © Ed Pospisil.

Thank you so much for sending these pictures our way, Ed!  And a big thank you to Josiah and the Volunteer Fire Department for serving our community, protecting our neighbors, and being our everyday heroes!