Whenever I tell someone I work at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), I always get the response “Ohh – they’re supposed to a great place to work!” And I always agree with them; GMCR is a great place to work. In fact, on Monday, March 28th 2011 we were honored as one the best places to work in Vermont! Among others, recipients included small companies like HUBER+SUHNER, Inc and large companies like Mascoma Savings Bank.
To determine these awards, the Best Companies Group assesses both the Employee Benefits and Policies as well as conducting an employee survey at each participating company.
So what makes GMCR a great place to work? For many folks, they say it is working for a company that gives back. Although not all of our jobs directly relate to Corporate Social Responsibility, working for a company that is creating positive change in the world is inspiring. We also support employees’ passion and inspiration through our company volunteer program (CAFE), which provides employees with 52-hours of paid time-off to volunteer at organizations of their choice. Our matching donation program matches 100% of employees’ cash donations to non-profits up to $1000.00 per year.
Other employees value our commitment to continuous learning. Our goal for each employee is 30 learning hours per year. The company offers classes such as Applied Math, English as a Second Language, Business Spanish, Yoga, Tai Chi, Advanced Excel techniques and many more. It’s great knowing that the company is investing in your future and career.
Another benefit I value is the company’s commitment to wellness. I have affordable health care, opportunities to take yoga on campus, and even get reimbursed up to $500 per year for wellness activities, such as skiing, gym memberships and even massages!
As I write this, it’s 57-degrees and sunny outside the Visitor Center here in Waterbury, Vermont. I can imagine the sap flowing and the flowers preparing to pop through the wet soil. It’s hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago we were digging out of over two-feet of snow. Spring in Vermont is definitely unpredictable.
The winter months at the Visitor Center tend to have a more relaxed pace. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many folks from New England and it’s interesting how many times the same topics come up. One topic that came up a couple of different times is how important a good cup of coffee is the first thing in the morning. In fact, many people choose their morning stops based on where they can get a cup of Green Mountain Coffee. Coffee is such a big part of a person’s morning routine that the difference between starting a day off right or not is based on the quality of coffee in their cup. A store that keeps their coffee fresh and rotated can see a difference in their traffic flow and can see the value that a brand can give. Providing quality products and services is what keeps people coming back. I’m happy to hear that many of our business partners understand this concept and it’s definitely a concept that we work hard to maintain at our store.
Our Visitor Center is located in a working Amtrak station, so we see a lot of folks from different states come in while they're waiting for the train. Last week, we had over 40 people get dropped off after spending time in Stowe and they couldn’t say enough nice things about our station. The people that I spoke with were from California, Florida, and Missouri and they couldn’t believe that our station was this beautiful. The station not only includes our café and gift shop, but also has a lot to offer in respect to interactive displays about Waterbury history and the process of coffee from “tree to cup”, as well as information about Green Mountain Coffee.
I’m so proud of the Visitor Center, not only from the prospective of an employee but also as a lifelong resident of Waterbury. If you’re planning a trip to the Central Vermont area, I hope that you consider stopping by the Visitor Center to see all that we have to offer, have a cup of coffee, or just to say, “Hi!”
We are pleased to announce that Chai Latté from Café Escapes is back in stock and waiting for you to bring it home!
Based on all of your calls, e-mails, and blog comments, we know there are a lot of Chai Latté fans out there, and we'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience as we diligently worked to bring this delightful indulgence back to your home.
Once again you can indulge in mesmerizing aromatics with flavors of black tea and exotic spices, smoothed by a splash of milk and sugar.
Good news for Cafe Express members: you can once again add Chai Latte to your standing orders, so you'll always have plenty on hand!
We just started buying coffee from a small cooperative in El Salvador called APECAFE. It's not a super unusual group with an amazing tale of hardship or uniqueness, but it is a group that illustrates one of the models we use to buy coffee. With our certified coffees, we use a two tiered approach to sourcing and maintaining good relationships with our supply chain. The first part is fair pricing and clear quality expectations. The second tier is social investments.
As you might know, we take 5% of our pre-tax profits and invest a portion of that in our supply chain, with a strong emphasis on food security to help combat the thin months or "los mesos flacos" in Spanish. Right now we're funding over 50 different projects in over 10 different countries to the tune of over 4 million dollars per year. One of those fundees is Sustainable Harvest, a highly regarded importer of certified coffees based in Portland, OR.
This past summer, they put on a Let's Talk Coffee Food Security Event, that we helped fund, for their and our supply chain. Here's right from their website:
Sustainable Harvest pays growers prices well above the Fair Trade minimum price for their coffee; yet, when we visit coffee-producing communities in Latin America and Africa, farmers still tell us that they struggle to provide food for their children at certain times of year. We realized that simply paying a just price for coffee was not enough. We wanted to help farmers provide food for their families all year round. We began working on mushroom production projects in Tanzania and peer training in Central America.
Sustainable Harvest began our work in food security by leveraging the Let’s Talk Coffee® format—peer-led, hands-on training combined with technological innovations and a market-based approach—to scale initiatives that provide coffee farmers with greater food security. Sustainable Harvest invited approximately 60 people from cooperatives across the region to the Food Security Solutions event in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. There, participants learned innovative, effective strategies to improve food security that they can replicate in their own communities.
One of the groups there was APECAFE. Jorge Cuevas, Director of Trade Operations for Sustainable Harvest, met with them and they had this to say about us, "we find that very few companies are interested in our livelihoods, our caloric intake, and the nutrition of our children." They wanted to be in our supply chain and we needed coffee. So Jorge connected us: first over a Skype call for an "introduction" as well as some emailed pictures from the event at Selva Negra in Nicaragua. Then, like a good importer does, he facilitated an exchange of quality expectations and helped both sides negotiate a fair price. Now we all have signed contracts and are eagerly awaiting their fine coffee. When it does get here, we're going to put it in our Fair Trade Vermont Country Blend.
Jorge was kind enough to let me do a quick interview with him giving some more background information on the coop. He was here in March and of course it was snowing, which doesn't happen that often in Oaxaca, Mexico where Jorge is from. Poor guy, about half the time he visits here it's snowing or raining and every time we visit him it's sunny, dry and warm. ---------------
Connections: Part 2 One of our other fundees is Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala and they're also doing food security work. At that same conference in Nicaragua was Michael Sheriden from CRS. He has been working for awhile with APECAFE, in particular Las Cruces, which is a primary level coop in APECAFE. He keeps a really nice bog called CRS Coffeelands Blog. Michael does development work in Central America, but to read his posts and see his pictures, you would think he came from the New York Times and National Geographic. Great pictures of farmer and employees of Las Cruces.
Water is an essential requirement for life and that is why today, March 22, we celebrate World Water Day. In 2005, the UN General Assembly established a goal to cut the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in half by 2015.
In 2010, the United Nations expanded the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include the Human Right to Water. That is defined as all people’s right to safe, sufficient, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use. We support that Human Right to Water and have outlined steps to ensure that our business engagement respects that right. You can read more here.
In addition to our business practices, we also reach out into communities where we work and where we source coffee. In our employee communities, we roll up our sleeves
In coffee-growing communities we support projects that bring safe water to those communities, such as:
Water for People: Bringing potable water, sanitation and hygiene to approximately 2,207 people in Nicaragua. The Skoll Foundation recently recognized Water for People and CEO Ned Breslin with a prestigious Award in Social Entrepreneurship for their outstanding efforts in bringing drinking water and sanitation to many impoverished communities.
Café Feminino Foundation: Providing permanent potable water to be used for food preparation and hygiene in San Antonio, Peru.
HELPS International: Installing water filters to provide access to clean, safe drinking water in Guatemala and Nicaragua.
CII-ASDENIC: Developing an irrigation system to be used for agricultural production, drinking water, and hygiene.
Sustainable Harvest: Developing secure water infrastructure to allow farmers to implement micro-irrigation systems to be used in the dry season for vegetable production, community consumption, and coffee processing in Tanzania.
Tonight, when you head to the bathroom to brush your teeth remember not to take your access to clean drinking water for granted.
Get ready to grab a good book, apply your sun block, and relax into your favorite lounge chair because Fair Trade Island Coconut® is back! We don't know about you, but just one sip transports us to our own private island paradise … and, between you and me, it’s one sweet destination! Even our coffee mugs are preparing for the trip – grass skirts never looked so tropical.
Whether you enjoy your Island Coconut from K-Cups® or bags, or in your office, this Seasonal favorite is around for Spring, so enjoy this coconut-ty good while it lasts!
March is a big month for celebrating at Business Coffee Express. Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day and, most importantly, our 1st birthday.
It seems like only yesterday we were born, but now we're running around just like one-year old breaking the copier, loading food into the manager's printer and demanding that every office in America have great coffee.
So, in honor of our first birthday Business Coffee Express is celebrating with 20% off your entire order (minimum of $100). This offer cannot be combined with any other offers or Office EXPRESS discounts. Sale ends 3/31/11.) Also, don't forget to stock up on Hot Apple Cider while supplies last - once it's gone, it's gone until next fall.
“I read that Green Mountain has or will stop making all Kona K-cups …This makes me very sad…”
“… I cannot believe that you are discontinuing Kona Coffee.”
“Disappointed that you won't be making the 10% Kona Blend any longer!”
“Why was 10% Kona Blend discontinued?”
- From a team of Kona fans across the Internet, social media channels, and our own Customer Care.
Many of you know, we have discontinued our Green Mountain Coffee Extra Bold 10% Kona Blend. We’re sad to do it – it’s a wonderful coffee and a favorite of many – but unexpected circumstances were not kind to Kona this year.
As you may have heard, coffee crop yields from Kona are down 50% due to natural crop cycles and unusually dry weather. This significant shortage has forced coffee roasters across the country to make changes to their Kona offerings, which, in our case, means discontinuing our Kona coffees.
We can’t tell the future, so we don’t know when/if 10% Kona will return. But be sure of the fact that we are keeping an eye on news around the Kona crop and will be sure to blog again if anything changes.
On March 8th, 2011 the Greensburg Wind Farm in Greensburg, KS, was named “Wind Project of the Year” by RenewableEnergyWorld.com, a leading renewable energy publication. The award, which recognizes the project’s community benefits and unique financing model, was accepted by Jeff Bernicke, president of NativeEnergy, at the
Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo.
Three years after a devastating tornado leveled the town on May 4, 2007, destroying 95% of the homes and leaving a path of destruction 2 miles wide, the citizens of Greensburg, Kansas decided to rebuild as “the greenest town in America". The Greensburg Wind Farm was a key element in the plan to rebuild. Working with NativeEnergy and their Help Build™ carbon offset program, companies and individuals provided part of the upfront funding needed to build. Those companies and individuals then receive a share of the project’s long-term verified greenhouse gas reductions.
We're proud that by purchasing our carbon offsets from this project, we are mitigating our carbon footprint while helping Greensburg along its journey. Congratulations to the Greensburg Community, NativeEnergy and all the projects' supporters!
You can watch a video highlighting all 2011 Excellence in Renewable Energy Award winners on REW website here.
Did you know that today, March 8, is International Women’s Day? Don’t worry, you don’t have to run out and buy flowers or chocolates… it’s not that kind of holiday!
International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present and future. It is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on topics affecting women, both locally and internationally.
On the CSR team, we have been thinking about how we can promote development in our coffee growing communities through investing in women. More and more studies of global aid programs have shown that empowering women and girls leads to better outcomes for entire communities because women tend to share their gains with their families and neighbors. This multiplier effect is why the World Bank calls Gender Equality “smart economics” – investments in women and girls as individuals yield large social and economic returns. Many of our grantee organizations agree and have made women the cornerstone of their programming to fight poverty.
Want to know how that can work? Watch this fantastic video on The Girl Effect!
Now that you are convinced, here are just a few examples of work that GMCR is supporting in coffee communities where women and girls are at the center:
Coffee Kids: Providing small groups of women with access to microcredit loans in Guatemala
Mercy Corps: Improving child nutrition in Sumatra through educating mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding
What would March be without a coffee recipe dedicated to St. Patrick's Day? Thankfully, our fabulous team at our at our Visitors Center and Cafe in Waterbury, Vermont offered us not one, but two coffee recipes that sing of the Emerald Isle: An Irish Cream and a Mudslide. Of course, the classic versions of both of these drinks (like this one from our own Doug) involve whiskey or Irish cream, but we thought you'd all appreciate a little non-alcoholic version to share with the family.
It’s March and I’m finally feeling like the craziness that is the holiday season is over with. I’ve put all the decorations away, returned or exchanged any gifts that just “ weren't my style” and can again fit into my jeans.
The holidays are not just a time to celebrate and overindulge, but also a time to give back. During the holiday months, foodbanks and foodshelves across the country see an influx of turkeys, cranberry sauce, volunteers and cash donations. However they need these donations of food, time and money throughout the year. Foodbanks around our Employee Sites are a favorite place for GMCR Employees to volunteer. Whether it’s sorting food, turkey drives or chopping through over 1,000 lbs of squash, our employees are volunteering their time.
So as we move towards spring, maybe you’ve got some time to volunteer or to donate food? Find your local foodbank through Feeding America.
Sometimes, the daily grind isn’t so bad – until you run out of coffee, that is.
Featuring our Fair Trade Our Blend, this video by Dan, ubber-coffee fan, was one of the winning entries to The Point FM 104.7’s contest to win a Keurig Brewer. Not only did he win a new brewer, but he got the chance to highlight his ukulele balancing skills! [Skip to 1:27 to see Dan’s spectacular feats!]