Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

Food Security Film Wins Biodiversity Award

We're excited to announce that "After The Harvest: Fighting Hunger in the Coffeelands", a film about hunger in Central American coffee communities, has won recognition from an Italian film festival! The film,  narrated by Susan Sarandon, was funded by The Coffee Trust with a grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR). 

The film has won the Biodiversity Award at Festival delle Terre, a film festival sponsored by the Italian non-profit, Crocevia. The judges gave the award "for the sustainable solutions proposed by the film, which enhance the diversification of cultures..."

"We've been extremely gratified by the response to this film, both inside and outside the coffee industry," 

said Rick Peyser, Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach. "Food security in coffee communities is one of our top priorities, and this film has helped raise awareness of this vital issue."

"After the Harvest" focuses on the three to eight months of the year when small-scale coffee farmers in Mexico and Nicaragua are unable to maintain their normal diet. These are "los meses flacos," or the thin months, when families make ends meet by eating less, eating less expensive foods, or borrowing against their future earnings from coffee. The film explores creative solutions to seasonal hunger such as crop diversification, grain storage, and family gardens.

You can learn more about "los meses flacos" and watch the film online by visiting After The Harvest's website.

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Two Refreshing Ideas For Your Fourth of July

Alright, let’s admit it: There are some things in life that just go well together. We here at Green Mountain Coffee® particularly enjoy the combination of cream and coffee (or a nice Brew Over Ice beverage) to help us deal with a particularly hot day. This Fourth of July we’ve decided to share a favorite way to enjoy coffee and or fruit flavored treats on a day that calls for cold refreshment. Introducing the Café Vanilla Pop and the Sweet Raspberry Tea Pop! We hope you will make these popsicle recipes a part of your Fourth of July celebration.

Café Vanilla Pop Recipe

Stir sugar into hot coffee until dissolved.

Add ice & blend in blender.

Pour blended mix into popsicle mold, freeze and enjoy!

*Additions (mini choc. chips) Add handful before freezing popsicles.

 

Sweet Raspberry Tea Pop Recipe

Stir sugar into hot tea until dissolved.

Add ice & blend in blender.

Pour blended mix into popsicle mold, freeze and enjoy!

 

- Psst - remember to check out our Fourth of July Storewide Sale for some great deals on these Popsicle ingredients!

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The Simple Joy Of A Pizza Party

One of the great things I love about working for an employee-friendly brand like Green Mountain Coffee® is the little things they do to keep us working folk happy. It's not just about the fun and laid-back environment of our office - which is to be expected if you've ever spent any amount of time around our group - but the fact that our bosses like to surprise us with treats to break up the work week is a great point of difference for the team.

Most recently, I found myself smiling with anticipation when my supervisor strolled past my desk with eight flat boxes of Jimmz Pizza from Waterbruy and shouted, "Pizza party!"

We all popped our heads up and smiled at the phrase, as it's one that many of us haven't heard in years. With pepperoni, cheese, peppers, onions, barbecue chicken, bacon, and sausage as toppings, the entire crew was suddenly in good spirits as we munched on our respective slices and joked around until every slice was gone.

While it might seem like a minor thing, something as simple as a pizza party can be the ideal way to stay engaged and feel appreciated. 

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The Doctor's In for Brew Over Ice!

Here on the PR team, we’re all super excited about a recent…doctor’s visit.

Before you assume I’m about to go seriously TMI and tell you about my last physical, let me assure you that I’m not talking about my general practitioner…or any old doctor. I’m talking about THE doctor: Dr. Gadget. Last Friday, the “Guru of Giveaways” featured Keurig® Platinum Brewer and Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs on The View’s hottest summertime gadgets segment.

 “What it’s all about is this new system that they’ve got with the K-Cup®!” Dr. Gadget said, demonstrating how to Brew Over Ice with Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Hasselback.

Both Elizabeth and Dr. Gadget noted that the Brew Over Ice K-Cup® packs, ranging in variety from Celestial Seasonings® Perfect Iced Teas to The Original Donut Shop® Sweet & Creamy iced coffee, are specially formulated to retain their flavor when brewed directly over ice.

“You guys know how when you take coffee and put it over ice it gets all watered down?” Dr. Gadget asked the cheering crowd. “Well, not anymore!”

And here in Vermont where the mercury has been regularly rising to a staggering 99°F lately, we are so thankful for that.

The lucky studio audience on set that day got a brewer and K-Cup® packs to take home. No surprise there, as Dr. Gadget gives away more than $200,000 worth of products on average to The View’s audiences, according to his website. He even coined the phrase, “Everybody Gets One!” (Seriously, he did. I thought it was Oprah, too.) Anyway, we’re all thrilled to have the doctor’s approval; he even described Brew Over Ice as “perfectly blended” with a “great formula”!

Want to beat the heat in your area? Get in on this cool (literally) summertime trend ASAP! I’ve been sipping away on my Sweet & Creamy Nutty Hazelnut iced coffee in the office every day, and I think you need some in your life. You can get this tasty summer cool-down in a cup at our website, and check us out on The View in the clip below—we come in at 2:32.

Stay cool!

 

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Spilling The Beans

Okay, we're spilling the beans, coffee fans!

We’ve recently found out that there will be new Vue® packs released sometime within the coming week.  We'll be able to provide exact details soon, but in the meantime...

We can tell you that this new release contains at least a few popular varieties of dark roasts, a favorite flavored coffee, and decaf coffee, from The Orignal Donut Shop, Barista Prima®, and Green Mountain Coffee® brands.  We'll be sure to keep you posted with more details as they become available. Stay tuned!

 

Trivia question:

If the total number of Vue® packs available will reach 50 with these new additions, how many are being added?

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Beating the Heat the Green Mountain Way

Yesterday was not only the first official day of summer, but here in Vermont the temperature reached a record-breaking 95 degrees! While we native Vermonters are used to winter conditions – it can snow anytime between November and April around these parts – this heat wave is really throwing us for a loop. We know how to keep warm with a down snowsuit, a hand-knit hat, and a steamy mug of coffee but keeping cool is a new phenomenon altogether.

As someone who drives a non-air-conditioned truck, and whose house is kept cool by a series of fans and open windows, beating the heat can be a bit of an art form. These past two days have seen me relying on my Keurig® brewer to chill me out, brewing cup after cup (after cup, after cup) of my favorite Brew Over Ice iced beverages.  I’ve been drinking my favorite summer treat, Brew Over Ice Nantucket Blend Iced Coffee, to both cool me down, and perk me up.  Until today.

You can imagine my horror today when I realized I was not the only one at the office using Brew Over Ice to beat this week’s heat – when I went to the break room to make myself a cup, I discovered the box of Nantucket Blend Iced coffee was completely empty! After frantically searching for just one more K-Cup® pack, I had to accept that I was going to find a different way to refresh myself.

I decided to try and fend off my disappointment, and the high temperatures, with the Original Donut Shop’s new Sweet and Creamy Nutty Hazelnut Iced Coffee. After all, it was sitting right next to my beloved Nantucket Blend on the shelf. I filled up my plastic cup with ice, popped the K-Cup® pack in the brewer, and pressed the 8-oz. brew setting. I took a curious first sip, and then another deep slurp. The mix of toasty hazelnut and coffee flavors, and the sweet cream notes was the perfect way to beat the heat, and give me that afternoon perk I craved.

I think I’ve just found the best way for a Vermonter to keep cool in the summer months - how are you beating the heat today?

 

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It Begins at Home: Protecting Lake Champlain and Winooski River from Pollution Runoff

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. recently awarded Lake Champlain International (LCI) a grant to support LCI's continued work to protect the waters, fish, homes and businesses of Lake Champlain and the Winooski River. This grant is part of our Employee Community Grant program, which provides grants to organizations and projects that are located around our employee communities. Funded projects address specific issues aligned with environmental stewardship, strong local systems, and economic prosperity.

LCI's BLUE® program is an innovative community-based program to help reduce beach closures, decrease potentially toxic algae blooms, protect fish and wildlife, and improve the safety of homes, lawns, and driveways. LCI's

Lake Champlain International Logo

 BLUE® program has previously been offered to residents of the Vermont towns Colchester, Winooski, and Shelburne.

Through this grant, LCI's BLUE® program will be made available to residents of Waterbury, VT enabling Waterbury residents to reduce the amount of water pollution runoff that starts on their lawns and in their homes.

"GMCR employees have a special connection to the Winooski River and have engaged in annual clean-up efforts on the river for years. The grant to LCI to bring their BLUE® Certification program to Waterbury is a natural extension of our relationship and commitment to the river and represents our desire to support a key organization working to keep our waterways healthy and productive for future generations," said Karen Yacos, GMCR's Director of Domestic Community Outreach.

At no cost to the residents of Waterbury, LCI will offer brief and simple property evaluations to homeowners and owners of rental properties.  At the end of each evaluation, the homeowner can have their home certified as watershed friendly, or BLUE®, if they agree to follow a handful of simple practices.  Certifications are free of charge as well.    

Also available are mini-grants for homeowners of up to $200 per property for the first 30 participating properties to build and install water pollution prevention property improvements.  Improvements include rain gardens, rain barrels, gutters over driveways, downspout redirects, dripline trenches, and similar features.

"The grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. will help reduce water pollution far upstream the Winooski River and reduce toxins like lawn pesticides in the town and around homes" said Ross Saxton, LCI's Director of Conservation & Education.  "This is a terrific opportunity for Waterbury residents to help protect their river, community, and home values."


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A Night of Fine Italian Dining In Burlington

I have a confession to make, and it's not one that I share with people that often - I'm a secret cook. While I never pursued a career in the culinary arts, I spent some time, years back, taking a variety of different cooking courses in an effort to upgrade my homemade meals from macaroni and cheese and deli sandwiches to finer cuisine. It was slow going at first, but after several months I was whipping up all manner of savory pork roasts, grilled salmon, spicy Cajun dishes and saucy pasta and meatball combinations. I wouldn't call myself an expert, but technically you could say that I'm a trained chef.

If you're wondering why I decided to keep this information something of a secret, I suppose it's because I'm a little shy about it. I've met plenty of people who think of cooking as a competition - always trying to outdo some old family recipe or show up their friends in the kitchen - and I just don't think of food in that way. For me, my time spent at the stove or chopping vegetables is a means of relaxing, expressing my creativity and sharing my love of food with close friends and family.

However, I'm not entirely humble about my skills - I do like to think I know a thing or two about fine dining and it’s also had the side effect of making me turn my nose a little at things of lower quality, be they meat or vegetables, wine or coffee. You learn the importance of each part of a meal and how they are supposed to compliment the rest. Because of this, I'm always on the lookout for the latest and greatest restaurants in Vermont.

A few weekends back, my girlfriend, Liz, and I took a mini-vacation and rented a hotel room in Burlington to  take the opportunity to just break out of the regular routine. While we spent plenty of time shopping and wandering the waterfront, I also made a point of visiting some authentic Italian ristorantes, one of my favorite styless of food, to satisfy my slight obsession . Even the basic plate of pasta with Bolognese sauce and a good glass of red wine, followed by a cup of Italian Roast coffee is tough to beat.

While you might not think of Vermont as a hub of fine Mediterranean dining, the state is peppered with gorgeous trattorias that are small on space but big on taste. Two particular establishments caught my eye as Liz and I toured Burlington, and I'm pleased to say that both Trattoria Delia and L'Amante Ristorante represented the strength of Vermont's culinary tradition.

The wines at both restaurants were fantastic, and I'm sure to return to L'Amante for its risotto and gnocchi with braised rabbit. At Trattoria Delia, I was blown away by the Spaghetti alla Pescatora, and Liz couldn't get enough of her Bucatini all'Amatriciana. I wish I’d discovered both places earlier in life.

So, if anyone ever tells you that you can't get good Italian food in Vermont, kindly point them to either of these two fine establishments. Buon appetito!

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UEFA Euro 2012 at the Pub

If I haven't mentioned it before (and I'm almost sure that I have), I love sports and games of all kinds. From ice hockey to Risk, I'm always willing to go play most anything. Because of this inherent passion of mine, I'm also always on the lookout for the next major sporting event that I can sink my teeth into. Even if it's a game I’m not usually particularly passionate about - I'm eager to sit down, and start cheering for a side.

This summer is particularly exciting for me because the Euro Cup 2012 will be happening from June 8 through July 1, which is the second largest soccer event in the world, just behind the world cup.  It’s an entire month of top-tier international competition - so naturally, I couldn't be happier. The tournament occurs every four years between the highest-ranked teams in Europe, which means that you're dealing with the majority of the greatest national teams in the world. This year, the Euro is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

I've been looking forward to this championship since the World Cup ended in 2010, so when the opening day games kicked off, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, the time difference between the U.S. and Eastern Europe means that most of the matches occur during the middle of the work day, so I have to listen to, or follow, the games online at work. However, this is much better than the regular season when games are on Saturday mornings at 6 A.M. EST, only a good stiff cup of coffee will keep your interest from lagging. Now on the weekends you’ll find me in a bar or pub flailing my arms and cheering at the television with whomever else happens to be around in the early afternoons.

There are usually never many people  with whom to share my enthusiasm for watching soccer in particular (this is the state of soccer fandom in America, after all), but since starting my job here at Green Mountain Coffee® a few months ago I’ve been astounded at the number of people, like me, who are into sports of all kinds. It gives me an outlet to vent my frustrations or joy at recent outcomes, so I don’t have to bottle them up, which means that eventually they get unleashed on some poor unsuspecting soul. Thankfully, the other day I also managed to find a couple of German tourists who were intently watching as their national team battled Portugal. I'm personally a big fan of Germany's youthful energy and powerful players, so I sat down next to them and we began talking about the match.

Within a half hour or so, we’d become fast friends and were sharing our predictions about which teams we thought would advance, which players we thought were overrated and our past memories of watching the Euro.

If there was ever proof of how  mutual passions, like watching the Euro Cup, can bring people of vastly different backgrounds together, this was it. Germany won the match and we agreed to meet up the next day at the same bar to watch Spain vs. Italy.

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Planning My Next Road Trip - Heading South!

I have to say that I'm ecstatic that the weather is finally starting to fall in line with typical spring temperatures, because I was finding it awfully difficult to drag myself out of the house for any sort of activity recently. Not only does the sudden burst of sunshine mean I can start hiking and cycling outdoors again, but I can also pursue one of my favorite pastimes - hitting the open road in search of adventure. While I'm all in favor of traveling to distant, exotic locations by airplane, there's something about embarking on a spring or summer road trip that I simply can't resist.

I'm still in the planning stages of picking a destination for my impending getaway, but I have a couple of ideas in mind. I've already been all over the northeast and southwest, so I'm thinking about hugging the Atlantic coast all the way from Vermont down to Florida for a tour of the southeast.

In my frequent travels, I've developed a series of strategies for not only saving as much as a can on the road, but making sure I'm not bogged down by any unnecessary delays. I've found that if I stick to these tried-and-true methods, I'm able to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of my road trips without breaking the bank.

First of all, I rarely travel without a companion if I can help it. Not only does this help in terms of splitting gas and hotel accommodations, but it's also just nice to share an adventure with a friend or family member. This time around, I'm planning on sharing the road with my boyfriend Alden for our first vacation together as a couple. Considering that we live in different states (I'm in Vermont while he's in Massachusetts), I'm super excited to spend more than a couple of days together as we cruise south.

Another great thing about having a traveling buddy is that it makes the trip much safer. While I can always rely on a nice cup of Nantucket Blend® coffee to keep me alert and focused, spending hours behind the wheel can even render caffeine ineffective. It's nice to know that when I'm growing too sleepy to keep driving, Alden can just take over while I relax and sip the remainder of my delicious coffee.

In fact, coffee is such an important part of my travel experience that Alden and I have even decided to pack up my Keurig® brewer to have when we stop in hotels for the night - you can never count of good coffee at roadside accommodations, after all. With a great cup of coffee only a push of a button away, we'll save plenty of money by avoiding expensive coffee shops, and that's something anyone can get behind when you're on an extended vacation.

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School Gardens: Tackling Food Security in Rural Guatemala

Below is an update from Pueblo a Pueblo, a grantee of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., on their work fighting food insecurity ("los meses flacos") in Guatemala

"In the rural and agricultural coffee producing communities where Pueblo a Pueblo works, most children spend their free time working in the fields alongside their parents harvesting coffee, avocados, and other local produce for commercial enterprises — leaving many families struggling to nourish themselves.  In these small-farm communities around Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan highlands, food security and malnutrition are of grave concern.  Pueblo a Pueblo’s school garden project is supporting these families by providing the essential tools and knowledge necessary to practice sustainable, small-scale food production.  From the school garden, children are learning about gardening and taking this valuable knowledge home to their families and parents, encouraging the re-establishment of family gardening and sustainable food sources in their homes and community.

This year has been an exciting one for Pueblo a Pueblo, as we broke ground alongside teachers, parents, and community members to establish school gardens in 3 new schools in the Santiago, Atitlan region.  What started as a small idea has become a large reality.  The Organic School Garden Project is now being implemented in 6 municipal elementary schools, and it complements a school lunch program in each school.  Together, these programs form an integrated approach to school health and nutrition that provides 1,152 children with gardening and nutrition education and daily nutritious meals. Through our program, elementary school children are getting their hands dirty and exploring themes like garden maintenance, composting, and nutrition alongside energetic staff from the local villages. In each of our 6 gardens, worm compost bins, rain water catchment systems, and other gardening technologies keep the children engaged.  They are learning about cultivating, caring for, harvesting, consuming, and composting their own garden produce. This, together with a school meal, is keeping them food secure.

This year, the Organic School Garden Project continued to grow in size and impact, through new project implementation strategies, a new garden curriculum, expanded community involvement, and monitoring and evaluation systems. The garden project also expanded its reach this year as teacher training classes were held in 10 municipal schools in the region, providing them with the skills and seeds necessary to establish their own school gardens. These workshops focused on ways in which school gardens can be employed as a teaching tool and on ideas about how to transform small available spaces into creative urban garden areas.

In the coming year, Pueblo a Pueblo will expand the Organic School Garden Project and teacher training, providing new coffee communities with the tools they need to enable future generations to be healthy and food secure.   We envision this Edible Education as part of the core curriculum of every school we partner with. If we can provide every student with a nutritious lunch and interactive experiences in the classroom and the garden, we have the power to transform the health and values of these indigenous children and their families."

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Getting My Garden Ready For Summer

Despite the recent rains, I have been able to enjoy the sunny days Vermont has had in May to prepare my gardens for the summer and fall.

This past weekend, I got a brief reprieve from the weather long enough to head out into the backyard to weed and map out my garden plans. I turned on the radio just loud enough to hear at the garden below, put on my garden shoes and gloves, and began clearing away the brush that had accumulated over the past year.

I've only been trying my hand at gardening at home for the past couple of years, so I still consider myself somewhat of a beginner. In the past, my green thumb experience included watering my indoor spider plants occasionally and growing a couple of potted herbs. However, I've graduated to cultivating a small garden of Gladiolas, daisies, bleeding hearts, dahlias and an area for some strawberries - not bad for someone who couldn’t recognize the names of simple flowers before.

By about midday, I had the garden cleaned up and ready for planting. I spent about an hour or so transplanting flowers and plants that were given to me from my mother’s garden as well as planting some new bulbs I had purchased. I only hope the plants take and the bulbs come up.

I realized later in the afternoon that I had neglected to put on enough sun screen and my fair skin was turning a bright shade of pink.

To relieve my skin from the sun, I ran inside and opened the refrigerator; first to feel the cool air and second to grab the iced coffee I had made earlier in the morning using my French press. I am particular about my coffee and enjoy the process of grinding and brewing it myself. This morning, I knew I would enjoy an iced coffee after gardening so I increased the ratio of coffee to water and added a few extra scoops of freshly ground Nantucket Blend®. This would ensure that after I added ice that I would not dilute the great blend.

That cup of iced coffee was the perfect conclusion to a day of hard work in the yard. The caffeine perked me up a bit so that I could finish cleaning up my garden supplies. Afterward, I grabbed my recent travel magazine, poured another refreshing Green Mountain Coffee® iced coffee and spent the remainder of the afternoon lounging on my back patio in the shade. Here's hoping the weather is nice next weekend so I can start on my tomato garden.

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Simple Tips for a Happy and Healthy Summer

As a competitive runner, people usually assume that I'm some sort of superhuman fitness and nutrition guru who dedicates her entire day to becoming a healthier person. While eating like an athlete certainly takes work (I regularly fight urges to binge on some very sugary snacks, in case you're wondering), I'd be lying if I said that intense workouts and a rigid diet are my entire life. I think I've managed to find a relatively simple path toward a healthier lifestyle - one that doesn't require sweating profusely in the gym five times per day or eating chalky nutritional supplements on a daily basis.

With summer quickly approaching, several of my friends have asked me for some guidance about slimming down (swimsuit weather is almost here!) and incorporating more nutritious foods into their diets. And let me tell you - they were all stunned at the incredibly easy and straightforward advice I gave them about how I maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle every day. Here are some of my not-so-secret tips for success.

While many people feel like they need to run or jog several miles a day for an effective cardio workout, I've found that hiking and mountain biking are also enjoyable alternatives that fit nicely into my daily routine. On beautiful sunny days, it’s hard to make myself return indoors even after finishing a workout, so I’ll hike some local trails if I feel that more vitamin D and exercise are necessary. Similarly, I love exploring the beautiful back roads of Vermont on the weekends by bike. As long as you get outside and start moving, there's no reason you need to make a cardio workout feel like torture.

To be honest, I've tried cutting snacks and desserts out of my life and it just hasn't worked. Even if I manage to go a day or two without indulging, I typically find myself gravitating towards the junk food isle looking for sugary sweets. Once I came to terms with this inevitable reality, I learned to adjust my eating habits so that my snacks benefit my diet. I try to keep low-fat cheeses in the fridge along with an assortment of fruits.

However, my secret weapon to nutritional success is my Keurig® brewer. While it's great for brewing a hot cup of coffee in the morning, I primarily use it to enjoy a variety of my favorite hot tea flavors, such as Mandarin Orange Spice, India Spice Chai, Green Tea, Mint Medley and English Breakfast. Not only are these flavors rich in antioxidants, but they're also incredibly convenient to make and taste great - all it takes is the push of a button. 

I will admit – when I cross the finish line after a hard race, I often opt for a thick vanilla milkshake rather than tea.  Reward yourself!  A healthy lifestyle change doesn’t have to mean “die” with a t.  So, there you have it. It doesn't take much to lead a healthier lifestyle - all you need to do is make time to get outside and incorporate nutritional snacks into your everyday life in order to get off on the right foot.

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A Father's Day To Remember

I’m often overwhelmed with the plethora of shiny, and normally quite costly, tools and other manly pieces of machinery that are advertised as being the perfect gift for your dad on father’s day, so I lean towards a few more unconventional ideas. Showing dad you care is a lot easier than you may think and it doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money, just some time out of your day. For instance preparing your father’s coffee just the way he likes it and then helping him take care of those little projects he never has time to get to around the house would say a lot.

This requires knowing just what he likes, the subtleties of his favorite style -- could be a dark or light roast, creamy or black, sweet or bitter, frothy or iced. It can be a difficult thing to get right, but if you can pull that off, delivered to him in his favorite mug without him saying so much as a word, he’ll be quite pleasantly surprised. And even more so when you suggest tackling the unfinished stone wall together that your mother requested around the garden ages ago. Though that only starts after you’ve all enjoyed the breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon you knew he’d love, of course.

It’s hard to show just how much you care and the effort you’re willing to put forth on their behalf by simply buying them something, even if it is something that you know they’ll love. As the people that have raised and cared for us all our lives our parents deserve to understand just how much we appreciate everything they’ve done. Treat your father better this year than ever before, it can never be too much. And it all starts by waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon wafting into their room.

 

If you need help making that special cup of coffee we’ve enlisted some help for you in our Deal of the Week.

And here’s a sampling of some of the good recipes from our blog that you could treat them to:


 

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Dog Day Afternoon

This time of year I like to take our dogs Sadie and Jake exploring in the Vermont wilderness that surrounds our home, but there's just been too much rain to venture outside for more than a few minutes. Needless to say, the whole affair has us all feeling pretty cooped up. But this last weekend we caught a break when the clouds finally cleared and the thermometer showed that it was a beautiful 75 degrees outside. The second the first ray of sunshine appeared, I finished off my cup of Barista Prima®Italian Roast and a few minutes later we had our hiking boots on, the dogs leashed and were ready to hit the trails.

I won't say it was the perfect conditions for exploring - what with the ground still muddy and puddles everywhere - but after two weeks of continuous rain, it didn't matter much to us. This was also our first real chance to take in the beautiful leaves and flowers that had started popping up. I took a few photos of the early spring flowers in the woods, anyone know the names of them?

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