Green Mountain Coffee Family of Brands Blog

Then and Now: Notes from a CSR Trip Report

As Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach in our CSR Department I frequently travel to source to check on our coffee growing communities and the programs that assist them. I find that being there firsthand gives me a much clearer insight on how we can best help our supply chain, and I have watched our supply chain and initiatives make huge development strides over the last 24 years.

The following notes are a part of an eye-opening part of my latest trip. It feels amazing to see what changes we can actually make in our world to improve normal people's lives.



Wednesday, July 18

Bill, Jonathan, Paula, and I left our hotel in Guatemala City, Guatemala at 6 a.m. for an 5 hour drive to the village of Copan Ruinas in Honduras, where we met an employee of the nearby Santa Rosa de Copan dry mill, and traveled to the mill.  After, we met Omar Rodriguez, General Manager of COCAFCAL (a coffee coop we work with) located in Capucas, Honduras. Omar then led us on our journey to Capucas in 4-wheel drive pickup trucks.  I had previously spent 3 weeks as a volunteer in this small mountainous community in 2005 and 2006 to help this young co-op develop a marketing plan and make market linkages.  GMCR is now purchasing coffee from COCAFCAL, and the community is one of those being served by a GMCR-sponsored Heifer International project in the region.

 When we finally arrived in Capucas, I was amazed by the changes that have taken place since my last visit.  In 2005 the co-op had 75 members; it now has over 800 members!  In 2005, it sold 1 container of coffee; in 2011 it sold over 100 containers.  In 2005 it had no certified coffee.  Today, it has organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, and Rainforest Alliance certifications.

During my first year as a volunteer I lived in a long cinder block building, just off the beneficio's drying patio that had 3 rooms: a room with 2 chest freezers (used to freeze chickens from a Plan International project), a storage room, and finally my 15' x 15' room with a cinder block bathroom and cold shower.  My "home" was now engulfed in a large 2-story co-op office building that houses a cupping lab, an espresso cafe, QC rooms, offices, and more. 


My "Home", 2005 New Office Building, 2012


In addition significant improvements have been made in the wet mill and dry mill that have improved the capacity of the co-op and the quality of the coffee processed. 

 After visiting the co-op buildings, we drove to the buildings where we would stay.  We arrived at a small compound of 3 cottages (all brand new) that had two bedrooms, an open area with a flat screen TV, and a full kitchen.  Most amazing was the presence of two swimming pools!  This compound was built by Omar's family to support the co-op and with the hope of developing an eco-tourism business.  Celaque, a pristine national park, is within hiking distance of the community.

 While we were in Capucas, we had all of our meals with Omar's family.  It was great spending time with them again.  They were a wonderful host family during my prior visits, and it was great to see how their coop had improved with the help of some of our CSR programs!


Creamy Vanilla Hazelnut Iced Coffee Recipe

 Some things just belong together: peanut butter and jelly, sugar and spice, Sting and Trudy, salt and pepper, Sweet and Creamy Nutty Hazelnut Iced Coffee and French Vanilla iced coffee….

 Trust me, that last pair needs to be added to this list as another perfect combination.


As some of you already know, I love a good glass of Brew Over Ice coffee in the summer, and I’m always searching for new ways to drink it. It was a stroke of genius (or maybe just a mild heat stroke) that inspired me to combine two of my beloved icy brews into one fabulous summer indulgence: the Creamy Vanilla Hazelnut Iced Coffee.

 It’s simple to make, and even simpler to drink, and perfectly blends two of my favorite flavors, vanilla and Hazelnut. Here’s the easy recipe.

  1. Brew 2 K-Cup® packs of Sweet and Creamy Nutty Hazelnut Iced Coffee on the 6 oz. setting without ice into a mug (or cup) and then carefully pour the brew into a standard ice-cube tray (remember: it's hot).
  2. Place into the freezer and wait until the Sweet and Creamy Cubes are frozen.
  3. Take your frozen Sweet and Creamy cubes and put them in a 16 oz. plastic tumbler (as you would with normal ice cubes for any Brew Over Ice beverage), and place under your Keurig® brewer.
  4. Pop a Green Mountain Coffee® French Vanilla Iced Coffee K-Cup® pack into your brewer and brew at the 6 oz. setting, over the Sweet and Creamy Cubes. As the coffee brews, it will melt some of the Sweet and Creamy cubes, expertly blending the Hazelnut and French Vanilla flavors. Add simple syrup to taste.


And that’s it! You have yourself a delightful Creamy Vanilla Hazelnut Iced Coffee! It’s easy, pretty, delicious… A perfect summer pairing!


Through Food-Security Program Asnaini can Now Provide Her Children with Nutritious Food


Save the Children, an international non-profit organization, recently concluded their two-year Save the Children Food Security project participantLivelihoods and Improved Nutrition for Kids (LINK) project in two sub-districts in Bener Meriah, Aceh, Indonesia. LINK successfully improved access to key health, nutrition, and agricultural livelihoods inputs and services, and mobilized key actors locally, benefitting 5,735 households. Seeing these results from projects we’ve funded reinforces the important work that is being done within our supply-chain. Below is one women’s story about the most significant change she has seen in her life as a result of this project:

Asnaini is a mother of three children, and lives in a modest house in Desa Fajar harapan, Bener Meriah. She has an 11 month-old baby and two other two children, aged 8 and 11, who attend school. Her husband, like most other villagers, works on a coffee farm. Next to their house is a small garden of 20 square meters, containing celery, spinach and other vegetables.

Through the LINK program, Asnaini and some 2,500 other women received vegetable seeds, learned about composting, fertilizing, and pest control.

“My husband and I never thought that the small piece of land could be profitable to us,” Asnaini said. “We never made real use of it. We planted celery but because there was no fence, chickens would come in and pick and destroy the plants.”Save the Children Food Security Project Participant Indonesia coffee

“Now we plant spinach which only takes a month to harvest and we can earn around 300,000 to 450,000 rupiah (US$33 to US$50) per month. Through the home gardening program I can provide my children more easily with healthy nutritious food and also have a more consistent additional income which I can use to buy my children’s school uniforms and supplies.” Asnaini said.

Asnaini is not only happy to be able to provide nutritious food for her children but through her role as a posyandu kader (volunteer community health worker) she is more knowledgeable about childhood nutrition and children’s healthy development.

“I am really grateful for the training that I received from Save the Children about Posyandu management. As a kader I used to think that Posyandu is only about weighing the children, but now I know that there’s more to it. It’s an opportunity to provide counseling for the mothers about child health and, most importantly, I have an important role to ensure that children get the regular immunization.” Asnaini said.


Introducing New Green Mountain Naturals Lemonade for your Keurig Brewer!


It is with the utmost pride that we introduce Lemonade K-Cup® packs from Green Mountain Naturals®!  Now you can enjoy this summertime favorite anytime with your Keurig® brewer. Green Mountain Naturals Lemonade features the refreshing flavor of natural lemon. Find out more about Green Mountain Naturals™  Lemonade and get your hands on this refreshing new fruit brew today!



One Year Later at the Café

As you walk in the front door of the Green Mountain Coffee® Visitor Center & Café one of the first things you will notice is our quote of the day board. A recent quote reminded me of a triumph for our town of Waterbury, Vermont: “At any given moment you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.”

Thanks to Bryan for taking this photo!

Almost one year ago Tropical Storm Irene shocked our town where our visitor center and café is located at the historic train station. This past year has been one of rebuilding and perseverance for our small, yet vital community. We were fortunate to only have the train station basement flooded, however that was a tough blow in itself and forced us to close for four months during renovations. Being an employee of Green Mountain Coffee for some years now I can attest first-hand our perseverance to become a leader and trailblazer in the specialty coffee industry today. For many of us that determination drove us to do what we do best, and serve a great cup of coffee.


Although our visitor center was closed, for sixty-five days following the storm our team served free coffee to the community from the local park, rain or shine. We were transformed in to listeners, sympathizers, and cheerleaders to our fellow community members who often came to us covered in dirt, wearing masks, and sporting mud boots. We were looked upon to provide the metaphorical cup of coffee sought to start the day that helps us rejuvenate, focus, and revitalize. It brought a sense of normalcy in what was a turned upside down community. Our triumph during this time was to see a glimpse of a smile under a mask, and even a hug from a regular customer whose home had been devastated.


I am pleased to let you know that driving through the town of Waterbury today is as beautiful as it was before. Progress continues due to the efforts of many community members and other volunteers. We are proud to be part of such a great community that came together and chose how our story was going to end.


Cheers to Waterbury!


Pumpkin Spice Is Now Available

Pumpkin Spice fans, rejoice! That’s right, you can stop hoarding your beloved Green Mountain Coffee® Pumpkin Spice coffee and make room in the pantry for even more because it is now available for the season in K-Cup® packs! You know just as well as we do how great it is to have this autumnal favorite back in our line-up.




What is your favorite thing about Pumpkin Spice?  For us, it's the experience of drinking a fresh-baked pumpkin pie with every sip!


Sunny and Highs in the 80s – Perfect Car-Washing Weather!


Wow – we couldn’t have asked for a better day yesterday! It was a sunny, hot day – making it perfect for Car Washing at Grounds for Health Carwasha good old-fashioned carwash! The cars kept rolling in– keeping our employees busy scrubbing and spraying and scooping (free Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream that is) all afternoon. No wonder this is my favorite day of the year!

Although the carwash was busy, car detailing really pulled in the traffic! The detail line was full for the whole 4 hours. With a suggested donation of $25 per car, we couldn’t be more thankful for Gigi’s Cleaning Company for donating their equipment and time to detail these cars.


Grounds for Health is still counting up the donations, but we know this year’s pull will continue to support their important work within coffee-growing communities!

Below are some photos with some highlights from the day.

Safety first! Stretching to stay limber during their volunteer shift!

GMCR Employees Stretching before CAFE Volunteer time

We’re watching our emissions – the carwash was a  “No Idle Zone”

GMCR Employees pushing a car through carwash

 For a brief moment, we had a “sprinkler” situation:

A hose breaks a leak during this year's carwash!

As always, one of the great highlights was a visit from Ben and Jerry themselves! (pictured with Grounds for Health Executive Director August Burns):

Ben, Jerry and August Burns

And of course – the entertainment! Love to listen to The Growlers while washing!

The Growlers at Grounds for Health Carwash


6th Annual Grounds for Health Carwash to be held August, 16th!

This Thursday (8/16/12), we’ll be hosting our 6th annual carwash to raise money for the Waterbury, Vermont-based nonprofit Grounds for Health, an organization that aims to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in coffee-growing communities.

Employees will be hosing down and washing cars behind the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center and Café in Waterbury from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m . The carwash is free, but donations are strongly encouraged (especially if you’d like your car detailed by Gigi’s Cleaning Company)! They’ll be free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream as well as music by The Growlers.

Grounds for Health Carwash 2011  GMCR Employees Voluteering at Carwash

In addition, to hosting this annual carwash, we’ve also been a long-time supporter of Grounds for Health through past grants. We most recently awarded Grounds for Health a three-year $900,000 grant that will help them to further develop their existing cervical cancer prevention programs in Nicaragua, Mexico, and Tanzania, and expand its program into Peru. We're excited to continue to support Grounds For Health's efforts to establish sustainable and effective cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs in coffee-growing communities. The partnerships Grounds for Health forges with coffee cooperatives help break down barriers that stand between women and the care they need.

If you’re in the area on Thursday, be sure to stop by the carwash to show your support and have some fun!


Ugandan Mountains of The Moon Special Reserve Coffee



Uganda Coffee Beans

We’re over the moon with our latest Special Reserve coffee! This one, a natural process treasure from Uganda, has a fittingly royal back story. In 2011, our chief coffee buyer Lindsey Bolger went to Uganda in search of new sources for the fine, washed Arabica coffee that east Africa is famous for. While cupping with a local supplier in Kampala, her spoon kept drifting to a particular coffee sample that was set apart from the others. It turned out to be a natural process coffee from the Rwenzururu Kingdom of western Uganda. (With natural processing, the coffee cherries are spread out in the sun and turned regularly to ensure even drying. Coffee processed this way tends to be fruity and heavy-bodied, because the fruit is left on the bean longer.)

Ugandan Mountains Of THe Moon Coffee Beans

Lindsey quickly scheduled a return trip, and was connected with Queen Agnes Ithungu of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. After a quick course in royal protocol (bow your head, never turn your back on the queen, etc.) Lindsey and Queen Agnes took off to explore the communities of the Kingdom that were producing this extraordinary coffee. This unique Special Reserve coffee has flavors of plump, juicy fruits and hints of sweet caramel and vanilla. We call it Mountains of the Moon because that is the nickname of the Rwenzori mountain range, which is permanently snowcapped Learn more about this incredible coffee, fit for a queen. 




River Roundup

Today is the last day of the 8th annual River Cleanup here on the Winooski River, which I’m thinking of calling the 8th Annual Tire Dig.

It’s been five hot, humid days of hard work to make our river a little better, one tire at a time. We hauled shopping carts, goal posts, cement cylinders, traffic signs, and pieces of metal out of the water all week, and you can bet it wasn’t easy.

It took a little muscle...

A little teamwork...

A little tire frisbee...

...And a lot of laughs.

In honor of the last day, I thought I’d do a roundup of a few of my favorite finds…a river roundup, if you will. You already saw the keg and cell phone in my last post, but here’s a collection of more treasures we pulled out of the Winooski:

An old tobacco sign--Google tells me this variety is circa 1930s.

A glove and baseball in pretty good condition.

Probably my favorite find of the entire week, an "unsightly" pair of women's unmentionables. Up close and personal, they were paisley print. If these underwear could talk...

A "Men Working" construction sign. Pretty sure Champ migrated to the Winooski and took a bite out of this. I shudder to think about what happened to the men who were working.

The remnants of a TV. Look at how great that picture comes in!

In my opinion, this week showed that the dedication, work ethic, and commitment to bettering our planet is pretty unrivaled here at GMCR. So many people jumped at the chance to throw on a life vest, hop in a canoe, and dig up heavy objects for hours at a time, and they did it all with a smile.


River Cleanup: A Hefty Haul

Wednesday was a sweltering day on the Winooski River. It began at the same access point we’ve been starting at for the last few days now, which requires driving through a field—how very Vermont!


Volunteers paddled out on the river in teams of two in search of more tires, trash, and debris. After hours of rowing, digging, hauling, and swimming, everyone returned to the same field we started at to unload Wednesday’s afternoon catch. The majority of the haul consisted of tires upon tires, and by the end of the day, we pulled out almost 800 tires total this week, compared to last year’s 812 over all five days.

But it wasn’t all tires.

A few of my favorites:

A cell phone. Insert horrible, “Can you hear me now?” joke here.


A keg. Remnants of parties past, only to sink to the bottom of the Winooski.


And an update to our last Catch of the Day, two more shopping carts! We’re almost ready to open our own grocery store.


Tomorrow is the last day of River Cleanup…any guesses on what we’ll dig up next?


River Cleanup: Catch of the Day

As you know, we’re spending a week on the river. But we haven’t ‘gone fishing’ – at least not in the traditional sense. During our signature volunteer event, we ‘fish’ for trash in our local Winooski River. Our ‘big catches’ are bottles and cans, tractor tires, or old signs.. We know how important clean water is to our world and to our cherished cups of specialty coffee, so for the past eight years we have volunteered hours and energy to maintaining water health in our own backyard.

This is my second year in a row participating in River Cleanup, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about some of the litter we’ve managed to clean out of the river already. Last year, the ‘catch’ I was most excited about, the story I recalled over and over to my friends and colleagues, was the ancient laptop we’d pulled from the bank – it didn’t even have a full screen! This year has already topped that ‘catch’ by far. Just this morning my volunteer group dug two shopping carts out of the river. Talk about cleanup in Aisle Three...

Our crew wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty for the cause, either. Our volunteers come from every department in our company, from the manufacturing plant to the high-tech coffee lab, and everyone worked together and put in a tremendous effort. Catching those two shopping carts (along with over a hundred tires, and bucketful’s of trash) was hard work, but completely rewarding. And while I don’t have a fish story to share for my time on the river, I think my catch of the day might be even more special.




Top 5 Things You Need for River Cleanup

It starts today.  The hauling.  The dirt.  The splashing.  The laughing.  The tires.  The surprises. The grit.

River Cleanup Tire 2011

Today, for the eighth year, we go down to the river and see what we can do to make it just a little more pristine (even as we become grubbier).  As this is my third year using my Café Time at River Cleanup here in Vermont, I’ve been sharing some of my must-have items with the newbies so they’re armed for whatever the river can brings.


1. Water

Yes, you’re standing in a lot of water.  You’re soaked in it.  The walk back to your desk is more of a slosh than a saunter, actually.  But that doesn’t mean your body has been hydrated.  You’re doing major work during the day, hauling that trash from the water, so remember to drink.  H2O all the way.

2. Sunscreen

Your skin does not like to be a lovely lobster red.  It does not like to peel and chap and make you all too familiar with the soothing properties of aloe. You may think you can get away with going au natural while digging up tires or scrap metal, but remember this: water reflects.  The sun?  Hitting you from above and below.  Protect yourself with a few SPFs.

3. Good water shoes

Ever seen the sign reading, “Slippery when wet?”  Rocks on the river bed take this as their motto.  Safety is first at our Company, so wearing shoes with tread that will not take on water and bog you down is key.  No rain boots – the river goes above your ankles 80-percent of the time.

4. Change of clothes

Did I mention this takes place in the river, hence the name “River Cleanup?”  When your shift is done and you’re ready to get back to work, there is nothing more miserable than being stuck in wet clothes, covered in river mud (trust me: This was my mistake last year).  There’s also a distinct river scent that doesn’t quite leave your system for an hour or two.  Fresh, clean clothes are your saving grace after this Café Time event.

5. A smile

A grin helps to make everything lighter.  That tractor tire?  Piece of cake when your pearly whites are showing.  That encased grocery cart?  Light as a feather when a group of four is laughing so hard at how hard is to move.  The sight of five feet worth of scrap metal piled up on the riverbed?  Not quite as disturbing when you smile about how you are going to clean it up for the next guy.  Smiling – it’s a necessity.


Anything I missed?  We’re on the river all week, so just leave me a comment with any suggestions and I’ll pass it on to the team. 


My Pilgrimage to The City of Coffee


I want you to close your eyes for a second and imagine a place where the coffee is just as good as the scenery. I must admit that Vermont has both of these things. However, there are some places that offer scenery on such a grand scale that it is often humbling to witness.  I have recently returned from a long journey to Seattle, a place that many would consider the Coffee City of the United States, maybe even the world.

My coffee pilgrimage began when I touched down in Seattle at 12:24 AM. I must admit after a 5 hour and 50 minute flight from Newark I decided it was best to get some much needed rest before exploring the sights and smells of the Seattle Coffee scene.

By 10:30 AM I was ready to get my bearings and venture out to the closest coffee shop to order a heavily caffeinated beverage. After taking a photo of the view from my hotel room I walked just around the corner and found myself staring at one of the original Tully’s Coffee Shops. It was then that I knew I was in the right place! I immediately ran inside and ordered up a double shot of espresso and a 16 oz. mocha latte with skim milk.

After getting my caffeine fix I decided to walk down to a boardwalk that was situated in close proximity to the famous Pike’s Place market. While looking west at Puget Sound and some distant 6,000 ft. mountain peaks, I realized the true beauty that Seattle had to offer. For me, life is about great coffee and great scenery and my trip to Seattle provided me with an experience that I will not soon forget! 
Have you had a coffee trip this summer?


Employees to Participate in 8th Annual Winooski River Cleanup

As August begins, we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene’s historic flooding and damage in Vermont. Our own backyard of Waterbury was impacted in ways we couldn’t have imagined – flooded homes, mud-caked streets, ponds where parks once stood.  In Waterbury, and the rest of the Northeast, the recovery is ongoing.

A couple weeks before Irene hit, our employees had just finished our 7th Annual River Cleanup on the Winooski River. From a three mile stretch of river, 165 employees removed over 800 tires, 3.9 tons of scrap metal, and 2.9 tons of trash. Next week, GMCR employee volunteers will use paid time off to pick up trash in and around Vermont’s Winooski River, starting in Montpelier and working their way down to Waterbury. With the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene, the state’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century, we know this year’s River Cleanup will likely reflect the remnants of the storm.

GMCR Employees Volunteering on the Winooski River        Tires pulled out of the Winooski River by GMCR Employees        GMCR Employees pulling a tire from the Winooski River  

The Winooski River, in addition to the many other rivers, lakes and streams in Vermont, holds special meaning to our employees. There is a connection to the waters that flow through the state and a sense of responsibility to protect them. In addition to volunteering over 700 hours last year on the river, employees in Vermont also voted to focus on healthy rivers, lakes, and shorelines as one of three areas for local grantmaking. The Vermont Employee Community Grantmaking team approved grants to support riverbank stabilization projects, storm water runoff prevention and water educational opportunities for youth and adults. Supporting organizations like the ECHO Center, Friends of the Winooski and Lake Champlain International, underlines our commitment to helping communities where we live and work. After the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene last year, this year’s River Cleanup gives us an opportunity to continue to help out in our own backyard.

Starting August 6th, we’ll be on the Winooski River pulling out debris and trash. Check back during the week as we’ll have daily blog updates from the river! The event is held in conjunction with American Rivers’ National River Cleanup™, a nationwide effort to keep America’s waterways clean.


Times That Warrant a Third Cup of Coffee


Let's face it: If coffee is your thing chances are you rarely make it through a day without at least one cup. More often than not, I like to follow up that initial cup of coffee with another - perhaps a different flavor to mix things up or even opting for an iced coffee instead. However, there do come the rare instances when those first two volleys of caffeine simply aren't enough. In these desperate times, you may find yourself staring at that fateful third cup of coffee - the moment I've come to call "the point of no return."  Here are few that've hit me over the years:

Is that the sunrise?
In college, pulling an all nighter is about as routine as ordering pizza for the fourth meal in a row or debating whether that wrinkled t-shirt is really dirty enough to justify making a trip down to the laundry room - it happens a lot, is what I'm saying. The crazy thing is that when you're an undergrad, as tired as you might be for going a whole 24 hours without sleep, you can usually find enough energy to drag yourself to an 8 AM class and still make it to a late night meal before falling into a coma-like state for an extended period of time.

However, during the postgrad days of working 9 to 5, pulling an all-nighter is a far riskier proposition. If you find yourself wondering how the sun managed to come up before you made it home after a night out, you can bet there's a third cup of coffee (at least) in your future.

There's 506 miles to Chicago...
Going on a cross-country road trip is about as American as apple pie, but this heavily romanticized adventure doesn't make it any less dauntingly monotonous when you've been on the road for eight hours and you still have hundreds of miles left to go. Whether you're trying to make a trip from New York to Chicago or are planning a tour of the Southwest, nothing helps make sitting in a car for an 18-hour period bearable like multiple cups of caffeinated goodness.

One fine cup of coffee
Sometimes that third cup of coffee isn't about recovering from the night of one-too-many-beers or completely a test of your endurance, it's just because you've been handed one fine cup of coffee and you just want it. There are a seemingly limitless number of coffee varieties, flavors and methods of preparation, and when you find the one that's perfect for your palette, it can be like falling in love for the first time all over again. For those special moments, go ahead and indulge - have another cup of coffee.