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So, maybe you got a new Keurig® brewer over the holidays. Or maybe you’ve had a brewer for years. Either way, there’s a lot more than just a simple cup of coffee that you can get out of this terrific little machine. Here’s some inspiration from GreenMountainCoffee.com and Keurig.com to help you think outside the bean.

 

  1. Explore new varieties of coffee. Sure you have your go-to blend, and no one’s going to take that away from you. But did you know, there are over 150 different K-Cup® and about 50 Vue® pack varieties of coffee out there? From light, medium, and dark roast to extra bold, flavored, or special reserve – you might just discover a new favorite or two.
     
  2. Try other hot brews. Coffee’s not the only cup in town. The best-loved hot tea brands are also available for your Keurig® brewer, including Bigelow, Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, Tazo, Tetley, and Twinings. And on a chilly day, kids and grown-ups alike love a cup of hot apple cider or hot cocoa.
     
  3. Enjoy cold beverages with Brew Over Ice packs. With specially-crafted Brew Over Ice K-Cup® and Vue® packs, it’s a cinch to make a fresh and refreshing cup of iced coffee, iced tea, lemonade or other fruit brew. Just fill a cup with ice (do not use glass), pop in a pack, brew, stir and enjoy!
     
  4. Involve your brewer for cooking and baking. There are lots of great recipes that call for coffee, both sweet and savory dishes. Your Keurig® brewer makes it easy to brew a single cup, fast and without cleanup. This blog has a boatload of delicious recipes, so do a little perusing for some culinary ideas.
     
  5. Use My K-Cup® for whole bean and ground options. For some, there’s nothing like a cup of coffee from freshly ground beans. The My K-Cup® refill pack allows you to grind your own beans or to try varieties that are only available in bags.

 

But it’s not just what’s in the cup that matters. Here are a few more tips.

  1. A little maintenance goes a long way. Changing your water filter every 2 months and descaling your brewer every 3-6 months will not only help extend the life of your brewer, it’ll keep your beverages tasting great. Learn more.
  2. Keep your packs in order. There are a few great space-saving options for keeping your packs handy and organized, including carousels, dispensers, and under-brewer drawers. Check out your storage options for both K-Cup® and Vue® packs.
  3. Stock up for guests. When company comes, it’s a real treat to allow everyone to choose his or her own beverage, so keep a stash of options (see #s 1,2, and 3 above) and make it easy for guests to browse packs (see #7 above).
  4. Keep in touch. Sign up at GreenMountainCoffee.com and Keurig.com (bottom left) to receive emails with exclusive discounts and special offers, new product information, and more. We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

 

Got an idea to make it an even 10? We’d love to hear from you!

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Jamaica Blue Mountain® and 100% Kona: This Season’s Special Reserves

Calling all coffee connoisseurs (and the friends who buy them gifts). We are pleased to announce the arrival of two highly prized Special Reserve coffees from Green Mountain Coffee®: Jamaica Blue Mountain® and 100% Kona. This isn’t something for just the French Press folks, these limited edition coffees are available in K-Cup® packs as well as bags. Both package options come with an informational brochure and are specially designed to make an elegant gift presentation.

Here’s a taste of each unique variety.

Jamaica Blue Mountain® is a coffee that is world-renowned for its exceptional flavor. So much so, that coffee experts ask for it by name. It is a complex coffee that presents a cup of well-rounded contrasts. You’ll find rich notes of chocolate, cherry, and plum, while hints of melon, lemon, and lime also shine through. The body is heavy with a silky, smooth finish.

100% Kona is one of the world’s most prized, award-winning coffees. It is a cheerfully bright, but delicate coffee that expresses dry, Chardonnay-like notes while presenting refreshing hints of tropical fruit, tart green apple, and dried citrus. It’s incomparable aroma is pleasantly floral with an almond sweetness.

These coffees, as with all Green Mountain Coffee® Special Reserves, are nurtured on the small farms we encounter during journeys to familiar origins and emerging coffee regions. They are carefully sourced and expertly roasted to bring out the best in every bean.

They’re also limited in supply, so don’t wait too long to order them!

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A New Coffee Blend That’s a World-Traveler

 

 

Just in time for Fair Trade Month, Green Mountain Coffee® has introduced a new Fair Trade Certified™ coffee that brings together beans from three of the most distinctive coffee growing regions in the world. Introducing new, extra bold, medium roast, Three Continent Blend, a harmonious blend that’s not only great coffee for you, it’s helping provide a better quality of life for farmers on our source farms in Sumatra, South America, and Ethiopia.

Here’s how.

Fair Trade certification gives farmers a fair price for their beans with a guaranteed minimum, which means they can invest in their crops, their communities, and their future. Fair Trade also lets Green Mountain Coffee® and farmers work closely together to bring the best tasting coffee to market.

And because it’s Fair Trade Month, there’s all sorts of great stuff going on: savings on all Green Mountain Coffee® Fair Trade Certified™ coffees. And have you heard? Kelly Clarkson traveled to Peru as a Green Mountain Coffee® Fair Trade Ambassador to learn about Fair Trade and all the good it does around the world. You can check out her travelogue, including photos and video at www.choosefairtrade.com. And on October 10, you can watch an exclusive Kelly Clarkson concert live on Facebook. Learn more at www.facebook.com/GreenMountainCoffee.  

Our hope with all this exciting promotional work is that the next time you shop for coffee, you’ll consider choosing Fair Trade. It’s one of the easiest ways you can help make a positive difference in the world. So have your coffee…and feel good about it, too.

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Colombia Geisha, the first Special Reserve coffee for Keurig Brewers

Today marks a first for Green Mountain Coffee® Special Reserve.  For years we’ve offered exquisite, rare coffees in limited supply through our Special Reserve collection, but this marks the first time it is also available in K-Cup® packs for Keurig® brewers, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!  Introducing the latest Green Mountain Coffee Special Reserve, Colombia Geisha:

Green Mountain Coffee Special Reserve Colombia Geisha

I recently had the opportunity to visit the farm where this coffee is grown and to get a rare, first-hand glimpse into the process that is meticulously followed to bring you this amazing coffee.  I was astounded to learn of the care and dedication that is put into each step of growing, harvesting and processing this coffee.  For example, only the tiny plants in the nurseries with straight roots are used for growing the Geisha varietal.   The coffee cherry pickers are trained for four-twelve months to ensure only the best cherries are selected.  Plus, once harvested, the coffee is processed in a wet mill that is dedicated for Geisha and is then dried in a mechanical dryer so the flavors are preserved.   That’s a lot of extra care and consideration – which you can taste in every cup. 

While we were in Colombia at Finca Cerro Azul, we had the opportunity to go and cup a variety of coffees, and when I got to Sample #4, I had my ah-ha moment.  I instantly knew that the coffee I just tasted was this Special Reserve – it was no ordinary coffee.  This coffee is known for its sweet, dynamic citrus-like flavor profile.  As you sip it, it turns gently from honey to blood orange, with hints of juicy cherry, lime and orange blossoms

I’ll take a lot away from this trip, but the most important is that the coffee I sip on while getting ready each morning will never be seen as “just a cup of coffee” ever again!  I hope you enjoy this coffee as much as I do!

Colombia Geisha  is available online in whole bean bags and K-Cup®  packs, while supplies last, exclusively on www.GreenMountainCoffee.com and www.Keurig.com.

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It's Fair Trade Month

It’s our favorite time of year again: October.  The first month of autumn brings foliage, bonfires, and, of course, Fair Trade Month!

Fair Trade provides farmers a fair price for their harvest, which means they can invest in their crops, their communities, and their futures.  Fair Trade creates some of the best coffee in the world, because farmers can afford to invest in their farms to produce the finest coffee beans.

It’s simple: Fair Trade means better coffee for you and a better life for farmers.   Check out the infographic below to get the full picture.  (Click the image to see the details. )


In the upcoming month, we’re all about showcasing Fair Trade Certified™ coffees.  From sharing our favorite varieties to showing news ways of thinking about what Fair Trade purchases can do to sharing coupons to hearing from folks who support Fair Trade, there are a lot of great things in the line-up!

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Ask the Coffee Lab: Coffee Acidity

Is there a type/brand of coffee that is easy on the digestion? I miss my cup of coffee!


- From @Bluesky107


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I always feel like this is a complicated question to answer because there are so many variables to how any one person’s system works - and then there’s always some subjectivity involved, too.

Let’s start with the basics: The pH scale measures the acidic or basic properties a substance. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral. A pH less than 7 is acidic. A pH greater than 7 is basic.

On the pH scale, most coffee is just below neural at 5. Remarkably, orange juice and beer are considered more acidic than coffee.


So, coffee is acidic, but not that acidic. Acidity can get mixed up in people's heads with other factors  - between the sweetness and brightness of fine, high-grown coffee properly roasted and brewed and acid/alkaline balance and how their stomachs feel about and react to coffee, it can be hard to determine what exact is the culprit for that digestion issue.

For people who want that lower acid coffee - and there really is no such thing naturally (save for those gimmicky, chemically-altered coffees targeting a certain niche market), we usually recommend Indonesian coffees, like Fair Trade Organic Sumatran Reserve, and darker roasted coffees.  The former tends to be gentler on the stomach due to the drying process, according to fans like you, and the latter are less acidic due to the longer roasting process.

Here are some of my own personal observations about acidity:



  1. Cheaper, lower-quality coffee will be more acidic and bitter

  2. Dry process coffees, or "naturals", tend to be less acidic (like some African and Indonesian coffees)

  3. High grown, washed Arabica beans from Central and South America tend to be brighter and more acidic (in a tangy way, not in the pH sense)

  4. The lighter the roast, the more acidic it will appear to be (though on the pH scale its not significant)

  5. Darker roasts are naturally less acidic (but not by much). This runs counter to what people think about dark roasts.

  6. The longer the coffee sits after brewing, the more acidic it gets (literally). This is a good reason to use a Keurig® brewer or brew with a French Press.



Everyone's sensitivities and preferences are different. Our other recommendation would be to try decaffeinated coffee. Some customers report that they were sensitive to the caffeine content, not the acidity as they had originally suspected. Of course, as always, your doctor knows best.

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Limited Edition: Special Reserve La Unión Mexico

While La Unión has all the distinctive characteristics that merit its inclusion in our line of Special Reserve coffees, it differs from the other coffees in one important way: it is not obscure, nor recently discovered on a remote hillside of some exotic land. La Unión is an extraordinary offering from one of our oldest friends.

We have been working with members of the Unión Regional de Pequenos Productores de Café cooperative for nearly 20 years. Originally, beans from this cooperative were used as a neutral base for our flavored coffees. As our relationship deepened with these farmers, they became more successful at coaxing out the unique qualities of their beans. Years of sharing knowledge and exchanging visits resulted in higher-quality coffee.

Now the cooperative has taken quality control to a new level, and their commitment is astoundingly evident in this year’s crop. A singular focus on training, cupping, and grading has resulted in a coffee that amplifies the best of a cup that was already deliciously satisfying. Bright citrus notes are now intensified. The warm tones and round body are now velvety smooth. It’s like listening to your favorite tune performed by a world-class symphony orchestra in an acoustically flawless concert hall.  To top it all off, this coffee is Fair Trade Certified™ and organic, two certifications that have enabled the cooperative to establish education facilities and health care centers for several villages.

As with all of our Special Reserves, supply is limited, as we only roast one batch.  This coffee will roast on June 30, 2011, so pick up your bag of Special Reserve La Unión Mexico today – or join the tour to be shipped our latest Reserve fresh from the roaster.

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Green Mountain Coffee and Brew Over Ice are BBQ’ing in DC

You all know we have brewing down cold, but did you know the same can be said for barbequing?

A few months ago, as the Green Mountain Coffee and the Brew Over Ice teams were ironing out a schedule for our current sampling tour, it was decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity for Brew Over Ice to sponsor the Safeway Barbeque Battle in Washington, D.C..  This is one of the top barbeque events of the summer, shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue with games, music, and lots and lots of barbeque.  Perfect for iced coffee and iced tea, right?  As excited discussion around the event ensued, it surfaced that Derek, Green Mountain Coffee brand manager, is a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) competition judge.  It turns out that not only is he a judge, but at the time Derek was finalizing plans to enter a team in various BBQ competitions around New England.  We put two and two together, and decided to enter our own team for the D.C. event, and compete alongside some of the most decorated teams on the competitive BBQ circuit.

Now it’s time to put our BBQ where our mouth is.


So, at the end of this very week, members of the Brew Over Ice and Green Mountain Coffee teams are traveling to our nation’s capitol to take part in this exciting contest on June 25th and 26th.  Derek, who moved to Vermont from Rhode Island by way of Massachusetts several years ago, lovingly dubbed his team “Flatlander BBQ, playing off the word that Vermonters tend to call folks from outside of the Green Mountain state.


Technically, the Flatlander team consists of Derek and his wife Meghan, but for this weekend’s event, the team will temporarily expand to Extra Bold levels to include Kristen from Public Relations, Chris from Brew Over Ice, and Tyler and Roger from the Green Mountain Coffee team.  Together we're competing in all four competition categories – chicken, beef, pork ribs, and pork shoulder (for pulled pork).  We are also entering the “America’s Best Sauce Contest” to really put it over the top.

We hope to add to Flatlander’s recent success (Derek and Meghan took second place for pork and fifth place for chicken at the recent Cape Cod BBQ contest) by utilizing the special rubs and recipes that Derek concocted … oh, and did I mention that all of our entries will feature our bagged coffee and/or tea from Brew Over Ice K-Cup® portion packs? For additional authenticity, we will even be going so far as to use green coffee beans in the smokers, hopefully imparting the winning essence for all our entries.

So, as you’re doing your own backyard grilling this weekend, think of us as we attempt to smoke the competition (bad pun intended) at this national showdown!  Or if thinking seems like too little, follow our progress on Twitter (search for the #BBQBattle hashtag) and Facebook – or even come down to cheer us on (and try free Brew Over Ice samples in the Sampling Pavilion, too)!  Just remember, low and slow is the way to go, so let’s hear it for Flatlander BBQ!!!

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Ask the Coffee Lab: How Should I Store My Coffee?

"Should I store my beans in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, or in the freezer? I've heard a few different theories. What do GMCR experts say?"


- Steven on our Facebook Page

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Great question - and one that we get a lot. Of course, the easy answer is to start buying K-Cup® portion packs and not worry about it – they’re already sealed from coffee’s worst enemies: air, light, heat, and moisture. That's one of the reasons they're so popular. That said, I only grind and brew coffee in my house, so I'm in your camp: How do I best store my coffee?

The answer is really quite simple. I grabbed one of our bags of coffee off the shelf in the coffee lab and looked for guidance. Our humble 10/12 ounce bag says:


"Store in an airtight container, away from heat, direct sunlight, and moisture.”




See? Simple. If you protect your coffee from air, heat, light, and moisture, you’re golden.  However, if you want to get a little more detailed, there are only a few more things to add.

When you store your beans, there’s no need to take them out of the bag by pouring them into the container. An unopened bag, stored away from heat, sun, and moisture will last a long time (in fact, we guarantee it for 9-months).

Then there’s oxygen. Of coffee’s worst enemies, Oxygen is the ringleader.  The oxidization process stales the coffee, so an airtight container is your best option to elude this fierce predator. Moisture is oxygen’s right hand man – and your next opponent.  Best way to beat it: Don’t put your coffee in the refrigerator! The refrigerator is a moisture haven and is highly discouraged for coffee storage. That old tuna casserole will spoil a nice cup of coffee any day.

“But what about the freezer? I always put my coffee in the freezer,” you say.  The freezer is a great place to store unopened bags of coffee, but removing and refreezing an opened bag only helps the oxidization process (staling) along since the coffee is exposed to oxygen and moisture in the form of condensation (two of the big coffee enemies) each and every time you open the freezer door.

It's helpful to use the fish analogy when it comes to coffee storage. A nice brook trout you caught on a Saturday morning will be great for dinner Saturday night. If you're going to eat it Sunday night, you'd better put it in the refrigerator (or, in coffee’s case, an airtight container away from heat, sunlight, and moisture). If you want to save it for Christmas (say, 6-months away), you'd better freeze it. It won't taste as good as it did that same day you caught it, but it will still be tasty.

Here are a few easy tips about keeping your coffee as fresh as possible:



  • Only buy and open what you can brew in a week to fend off coffee's worst enemies, see below.

  • Oxygen is bad for coffee; airtight containers are ideal.

  • Light, moisture, and humidity are bad for coffee; Dark, dry places are good for coffee.

  • The refrigerator is bad for coffee; the freezer is okay for unopened bags of coffee.



Follow these tips as much as you can.   In the end, just drink good coffee and enjoy!

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Thankful for Thanksgiving (and turkey)

When the end of November rolls around, I must admit where my mind goes first: turkey.  And stuffing and potatoes and cranberry sauce and green beans.  And pumpkin pie - we cannot forget the pumpkin pie.  It’s about cooking and baking and sautéing and refrigerating and feeling stuffed to the gills with epicurean delight.

And then I stop and actually think about it.

Thanksgiving is most certainly about food (coffee-crusted turkey, anyone?), but it also about thankfulness.  It’s about showing gratitude for your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers.  It’s about expressing the appreciation we feel for people who show they care, may it be by cleaning up a local river, proposing at the Grand Canyon, or simply taking the time to share a smile.

This week, we challenged members of our Green Mountain Coffee team to share what they’re thankful for this year.  And, as always, our team met the challenge in a revelation-ary manner:

Amanda: I am thankful for great family and great coffee! I love that I work for a company where I can introduce my family to great coffee as well as all the important work GMCR does to help "Brew a Better World".  My brother loves our Fair Trade Seasonals and I'm very partial to our Special Reserves!

Reid: I'm thankful for the peaceful joy I'm experiencing in having my 11 month old little girl asleep in my arms while I try to type this on my iPad!  I should also mention I'm thankful for auto-correct.

To be be part of such an amazing company with truly wonderful and passionate (with above-average caffeinated levels) people is an experience for which to be thankful.  I'm thankful our company is doing so well which affords us with the ability to give back in ways tat impact so many.


Lesley: I am very  thankful to work for a company that embraces and supports my personal and professional growth, creativity, and learning.

Roger: I’m thankful for the fact that I am privileged enough to work with a group of dedicated and passionate individuals who collectively represent the best group of co-workers – and friends – that anyone could hope for.  On the home front, I’m extremely thankful that my kids still think I’m (relatively) cool.  I know it won’t last much longer, so while I still can, I’m soaking up as much of their indulgence as possible.


Jennifer: I am thankful to be working after spending most of 2009 unemployed, and am grateful for the opportunity Green Mountain Coffee has given me.

Ken: I’m thankful that more and more of our troops are returning from overseas duties.  I’m thankful to work for a company that can be both successful and CSR-minded.  I’m thankful that my kids still listen to me (for the most part).


Maureen (and Kristen): We're grateful for Hot Apple Cider, which has spiced up our autumn and mustache Fridays (or Wednesdays, or Tuesdays, or whenever we need it).


Sandy: There are many things I’ll be giving thanks for on Thursday, but I wasn’t sure what to share here until I came across this blog post: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/3-simple-ways-to-thank-a-farmer-this-thanksgiving.html


As we stuff ourselves silly with those traditional, only-on-Thanksgiving delicacies like green bean casserole (we affectionately call this “green mush” in my family) and the ubiquitous sweet potato marshmallow delight, it seems like the right time to thank farmers both near and far who help keep food on our plates and our coffee cups filled.

Nearby, I’d like to thank the fine folks at the Dog River Farm in Berlin, VT for opening up their farm through CSA shares, and challenging me to be creative in cooking up my weekly stash of zucchini, kale, and many mysterious varieties of squash.

Further away, I’d like to thank the Fair Trade farmers around the world who work hard to grow and deliver the high quality beans that are incorporated into so many Green Mountain Coffee varieties.

I’ll keep my thanks going year-round by buying local foods whenever possible, and choosing Fair Trade for products like coffee that are not grown locally.

Kristen: I am thankful for the food on my table, family by my side, and just enough caffeine to jump start my soul. And, of course, you - yes, you!  For all the Green Mountain Coffee fans who make this possible, thank you!

What are you thankful for this year?

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Savor the deep-roasted brews of the new Barista Prima Coffeehouse collection


Been craving an even richer, deeper, darker K-Cup® portion pack? An intense flavor and complexity that sings of the world’s finest coffee house brews? Good news: Our friends at Barista Prima Coffeehouse™ have a new K-Cup® collection made to satiate just that feeling.


As an exclusive collection of the world’s finest Arabica coffees roasted in the tradition of Europe's most celebrated coffee houses, Barista Prima Coffeehouse brings you rich, deep-roasted brews in convenient, single serve K-Cups®.  Bold and complex, yet perfectly balanced, each cup reflects the consummate artistry and handcrafted care that only the most skilled baristas can deliver.  This select line is comprised of four richly flavored brews:
Colombia

  • High altitude treasure from a land of legendary coffee. A prized coffee, born of the mountains in a land steeped in the coffee-growing tradition. Accented by bright, bold fruit notes and a distinctive hint of walnut, this deep-roasted cup possesses a sweet, full-bodied finish that elevates satisfaction into a realm all its own.


French Roast


  • A sweet, smoky love song to the cafés of Paris. This intensely bold yet gracefully-bodied cup provides indisputable proof of our roast masters' artistry. The absolute finest Arabica beans are heated to the very edge of noir - then meticulously eased back to reveal their rich, full-flavored complexity. The result? A daringly dark, smoky-sweet brew with a surprisingly light mouthfeel.


House Blend


  • The timeless perfection of your best-loved coffee house cup. Classically balanced, with a lively splash of citrus, subtle hints of bittersweet chocolate and a well rounded, toasted-nut finish. Its roasty sweet, supremely satisfying taste evokes all the familiar comforts of your favorite coffee house.


Italian Roast



  • A deep, dark-roasted delight, done right. This robust, heavy-bodied cup with its ripe fruit and berry notes epitomizes the time-honored Italian tradition of dark-roasted coffeehouse brews. Bold yet ideally balanced, with a subtle hint of smokiness and a bright clean finish, our Italian Roast is a hearty and flavorful testament to the art of dark roasting.



The small team of Barista Prima™ coffee experts spent years in search of a way to recreate the intense flavor and complexity of the world’s finest coffee house brews.  They worked tirelessly to develop exquisite blends that could meet their own impossibly high expectations so they and you could be proud to serve it to family and friends.  And now, it’s here and ready to satisfy your need for coffee house richness at home.

Now available online for $19.45 for a 24ct box.

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Brewing A Better World with Fair Trade

Fair Trade is not only an important business focus for Green Mountain Coffee, but it’s also a topic of which many of our employees and coffee fans are passionate.  May it be at home, at the grocery store, or in the office, Fair Trade is never far from our minds. But we know that not everyone is as aware of the Fair Trade movement as we are, so we wanted to give you an idea of what choosing Fair Trade coffee means – for the farmer and yourself.



Like oil or cotton, coffee is a commodity... and world prices fluctuate wildly. Coffee farmers never know how much they'll be paid for their beans. Sometimes they don't even get enough to pay for the cost of growing them.


Fair Trade certification provides farmers a fair price for their beans with a guaranteed minimum, which means they can invest in their crops, their communities, and their future.

But let’s not forget: Fair Trade also creates some of the best coffee in the world.  With Fair Trade premiums in hand, farmers can afford to follow time-honored traditions to produce the finest beans, which allows you to enjoy one of the finest cups of coffee available.

We’re passionate about Fair Trade coffee not only for the reasons above, but also because of how simple it is to have an impact by choosing to purchase Fair Trade.  As you may have heard us say before, we realized that good coffee could be good for the world – and we hope you will, too.

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Guest Post: Fair Trade In Rwanda By TransFair USA

Katie Barrow, PR Manager at TransFair USA (the third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States), recently traveled to Rwanda to meet the Fair Trade coffee farmers who produced the beans for our Fair Trade Spring Revival Blend™. There she witnessed firsthand the hope and pride that Fair Trade has brought to the people of this tiny country, especially the women.  Here’s her story:

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I’m so excited to be a part of Green Mountain’s World Fair Trade week!  If you’ve been following this wonderful blog, then you’ve probably already read several stories about the positive impact that Fair Trade has on the lives of coffee farmers.  You may have heard stories of cooperatives that have used Fair Trade premiums to provide entire communities with access to clean water or electricity for the first time.  There are also the stories of medical clinics built, new roads paved and scholarships funded.  But the Fair Trade story that has excited me the most during time at TransFair USA is the story of the Hinga Kawa Women’s Association (part of the Abakunda Kawa cooperative) - a group of women who came together as a community to sell their coffee directly to U.S. buyers, including Green Mountain Coffee for the Fair Trade Spring Revival Blend.

So this year I decided to take a vacation to visit these beautiful women in the far-away hills of Rwanda.  I’ll spare you the details of my entire journey through East Africa (though the 30-mile walking safari we took through remote mountain villages in Uganda was unforgettable).  Instead, I will just focus on one day - the day we spent with Hinga Kawa.  It was one of the most humbling and joyful days of my life thus far.

At this point, my travel buddy Jenna and I had been in Africa for a little over a week.  One thing we were already used to was getting up early so that all of the day’s activities could be accomplished before the afternoon rains came. This morning was a little different; it had been raining all morning.  Christine picked us up at our hotel in Kigali in a rugged SUV at 8am sharp, and we began the drive to Gakenke.  What an experience that was!  The road started off paved in Kigali, but soon pavement gave way to a rocky dirt path (hard to call it a road!) that we followed for another two hours, winding through small villages and farms.  When we arrived at the cooperative, we met Ernest, the manager of Abakunda Kawa.  He proudly showed us the coffee washing station and coffee beans from the last harvest.  And he was equally proud to show off the cooperative’s new copy machine, purchased with Fair Trade premiums.

The members of Hinga Kawa began to arrive one by one at the cooperative office.  The president of the group introduced herself to me and explained “the rain this morning made the women late.”  When you depend on the sun as your alarm clock, an odd rainy morning would cause delays!  Finally, all of the women had arrived, and they filed into the coffee storehouse for their monthly meeting.  That’s when I found out that I was to be a guest speaker!

Because of translation issues (Christine translated to Kinyarwanda), I kept my message short.  I told them that my job at TransFair USA is to listen to their stories, document their lives, and share this information with the world.  Americans love their daily cup of coffee, but it is very rare that we stop and think about where it came from: Who grew the beans and what were the unthinkable challenges associated with this seemingly ordinary act?

They received this message well.  They thanked me, and then the secretary of the group stood up to share her story on behalf of her colleagues:

“Our lives are not easy,” she began. “We wake up very early with the sun, strap our babies to our backs and head to the field where we tend to the coffee.  We then make sure that our older children get to school on time, and we begin searching for food to prepare for lunch.  In addition to gathering food, we must also find wood for a fire.  Because food is scarce and not easy to prepare, lunch is generally the only meal we eat all day.  After lunch, we return to the fields and tend to the coffee until the sunset.  At night we take care of the children, and after they fall asleep we work on applications for scholarships to help pay for their education.  Then we start all over again the next morning.”

“Many of us are widows or orphans [because of the genocide], and those who are married are still responsible for all of the work at home and in the coffee fields because our husbands spend the days in the villages trying to earn money.  This is why we formed Hinga Kawa; it is a way for us to sell the coffee that we grew.  It allows us to take pride in our work, and it is also a support network.  It is a time for us to come together and talk about our hardships with other women who have experienced the same challenges.  And it is a time for us to sing and dance… and laugh.  For many women, this meeting might be the only time they’ve smiled all day.”


And with that, the women began to clap as they sang a beautiful song.  This song wasn’t beautiful because all of their voices were on key, or because it was accompanied by interesting instruments.  It was beautiful because of the way that the women were able to let go of all their worries and just pour all of their energy into the song.  And then they began to dance!  As they danced, the women approached me one by one to hug me and thank me for visiting them.  Tears poured down my face.  I had never experienced anything so sincere and passionate.  I could go on and on about this part of the meeting, but this video I recorded really says it best:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi6gOI7E3x0

At that moment, I realized that all of the work I’ve been doing at TransFair USA for the past year-and-a-half has been for these women:  women who work so hard every day just to feed their families, to grow their coffee sustainably (100% organic) and to simply survive.  Fair Trade has not made them rich.  Not even close.  But it has given them enough additional income to pay for their eldest child to go to school and still have money left over to feed their other children.  With our help and the continued sales of Rwandan Fair Trade Certified coffee, these women will soon be able to pay for all of their children to go to school… through Fair Trade, not aid.

I promised these women that I would share their story with you.  I also promised them that I would help sell more Rwandan Fair Trade Certified coffee.  All you have to do is order a bag of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Spring Revival Blend.  Trust me, it would mean so much to the women of Hinga Kawa if you did.

You can see more pictures from my day with Hinga Kawa right here.

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Ask the Coffee Lab: Extra Bold Light Roast?

Ready for a question the puzzles even the most die-hard coffee fan?


“How can you have an Extra Bold Light roast?”


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Sometimes it’s a little confusing reading all the different names and styles of coffee we offer. In the best of all possible worlds, you could sit around with a little book and taste coffee all day and make notes, with elegant sketches of apricots and blueberries to remind of the fruit notes in that Ethiopian you liked.

But back to reality and the confusion…


The longer the coffee is in the roaster (basically a big oven that keeps the beans moving and hot), the darker the coffee gets. A lighter roast is in the roaster for less time than a darker roast. The darker the coffee gets, the more intense it gets, but it also gets less complex. Some people say the longer the better; some say not so much. To each his own – that’s why we offer more than 100 different coffees.


Now, let’s talk about the boldness of your coffee.  When you open up a bag of dark roast coffee, people say, “Whew, that’s strong coffee!”

That’s not an untrue statement, but when we say strong, we’re referring to the amount of coffee to the amount of water – we call that brew strength. When we say “bold”, we also referring to the amount of coffee to water – and in this case – the amount of coffee in the K-Cup. Extra bold K-Cups have more coffee in them (around 30% more coffee to be exact).

If you’re up for an Extra Bold light roast, try our Extra Bold Kenyan AA or Donut House Coffee.

That’s another month of Ask the Coffee Lab. If you have questions to ask our Coffee Team, leave a comment here, on Twitter (Follow us: @Coffee_Lab), or Facebook.

-Winston

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Ask the Coffee Lab: What Makes a Good Coffee Bean

Welcome to Ask the Coffee Lab!  Each month our crack Coffee Lab Team will tackle your questions about coffee - from what makes decaf coffee decaf to why coffee tasters slurp - and help to bring you another step closer to being the coffee expert you know you are inside.  If you have questions to ask us, leave a comment here, on Twitter (Follow us: @Coffee_Lab), or Facebook.

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Without further ado, Peter asks via our Facebook page:

"What creates a good coffee bean?"


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Great question. I’m a new Dad. What creates a good kid?

My brother said that before my daughter was born, he thought his own 3 kids came out fully formed, personalities intact and that his job was just to make sure they got three square meals a day and that they didn’t get run over by a car.

Are some beans born good? Kind of. The job is usually to pick the beans at the height of ripeness and then carefully process them so that the bean stands on its own and isn’t impacted by any rough, careless, negligent handling at the mill where it’s processed.

Coffee beans have lots of parents. Some people say that a coffee gets handled by up 150 different people before it goes down the gullet. (Don’t worry – not always literally handled.)

It helps to have cultivators of Coffea Arabica that produce better tasting coffee (as opposed to producing just lots of coffee). Typica and Bourbon are common older varieties (you could almost call them heirlooms) that produce good tasting coffee beans.

Some coffee beans can look lovely and yet have no taste. Some beans can look awful and taste delicious. Some ripe coffee cherries can look great – but be really light and low quality – so looks ain’t all that matters. It’s what’s inside!

It helps to grow at higher altitudes (above 3,500 to 5,500 feet) so that the bean doesn’t get too hot or grow too fast and take on more water. As higher grown beans, good beans are denser – (they grow slower) and are better able to handle the intense heat in a roaster

It helps to be picked when the beans are super ripe – big, red, and meaty – mature and fully developed. Normally they should be milled right away so that the inherent quality of the bean can stand on its own and not be influenced by the fruit or the interaction of the fruit with water and warm weather and microbial activities that can impact (usually in a negative way) the bean.

Good beans will come from diligent and careful handling in the mill in order to not have the good ones compromised by the bad beans in the mill. Good segregation means the good ones get set aside.

Essentially any good bean starts out good and the trick is not to have it compromised on the way to your cup. There’s generally very little anyone can do to improve the quality of a coffee bean – but there are lots of ways to deleteriously affect the quality of the coffee. Imagine a long slow battle hammering away at beans – the barbarians of carelessness, inattention, thoughtlessness and inexperience.

Other things that help:


  • For the farmer to have vision, hope, knowledge and a steady buyer with clear expectations and a ready check book.



  • For the cooperative to be able to get pre-harvest financing to help pay for a farmers’ beans so that it can compete for the best coffee.



  • A roaster that is willing to pay attention to the potential a coffee has and not just cook and bake it or roast the heck out of it.



  • A convenience store manager that is willing to use a separate airpot for Hazelnut so that the Nantucket Blend that comes next doesn’t get contaminated.



  • You the customer – taking care to use a nice brewer, clean water, cleaning it regularly, serving and enjoying it fresh.



  • You the customer – caring about good coffee and being willing to pay for it. (Thank you for that, by the way).


Most mornings, my 5-month daughter sits on my lap when I start my day with my FTO Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with a little organic half and half and a little raw whipped honey. If she grows up to be sweet, clean and bright like my favorite cup of coffee, I’ll be happy.

-Winston

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Green Mountain Coffee Top Holiday Gift Picks

Happy Black Friday!  Hope the shopping spree is going swimmingly!

Unless, of course, you haven’t been up since 5 a.m., sorting your flyers and coupons and mapping out your shopping route with precision, a travel mug full of caffeinated joy clenched in your hand?

Well.

If you’re one to avoid the lines, crowds, and frenetic pace that is Black Friday, let’s see if we can help you out with your laid back, clickable, PJ-wearing Cyber Monday with some GreenMountainCoffee.com Top Picks:

Better World Gift Basket

1. Our Better World Gift Basket: The reusable, eco-friendly tote overflows with Fair Trade, organic, and sustainable treats.  Fair Trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate sauce come from farmers who were paid a fair wage. Throw in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and you have it all: java, justice, and joy.

Fair Trade Organic Coffee Sampler

2. Our Fair Trade Organic Sampler: This sampler includes three 10-oz. bags of coffee to fit every mood – bold and dark with French Roast, sweet and swanky with Sumatran Reserve, and bright and vibrant with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. With certified Fair Trade and Organic coffees, this sampler is perfect for the socially-minded with a coffee habit that’s never routine.

Holiday Seasonal Eggnogg

3. Our Limited Edition Seasonal Coffees: Only available during this time of year, Holiday Blend, Spicy Eggnog, and Gingerbread are all created to complement the special foods and festivities of the season. All three coffees are Fair Trade Certified™, which means small-scale farmers were paid a fair price for their beans. Available bagged and in K-Cups.

Taste of VT Breakfast Basket

4. Our Taste of Vermont Breakfast Gift: Brings the beauty of the Green Mountain State right to your doorstep. This special collection represents the best of Vermont's food artisans, including maple butter and maple syrup fromHighland Sugarworks; Raspberry Preserves from Side Hill Farm; a tin of Lake Champlain Fair Trade Organic Cocoa. Mitzi’s Maple Granola made out of Stowe, Vt. Our own Vermont Country Blend and Breakfast Blend coffees round out your tasty tour of Vermont.

Happy hunting…or clicking!

-Kristen

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Meet Chajulense Cooperative, Guatemala

Fair Trade Month Quiz:


Question 9: How many Fair Trade co-ops work with Green Mountain Coffee?


Answer: 88


 


Haven’t answered our Fair Trade Quiz question of the day, yet?  Well, why not?  The answer’s right there!  If that isn’t enough for you, the first 100 participants* get a sample of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Certified™ Organic House Blend and all answers get entered to the grand prize drawing of 12-months of Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Certified™ Coffees.  Go here to enter: http://www.eatdrinkandbefair.com/quiz.php


*Sorry, employees and their immediate family members of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. are not eligible. But keep an eye out for our internal Fair Trade quiz. 

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Time to highlight another of our Fair Trade cooperatives, Chajulense cooperative in Guatemala.

In the rural highlands of Guatemala, you can tell where a woman lives by the patterns on her huipil, or traditional blouse.  The beautifully woven and embroidered motifs are unique to each community.  In a similar way, astute coffee lovers can discern a Guatemalan bean’s geographic provenance by the distinctive flavor and aroma patterns imparted by the soil, altitude, and rainfall of its environment.

escojedora

Guatemala boasts eight distinct coffee-growing regions, each with its own personality and expression in the cup.  We source Guatemalan beans from coops in several regions, including Association Chajulense Val Vaq Quyol near the Chuchumatanes mountains of Chajul.  The name of this Fair Trade co-op means “only one voice,” and the co-op’s main goal is to improve the quality of life for its members while maintaining their traditions, values, and cultures. It is the largest organic coffee cooperative in Guatemala.

We’ve been working with Chajulense during the past three harvest cycles and are delighted by what we’ve tasted on the cupping table. On a recent trip to Guatemala, our chief coffee buyer, Lindsey Bolger, teamed up at the cupping table with cooperative President Arcadio Daniel Galindo and head cupper Arsemio Rivera Molina to identify beans that best displayed the unique qualities of coffee grown in regions around Chajul.  The cooperative’s prized Caturra and Bourbon varietals displayed shimmers of high-toned fruit, a vibrant acidity, and a resonant depth.

Fair Trade means the cooperative will receive a fair price for these excellent beans, and more. “Searching for a fairer market means not only that we will get better prices,” they write on their website, “but also that we are committed to work towards justice, freedom, and life for all men and women, so that we can live in justice among us and justice with our Mother Earth because only then we will achieve peace and happiness.”

Fair Trade Certified™ beans from the Chajulense cooperative are often used in Fair Trade Organic French Roast, Fair Trade Organic House Blend, and Heifer Hope Blend.

-Laura

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Fair Trade Principle: Fair Price to the Farmers

Fair Trade Month Quiz:


Question 3: Name two key principles of Fair Trade


Answer: Fair prices, fair labor conditions, direct trade, democratic & transparent organizations, community development, environmental sustainability


 


Haven’t answered our Fair Trade Quiz question of the day, yet?  Well, why not?  The answer’s right there!  If that isn’t enough for you, the first 100 participants* get a sample of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Certified™ Organic House Blend and all answers get entered to the grand prize drawing of 12-months of Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Certified™ Coffees.  Go here to enter: http://www.eatdrinkandbefair.com/quiz.php


*Sorry, employees and their immediate family members of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. are not eligible. But keep an eye out for our internal Fair Trade quiz.  

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One of the many things we love about Fair Trade is the direct interaction with our Fair Trade producers.  Take the Kenyan Highland Cooperatives, for example.  While Kenyan coffee has long been one of the most sought-after origins in the world, the benefits of Kenya’s traditional auction system do not always trickle down to the country’s thousands of small farmers. The best lots are sold to the highest bidder, and it’s often unclear how much of the price gets back to the farmers. 


  Lindsey Bolger with chairman of the Rumukia Coffee Cooperative Society in Kenya.



Coffee buyer Lindsey Bolger discusses quality with the chairman of the Rumukia Coffee Cooperative Society in Kenya.

Our Single Origin Kenyan Highland Cooperatives, however, is sourced from Fair Trade Certified™ cooperatives, which means we can trace our purchase price back to the people who grew these exceptional beans.  Fair Trade makes it so every interaction is as interpersonal as possible, allowing for new opportunities to (pardon the pun) brew better relationships at every interval. 

-Laura

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Keurig Water Filter Starter Kit: New!

09-accessories-keurig-water-filter-lgIs your water supply the best it can be or does it taste a bit like chlorine or some other "undesirable?"  If so, then the Keurig Water Filter Starter Kit is a must-have for your Keurig Brewer.

Great coffee begins with great beans, but it’s still about 98% water. The starter kit includes everything you need to start filtering the water in your Keurig Brewer. The Keurig Water Filter comes with two charcoal filter cartridges and when you use the filter in the water reservoir of your Keurig Brewer you are certain to have fresh, delicious, taint-free tasting coffee.

In addition, we also have replacement filters that come in packs of six which is enough for one full year of deliciously clean water. These can be used in Keurig Water Filters for Keurig Single-Cup Brewers.

Please visit gmcr.com today to read more about our K-Cups, single brewers and new Keurig Water Filter system.


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Greetings, Boston!

Hi Boston -

We've enjoyed being in your midst these past few months.  We asked for your input to our "I realized" campaign and were delighted to receive such an overwhelming response.  We laughed, we cried....

 Thanks so much for your enthusiasm!  We thought you'd enjoy seeing some of our favorites, starting with one that's just perfect for Valentine's Day -

"I realized that true love can start over a cup of coffee."

"I realize that the world never stops, we all need to have more fun and forgive more."

"I realized a bean is not just a bean."

"I realized everyone benefits from consideration."

"I realized good coffee is good for the soul."

"I realized in order for the day to end well, it has to start right."

"I realized K-Cups are good for a happy marriage."

"I realized morning coffee is my daily must  :)"

"I realized not all coffee is creted equal."

"I realized that coffee is a cause.   Support Fair Trade!"

"I realized that inspiration can come in a paper cup."

"I realized a cup of coffee is like a mini vacation, any time, anywhere."

"I realized an interest in coffee is among those precious things I share with folks from all over the world."

"I realized how amazing Green Mountain Coffee was when my school made the switch last month."

"I realized it's time for change."

"I realized my day is better with Green Mountain Coffee."

"I realized sometimes I go to bed already looking forward to my morning cup of coffee."

"I realized that a good cup of coffee in the morning just makes my day much better."

"I realized that being refreshed throughout the day is possible."

"I realized that good coffee can be worth waking up for!"

"I realized that I am a better person after my morning cup of Green Mountain Coffee! (At least that's what my wife says)"

"I realized that I can't control everything.  Sometimes it's best to just let it go."

"I realized that it was easy to bbe kinder to our planet."

"I realized that life just isn't the same without coffee."

"I realized that today is a beautiful day."

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