Buy Fair Trade Coffee

Building Demand for Certified Coffees

Increasing demand for high-quality products that are sustainably produced is core to our business strategy. In fiscal 2011, we expanded our efforts to offer and promote products such as Fair Trade Certified™, Rainforest Alliance Certified™, and organic coffees, helping to widen adoption of socially and environmentally responsible business practices.

In fiscal 2011 we:
- increased the volume of sustainably certified coffees we sold from 25% to 28% - a significant gain considering that overall coffee sales increased by 52%
-continued to educate consumers, suppliers, and employees about the value and benefits of sustainable products, through the support of community outreach programs run by organizations such as Fair Trade USA

Certified Coffee Shipped Infographic

We also continued our commitment to our Farm Identified (Farm ID) program - a cornerstone of our sourcing strategy. Our Farm ID program is an alternative to conventional sourcing through the anonymous commodity market. It represents our overall commitment to working together with our supply-chain partners, and not simply buying from them. In fiscal 2011, 34% of the coffee we purchased was Farm Identified. A portion of this is also certified coffee; other Farm Identified suppliers are at the beginning of their journey to sustainable coffee production.


Let's Talk Coffee 2012

This past weekend was the 10th Annual Let’s Talk Coffee, an annual event hosted by our friends at Sustainable Harvest (a coffee importer based in Portland, OR).  Every year, Sustainable Harvest brings together its own farmers, exporters, roasters (like us!), banks, non-profits, and other interested people for four days of coffee talk -- presentations, panels, round tables, business meetings, lots of coffee, and field trips to coffee farms. We were excited to finally meet some of the Arhuaco Indians from northern Colombia who are part of ASOANEI, one of our Fair Trade Organic suppliers.


Pictured are (me), Aurora Maria Izquierdo, her son Jorge, and Lindsey Bolger. They were as excited as we were that we were buying their coffee as they didn’t initially know who their buyer was. As a gift, Aurora gave Lindsey and me “assurance” bracelets – two small white cloth wrist bands with a little bead in each one (one white and one black). They were made in their community and blessed by their shaman (for lack of a better word) to make sure that we didn’t forget them nor stop buying coffee from them. Rest assured, I won’t forget: it was the highlight of my visit.


Ask the Coffee Lab: What does 'Q-Grader' mean?

A Licensed Q grader is the name of someone who has been certified by the Coffee Quality Institute, based in  Long Beach, CA. These cuppers must pass a rigorous 3 day exam, made up of 22 sections on coffee related subjects like green coffee grading, roast color identification, coffee cupping, sensory skills and sensory triangulation.

If that sounds confusing, just know this: A Q grader is someone really good at tasting, cupping and evaluating coffee. There are now over 1,000 Licensed Q Graders in the world and 9 of them work for GMCR. (Including me!) One of the consequences of standardizing coffee evaluation has been that the playing field between consuming countries and origin is a lot more level than it has ever been. Farmers and cooperatives are able to better evaluate the quality of their coffee and knowing the value of one’s product is crucial in any marketplace.

Not only have we been busy getting our staff certified as Licensed Q Graders, we have been actively promoting the program in our own supply chain. In particular, we help fund some of the Q Grader classes in a large portion of our Fair Trade Organic supply chain in Peru. We’re already getting better coffee from Peru and that means we’re able to buy more coffee in Peru.

If you’d like to see a short video of the most recent Q Grader Certification class we held here in Waterbury, Vermont, go here: All of the “students” in the video are employees and it was filmed and photographed in our brand new coffee lab.



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:



Spicy Eggnog Tiramisu Recipe

Snow's falling outside, the fireplace is roaring, and we have a large, comforting cup of Fair Trade Spicy Eggnog in our hands. What else could possible make this picture all the more picturesque? According to Amber of Bluebonnets & Brownies, we're in dire need of her Spicy Eggnog Tiramisu. And you know, after tasting her past delicious concoctions, we're inclined to agree.


While my family is not Italian, every year for Christmas Eve we have lasagna. I don't really know when this tradition started, but it's been going for as long as I can remember. Suddenly, it hit me: what could be more perfect than tiramisu for dessert after all that lasagna? Spicy Eggnog Tiramisu, of course.


Layers of creamy eggnog-spiced whipped cream cover ladyfingers dipped in rich Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Spicy Eggnog. The scent alone from this dessert is enough to make your guests request dessert first. Serve it in a festive red dish, and you have got the capstone to your holiday meal!

Tiramisu is not a hard dessert to make, but it does require care and methodical steps. I personally think it's a perfect holiday dessert because you can make it up to a day in advance, and it doesn't take up valuable real estate in the oven on the big day. You can simply pull it from the refrigerator, sprinkle it with cocoa powder, and impress your family with a fancy and fantastical dessert.

Happiest of holidays to each of you - may the new year bring you a Revelation in Every Cup™!

Spicy Eggnog Tiramisu

Serves 6-8
Ladyfingers are a traditional Italian cookie also known as Savoiardi. They are meant to be dunked or dipped, much like biscotti. They are also the traditional building blocks of Tiramisu. You can usually find ladyfingers at your local grocery store - I found mine at Trader Joe's. You can also buy them at, which I have linked to below.


2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/8 cup of granulated sugar, divided
4 oz mascarpone cheese (roughly half the container)
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons eggnog
8 oz Fair Trade Green Mountain Coffee Spicy Eggnog, room temperature
2 tablespoons marsala wine (Kahlua may be substituted)
20 ladyfinger cookies
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
cacao nibs for garnish (optional)

This is a recipe where a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, is an asset. I highly recommend starting out with 3 medium bowls on your countertop, and your hand mixer at the ready. You will need to wash the hand mixer beaters after each step. You should also have your 9" x 7" serving dish ready to go.

Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and egg yolks, beating on medium speed until thick and pale, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in mascarpone until combined - do not overmix. Set aside.

Wash, rinse, and dry mixer beaters. Add egg whites to a second medium bowl, along with a pinch of salt. Beat until the eggs just hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/8 cup of sugar a little at a time until it is fully incorporated, then continue to beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

In a third medium bowl, beat cream and eggnog with cleaned beaters. Beat until the mixture holds soft peaks.

Fold cream into the mascarpone mixture gently and thoroughly, then fold in the whites and make sure they are gently, but fully incorporated as well.

In a shallow bowl (I used a pie plate), mix cooled coffee and marsala wine (or Kahlua). Dip one ladyfinger at a time into the coffee mixture, for about 3 seconds - then flip over onto its other side and do the same. Transfer the ladyfinger directly to the serving dish. Layer 10 ladyfingers on the bottom of the serving dish. You should have approximately 6 from top to bottom of the dish, and 4 along the side to fill in the empty space.

Spread half the creamy mascarpone mixture on top of the ladyfingers, making sure to level the cream out evenly. Repeat a second layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers, then cover the second layer with the rest of the mascarpone mixture, making sure the topping is smooth and even.

Chill covered lightly with plastic wrap for at least 6 hours, but no more than 24.

Just before serving, sprinkle with cocoa powder and cacao nibs (if you choose to). You may substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips for the cacoa nibs if you like.

Serve to friends and family on fancy china, surrounded by sparkling Christmas lights, Christmas carols, and love.


Fair Trade Also Means Better Quality in the Workplace

“Every business transaction is a challenge to see that both parties come out fairly.”

–  Adam Smith, 1759

We can make a difference by taking our sense of taste and social responsibility to the office each morning.

Small businesses have substantial influence in their community, and when they adopt practices like supporting Fair Trade that advance the quality of life for their patrons, communities, and the environment, it makes a huge difference.

Here are a few suggestions for adding Fair Trade in your workplace, starting around the coffee station:

  • Ensure that your office coffee machine is brewing Fair Trade coffee. Also, encourage your employer to supply Fair Trade cocoa and tea, as well as Fair Trade chocolates as a snack during meetings or as an employee reward.

  • Post signs in the office break room or kitchen, preferably above the coffee maker, letting your coworkers know that the beverages they are drinking are supporting small-scale farmers.

  • Many organizations working on Fair Trade provide fact sheets and resources on their website. You can order informational materials or download them from organizations such as the Fair Trade Resource Network or Transfair USA. Several offer material you can print out and give to coworkers (maybe with a piece of Fair Trade chocolate as an incentive).

  • Use your company newsletter or blog to promote Fair Trade.

  • Ask for corporate donations to Fair Trade organizations.

  • Ask the businesses you support during the workweek to sell Fair Trade products. Don’t be intimidated; business owners really do value consumer feedback.

  • Let your local merchants know you value the Fair Trade items they sell, and ask them to stock any you’d like to purchase.

  • Encourage your business to advocate for making your town a “Fair Trade Town” — a community that makes a commitment to supporting Fair Trade. Lead the way!

  • Exchange Fair Trade gifts with coworkers during the holidays.

  • Give the gift of Fair Trade to clients: Global Exchange, for example, has a Corporate Gift Program allowing you to buy socially conscious Fair Trade gifts.

The Fair Trade Certified™ label helps your office make better choices, with the assurance that the merchandise purchased is socially and environmentally conscious. As we become more aware of opportunities to use our influence in the marketplace, Fair Trade provides a path for both individuals and businesses to vote with their dollars and become a real force for good.


Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cupcake Recipe

Amber of Bluebonnets & Brownies is back for her Fall coffee-inspired recipe!  And I only need four words to introduce her latest recipe: Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice!

This is the recipe I've been waiting all year to write. Recently, a promotional email from Green Mountain Coffee® went out. The subject line? "Pumpkin Spice is Here!". The text of the message? "Some people wait all year for this."

Yeah. I fully admit it. I'm pretty sure I inspired that marketing genius. Because I do. I wait all year. Or, actually, I try not to wait all year. I try to buy as many Pumpkin Spice K-Cup® portion packs as I can get my grubby little hands on, and then I hoard them, rationing myself to 2 (okay, 3) cups a day, praying that they'll last through to August.

It never works out. I just can't get enough of the Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice coffee.

Two years ago, my husband added fuel to the fire, buying me a Keurig Milk Frother for our anniversary. In November.

Autumn + Pumpkin Spice + Milk Frother = one jittery recipe writer full of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, my friends. I don't regret a single cup.

I knew we had to go sweet for this recipe. Our last recipe was savory, Island Coconut Chicken Curry, if you remember. But there's really only one direction you want to go when it comes to pumpkin and spice and everything nice - and that's straight down Sugar Lane.


The first recipe I ever had featured on Green Mountain Café was a chocolate mayonnaise cake. A recipe near and dear to my heart because it was my grandfather's. It relies heavily on strong coffee for its signature flavor, and so I wondered, how would a Spice Cake with a coffee and mayonnaise base be?

If the email I received from my husband's coworker this morning is anything to go by, not only does this cake work, the combination of the coffee-base and Pumpkin Spice coffee infused buttercream are, and I quote, "like manna from the Gods". (He often foists the extras of my creations off on his co-workers - it's actually made him quite popular!)

I hope that you enjoy Pumpkin Spice coffee, and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, as much as I have. They both embody everything I have come to love about the Fall: cozy comfort, inviting warmth, and enticing aromas.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cupcakes

makes 16-18


2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon All Spice

1 cup Mayonnaise - no substitutes!
1 cup (8 oz) Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice Coffee, cooled
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and all spice. Stir completely with a wire whisk - this will allow the ingredients to distribute evenly and also aerate.

In a smaller bowl, combine mayonnaise, coffee, and vanilla extract. Whisk as well, until ingredients are well mixed.

Stir wet ingredients into dry, mixing completely to make batter.

Line 12 count muffin tins with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter into each muffin well. You should end up with exactly 18 cupcakes if you use the 1/4 cup measure.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake removes cleanly. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cold Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Pumpkin Spice Coffee
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

In a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, cream butter until it is light and fluffy - 4-10 minutes at least. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add coffee one tablespoon at a time, mixing again after each addition, and then vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.

My kitchen was very warm, so my icing seemed a bit too soft at this point. I refrigerated it to stiffen it up, and then re-mixed it when I was ready to frost my cupcakes. If after refrigeration the frosting seems too stiff, add 1 tablespoon of half and half and mix well again with your mixer. Alternate between tablespoons of half and half and Pumpkin Spice Coffee until frosting reaches your desired consistency.

Cupcakes and frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.




Calculator: Your Purchase Matters

Your purchase matters. Every cup of Fair Trade coffee you drink helps to make a difference.

When you buy Fair Trade, you’re helping people in coffee-farming communities get access to healthcare and education, and you’re helping protect the environment and maintain the quality of coffee you drink. Making your daily cup of coffee Fair Trade is a simple, easy way to make sure you’re making a difference.

Now you can see that difference with our Fair Trade coffee calculator (AKA Your Purchase Matters tab) on Facebook.  Plug in the number of cups of coffee you drink a day and we do the rest. If those cups were Fair Trade Certified™ and all of our Facebook fans drank the same, you can see how many eco-friendly processing mills, schools, cupping labs, and healthcare facilities can be built because of choosing to drink Fair Trade.

Give it a try today and see the impact you can make on the quality of your coffee and the quality of life for farmers.


K-Cup Finder: There's an App for That

Your smart phone is about to start brewing!  Introducing K-Cup® Finder, your free mobile reference for K-Cup® portion packs.

What exactly does it feature?  Since you asked:

  • Over 100 varieties represented including Green Mountain Coffee® and other brands

  • New varieties added as they are released

  • See reviews and ratings from other K-Cup® fans, and share your reviews with other K-Cup Finder app users and on Twitter

  • Sort and filter by brand, roast, and attributes (Fair Trade, Kosher, Organic, and more)

  • It's not just for coffee– find teas, hot cocoa, Brew Over Ice beverages, and other specialty and seasonal varieties

  • Create a favorites list of blends for future reference, with your rating and notes

  • Receive promotional offers and discounts

  • Links to buy varieties online direct from us

  • Work on your iPhone, iTouch, and iPad

We’d love for you to tell us what you like... and what you don't.  Let us know in the comments below or at our Feedback Form.


Notes from Peru: Organic Fertilizer Production

Last week Colleen from our Supply-Chain Outreach team traveled to Peru. While down there she sent updates of her travels, which we then shared with our

At Chirinos in a recently rehabilitated plot seeing great results

Twitter followers. We even had a little competition to see if our followers could guess where she was traveling - and the winner got a free bag of Fair Trade Organic Coffee! Below are her notes from her first day in field, visiting GMCR funded projects focused on enhancing soil quality.

I traveled to Peru with Stacy from our coffee team. Stacy is a coffee buyer and incredible “cupper”. Since we are buying a lot of coffee in this region Stacy was there to cup and calibrate with the coffee cooperatives.

The purpose of MY trip to Peru was to visit projects that we are supporting in the Northern Region and reconnect with our partners face to face.  In particular, I wanted to see firsthand the impacts of the Organic Fertilizer Plant that we funded in Chirinos, since there have been several proposals to GMCR from other cooperatives for projects modeled off of this one.

We spent a day and a half in Chirinos visiting the plant and many farms that had been rehabilitated using the fertilizer from the plant – the impact on coffee yields was incredible!  Farmers were reporting double production on rehabilitated plants that had been cut back and

Coffee being washed in Chirinos

with fertilizer vs. older plants without the treatment.

This project was clearly a source of pride a the cooperative and many other projects have sprouted up around the plant (a guinea pig nursery whose waste was used for the fertilizer, a vegetable garden which was a model for the area on how fertilizer could be applied for great results, etc.).

The Supply-Chain team will be back in the field in August and sending live updates so be sure to follow @BrewBetterWorld for another chance to win coffee!


Green Your Office Part 1: 10 Easy, Low-Cost Tips

According to a TIME Magazine article, heating, air conditioning, and electricity for American businesses produce about 40% of our nation’s CO2 emissions and account for around 70% of our power consumption. The following first steps will not only yield a greener office with a smaller carbon footprint, but also promote a happier workplace, and a healthier bottom line. These 10 are just a start. I'll share more in the coming months

1. Use Power Strips

“Phantom loads” occur when devices that appear turned off still draw electricity — such as appliances with digital clocks and electronics with instant-on capability. Office equipment can be bundled onto one power strip for easy switching off when not in use, but make sure the power strips are accessible and visible so everyone remembers to use them.

2. Kick the Bottled Water Habit

It is estimated that Americans toss out over 35 billion plastic water bottles annually, and workplaces are some of the largest sources of that plastic bottle trash. Consider using a water delivery service or buying a water filter for the kitchen faucet along with a supply of reusable cups.

3. Buy Recycled Paper

Opt for 100% recycled content paper, paper towels, and toilet paper. For printed sales and marketing brochures, investigate alternatives in post-consumer recycled paper. Luckily, many recycled paper vendors now sell high post-consumer content recycled products at prices comparable to traditional paper products.

4. Stop Stapling

Use reusable binder clips or paper clips to join pages, or buy a “stapleless” fastener to avoid buying staples altogether. You will keep tons of steel out of landfills.

5. Go Paperless

Employing a cloud-based project management system as much as possible allows team members access to key information resources, without the need for lots of printouts. Some examples of these systems include Jive, BaseCamp, Google Docs, and Wave.

6. Think Outside the Cubicle

Carpools and public transit benefit both the environment and the employees. Initiate some of these simple ideas if you are the business owner or suggest them to your boss:

  • Suggest four-day work weeks or telecommuting. (Working fewer days per week or telecommuting can substantially reduce transportation and fuel expenses.)

  • Ask your employer to offer carpool-matching plans connecting employees with co-workers who live nearby or on the same route to the office.

  • Provide parking incentives such as prime parking spots for carpoolers.

  • Encourage bicycling and walking to the office by conveniently locating bike racks near the workplace.

  • Offer financial incentives for these options.

7. Use Laptops

ENERGY STAR qualified computers can use up to 90% less energy than desktop models so, whenever possible, ditch the desktops.

8. Give the Gift of Green
Whether you are buying a special gift for a client or a present for an office baby shower, try to buy environmentally friendly or Fair Trade items to show that you care about your customers and co-workers as well as the planet.

9. Offer Organic Coffee & Tea

This is our favorite. Ask your office manager to stock organic or Fair Trade coffee for the break room. Ask your co-workers to bring in their favorite coffee mug or water glass and get some mugs (preferably with your company logo) for visiting clients to eliminate disposable cup waste.

10. Track and Celebrate Your Success

Last but not least, post explanations of what you’re doing and how much you’ve accomplished near each “greened space” — and include how the changes make sense environmentally and financially. People tend to respond more favorably when they know the reason behind a decision and feel they are included in the effort rather than having it imposed top-down. Share these and any other green office tips you find with your office mates and consider electing a “Sustainability Manager” to oversee recycling, energy usage, and research more green office alternatives.


Summer Catalog - It's Cool and Convenient!

Summer is upon us! We spend much of our time in anticipation of this time of year, only to watch it go by in an instant.

How would you describe the perfect summer day? Maybe you feel like James Dent, who said that the perfect summer day "is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken." Or maybe your perfect summer day involves friends, family, and a barbecue. Or perhaps you're the type that prefers to beat the heat by staying inside and chilling by the air conditioner.

Since summer tends to be so short, many of us like to keep our lives a bit simpler so we have time to enjoy it.  That's how we can help!  We're serving up the convenience of shopping from wherever you are and having your favorite coffees, teas, and beverages shipped directly to you.  Our summer catalog is just the tool to do this! It's lightweight, portable, and offers you plenty of choices.  Keep watching your mailbox for your copy!

Highlights from our summer issue:

If you forget to take your catalog with you, don't worry, you can view it digitally, page by page, right here.

If you are not currently on our mailing list and would like to be, please visit our catalog request page on our website:

From all of us at Green Mountain Coffee, have a happy, safe, and healthy summer.



Connections: Part 1

We just started buying coffee from a small cooperative in El Salvador called APECAFE. It's not a super unusual group with an amazing tale of hardship or uniqueness, but it is a group that illustrates one of the models we use to buy coffee. With our certified coffees, we use a two tiered approach to sourcing and maintaining good relationships with our supply chain. The first part is fair pricing and clear quality expectations. The second tier is social investments.

As you might know, we take 5% of our pre-tax profits and invest a portion of that in our supply chain, with a strong emphasis on food security to help combat the thin months or "los mesos flacos" in Spanish. Right now we're funding over 50 different projects in over 10 different countries to the tune of over 4 million dollars per year. One of those fundees is Sustainable Harvest, a highly regarded importer of certified coffees based in Portland, OR.

This past summer, they put on a Let's Talk Coffee Food Security Event, that we helped fund, for their and our supply chain. Here's right from their website:

Sustainable Harvest pays growers prices well above the Fair Trade minimum price for their coffee; yet, when we visit coffee-producing communities in Latin America and Africa, farmers still tell us that they struggle to provide food for their children at certain times of year. We realized that simply paying a just price for coffee was not enough. We wanted to help farmers provide food for their families all year round. We began working on mushroom production projects in Tanzania and peer training in Central America.

Sustainable Harvest began our work in food security by leveraging the Let’s Talk Coffee® format—peer-led, hands-on training combined with technological innovations and a market-based approach—to scale initiatives that provide coffee farmers with greater food security. Sustainable Harvest invited approximately 60 people from cooperatives across the region to the Food Security Solutions event in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. There, participants learned innovative, effective strategies to improve food security that they can replicate in their own communities.

One of the groups there was APECAFE.  Jorge Cuevas, Director of Trade Operations for Sustainable Harvest, met with them and they had this to say about us, "we find that very few companies are interested in our livelihoods, our caloric intake, and the nutrition of our children." They wanted to be in our supply chain and we needed coffee. So Jorge connected us: first over a Skype call for an "introduction" as well as some emailed pictures from the event at Selva Negra in Nicaragua. Then, like a good importer does, he facilitated an exchange of quality expectations and helped both sides negotiate a fair price. Now we all have signed contracts and are eagerly awaiting their fine coffee. When it does get here, we're going to put it in our Fair Trade Vermont Country Blend.

Jorge was kind enough to let me do a quick interview with him giving some more background information on the coop. He was here in March and of course it was snowing, which doesn't happen that often in Oaxaca, Mexico where Jorge is from. Poor guy, about half the time he visits here it's snowing or raining and every time we visit him it's sunny, dry and warm.

Connections: Part 2
One of our other fundees is Catholic Relief Services in Guatemala and they're also doing food security work. At that same conference in Nicaragua was Michael Sheriden from CRS. He has been working for awhile with APECAFE, in particular Las Cruces, which is a primary level coop in APECAFE. He keeps a really nice bog called CRS Coffeelands Blog.  Michael does development work in Central America, but to read his posts and see his pictures, you would think he came from the New York Times and National Geographic.  Great pictures of farmer and employees of Las Cruces.


Ask the Coffee Lab: How to Use A French Press

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Top Ten Office Gifts of the Season


#10 Small Revelation Travel Mug $2.95

We here at Business Coffee Express are often asked, "What is the best way to take my Green Mountain Coffee wakeboarding?" The answer is this cute little 12-oz. Revelation Travel Mug with a spill-proof, screw-on lid. It features a beautiful scene of the Vermont Green Mountains, and is the perfect size to grab and go whether you are free soloing, sky surfing, or even wakeboarding.  At this price you should buy one for everyone in the office!

#9 Logo Backpacker Thermos $19.95

The sleek, slender shape looks like you after the holidays, thanks to all the wakeboarding you've been doing! This compact, no-leak Thermos®, made by Nissan™ is so stylish it might just put mugs and tumblers out of style. Features an easy-to-open, spring loaded lid. Completely leak proof perfect for backpacks and travel. Double Insulation means your coffee stays hot for hours.

#8 Stoneware Logo Mug $14.95

Perfect for the boss who needs to be reminded on a daily basis that every office deserves great coffee! Each is individually hand-thrown by American master potters. Slight color and size variations showcase the unique properties of each one-of-a-kind mug. Solid and sizable, each of these mugs can stand on its own, but two make a nice pair.

#7 Bodum Milk Frother $19.95

The next time someone in your office tells you not to get worked up into such a lather, say "Why Not?" and show them this! This easy-to-use, battery-powered frother is perfect for foamy milk for your coffee without the hassle of an espresso machine. You will probably decide to keep it for yourself so buy two.

#6 Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Truffles $22.95

Lake Champlain truffles— on the list because it's made in VT of course, and because they are the best Truffles I've ever had. Sorry Belgium, but cheer up, GMCR will probably never make a $25 raspberry beer aged in oak. Lake Champlain Chocolates has reached new heights with this collection of 15 all-natural, preservative-free truffles. Includes Ethiopian Coffee, Honey Fig, Ginger Lemon, Aztec, Mango, and Vanilla.

#5 Better World Gift Bag $59.95

Isn't dreaming of a better world what the Holidays are all about? Our exquisite chocolates, cocoa, coffees and tea help actually make it happen— plus they taste amazing. Includes 7 fabulous products contributing to a better world and a reusable shopping tote.

#4 Organic Breakfast Crate $37.95

Why a Crate? Because "Crate" just sounds cool, and who wouldn’t rather have a "crate" of something they love rather than just a box? Besides, it doubles as an "In" box. Filled with Fair Trade Organic coffee and Cocoa and Organic pancake mix and maple syrup, all from Vermont.

#3 K-Cup Ultimate Gift Basket $44.95

C'mon, "Ultimate" is right there in the name, of course it has to be in the top 10! The perfect gift if their office already enjoys a Keurig® Brewer. If not, get them one of those too! Our K-Cup Gift Basket gives you great coffee right away, and wonderful sustenance for the rest of the day. Includes 24 Green Mountain Coffee Sampler K-Cups.

#2 The Ultimate Office Gift Basket $49.95

Is it possible for two Green Mountain Coffee gifts to be called "Ultimate" at the same time? Yes, it's a holiday miracle! Packed full of delicious treats, and there’s more than enough to share. Brew up a pot of Breakfast Blend or French Roast while everyone in the office digs in to sweet granola, delicate shortbread, maple candy, or chocolate indulgences. It’ll be the most memorable Holiday coffee break ever!

#1 Keurig Office Pro Coffee Brewer $129.95

Not only the greatest invention in the history of humankind, but perhaps the greatest gift since frankincense and myrrh. (Gold is still hard to beat.) Even small offices deserve great coffee and the B145 Office Pro delivers. Designed for offices with 15 or fewer people, its small footprint makes it a perfect fit for conference rooms, board rooms and reception areas. Guaranteed to ward off office revolts, palace coups, passive-aggressive behavior and Monday sick days. They should rename it "Ultimate."


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:

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?


Ask the Coffee Lab: Fair Trade Prices

Ask the Coffee Lab is back and ready to answer your caffeinated questions.  If you haven’t heard, October is Fair Trade Month!

With the Fair Trade theme in mind, the Coffee Lab decided to tackle a question asked by Tom on another Fair Trade entry:

“Do you sometimes pay above the Fair Trade prices for exceptional coffee?”


We often get this question and realize that in our enthusiasm for explaining all the benefits to farmers, we sometimes forget to explain some of the mechanics of the trade part of Fair Trade. So, here we go:

Basically: Yes, we do all the time! When we have a cooperative consistently meets their quality targets, delivery times, and amount of coffee delivered, they often ask for more money because they know they deserve it and we usually agree with them.

But the full answer is a little more detailed.

First, the Fairtrade Labeling Organization (FLO) is the standards and certification body for the worldwide Fair Trade movement. One of the things they do is establish the Fair Trade minimum prices (prices that a buyer is not allowed to go below). The minimum price per pound for unroasted (green) conventional Fair Trade is $1.35 (1.25 base plus the .10 social premium). If it's certified Organic coffee, there's a .20 cent premium per pound on top of that (for a total of $1.55).

Then it’s our turn.  We write contracts with our farmer partners that say we will pay $x.xx above the FLO minimum OR the "C" price - which is the daily price for exchange-grade green coffee traded on the Intercontinental Exchange. The industry uses that “C” price as the basis for pricing all other coffees. The amount we will pay above either minimum price we call a differential. Sometimes the minimums are called floors - meaning the starting point for negotiating prices. Just about all of our certified Fair Trade and Organic coffee is bought using differentials.

Let's take a real life example. There are some Fair Trade Organic coffees we buy at a differential of .40 cents per pound. That contract will say - we agree to pay .40 cents above either the FLO minimum OR the "C" Price, and the buyers fix (fixing means deciding on a price for the sale of the coffee.). One of the rules of Fair Trade is that the producer group gets to "fix." Generally, most coffee outside of Fair Trade is bought at "Sellers' Fix" - meaning the buyer gets to decide when we want to price the coffee.

In Fair Trade, it's up to the producer group when they fix, which is good for them. They watch the commodities market (the "C" price), and try to figure out the best time and price to get the best deal for their coffee. Yesterday the C price was $1.75, which is way above the FLO minimums. If that group with the .40 cent differential decided to fix at $1.75, they would get $1.75 plus .40 cents for a total of $2.15, which is way above $1.25 or $1.55.

That's just one scenario. When demand for the good coffee exceeds supply, the price goes up. We find that pricing in Colombia can change often because of lower harvests yields and difficulties from climate change. That includes Fair Trade coffees from Colombia.

Lastly, some of the nicest coffees we carry, like Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Yirgachaffe, command a higher price because they are just so delicious.  Don't you think?


Update: 80-count K-Cup Boxes: More Joe for Less Dough--Announcing a New Arrival!

6/1/10 Update: Back in the spring, many of you responded to the blog post below, asking Green Mountain Coffee to add more 80-count boxes to our product selection.  And we heard you, loud and clear!  Although we do not have plans of doing any major expansion to our offering of 80-count boxes of K-Cups, we are pleased to announce one new arrival:  Caribou Daybreak Morning Blend.  For those of you who are already fans of this coffee in the 24-count box and are looking to buy more and save, then this new 80-count is for you!

If you are a serious coffee drinker like me who goes through boxes of K-Cup® faster than the weather changes here in Vermont, or if you're just looking to stock up and save, we have the perfect solution for you: 80-count K-Cup boxes of your favorite coffees from our family of brands.  As of June 1, 2010, we're pleased to be adding a new 80 count box to the mix:

The 80-count box not only gives you more coffee, it makes your wallet happier, too.  It takes over three 24-count boxes to equal 80 K-Cups, so buying one 80-count box instead of 3+ of the 24-counts saves you almost $3; not to mention you get free shipping (within the contiguous US only) when you order from our site. And if you're a Café EXPRESS member, you'll save even more!

Someone once said, "Everybody should believe in something. I believe I'll have another coffee." With the 80-count K-Cup box, you will have more coffee on hand and you'll save money—which makes having another coffee easier than ever!

Check out the members of the 80-count family by clicking on the K-Cup lid of your choice:


Ask the Coffee Lab: How does Fair Trade Taste

Before World Fair Trade Day, we thought it would be important to answer a question we hear in hushed tones when we talk about Fair Trade coffee:

"Does Fair Trade coffee taste okay?"


Ours does!

Lindsey Bolger, Director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships for the Specialty Coffee Business Unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (who is also my boss), said it herself:

“Converting two of our most popular products to Fair Trade Certified is one way we can help small-scale coffee farmers invest in the quality of their coffee and the quality of life in their communities.  It also means we can continue to deliver high quality, sustainably-sourced coffees to consumers.”

High quality.

If a farmer knows he or she can get a good price for their coffee, if they know someone will buy it and take good care of it, then they’ll put more time and energy and care into their coffee. Provided that coffee has a good starting point (the right climate, soil, conditions and altitude, the right farmer and all the other things that affect coffee)….

We pay more for Fair Trade certified coffee because of the price minimums and the social premium, but also because of the quality. We buy the good stuff because you the customer expect us to (and you pay for it). It’s costs more, but people vote with their pocketbooks and they’ve been voting the Fair Trade direction.

Without revealing too much about how we do business, I’ll show you one of our charts. We keep track of the sensory scores of every single coffee we buy and then we put it in a database.  I won’t tell you the scores, but the bars in blue are average scores of the different origins and families of coffee we buy. Column #4 is the average scores for some of our best FTOs and Single Origin coffees. In other words, Fair Trade coffees are some of the best we offer.

If you don’t believe me, then try some of our Fair Trade Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.


Concrete Fair Trade Social Premiums

Take a 9,000 farmer member coffee co-op in Sumatra , mix in a Fair Trade Certified™ social premium, and the pay-off for producing Fair Trade coffee adds up really fast. At KBQB in Aceh, Sumatra in Indonesia it's to the tune of 5,132,160,000 Indonesian Rupiahs in one year, (about $570,000 USD). We visited the KBQB Koperasi Baitul Quiradh Baburrayyan Cooperative this past March and got to see up close and personal what the benefits of Fair Trade coffee are.

The name KBQB is Arabic – Koperasi: cooperative , Baitul: house , Quiradh: capital , as in money , Baburrayyan: door to heaven . Loosely translated, it means “ getting to heaven through the wealth of our children.”

We were very privileged to see some of the 123 different projects that social premiums can bring.  Some were modest and hand written and some much more involved. The biggest project was the purchase of land near their mill to build a massive office, laboratory facility, as well as dormitories.   Enjoy:


To support these kinds of investments all over the world, buy Fair Trade coffee. To support these kinds of investments in Sumatra, try our Fair Trade Organic Sumatran Reserve.