Coffee Blog


This morning, the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, celebrate the day which is set on February 2nd every year, while 40,000 or more onlookers patiently await the emergence of a groundhog named Phil.

To see his shadow or not to see is shadow, is in fact, the utmost question.  

Lo and behold, the sun must have been shining this morning, because little ‘ol Phil did see his shadow, hence, he retreated back into his home to hibernate for yet another six more weeks of winter. Sigh!

Nevertheless, whether you are a ski bunny or a beach bum, it is always an exciting tradition that lets us, at home, await the news via Social Media and relish (or relinquish) in the news from Phil.

Alas, for all those in trust of Phil’s news, we can still make the best out of the next six weeks!

Check out some of our favorite things that we can continue to celebrate for the rest of the winter:

 If you haven’t yet, give our Creamy Golden French Toast Coffee Recipe a try! The maple, sweet buttery goodness says it all:

Although we were busy celebrating Hot Tea Month in January, don’t miss out on sipping on these warm tea varieties all through February to warm you up:

You will need a hearty meal with all of these beverage concoctions. We have just the recipe for you - Barista Beef Stew:

Who says we still can’t make holiday cookies this time of year? Lucky for us, there are no rules!

And, last but certainly not least, if you need any more ideas, just check out “Our Favorite things To Do in New England Winters." I don’t know about you, but this list might really come in handy in the upcoming weeks!

To warm you up even more, go to to enjoy $2 off all Keurig Brewed beverages, using Keycode: GROUNDHOG. 


Maximum Brewing Action Satisfaction



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 and 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 and (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!


A Blog Year in Review: Behind the Scenes of The Family of Brands Blog

It’s beyond me how quickly 2013 came and went. It seems like just yesterday I was wearing shorts and was able to run outside without piling on the layers, and breathing in the fresh lilacs in my yard…ahhh…

This past year has been an amazing array of sweets and treats, and special visitors. As the photographer and baker for many of our posts I have had the pure joy of taking it all in from behind the scenes – both by sampling and baking a spread of cookies for our cookie swap, and taking part in a coffee tasting with farmers from Colombia and truly being able to see the phrase “From Tree to Cup” come to life.

It’s hard for me to pick just one highlight of 2013, but here are five of my top posts from the year. I chose them not only for the fun I had making all the treats and photographing them, but for the inspiration I gained from seeing how our brewers, beverages and products can come to life in a new way! 


1:  Velvety French Vanilla Coffee Gelato. Creamy, Velvety, and delicious!

2: Infused Ice Cubes.  Genius really. Double the flavor and impact by freezing your favorite brew.

3: Barista Prima Caffe Rouge.  Who knew such an odd combination could be so perfectly paired.

4. Strawberry Basil Lemonade Granita. This had to be the most refreshing, quick and easy dessert.

5. Last but not least was Spooky Treats Part II.  Wowzer that cake is good.


I’m looking forward to what this New Year brings! I’m dreaming up new recipes and ideas, as well as challenging myself with some new years resolutions. I can’t wait to ring in 2014! Cheers!



Coffee Braised Short Ribs Recipe


The word you’re looking for is tender, my friends.  Succulent.  Juicy.  Melt-in-your-mouth, shut-the-front-door, where-have-you-been-all-my-life? tender.   At least, that’s what our tasting crew here on the blog came up with to describe these coffee braised short ribs.  Give this recipe a try with Coffee People® Black Tiger coffee for an extra stripe of earthy flavor. Bold Coffee. Bold Personality.  Bold (tender) ribs. Eat on.

Coffee Braised Short Ribs

Serves 6


  • 4 lbs. short ribs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 Extra Bold Coffee K-Cup® or Vue® pack, brewed at 8-oz. setting


Preheat oven to 325° F. Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Heat Dutch oven large enough to hold all the ribs in one layer over medium-high heat.  Add oil; when warm, add ribs a few at a time and brown on all sides.  Transfer ribs to plate.

Remove all but 1 Tablespoon of rendered fat from the Dutch oven.  Add onions and carrots and cook for 5-minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and cook 1-minute, stirring.  Pour wine and coffee into the Dutch oven.  Cook over high heat, scrapping up brown bits on the bottom of the Dutch oven, for 1-minute.  Return ribs to the Dutch oven.  Note that ribs will not be completely covered with liquid.

Transfer Dutch oven to preheated over.  Cook until ribs are tender, for about 2 ½ hours.  Turn ribs over halfway through cooking time. Uncover and cook until ribs fall apart, about 30-minutes more. 

Strain sauce into heatproof measuring cup and skim off fat.  Serve ribs with sauce.


Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee Waffle Recipe: Hello, Gorgeous!

Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee Waffles

Have you ever had dessert waffles? The concept was a surprise to me when I first moved to England. There, waffles aren't a breakfast food at all. They're 100% dessert food!

It didn't take me long to embrace the concept, and I think you should too. Especially when we're talking about waffles made with delicious Green Mountain Coffee® Caramel Vanilla Cream.

Light, sweet, with hints of buttery caramel and smooth vanilla, both the coffee and these waffles are a crowd pleaser. These Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee Waffles stayed light, even though I used a whole grain baking mix in the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised. You might be looking at me with an eyebrow raised, but who says dessert can't be whole grain too?

Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee Waffles Image

Fire up your waffle maker, grab some vanilla ice cream and the best maple syrup (Another great Vermont export!) you can get your hands on. You'll have a simple dessert whipped up before your family even knows you left the table.

Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee Waffles

makes 4 waffles


  • 2 cups Bisquick Complete or similar waffle/pancake mix

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 3/4 cup Green Mountain Coffee® Caramel Vanilla Cream

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (roughly, see directions)

  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

  • Vanilla Ice Cream for topping

  • Maple Syrup, for topping


  1. Heat waffle iron. While the iron is warming up, mix the batter:
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine waffle mix, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk together until nutmeg and salt are evenly distributed. Set aside.
  3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, brew one 6 oz. (3/4 cup) Caramel Vanilla Cream Coffee K-Cup® pack.
  4. Add the teaspoon of vanilla extract to the measuring cup, then add heavy cream until the measurement on the cup reaches 1 1/3.
  5. Pour the coffee-cream mixture into the dry ingredients. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil. 
  6. Whisk all ingredients together until you have a thick batter. 
  7. Spray waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour roughly 1/3 cup of batter into each well of the waffle iron. Allow to cook until golden brown and the waffle comes away cleanly from the iron.
  8. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. Serve immediately. 


Care to try Caramel Vanilla Cream yourself? Hop on over to my blog, Bluebonnets & Brownies, for a chance to win some!


Don't forget that Fair Trade Island Coconut Coffee is available for a limited time, and you can make this gorgeous coffee cake recipe with it too!


Tips to Pick and Pack a Picnic for the Fourth

Packing for a Picnic for The 4th of July

In case you hadn’t noticed, picnic season is in full swing. As we countdown to July 4th, it seems like a good time to offer some inspiration in putting together a perfect picnic basket to be enjoyed with or without the benefit of fireworks.

To help keep things organized, let’s start with the non-food items you’ll want to pack.

If your early summer weather has been a fraction as soggy as it’s been in Vermont, it might be nice bring a tarp in addition to a blanket, ideally one that can fit most of your picnickers’ behinds, and that is pleasant to sit on (the blanket, that is).

Paper plates and plastic ware…check. Cloth napkins are nice since they won’t blow away if the wind picks up. Handy wipes for messy foods and kids, a couple of garbage bags, aluminum foil, and/or plastic baggies for any leftovers. For entertaining the little ones, pack a flying disc, whiffle ball set, bubbles, butterfly net. Leave the tablets and digital babysitters at home.

Now the food. It sounds obvious, but you’ll want to put together a menu of foods that actually taste good cold. I much prefer my fried chicken hot and greasy, so that won’t find its way into my picnic basket. Veggies and hummus, chips and salsa or popcorn are good for snacking. Setting up a “sandwich bar” is a great option for the main meal. If you go this route, do all the slicing and dicing ahead of time, keeping everything in its own container to avoid sogginess and cross-flavoring: not everyone likes their bread soaked with pickle juice. For dessert, a pan of brownies is a crowd-pleaser and nothing says summer like slices of sweet watermelon. Pit-spitting contests are encouraged.

Finally, considering you are reading a blog entry from a company that sells beverages – or rather, a company that sells single serve beverage packs and brewers – there is clearly one key item I’ve forgotten. The drinks! If you think your Keurig® brewer can only be enjoyed at home, consider the to-go options a spill-resistant, Brew Over Ice tumbler presents you with: fresh-tasting lemonade, iced tea flavors like Half-and-Half and Snapple®, delicious iced coffee, and a splash of fruit flavor with Vitamin Burst® iced brews.

True, these tumblers don’t come in six-packs like some other popular beverage items, but you can at least enjoy a little refreshment during the ride to the festivities. And with a car filled to the gills with gear and kids and dogs, that might just be the nicest way to keep your cool.

Happy 4th, everyone!


Summer of Brewing

Summer brings with it a litany of fun things to do, and in my world that translates to sampling specialty beverages at some stellar events.

This month, our Barista Prima Coffeehouse® team just wrapped up a great activation at the Food Network Magazine Chicago Lounge. Great city, great food, great coffee... great time!   They even incorporated Italian Roast into mini coffee gelato cones

Brew Over Ice is in the midst of a mini sampling tour, sharing the joys of our versatile Keurig® brewing systems with stops at multiple blogger events, including the recent Bloggy Boot Camp in Charlotte, NC and the BlogHer Food event in Austin, TX. Next up on their schedule is our biggest stop yet: BlogHer’13, a massive show in Chicago in July.  Get your tumbler ready!  We’re brewing over ice!  

The Green Mountain Coffee® brand has its hands full this month as an annual supporter and underwriting sponsor of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. For ten days each June, the city of Burlington, VT becomes the epicenter of cool, hosting world-class artists that both define and expand the parameters of jazz music (this year’s headliners include Bobby McFerrin, John Scofield, Branford Marsalis and the incomparable Dr. Lonnie Smith). An already vibrant music and arts scene virtually explodes during the Discover Jazz Festival, and thousands of locals and visitors alike congregate to share in the excitement and revelry. If you make it to the festival, keep an eye out for me – just look for the visibly over-caffeinated guy with a huge smile on his face!

Enjoy the magic of summer, and I hope to see you at an event real soon…



Golden French Toast Shortbread Recipe

Golden French Toast Shortbread

Cozy Sunday afternoons by the fire. That's what February means to me. We're hunkered down here in New Jersey, where it was 16°F when I woke up this morning. That's some serious cold, my friends.

When it's that cold, there's just nothing for it - except maybe that cozy fire, a hot cup of Fair Trade Golden French Toast® coffee, and the scent of delicious, buttery shortbread studded with coffee wafting from your oven. 

The recipe is simple - no eggs required. You might want to grab your coffee or spice grinder. While Fair Trade Golden French Toast comes pre-ground, you might want a finer grind for your shortbread. We used as-is from the bag, and the tender shortbread is perfect in my opinion. Just know that it's your call to make a finer grind.

Traditional shortbread also contains oats, did you know? Don't skip them here. They take on buttery notes from the Fair Trade Golden French Toast coffee, and make this shortbread an extra special treat. 

Fair Trade Golden French Toast Shortbread

Makes one 8" x 10" pan



1 cup oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into smaller chunks

1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/8 to 1/4 cup ground Green Mountain Coffee® Fair Trade Golden French Toast coffee



1. Pour oats into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 3 to 5 times, until oats have been somewhat pulverized. 

2. Add chunked butter, sugar, kosher salt, and all purpose flour to the food processor. 

3. Pulse ingredients 3 to 5 times, then add your desired amount of coffee. Remember to separately grind the coffee finer, if you prefer the grounds to be smoother in your shortbread. 

4. Process all the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes, until a smooth dough forms. You will hear a change in the food processor when everything suddenly comes together in one large piece of dough. 

5. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, or overnight if you prefer. 

6. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8" x 10" baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly spray a shortbread mold with cooking spray. 

7. Press the dough into the baking sheet or shortbread mold, taking care to make the dough as even as possible across the pan. Sometimes it can help to use a drinking glass like a rolling pin to push the dough where you need it to be. 

8. If using a baking sheet, score the cookies into rectangles using a knife or bench scraper - press all the way through the dough, making rectangles that are about 4 inches long each. (One division of the dough down the long side of the pan, in the center, and then smaller, 1" wide cuts horizontally is what I did.)

9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown. 

10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn the cookies out onto a clean surface and cut through the score marks. It is easier to cut the cookies when they are slightly warm. Allow them to cool on a wire rack after cutting. 


Want to win some Golden French Toast to try in your own shortbead recipe?  Go on over to my blog, Bluebonnets & Brownies, to see how to enter!


Fiscal 2011 CSR Report: $15.2 Million!

We’re proud to announce the release of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR) fiscal 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report! On this blog we mostly discuss our efforts around philanthropy and volunteerism, but our sustainability efforts as a company reach beyond those two areas of outreach.  As our business grows, our opportunities to make a difference are growing. Looking back at fisal year 2011, we’re proud of where we’ve been and where we’re going.

GMCR Philanthropic Giving 2011

Some highlights from fiscal 2011 include:

- Allocating approximately $15.2 million in resources to our sustainability program
- Funding or expanding funding for 20 food-security projects that reached 19,000 families in our supply chain.
- Contributing more than 29,000 hours of volunteer time through our employee volunteerism programs.
- Exceeding our targets for waste reduction at two of our facilities. Knoxville, TN cut its waste metric by 49% (versus its goal of 15%) and Sumner, WA reduced its waste metric by 37% (versus its goal of 30%).

The full report is available as a downloadable PDF on GMCR’s CSR website:



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:



Transforming Business as Usual Along a Supply Chain

Colleen Bramhall, who works in our Supply-Chain Outreach department, wrote this blog post for a 4 part series called Business+ on 3BL Media.

Colleen Bramhall at Let's Talk Coffee

At Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, our purpose is to create the ultimate coffee experience in every life we touch, from tree to cup – transforming the way the world understands business.  We live this creed in every part of our business, and perhaps the most authentic demonstration of this commitment is in our supply chain outreach work.

Five percent of GMCR’s pre-tax earnings is channeled into social and environmental programs, and I am responsible for that portion allocated to coffee-producing communities.  We make targeted grants to non-profit organizations and coffee cooperatives in our supply chain for programs that reduce poverty and hunger, and support health and environmental sustainability.  Currently, we are funding over 85 projects in coffee growing communities with 45 grantee organizations in 15 countries – all with a common goal of improving the quality of life of coffee farmers and their families at the household level.  Based on the findings from some unsettling research in Central America, a key area of programming focus is improving food security during the “thin months” after the coffee harvest (for more information, visit

The first time I met the team at Sustainable Harvest, I recognized in them a kindred spirit in this “business +” community; and I was not alone: Sustainable Harvest has been a key partner

Drip Irrigation Project with Sustainable Harvest in Tanzania

of GMCR’s on both the commercial side of our business and the social responsibility side for several years.  Sustainable Harvest’s Relationship Coffee Model means they have an intimate understanding of the coffee producers in their network, and thus can provide critical insight into the needs and opportunities of producers within our shared supply chain.  Cooperatives that have received funding from GMCR for social programs have often benefited from Sustainable Harvest’s expertise in and passion for development initiatives. We have engaged Sustainable staff to support several of our suppliers with building organic fertilizer plants that incorporate waste from the coffee harvesting process into a nourishing compost that greatly increase yields for farmers in Peru, Nicaragua, and Mexico. Sustainable has also led an innovative drip irrigation project in Tanzania that serves thriving vegetable gardens, reinforcing food security in these remote communities.

Sustainable Harvest’s annual “Let’s Talk Coffee” conference provides a unique space for both GMCR’s coffee buyers and corporate social responsibility team to connect with our suppliers and is exemplary of putting the Relationship Model into practice. I attended Let’s Talk Coffee for the first time this year and felt that I had entered a business utopia – where all members of a supply chain had come together to do business in a spirit of mutual respect, shared advantage, and lasting friendship.  This meeting enabled me to connect with representatives from several social projects we are funding, and facilitated conversations with new contacts about opportunities for the future.  An air of excitement permeated the conference center as business partners collaborated to build a robust, inclusive, and prosperous relationship that goes beyond business-as-usual and on to creating a bright, interconnected future together.


Giving Thanks For...

Every year on the blog, we step back and give thanks.  Thanks for our families.  Thanks for our friends.  Thanks for the air we breathe and the coffee we drink.  We step back and think about the hard times and the triumphant times.  The silly and the delicious.  We take a moment to take a moment, and hope that you do the same with us.  So, without further ado, our thanks:

Laura: I am thankful to work with smart, passionate colleagues who care deeply about their work and the impact we have on the world around us.

Mike: Easy…I am more grateful than I could ever express for the presence of our little boy Zeke – a miracle baby born March 5th, 2011.

John: I am thankful for so many things. I am thankful that my house did not experience any damage during Hurricane Irene, my heart goes out to the Vermonters that are still putting their lives back together. I am thankful for family and friends who offer their love and support.  I am thankful for my awesome job at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.; it is great to work with so many smart people who love coffee. I am thankful for my two dogs; they are old, fit and happy and keep me active.

Marybeth: I am thankful for a great cup of coffee (Guatemalan Finca Dos Marias Rocks!) on a sunny fall morning while sitting on my front porch watching the sun light up the sky. I am thankful for being a part of a company that cares – cares about the people who work here, our consumers, and the environment. I am thankful that as our sales grow so does the 5% we donate to local and global causes.

Roger: Have you ever had one of those moments of wonder? The kinds when the whole world seems to slow down just long enough for you to appreciate it. And then for that instant, that single speck in time, nothing else matters – no stress, no worry, no frets. The other day when I was walking to work I had one of those moments. It was a beautiful morning and the sun was dancing on the autumnally punctuated mountains that surround us. The air was crisp but not cold. The colors of the sky, the clouds, and the hillsides were spot on. Even the birds’ songs seemed to lilt just a bit brighter, carrying on the breeze just a second longer than the physics of sound would normally allow. The moment literally stopped me in my tracks. I chuckled to myself while taking it all in. Those moments, those quick, personal mental group hugs with the universe, those simple distillations of time and purpose and place, that’s what I’m thankful for….

Mary Beth J.: I am new to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. this year and have found that I have a lot that I am thankful for:

  • Bringing my personal passion into work each day

  • New opportunities and experiences

  • A new appreciation for the coffee industry and an endless supply of caffeine

  • Having coworkers who patiently waited while I got back on my feet, literally, and cheered me on along the way after having only known me for a few weeks

Colleen: I am thankful that I trusted my heart and moved from New York City to Vermont!  Now I have a fiancé that I adore, a dream job at a company I admire, and a world of outdoor adventures at my doorstep!

Jen:  I am thankful for my awesome network of friends who never fail to support me and keep me going!  And that Donovan McNabb is no longer the starting quarterback for the Vikings! ;)

Derek: I am thankful for many things, but among them: I am thankful that great, interesting music is still being made today.  I’m thankful that the Flatlander Barbecue team didn’t fall flat on our face during our first year of competitive barbecue.  I’m thankful to work for a company with so many opportunities and to have the ability to work on such an amazing brand.  And I’m thankful that my wife and I get to live in the beautiful state of Vermont – more often than not, my morning commute is just breathtaking.

Kristen:  It’s been one of those years, folks.  You know: The kind of year that brings just as many challenges as it does rewards?  But man, are those rewards all the sweeter because of the hurdles it took to get them.  And those rewards are: Superior coworkers – the kind that will deal with you reverse trick-or-treating around campus in costume or frolicking down the halls of Cubeland; loving family – those that will pick you up at the airport after an event so late in the night it’s early in the morning; and hilarious, dedicated friends – the ones that roll their eyes when you tell them they’re all getting coffee for Christmas for year number three and then merrily chug every morsel of caffeinated goodness.

Tom:  My family lore has it that we're descended from the pilgrims John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. Howland was swept off the deck of the Mayflower in a storm -- but saved by a rope thrown overboard. So I'm definitely thankful for that rescue. Otherwise I wouldn't even be here! (I am also secretly grateful for the cranberry sauce shaped just like the can it comes out of. With three kids, there's always some of that on our Thanksgiving table, alongside the more wholesome, natural whole-berry stuff.)

Doug: I'm thankful for wool socks, the heavy kind, all sheepy soft on the inside and thick enough to ward off evening chills. I'm thankful for autumn bonfires, and friends to share them with. Marshmallows, toasted just so. And I'm exceptionally thankful for a job with an amazing company that has in so many ways exceeded my expectations about what a group of committed people can do. I mean — it's a job, right? In this economy that's enough, and it affords me many of the other things I'm thankful for. But working here has enriched me as a human being, too. Who'd have expected that? So, thanks. And don't forget… wool socks: awesome.

What are you thankful for this year?


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.


Irrigation for Food Gardens in Tanzania

Drip Tech Systems in Kibwigwa Village

This is a guest post by Mary Beth Jenssen. Mary Beth works on our Supply-Chain Outreach Team.

It’s hard to imagine the need for water when much of the United States experienced significant rain and flooding this spring and summer, but in many parts of the world the issue is just the opposite: drought threatens communities’ crops, livestock, and survival. Not only can drought be an issue, but access to water can be just as challenging for some communities.

GMCR has worked with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers for several years now. Sustainable Harvest is a coffee importer, as the name says, but they also offer “Relationship Coffee” services. What does that mean? They work to connect growers to markets through direct relationships while investing in training, technology and management systems to improve farmers’ ability to create a better quality of product and thrive in the specialty coffee market.

Water Tank in Mkabogo

In 2010, GMCR supported a project with Sustainable Harvest in Tanzania focused on food security. The main project component was planting family gardens. Shortly into the start of the project, it was realized that the garden could not thrive, let alone survive, without a water irrigation system. In 2011, GMCR agreed to support a drip irrigation component added on to the family garden project. While the drip irrigation system does allow for easier access to clean drinking water, it also allows for easy access to water for participants’ food gardens, allowing the original goal to be achieved: food security for coffee farmers and the community.

In May of this year, community members in Mkabogo worked hard to install the water system in time to be used during a period of little to no rain. With the support of experienced technicians, the participants carefully chose locations for the water tanks, considering both security and fertilizers in the area.

Kibwiga Village Community Water Facility

In July, two months later, work moved along as the 35 Driptech systems were installed in Kibwigwa Village. The Driptech system is sturdy, efficient, and has the added benefit of being able to water laterals at different times – not only alleviating the issues of slope, but also allowing for crops with different water requirements to be planted on the same plot.

In the coming months, Sustainable Harvest will support crop planting, monitoring and evaluating the drip irrigation system functionality, conducting a market survey for the sale of excess crops and continued research and training on the best practices in vegetable production. Check out an update on the project from Sustainable Harvest themselves:


Volunteering at St. Mary's Foodbank

In this blog we talk a lot about food insecurity in coffee-growing communities and the organizations andGMCR Employees sort oranges at St. Mary's Foodbankprojects that are working on solutions to address this issue. We focus our funding on this issue because we know that food security is a key element in improving the quality of life for farmer’s and their families.

However, food insecurity is not  isolated to a country or community – it affects every nation and a diverse population. Food Insecurity affects the communities where our employees work and where we sell our products - from Waterbury, VT, to Sumner, WA, Reading, MA and even the communities we visit.

In May, our annual Sales Meeting, which brings together GMCR employees from USA and Canada,Employees sorting food at St. Mary's Foodbank, AZtook place in Phoenix, AZ. While there, 60 employees took an afternoon away from the conference rooms to volunteer at St. Mary’s Foodbank, the world’s first Foodbank. St. Mary’s serves two-thirds of the counties in Arizona, distributing more than 72 million pounds of food last year to food shelves and individual clients.

While volunteering employees sorted oranges, onions and other items that were collected during the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger™ Food Drive. Some employees handed out supplies directly to clients, who, when they come to the Foodbank, receive a 3-day supply of food.

We’re grateful to St. Mary’s Foodbank for organizing this event, giving GMCR employees an opportunity to give back to the Arizona community during our visit.

Volunteering at a Foodbank is a rewarding and eye-opening experience. To find a Foodbank in your area visit Feeding America’s Website.



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: Why Was Kona Discontinued?

“I read that Green Mountain has or will stop making all Kona K-cups …This makes me very sad…”

“… I cannot believe that you are discontinuing Kona Coffee.”

“Disappointed that you won't be making the 10% Kona Blend any longer!”

“Why was 10% Kona Blend discontinued?”

- From a team of Kona fans across the Internet, social media channels, and our own Customer Care.


Many of you know, we have discontinued our Green Mountain Coffee Extra Bold 10% Kona Blend.  We’re sad to do it – it’s a wonderful coffee and a favorite of many – but unexpected circumstances were not kind to Kona this year.

As you may have heard, coffee crop yields from Kona are down 50% due to natural crop cycles and unusually dry weather. This significant shortage has forced coffee roasters across the country to make changes to their Kona offerings, which, in our case, means discontinuing our Kona coffees.

We can’t tell the future, so we don’t know when/if 10% Kona will return.  But be sure of the fact that we are keeping an eye on news around the Kona crop and will be sure to blog again if anything changes.

In the mean time, our coffee team recommends that Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend or Extra Bold Kenyan AA may fit your Kona tastes.


With Love: Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

Today is about sharing love.  It's about saying, "I love you," to those you do.  It's about paying love forward by holding a door open for someone you don't even know.  It's about passing on your love of a family member in a cherished memory - or recipe, in this case.

Other than being one of our most devoted Pumpkin Spice fans, foodie Amber of Bluebonnets & Brownies fame has an arsenal of fantastic, easy, and heartwarming recipes on her blog - and she's graciously shared a personal - and delicious - one with us today.  So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day and sharing love with the masses, we're pleased to give the stage to Amber and her grandfather's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake:


Gaga's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake from Bluebonnets and Brownies

It's pretty safe to say that my grandfather, affectionately known as Gaga, was a huge coffee fan. When I was little, he would make us both some toast and cut it into strips. And then we'd both dip our toast into his milky coffee. The man never met a cinnamon roll he didn't love (with coffee, of course), and his favorite cake in the entire world is this chocolate mayonnaise cake.

I know what you're thinking - mayo and coffee in cake? It's actually one of the easiest recipes in the world because you don't have to worry if you've got eggs or oil on hand, and the end result is some of the most moist, flavorful chocolate cake you'll ever taste.

I never could understand why I had an aversion to chocolate cake from bakeries. I mean, we live not far from New York City, where some of the greatest diners and bakeries in the world are. But every chocolate cake I tried just fell flat with me. Then I asked my grandmother for Gaga's famous cake recipe.

As the plump little cupcakes came out of the oven, and that warm, rich, velvety flavor floated my way, I understood. This is chocolate cake. You see, without the mayonnaise and coffee to enrich and enhance the chocolate, cake just isn't as good.

Which coffee you use can affect your end result, too. I've made this cake with several Green Mountain Coffee varieties, from Fair Trade Rainforest Nut® to Fair Trade Espresso Blend, and even Nantucket Blend. Each lends its unique notes to the finished product. Rainforest Nut actually adds its own chocolatey notes, while the Espresso Blend is strong enough to give the cake a mocha flair. Blueberry or even French Toast would be excellent, too.


Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

2 cups all purpose flour (for cupcakes, add 2 extra tablespoons of flour)
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder – use a good quality like Scharffen Berger (for cupcakes, add 1 more scant tablespoon of cocoa powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup mayonnaise – no substitutes
1 cup cold coffee – I used Green Mountain Coffee’s Nantucket Blend

1 teaspoon vanilla


Sift together dry ingredients – set aside.
In mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, cold coffee and vanilla – add sifted dry ingredients, incrementally. Beat until smooth – scraping sides of bowl often. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13 pan or 12 count muffin pan with paper cups. Bake in preheated oven 350 degrees. 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.

Chocolate Rum Butter Cream Frosting

3 sticks unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla or almond extract
2 lbs confectioner's (powdered) sugar
4 tbsps half & half
1 c. cocoa powder
2 tbsp dark or white rum

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, creaming well each time until completely incorporated. Add extract, salt, half and half and mix well. Add cocoa powder and mix again until light and fluffy. Then add rum and mix again. Frost cake immediately.



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.


Food Security: Skill, Access Nutrition

In past blog posts we've talked a lot about food security within our coffee supply chain. We're working with non-profits and coffee-farmers around the globe to work on solutions to this problem of food insecurity. We believe it is not a "one size fits all" solution for our partners at source, but involves collaboration and unique approaches within coffee-growing communities.

One of our partners, Save The Children, is working in many different countries on this issue. What coffee farmers experience, is what many others in the rural poor are also experiencing. Below is a video from Mario Mabede of Save the Children, Mozambique.

In the video Mario addresses food subsidies, which were "...meant to calm recent food price protests are not what's needed to effectively address widespread hunger..."

In the video he discusses 3 strategies that will build up the rural poor and in doing, will build up the whole country:

1) Teach improved skills in farming

2) Facilitate better access to markets

3) Share information on how to prepare nutritious food for their families & how to protect them from disease.

global hunger.

These strategies support the direction we have taken in funding food security projects in our own supply chain.