Green Mountain Coffee Co

Meet Chajulense Cooperative, Guatemala

Fair Trade Month Quiz:

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

Answer: 88


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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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



Make it Fair Trade – and so, it was.

Fair Trade Month Quiz:

Question 5: How do you know a food product is Fair Trade?

Answer: Look for the Fair Trade Certified label.


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

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




 Fair Trade Certified Logo


It’s amazing what a Fair Trade Certified Label can do when combined with a favorite coffee – especially when that coffee’s in a K-Cup®.  In 2008, we converted one of our most popular K-Cups® from conventional Colombian coffee to Colombian Fair Trade Select.  Still the Colombian vibrancy that our customers have come to expect, but with a Fair Trade moniker to help spread the word and help Colombian farmers.        

 Joel in Colombia

  Joel White of Green Mountain Coffee rides in a chiva, an artisan-modified bus used in rural Colombia. 


Joel White, a marketing director at Green Mountain Coffee, recently visited the co-ops where we source our Fair Trade Colombian coffee.  His week-long adventure included high-mountain Jeep trips to several small, remote coffee farms and cooperatives, including CENCOIC in the southwest department of Cauca.


Colombian Women Weaving


In Colombia, members of the Guambino community are well-known for their weaving skills.


CENCOIC was founded to represent indigenous communities in the Cauca region, including the Guambianos of the central mountain range.  Guambianos are skilled weavers and are easily identified by their colorful textiles and narrow-brimmed, felt hats.  They have managed to preserve their distinct culture, retaining their traditional language, dress, and farming techniques.


“It was a great experience to be with people so committed to getting us great coffee,” Joel said when he returned.  “It’s given me a whole new perspective on my morning cup.”


- Laura


Hold the Grinder! It’s Fair Trade Month!

Fair Trade Month Quiz:

Question 1: What is Fair Trade?
Answer: Fair Trade is a social and economic movement through the market to get co-ops and their farmers a fair price for their products.

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

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



Big news: October is Fair Trade Month. 


Fair Trade Certified Label

Not sure if it’s Fair Trade?  Look for this label.


Fair Trade is not only an important business focus for Green Mountain Coffee, it’s also a topic that many of our employees are passionate about.  That’s why a group of us got together to find the best information and personal experiences we could find about Fair Trade to share with you.  Starting today, and for the next 30 days in October, we will be posting blogs, photos, and videos about all things Fair Trade - from farms we have visited to how to become a Fair Trade city. 


But that’s not all!  We’re also running a Fair Trade Daily Quiz (see top of entry).  For each day in October, we’ll post a new Fair Trade related question here on our blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts for you to answer.  The caveat?  A sample of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Certified™ Organic House Blend for the first 100 answers, and all answers – whether you’re the first or 500th respondent – get entered into our grand prize drawing for 12-months of Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Certified™ coffee.  


We’re afforded so many opportunities to get involved here at our company, it feels important that we pay it forward.  We hope our 31 Days of Be Social. Be Fair. postings will provide more depth and color to this topic than can be read on a product’s package.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll learn something that will inspire you to take action.  


At least, we hope you will.  






Making a Splash for Women’s Health with Grounds for Health Carwash

By Kristen Mercure


This past week has been big for cleaning at Green Mountain Coffee.  Not only did our crew tackle our fifth year of River Cleanup  and I cleaned up my desk,* but a devoted group of Green Mountain Coffee employees also got down to the business of transforming dirty cars into clean ones.


That’s right: Last Thursday was our third annual Grounds for Health Carwash.


GMCR Volunteers Cleaning Away

 See more picures from the event on our Flickr account


But, of course, you knew that, because I think I helped to clean your car, right? ;)


Over 40 Green Mountain Coffee and Grounds for Health volunteers, known as the “Clean Team,” rolled up their sleeves for a full day of washing, detailing (à la Gigi’s Cleaning & Detailing), and, for some of us, disjointed dancing to raise money to support Grounds for Health, an international nonprofit based in Waterbury, Vermont that provides vital cancer screening and treatment for women in coffee-growing communities. 



Kids flying through the carwash


Clad in splash-tastic yellow and blue carbon-neutral shirts from Aurum Organics, the Clean Team left no mud flap, grill, or ski rack unturned.  After enforcing our “No Idling” policy by pushing cars into place, the team attacked the dirty vehicles with Seventh Generation environmentally-friendly soap until the cars (and, on occasion, bikes) were aglow.  We were even treated to a special in person appearance by Ben and Jerry, who took their turn pushing a few cars, as well. 


Ben, Jerry, Pelch pushing a car


Making the day even better was the killer combination of music, ice cream, and prizes.  The Growlers provided the rockin’ soundtrack to our cleaning efforts while the Ben & Jerry’s scoopmobile doled free ice cream and the event’s signature drink (and biggest hit) the C3 – a daringly delicious combination of Green Mountain Coffee’s Fair Trade Organic Sumatran Reserve, Ben & Jerry’s Fair Trade Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz, and Coffee Extracts & Ingredients’ Cappachillo.  The day ended with a raffle featuring prizes from fine Waterbury establishments like Video King, Vermont T-shirt Co., Arvad’s, and, a personal favorite, the Moretown Landfill. 


Sadly, I missed the wagon on this one – there’s always next year.


Thank you to all who came out to the carwash, our energetic volunteers, and our fearless co-sponsors: Ben & Jerry’s, Gigi’s Cleaning & Detailing, and Barry T. Chouinard, Inc.


“But what about the money?” I hear you ask.  The numbers are still being tallied.  The funds will help to support the organization’s mission to create sustainable and effective cancer prevention programs, with a focus on the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer — a leading cause of death among women who lack access to healthcare in developing countries.  Grounds for Health was founded by members of the specialty coffee industry who discovered that women in Mexico and Central America have high rates of cervical cancer, which is preventable and treatable if caught early.

To support Grounds For Health and learn more about this organization, visit


*…okay, that’s a bit of a fib.  My desk is clean, just in a state of cleaned chaos – organized in piles, mounds, and boxes.  There’s a system, mind you, and if you tell me what it is I’ll happily give you a virtual pat on the back.


-Kristen (Finally all dried out)


With great partners comes great coffee

One of the importers that helps us buy a lot of our Fair Trade Organic coffees is called Sustainable Harvest, based in Portland, Oregon. We all do a lot of quality training with our supply chain and the results are higher quality coffees. That’s great for producer groups because they can charge more for their coffee and it’s great for us because, well, we like great coffee.


We just got in a report from them about some of the training activities. Our Coffee Department’s own Stacy Bocskor was in Nicaragua this past spring working with a bunch of our Nicaraguan supply chain. You can read all about it below. Text and picture courtesy of our friends at Sustainable Harvest.

Training Session 1 - Green Mountain HQ, Vermont The first part of the training series took place in at Green Mountain HQ in April. Eber Tocto (Chirinos Cooperative, Peru) and Astrid Bonilla (Federación Campesina del Cauca, Colombia) joined the Green Mountain team, along with Oscar Gonzales and Adam McClellan from Sustainable Harvest. While calibrating on coffees from around the world, the group discussed the criteria that GMCR uses to evaluate coffees, what exactly makes a coffee specialty grade, and strengthening the common language of taste between coffee grower and roaster.

Training Session 2 - UCPCO, Nicaragua For the second installation, the training program headed south to Nicaragua. Stacy Bocskor from Green Mountain was joined on this trip by four Sustainable Harvest staff: Debra Rosenthal, Fernando Seminario, Chabela Cerqueda Garcia, and Oscar Gonzales.

Sustainable Harvest imports more than 40 containers of Nicaraguan coffee for Green Mountain every year, and Green Mountain continues to expand its purchases of Fair Trade and organic certified coffees from Nicaragua. The commitment to these growers is based upon a shared dedication to specialty coffee, and this training session at origin was an opportunity Sustainable Harvest and Green Mountain to set the stage for consistent quality and manageable growth - shared priorities for the future of the Nicaraguan coffee sector for all business partners.

In attendance at the training were: Union of Organic Coffee Farmer Cooperatives (UCPCO), UCA Soppexcca, UCA San Juan del Rio Coco, Corcasan (a Honduran cooperative) and Prodecoop. To start off the day of training, Oscar Gonzales explained a tool he created - the 85 point pyramid. Once a coffee is classified as clean, the pyramid serves as a tool to grade the coffee from the initial 82 points it receives for cleanness, and to arrive at the desired 85 points. Stacy's participation reinforced these messages with her helpful suggestions based on the methodology used by the Green Mountain cupping team. When Stacy explained her role at Green Mountain and some facts about the company, UCPCO manager Heberto Rivas was incredulous at the amount of coffee processed each day, learning that Green Mountain runs through the equivalent volume of his co-op's entire harvest in less than one week.

The training culminated in a final cupping session of samples from each cooperative in attendance. Around the table were highly qualified cuppers, many of them Q certified, and this cupping session was a great opportunity to practice all they had learned during the morning session. Wilmer Estrada, a Q-Grader certified cupper from UCA Soppexcca, commented, "I want to thank you all for being here this week. Your presence shows us that you want to maintain a long-term partnership with us. Knowing that you value direct communication with us and are dedicated to helping us produce high-quality coffee motivates me to continue learning and working hard."

Session 3 - Sustainable Harvest Origin Office, Lima, Peru In June, Sustainable Harvest invited 25 cuppers and co-op managers from Peruvian cooperatives to the new "Center of Excellence" - Sustainable Harvest's coffee training classroom and laboratory. Understanding that training co-op staff in quality control is the best way to affect a positive change in coffee quality, the Center of Excellence is dedicated solely to training producers that provide coffee to Sustainable Harvest and Green Mountain to reach quality expectations, as well as to create stronger supplier groups and long-term relationships.

The course - which covered scoring, flavor descriptions, cupping vocabulary, and Oscar's quality pyramid, and Green Mountains quality expectations - emphasized quality calibration and creating well-rounded cuppers that speak a common language of taste. Manuel Rojas from the Perunor cooperative noted, "The course has helped me understand what the customer wants and what attributes they seek, and naturally this is going to help when we are putting together containers of coffee. I had general ideas, but now after this course, I have a better idea of what our coffee needs to achieve."

The next Center of Excellence training, planned for this August, will train another 25 Peruvian cuppers. This program will continue over the next three years, and will feature beginning, intermediate, and advanced cupping training.

Looking to the future of coffee quality The training courses in Vermont, Nicaragua, and Peru are part of an international, collaborative effort between Green Mountain, Sustainable Harvest, and Green Mountain suppliers. By approaching the path to consistent quality as an evolutionary process, one that must adapt to the changing needs of the farmer and the roaster alike, we are giving producers the tools they require to take the responsibility for coffee quality into their own hands. We look forward to continued success in this endeavor, as we work together to create the future of high-quality coffee.


Take me to the Winooski River!

As we announced this morning in a Press Release, Green Mountain Coffee has joined a nationwide effort to keep America's waterways clean for a 5th year. As a sponsor of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup™, employee volunteers will use paid time off to clean a section of the Winooski River from July 20-24, 2009.

Green Mountain Coffee Employees pull tires & trash from Winooski River.

For me, this will be my third year helping coordinate and participate in the cleanup. The first year, we had beautiful summer weather, making a trip into the river a welcome experience. I got to meet fellow employees, many from production, who I hadn't had an opportunity to interact with before. That is just one of the many benefits of having a company volunteer program - employee camaraderie. I experience this every time I'm lucky enough to participate in our company volunteer program called CAFE (see my blog post's from our volunteer work at Bonnaroo). Last year, as the rain kept pouring down on VT, we could not get on the river, but helped cleanup the damage it made in Little River State Park and Hancock, VT.

My co-worker, Jasna Brown, coordinates the volunteer program at Green Mountain Coffee and the River Cleanup is a large undertaking to coordinate. Planning involves coordinating the sign-ups for over a hundred employees, transportation to and from clean-up sites, ensuring the safety of employees (especially educating folks on how to avoid poison ivy), disposing of the waste, feeding volunteers, and finally creating a commemorative t-shirt for all participants. Of course, she has the help of other passionate company volunteers.

Paul Comey, VP of Environmental Affairs, has been involved with the cleanup since it's inception and revels in the opportunity to whip out his kayak. water-shoes and waterproof -camera. Paul also works with the folks at Umiak, who help us out by donating canoes for the cleanup. Others from Corporate Social Responsibility, Facilities, Production and a host of other departments all work to make this event a success. Thank you and let's hope for dry, sunny weather for next week!

Green Mountain Coffee Employees cleaning up flood damage in Hancock, VT. (Photo: Gordon Miller)

If you're interested in learning more about the National River Cleanup, visit the American Rivers' website for ideas on how to coordinate your own event.

To learn more about our company volunteer program, CAFE, visit the Employee Volunteerism section on our Corporate Social Responsibility website.

Learn more about the history and other events on the Winooski River, check out the Friends of The Winooski River.


Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders!

The Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders are back at it again! Last year Green Mountain Coffee & Seventh Generation folks drove down from VT to Manchester, Tennessee to teach folks at the Bonnaroo Music Festival how to reduce their Carbon Footprints. We’re here again, with reinforcements from Gardeners Supply, Burton, and

Matt Morris, GMCR Employee signing Bonnaroo Folks up for Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders

The booth is rockin', folks are loving the laundry line, seeing how easy it is to do laundry in cold water and use the sun to dry it. Many have pledged to start air-drying their laundry. Did you know, you can save 5 lbs of CO2 per load by air-drying rather than using an electric dryer?

There’s a Photo Scavenger hunt this year – which is drawing in the crowds to have their photo taken with "almost famous" Bonnaroo Carbon Shredders. We had a few sign ups on Do Your Part Carbon Tracker and collected over 400 emails in 4 hours! Our goal is to collect 10,000 signatures of folks pledging to reduce their CO2 footprints. Shred Hard, Walk Lightly!


GMCR - A Great Place to Work and Here's Why


This post is a bit past due but what can I say; we've been busy here at World Bean HQ!  Many of us were fortunate enough to attend our National Sales Meeting last month which was held in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO.  Although it was a week of work, learning, sharing, teaching, and tasting, we also had the opportunity to give back to the surrounding community and have a little fun at the same time.


On May 20th, over 50 Green Mountain Coffee, Keurig and Tully's employees volunteered for El Paso County Public Service-Parks Division. We did some heavy lifting, fence building, trail building, water bar building, digging, and seeding to rebuild hiking and mountain bike trails in the C Springs area.  After sitting through "many" PowerPoint presentations, the physical activity, not to mention the team building, was a welcome distraction.


Since 1993, GMCR has paid what we call "Cafe Time" for employees who want to volunteer for nonprofit and community-based organizations, up to 52 hours per year.  In fact, a lot of us bean-heads will be helping on two upcoming projects locally; the Winooski River Clean Up and a Habitat for Humanity day.

That's a nice water bar!


15 Years later....Remembering the people who were mine

Visiting Genocide Memorial with Alice Musabende (second from left)

A couple weeks ago I received an email (below) from a young woman named Alice Musabende who I met in early 2006 when I traveled to Rwanda with two of my coworkers at Green Mountain Coffee: Lindsey Bolger and Laura Peterson.  We spent a long day visiting coffee farmers and co-ops, and later in the day visited a genocide memorial - a site where 40,000 people were massacred over 4 days in 1994.  Alice was about 18 years old and very bright, and traveled with us as our translator.  She was working to develop radio programming in the Butare region of Rwanda, and had hopes of receiving a scholarship to attend Carleton University in Canada.

After visiting the memorial on our way back to Butare, I sat next to her in the front of our landcruiser, and she told me about her life and the day of the massacre when she lost most of her family and her friends.  She was only a young girl, and when she learned of this horrendous event she headed to Kigali (the capital) - about an hour's drive from Butare - where she found her aunt, one of her only living relatives.

After living there a short period of time, her aunt told her that she was a bright girl and that she needed to go to a girls Catholic boarding school where she could receive a good education, and she sent her there.  Alice did not want to be there, and told me that for the first months she performed terribly.  One day, a nun approached her and asked her why she wasn't applying herself.  She responded by saying that she had lost everything - her family, her home, her friends, and that she no longer saw any reason to keep on living.  Her mother and her entire family had been killed, as had almost everyone she knew.  The nun responded, "Your mother knew that you weren't with her when she died.  What do you think she was thinking about you at that time?  You were and are her only hope in the world for the future, and that is what she was thinking."   Alice told me that this brief conversation with this nun turned her life around.  She hadn't been able to look at this tragedy this way before.

The last time I communicated with Alice was by email a year or so ago.  She was attending Carleton, and I believe may still be studying there.  I have invited her to visit.  Hopefully some day she will.

Here is the note I received from Alice, remembering the ones she lost, on the 15th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide:

15 Years later....Remembering the people who were mine.

15 years. 15 long years since the last time I saw my mom’s beautiful smile. Since the day I last saw my little brother’s baby face. The pain is there, has always been there and will always be there. I still remember it all, just as if it was yesterday. Some days, I can’t help but let tears roll down on my cheeks, silently. And some other days, I wake up in the morning, and tell my self that I am going to make it. And I know I will.

Visiting Rwandan Genocide Memorial not far from Butare, near the Karaba Coffee Cooperative with Alice and two other survivors.

15 years passed by but I haven’t forgotten a thing. I never will. I haven’t been able to forgive the people, who one early morning of April 1994 decided to take the lives of the people who were my world. Ever since that day, I have been trying to understand what kind of people who couldn’t just be seduced by my baby brother’s smile or my mother’s beauty and let them live. People who thought they had the right to kill them. I haven’t been able to forgive them. Does this make me the devil one? Maybe, but 15 years later, all that I am left with is my anger and my sorrow, they keep me moving.

exactly what his face looked like. I want to keep everyone’s memory alive. But it is very hard, because they are so many.

In 15 years, I have learnt so much. I have learnt that God keeps an eye on me, every day of this life I call mine. I have learnt that when you loose the family you had, you can always make a new one, a family of friends that destiny puts on your way. I have learnt that sorrow doesn’t kill, it can break you down or it can make you stronger, it’s one’s choice. I have learnt that love is the best medicine, the best way of healing oneself.

I am remembering all of them today, Annonciata, Aloys, Elyse, Alain, Christian, Gabriel, Asterie, Andre, Cadette, Mimi, Flambert, Bosco, Toyota, Mudeo, and so many others I can’t name here. I am remembering them, as much as I remember them everyday, and just as much as I dream about them every day. I am remembering them because I want them to know that I am alive, for me and for them. I want to tell them that the candle in my heart will be lighten forever. And that I will always honor their memory, because they are me and I am them. I am All of them.

-Alice Musabende, 2009


The Beauty’s In (and on) the Bag

We are proud to announce that our Green Mountain Coffee 10- and 12- ounce bags, which debuted this past summer, have been recognized with a design award from Graphic Design USA.  We certainly thought they were stunning, but it was nice to receive a “certificate of excellence” award from real design professionals.

Our favorite part is the environmental benefit.  The film for the bags contains 19.4% PLA, a polymer made from renewable resources.  It’s a small but important step in improving the environmental impact of our packaging.

But we’re really writing to say thanks.  Sometimes in a press release you don’t have room to call out all the people and companies that make a big change like this happen.  We had help from a huge cross-section of employees from our design/creative, sales, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, Consumer Direct and Customer Care teams.  We also collaborated with top-notch suppliers and designers outside of our company: marketing agency BrandBuzz with art director Peter Herbst, principal designer Cliff Bachner and illustrator Miles Hyman; supplier Fres-co System USA, Inc.; and Gintzler Graphics, Inc.

And of course, what made all the difference was the feedback from you, our coffee fans!  Keep the comments coming on this blog.  We love hearing from you.


Attending the CLAC Conference in Guatemala

Below is a report sent in by Rick Peyser, Green Mountain Coffee's Director of Social Advocacy and Coffee Community Outreach, while attending a two-day CLAC conference in Guatemala.  CLAC (Coordinadora Latinoamerica del Caribe Pequeños Productores de Comercio Justo) is a Latin American Small Fair Trade Producers Assembly held every two years.  Last time this assembly was held in the Dominican Republic.  This week, it is being held in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua was the first capital of Guatemala before it was destroyed in an earthquake.  It is a beautiful colonial town with cobblestone streets, beautiful buildings and many ruins - some as a result of the earthquake.  It is surrounded by at least three volcanoes.  Today was a beautiful day, although I had very little time to enjoy it because we were indoors all day. 

This morning’s session began with a welcome from the Economic Minister from Guatemala to welcome the attendees.  The first working session was focused on FLO’s (Fair Trade Labeling Organization International's) new strategic plan and business model.  That was presented to many of the people who were here.  Most had seen it before, but some of it was brand new, and others had not yet seen it, so it was a topic for discussion in a variety of areas. 

This afternoon’s session focused on competition – talking about unfair competition from the multi-nationals corporations / transnationals that have gotten involved in Fair Trade.  There is a tremendous amount of concern on the part of small scale producers around this competition.  Other topics wrapped up the day.  The overall tone was very, very positive.  The news about Starbucks doubling their Fair Trade purchased was well received here overall by producers. 

Late this afternoon, we broke into more working groups focused on a few different themes.  The group I was in worked on producer relationships and how buyers could perhaps collaborate on different areas to support the regional producer networks, of which there are three.  CLAC is one, obviously, in Latin America.  There is also an African producer network, and an Asian producer network.  The first of our group's work was looking at ways companies and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) can support and strengthen the producer networks which, in turn, will help the co-ops that work within their system.


Sourcing our Fair Trade Colombian Coffee

Submitted by Joel White

Joel White, Product Marketing Director at Green Mtn. Coffee, recently went on a source trip to visit the co-ops where we source our Fair Trade Colombian coffee.  The week-long adventure included high-mountain jeep trips to several small, remote coffee farms and cooperatives.  He was greeted and welcomed along the way by many Colombian farmers including an indigenous group known as the Guambianos.

The Guambianos are considered one of the most traditional indigenous groups in Colombia.  They have preserved their culture remarkably well given their proximity to, and contact with, the ‘civilized’ world.  They speak their own language, dress traditionally and still use rudimentary farming techniques.   They’re also excellent weavers.

Here is a map of Colombia, on the NW corner of South America.  The Colombian coffee we buy comes from the western mountain ranges, in particular the Popayan region, which is highlighted on the map.
Colombia Facts:
•  Population: 44M
•  Biggest Cities: Bogota (7M), Medellin (2.2M), Cali (2.1M)
•  President: Álvaro Uribe
•  Famous Colombians:
    - Shakira (pop singer)
    - Fernando Botero (sculptor)
    - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (writer)
    - Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria – (former Red Sox)
• Third largest coffee producer in the world (11.3 million bags), just behind Brazil (27.8 million) and Vietnam (17.9 million) in 2007.
•  Top producer of Arabica coffee in the world.  Produces 3 times more than the next largest Arabica producer (Guatamala 3.7 million bags).

How we interact with the cooperatives in Colombia is known as “direct sourcing.”  We know who produces our beans.  We work to help them improve quality.  And we offer them programs to help fund development projects including schools, water-systems and programs to help them diversify their crops so they are not victims of the “in between” seasons when they are waiting for the coffee crop to mature.  We continue to work with these co-ops to make them more sustainable, which ultimately improves the quality and reliability of our supply-chain.



Going to the Source of Fair Trade

Alfredo Rayo Granados from Finca Mil Flores

In January, 2007, I went on a “source trip” to Nicaragua with Green Mountain Coffee.  Over 18% of our employees have traveled to coffee-producing countries to learn about the hard work that goes into growing and harvesting high-quality coffee. 

One of the most valuable parts of the trip is the chance to talk directly with farmers and representatives from coops about how Fair Trade has affected their communities. 

For example, we visited Finca Mil Flores, a coffee farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.  Alfredo Rayo Granados gave us an impeccably presented tour of the farm, which is owned by his father.  Through Fair Trade, Alfredo received a scholarship that enabled him to attend a university – the first step in his dream to become a history professor. 

Mercedes from Solcafe

At Solcafe, a dry mill in Matagalpa, we learned that Fair Trade benefits producers and their families by providing better medical attention and improved working conditions.  Mercedes, Solcafe’s 23-year old pro-cupper, praised Fair Trade and says it helps to support Solcafe’s emphasis on quality coffee.

On right, Guadeloupe Castillo from Finca Apaguis-Miraflor

In Esteli, Nicaragua, we inched up rough mountain roads to the farm of Guadeloupe Castillo.  Guadeloupe explained the benefits of Fair Trade in his community:  “There’s a social benefit.  One of the things Fair Trade provides is scholarships…People are paid fairly for labor which is important.  We have also been able to renovate some of the fincas, which provides work to people in the community and invests back into the finca.”

Through our travels, Fair Trade became more than just an abstract concept after hearing farmers speak about its benefits and seeing them with our own eyes.  We returned with a greater understanding of the meaning of Fair Trade and with many memorable first-hand experiences to share with our co-workers back home.


Fair Trade leads to long-term relationships

We have been working with members of the Unión Regional de Pequeños Productores de Café cooperative in Huatusco since 1996.

Rogelio Jacome participates in a "cupping" with Patty Vincent, Coffee Product Manager, at our lab in Waterbury, Vermont.

Throughout the years, we've been able to create a common language to talk about quality.  We've exchanged visits several times to discuss the particular taste characteristics we are seeking, and spent hours together in "cupping" sessions. Huatusco producers are now so attuned to our quality needs, they have a specific "Green Mountain Prep" they use on the beans they sell to us.

We've also supported the co-op's efforts to become organic-certified, helped pay for improvements to their wet-mill, and provided credit to help them through the harvest season. The increased revenue that Fair Trade and organic coffee provides has enabled the farmers to establish education facilities in rural areas, and build regional healthcare centers for several villages.

"Our work with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has been fruitful and profitable," said co-op manager Rogelio Jacome. "They've helped us with health programs and student scholarships. The cupper's training has been a big help, especially in terms of quality control. We truly believe that this relationship keeps getting stronger."

Miguel Garcia Suarez with a bag of his coffee.

Our Fair Trade Mexican Decaf Huatusco Cooperative offers brisk, lime-citrus acidity, and sweet notes of sugar cane and agave nectar. Its finish is engaging, vanilla-toned and sparkling clean.


Heart of the Cup

When we enjoy a cup of coffee, we may have many things on our mind.  We might be easing into to the start of a new day, generating plans with co-workers around a conference room, or relaxing with friends after a wonderful meal.  Coffee is often an integral part of our day.

Coffee is also an integral part of each day for the farmers who supply green coffee beans to Green Mountain Coffee to roast, market and sell.  It is their livelihood.  Those of us who have visited these cooperatives have seen first hand how many steps it takes to produce quality coffees and the amazing care that goes into each step.  A video (link below) called Heart of the Cup was put together by the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation so that people could learn about the process of getting coffee from tree to cup.  It is narrated by our Director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships- Lindsey Bolger, along with Don Holly - our Director of Corporate Quality and Materials. 

See where your Fair Trade dollars are going. Watch Heart of the Cup.


Helping Mexican Farmers Expand Health Services

Laura Tilghman of Sustainable Harvest recently sent us this report from Oaxaca, Mexico.  We very much appreciate all the great work that Sustainable Harvest does at Origin.

About two weeks ago, late on a Wednesday evening, I was standing in the Veracruz, Mexico airport, the air thick with tropical humidity even inside the terminal. I was waiting for Dr. Richard Hirsh,

Co-op executive committee members stand with Dr. Hirsh and Josafat, the Huatusco municipal President

 a radiologist who Green Mountain had enlisted to come to Mexico and evaluate the viability of helping the Huatusco coffee cooperative bring mammography services to their town. The cooperative has a strong program to help its members access health services, and the farmers have worked with support from Green Mountain and Grounds for Health to open a women's health clinic at the local hospital. Adding mammography services was the co-op's next goal.

Rick Peyser had asked me if I would volunteer my time to accompany Dr. Hirsh on his evaluation trip. So after picking up Dr. Hirsh at the airport, we set off on a whirlwind two day trip. With the leaders of the Huatusco cooperative always at our sides, Dr. Hirsh and I were able to accomplish a lot --- meetings with hospital staff and administrators in both Huatusco and the neighboring city of Cordoba, meetings with the municipal president in Huatusco, meetings with state-level representatives from the Veracruz health system, and even a breakfast with the cooperative's community health promotors.

During one meeting in particular, I witnessed first hand how support from Green Mountain (as well as entities like Grounds for Health and Sustainable Harvest) helps the co-op navigate the complicated state and federal bureaucracies. The meeting was tense. State health officials, the co-op executive committee, Dr. Hirsh and myself, were discussing the possibility of the project to donate a mammography machine and training for the hospital staff in Huatusco. The state representatives began insisting that the mammography project should not be carried out in Huatusco, but rather in the city of Cordoba. (The Cordoba hospital is over an hour drive from the town of Huatusco and is where Huatusco patients in need of specialized care are often referred.) The conversation became a tug of war over the mammography resources and training that Dr. Hirsh was offering, and the state officials were lobbying hard to implement the project in Cordoba.

In response, the Huatusco co-op manager Josafat began, "I would like to remind everyone here of the genesis of this project." He continued, pointing out that Dr. Hirsh's visit and the potential mammography machine donation were generated by the coffee cooperative's request to its international client and partner, Green Mountain, for assistance in serving the women of Huatusco. Josafat pointed out that while state and local support were important for the project, ultimately the project had to meet Green Mountain's expectations that the mammography services would be brought to Huatusco, where the company's business interests and relationships were located. Listening to Josafat, Dr. Hirsh whispered to me, "Wow, he's good." Josafat knew that using Green Mountain's support and the international business it brought was a powerful point of leverage for the farmers, and he used it well to argue the case for the mammography project's implementation in Huatusco. In that moment, I witnessed one way that the direct relationships between the Huatusco coffee cooperatives and Green Mountain empowers the farmers to better serve their community.

After the meeting, standing in the parking lot outside the building, Dr. Hirsh and the cooperative agreed that if they can get approval from the state and local health officials, they will bring mammography services to the town of Huatusco in 2009. Thank you again for inviting me to support this project for the coffee farmers and the community of Huatusco.

Laura Tilghman
Sustainable Harvest at Origin
Oaxaca, Mexico

We use coffee beans from the Huatusco coffee cooperative in many of our coffees, including Mexican Decaf Huatusco Cooperative

Most of this copy comes to us courtesy of our good friends at Sustainable Harvest whose mission is to improve farmers’ lives by creating a transparent and sustainable coffee supply chain, ensuring that quality coffees are sourced from the finest producers and that coffee arrives reliably in its highest quality state to preeminent coffee roasters.



We believe that both Democrats and Republicans, heck all Americans, deserve a great cup of coffee.

Over the past few years, we've had great success selling our coffee throughout the Denver area.  This is a result of hard work from sales folks such as Jim Martin, Lisa Hovey, Jeanne Benecke and many others.  Recently, Lisa Hovey was able to have our coffee sold at the 2008 Democratic National Convention held in Denver, CO.

GMC Team at the DNC

Here's is Caitlin's report from the big event:

Green Mountain Coffee had the pleasure of being a coffee supplier for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado last week.  Six GMC employees from all over the country met in the mile-high city armed with Fair Trade Organic French Roast and Fair Trade Organic House Blend Decaf ready to serve the thousands of people descending upon the Pepsi Center for this historic event.  And they drank a lot of coffee!

Over 10,000 cups of Green Mountain Coffee were served over 5 days at the convention.  We brewed our delicious coffee 20 hours per day for the likes of the Obamas, the Clintons, Dan Rather and other famous newscasters, Teddy and Caroline Kennedy, media from all over the world, secret service men and women, speechwriters, delegates, fire fighters, doctors, actors and musicians.  Green Mountain Coffee was even featured on the local Denver Fox news channel as a great product not only for its quality and Fair Trade designation, but also for the company’s dedication to environmental and social responsibility.

Compliments abound from people all over the convention about the quality of our coffee.

Day 1 at DNC

Some even coined us the “most popular people at the DNC!” All in all, it was a great event and it was wonderful to be able to share our product with people from all over the world and all walks of life. -- Caitlin Falzone

Thanks to all the GMC folks who worked really hard to make this event a success:

  • Tom Companion

  • Matt Smith

  • James Chamberlain

  • Caitlin Falzone

  • Jeanne Benecke

9/19 UPDATE:  Thanks to Lisa Hovey's hard work, we are now the coffee served at all Pepsi Center events in Denver.


Community Meetings in Northern Peru

Stacy Bocskor with new Peruvian friend

I just returned from Peru with Stacy Bocskor (GMCR Coffee Dept.), Claudia Aleman (Sustainable Harvest Coffee Co.), and Sam Fujisaka (CIAT - International Center for Tropical Agriculture).  Our goal was to assess quality of life issues in communities that grow coffee for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in northern Peru.   Over eight days, we visited communities that were generally 4-5 hours from a paved road, where homes were constructed of mud bricks, and families ate food that they grew.   Most of the mountains in this part of Peru are deforested, so their terrific organic coffee is grown in crevaces and in the valleys, usually near the communities. Each day we held 3-4 community meetings attended by 8-50 people who actively participated in the discussions led by Sam.  The purpose of the meetings was to determine what the community relied upon for sustenance and income, what challenges the participants faced relating to coffee production, and what community issues were most important.

Rick Peyser with coffee farmers from San Ignacio, Peru

At the end of the trip, it became apparent that food security was not the issue that we uncovered in Central America.  The greatest challenge is "tired soil."  Over the coming months we will investigate opportunities to assist these communities with this challenge.  Overall it was a very worthwhile trip.  Perhaps best of all, this was Stacy's first trip to Peru, and her first experience eating cuy (guinea pig).   It was great traveling with Stacy, Sam, and Claudia, who couldn't have done a better job keeping us organized.  Here is my full report from the trip: peru-2008-trip-report.  Click here to see where these three Peruvian coffee co-ops (Aprocassi, Chirinos and APROBAT Tabaconas) are located.

(These photos come to us courtesy of our good friends at Sustainable Harvest whose mission is to create transparent and sustainable supply relationships, investing in training for farmers and ensuring that coffee arrives reliably in its highest quality state to roasters.)


Rick Peyser's Elephant Interview

Rick Peyser -- Green Mountain's Director of Social Advocacy & Coffee Community Outreach  -- recently participated in a panel discussion on Fair Trade at the LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) Conference that took place June 18-21 in Boulder, CO. Rick's fellow panelists included Denise Hamler (Cofounder of Co-Op America), Wolf Ludge (CEO, Hess Natur), and Wayne Zink (CEO Endangered Species Chocolate).

Boulder-based Elephant Journal (a frequently irreverent guide to ‘the mindful life’: yoga, organics, sustainability, genuine spirituality, conscious consumerism, fair fashion, and the contemplative arts) conducted an interview marathon at the LOHAS conference, chatting with more than 40 individuals and companies devoted to living a good life that also happens to be good for others, and our planet.

Here's Rick's interview with Waylon Lewis, Editor-In-Chief of Elephant... or click-through to Elephant's web site to view a high rez version.