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Bobolink Coffee At Dillans Coffee in London
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March 30, 2016
Bobolink Coffee Is Now Served In Washington University - St Louis!
Many students depend on the invigorating powers of coffee to get them through their days, but most fail to consider the origins of their favorite morning drink.
Washington University's alumni base is highly involved in the coffee-growing business. Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Co., Washington University's main coffee supplier, is itself the product of one of the University's alumni, providing Dining Services exclusively with coffee grown through the efforts of University graduates.
In 2002, University alumnus Ben Weiner founded Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, a group that aims to connect Nicaraguan coffee growers with roasters in the United States. The organization's flagship coffee farm, Finca Idealista, is in Tepeyac, a remote mountaintop community in Nicaragua. Gold Mountain has ongoing projects in 10 other communities in the region.
Weiner first visited Nicaragua as part of his undergraduate study abroad experience at the University, living in Tepeyac and studying various aspects of the local economy. While there, he perceived a need to connect local coffee growers with international markets.
"I saw firsthand how [the growers] were being cheated by these middlemen who were paying them almost nothing for their coffee," Weiner said.
When Weiner arrived in Tepeyac as an undergraduate, the people of the community lived without running water and electricity, regular transportation up and down the mountain was nonexistent, and any vehicles that made the climb were prone to flat tires from the uneven road.
However, since the foundation of Gold Mountain, Weiner said, Tepeyac has changed dramatically, with growers buying solar panels to provide electricity to the community and buses to transport coffee.
"The changes that we've seen are day and night," Weiner said.
In addition to economic empowerment, Weiner has made gender equality one of the primary focuses of Gold Mountain's mission. Gold Mountain offers free computing classes for girls who live in the coffee-producing communities, and its employees sometimes take young girls from the communities to visit nearby universities.
"The idea is to whet their appetite for higher education," Weiner said, "to get them excited about studying and to make sure their grades are good enough for them to go to college."
Weiner also emphasized that Gold Mountain encourages farmers to leave a certain percentage of farmland as wild rainforest to protect community water supply and biodiversity.
"You can literally see that it is hotter where there has been deforestation," he said. "Where there are trees next door, there's natural [air conditioning] for the coffee, which results in beans taking longer to mature so that they more absorb natural sugars, making the coffee sweeter."
Zachary Latimore, a recent Washington University graduate, is preparing for an extended stay in Nicaragua, where he plans to work with Gold Mountain Coffee Growers during the harvest process. In anticipation of the trip, he has been learning about the system behind getting the bean to the cup.
"It's a pretty wide world, and there's a lot more that goes into it than I think a lot of people realize, and certainly more than I ever realized," Latimore said.
Weiner hopes to get more students like Latimore to travel to Nicaragua and work at Finca Idealista, especially during the harvest season from October to April. Latimore will be the first student from the University to work at Finca Idealista, whose labor force more than quadruples in size during the harvest season.
"During coffee harvest, it's all hands on deck," Weiner said. "We're happy to have students go down if they speak 100-percent fluent Spanish and are very hands-on."
However, Gold Mountain is not the only coffee-growing business with University ties.
Felipe Croce, another Washington University graduate, has spent much of his time since 2007 revitalizing and reinventing his mother's coffee farm in Brazil, which has been handed down in the family since 1850.
He first became interested after his time with the University's Praxis program.
"One of the things that I think is really cool about this project," Croce said, "and what really attracted me to the coffee industry when I first got into it was that it's…an industry where there's traceability and there's a certain interest in where things come from, how they're grown, what's the story."
After familiarizing himself with the roasting process through an internship with Kaldi's Coffee, he headed for Brazil, which did not have a reputation for good coffee at the time.
"Good coffees weren't getting to [roasters], so they just assumed that Brazilian coffees were boring, just average," Croce said.
He implemented several changes in his farm's growing techniques, aiming to improve the quality of his coffee.
"First, I had no idea what I was doing. I was trying to do everything. I kind of turned into a cowboy. I was herding cattle. I was trying to do all this stuff, and then I decided to specialize in just the coffee and downsize a little bit," he said.
While downsizing, he also set aside 33 percent of the farm's land for reforestation. Croce's family is working to make the farm and others around it organic and added Ambiental, or "environmental," to the name Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (Environmental Fortress Farm) in 2001.
Croce and FAF work closely with local farmers, helping them develop their coffee and trying to earn a reputation for Brazilian coffee.
"I use my mom's farm and several of the farms we work with as laboratories to study the recipes, to study what tastes best and get that feedback, so [we're] constantly trying to innovate," Croce said.
So far, Croce said he has seen numerous successes in getting his product into the specialty coffee market.
"We've been able to get our coffees in Noma it's the best restaurant in the world in Copenhagen in roasteries like Kaldi's. Tim Wendelboe in Norway, who's considered the best coffee guy in the world he's come every single year and is roasting our coffees. So I've been really lucky in that I've gotten in the graces of these top coffee people," Croce said.
Croce attributed the farm's success to the diverse skills of his family members, who are experienced in finance and speak both English and Portuguese.
Frank McGinty, Kaldi's director of marketing, was impressed by the impact Croce and Weiner are having on growers.
"After seeing it firsthand, being there and experiencing it, it's pretty mind-blowing that coffee can get from this little town in southern Colombia to a cup of coffee in Cherry Tree…It's incredible. With coffee, these guys are living off of nothing, and that's where…people like Ben [Weiner] and Felipe [Croce] are helping people make a career out of it and helping recruit other people to realize it is something that can be sustainable," he said.
McGinty added that Kaldi's pays nearly double the fair-trade rate for the Nicaraguan coffee, helping the farms purchase better equipment and improve the quality of their product.
Paul Schimmele, Dining Services manager, expressed his excitement for working with alumni like Croce and Weiner.
"We have a lot of alums who have great stories to tell, whether we're in business with them or not. It's just fun to be able to do business with alums," Schimmele said.
Freshman Nate Rickard said he prefers the Kaldi's coffee served on campus to other coffee he has tried, such as Starbucks.
"I think Wash. U.'s coffee is pretty quality. It's better than I expected it to be. I prefer Wash. U. coffee to the coffee I make in my room," Rickard said.
First-year graduate student Aura Ferreiro also appreciated the quality of the University's coffee.
"I like coffee in general because it helps me function, but Wash. U.'s coffee is pretty good," Ferreiro said.
Although Kaldi's pays above the fair-trade rate for coffee, Ferreiro added that she feels the University's coffee is reasonably priced.
Neu im Shop: CASCARA Kaffeekirschentee
January 30, 2016
Ab sofort erhältlich: unser koffeinhaltiger Kaffeekirschentee aus Brasilien, Mococa. Warm, wie auch kalt ein sehr fruchtig, belebendes Getränk. Shop
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