Tag Archive for: New York City

by Maxim Vershinin

Retailer/Roaster Profile

Categories: 2014, FebruaryTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Hello every­one! Lets hear from the owner of Booskerdoo Coffee Company, James Cavelry! This super suc­cess­ful and super pos­i­tive busi­ness­man is here with us today:

V. Great to be here with you James! How did the idea for Booskerdoo Coffee Company come along, and how did it develop? Was spe­cialty cof­fee your first seri­ous pro­fes­sion, or did you do some­thing else before?
C. Booskerdoo Fresh Roasted Coffee Company offi­cially started in 2011 with our shop and roast­ery in Monmouth Beach, NJ. However, it really started in a tiny New York City apart­ment in 2009. I was 27 years old, and I was a free­lance copy­writer for a vari­ety of adver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing agen­cies. I had never liked cof­fee, even though I worked at Starbucks in col­lege, until some­one gave me good qual­ity fresh roasted cof­fee. I drank it black and fell in love with it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I started to obsess over find­ing fan­tas­tic cof­fee, but even in New York City, fresh roasted cof­fee was hard to find.

I had read online that you could roast your own cof­fee in a basic oven with a pizza sheet. So I tried it. I had read it would be smoky. I cooked it into the sec­ond crack, and oh my good­ness, black smoke filled the tiny apart­ment as if we had caught the whole build­ing on fire. Luckily, my wife Amelia found it as hilar­i­ous as I did. We tried the cof­fee the next day and it was the best cof­fee we had ever had. It was a Colombia Supremo, noth­ing fancy. I real­ized then that a niche needed to be filled; fresh cof­fee made eas­ily acces­si­ble to every­day cof­fee drinkers. I was not happy work­ing in offices, the pol­i­tics and the flu­o­res­cent light­ing was melt­ing my brain. So my wife and I scrounged up our sav­ings and started a cof­fee com­pany. I drank thou­sands of cups of cof­fee, researched like crazy, and roasted on a home roaster for a year. I had some friends of fam­ily who roasted pro­fes­sion­ally, so I drove to Brooklyn to learn from them. The best advice I received was to always taste what you roast and when it tastes great, do what­ever you did again. My obses­sion con­tin­ues today.

V. What chal­lenges did you face and how did you deal with them?
C. Our biggest chal­lenge is that we essen­tially oper­ate three busi­nesses: two cafes, whole­sale, and online sales. It feels like we are herd­ing cats some­times. My to-do lists every­day are very long with a lot of lit­tle things to do. My head spins quite a lot. There are two things that I do to keep things mov­ing smoothly: 1. I trust my employ­ees. I give them respon­si­bil­ity and allow them to learn from mis­takes to make the respon­si­bil­ity their own. 2. I will for­ever main­tain the rule, that myself and our employ­ees must focus on each cus­tomer, one at a time. No mat­ter how much stuff I have to do, I must always take the time to give each cus­tomer the atten­tion they need. No mat­ter how large our com­pany grows, this rule must never change.

V. I love your awe­some name, Booskerdoo! How did you come up with it?
C. We wanted a name that had no def­i­n­i­tion because we wanted to give the name mean­ing. My wife was a Latin teacher in Harlem, so I had planned to sit down with her and find pre­fix and suf­fix options that had the emo­tional brand ele­ments that we wanted to dis­play. It didn’t end up being that com­pli­cated. It ended up going like this: Amelia started call­ing me Boo, then Boosker, and then finally Booskerdoo. She ran­domly said one morn­ing at break­fast, “You should call the cof­fee com­pany Booskerdoo.” I laughed at her, “Yeah right, that is kind of stu­pid,” I said. About ten min­utes later I brought the topic back up. “I can’t get the name Booskerdoo out of my head… that is a really good name, lets use it.” Our brand is about energy, pos­i­tiv­ity, and not tak­ing our­selves too seri­ously. The pre­fix “boo” has energy, the suf­fix “doo” is very pos­i­tive, and the name as a whole is a lot of fun and a bit silly. Amelia is a genius.

V. What kind of advice/secrets would you give to those start­ing this kind of busi­ness now (both roast­ing and retail)?
C. In retail, we focus on the idea that we don’t sell cof­fee; we are in the busi­ness of mak­ing peo­ple happy. Coffee is just the con­duit. My advice is to fol­low that belief. If you have great cof­fee, but your baris­tas are snobs, you will lose a lot of cus­tomers. If you have nice employ­ees and great cof­fee, but your park­ing sit­u­a­tion will piss cus­tomers off, you won’t have a lot of busi­ness either. Any busi­ness is all about the root of human exis­tence… hap­pi­ness. As for roast­ing, I would sug­gest to any­one start­ing out to not believe every­thing that you read on the Internet. Read blogs and mes­sage boards, but try out what you read, and lis­ten to the taste buds of your­self, employ­ees, and cus­tomers. For exam­ple, to today’s cof­fee con­nois­seurs and in all of their talk on the Internet, it says that light roasted cof­fee is the only cof­fee worth drink­ing. However, our two cafes and whole­sale clients sell and pur­chase more dark roast than light roast cof­fee. To me, that dis­con­nect says a lot.

V. What is unique about you? What sep­a­rates you from oth­ers?
C. There are two points of dif­fer­ence that we focus on. One is lit­eral and the other is emo­tional. Our lit­eral point of dif­fer­ence is our focus on fresh cof­fee. We roast the same day that we mail it out, and we deliver to our whole­sale clients in the same man­ner. In our cafes, we never sell any­thing that has been roasted more than 7 days old. We roast twice a week, so most of our cof­fee is between only one to four days young. We donate all expired cof­fee to our local Red Cross chapter.

The emo­tional point of dif­fer­ence is best described in what reads on our crest, “fresh roasted cof­fee for all.” We focus on inclu­siv­ity. We don’t sneer at café cus­tomers who drink decaf or who have never heard of a mac­chi­ato. Like I men­tioned before, we focus on mak­ing peo­ple happy, and that includes every­one. We work very hard to bring excep­tion­ally good cof­fee to the every­day cof­fee drinker. We don’t focus pri­mar­ily on the cof­fee con­nois­seur, although they love our cof­fee too. We take a lot of pride when we turn the 7/11, Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts drinkers into cof­fee lovers who can’t drink any­thing else but Booskerdoo.

V. What is your roaster’s brand and its capac­ity?
C. We use a Diedrich IR-12. We love it. Diedrich claims you can roast up to 25 pounds at a time. However, for qual­ity, we have found that we can’t put more than 22 pounds into the machine. But that is our only com­plaint of the IR-12. As we look for a sec­ond roaster, we’ll be buy­ing Diedrich again.

V.  Anything else to say to our cof­fee com­mu­nity?
C. I have just one thing left to say, “Coffee Rules.”

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

Booskerdoo Coffee Company

36 Beach Road, Suite 9,
Monmouth Beach, NJ 07750
(732) 222‑0729
James Caverly

Social Media for Small Business

Categories: 2013, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

FBlogoI am more of a Paul Bunyan or John Henry fan myself, but we can­not deny that we live in the age of dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Social Media is the new ‘word of mouth’. You can keep swing­ing that heavy axe of hand­ing out fly­ers, drop­ping coupons in people’s shop­ping bags, and send­ing direct mail­ers, or you can admit to the decade we’re in, belly up, and start com­pet­ing at the same level as every­one else.

Social Media is a nec­es­sary aspect of every busi­ness, espe­cially start-ups focus­ing on locally dri­ven retail. It is one of the most inex­pen­sive mar­ket­ing plans pos­si­ble with unde­ni­able results. The only prob­lem is, you have to actu­ally do it! Like hit­ting the gym or tak­ing a vit­a­min, you have to actively update at least one of your social chan­nels each day to have any effect.

I know this sounds daunt­ing, espe­cially to the anti-social mis­an­thropes that would much rather take com­fort in the soli­tude of their drum roaster or base­ment kitchen. The truth is, Facebook and Twitter are your cus­tomers’ guilty plea­sures, lit­tle indul­gent snacks to keep them going through their work­day. And if they are not indulging in your pages and updates, they will be indulging in your competitors’.

The idea is to give a behind the scenes, “insider” look into your busi­ness, with each social media out­let allow­ing for vary­ing lev­els of for­mal­ity. For instance, Facebook and Twitter would be your most casual and can­did out­lets, great for fun off-topic posts that shed light on the per­son­al­ity behind your busi­ness. Where as your blog (if you choose to have one) should be more con­tent heavy and appro­pri­ate to your company’s mes­sage, giv­ing cus­tomers more insight into your busi­ness than what might be avail­able on your web­site. Direct mar­ket­ing emails are a must and should be the most focused and pro­fes­sional of all your cus­tomer com­mu­ni­ca­tion. See them as an oppor­tu­nity to actu­ally pro­mote your busi­ness the old fash­ioned way, through sales, new prod­uct announce­ments and the like– remem­ber­ing to always have a call to action.

In the end, if you still are not hav­ing fun with it, then you should hire or assign some­one that will because con­sis­tency is the key to social media success!

Getting started
First, start your accounts. Begin with a Facebook page, it is easy and will con­nect you to the largest audi­ence. Then, when you are feel­ing more enthu­si­as­tic, turn to twit­ter. It is quick and easy, but requires con­stant activ­ity for suc­cess. Read up on it so you get the most from your tweets and are less likely to aban­don it. When you are ready to get cre­ative, look into estab­lish­ing an email mar­ket­ing cam­paign that will drive traf­fic to your web­site or blog. Set achiev­able goals so you do not get over­whelmed.  It is like gar­den­ing— start with toma­toes and herbs, because they are easy and gratifying.

Now that your pro­files are set up, hope­fully your nar­cis­sis­tic instincts will take over and you will not be able to take your eyes off your beau­ti­ful home or pro­file page. With great nar­cis­sism comes great shar­ing! If you are still hav­ing trou­ble start­ing, sit down once a week to out­line a few Facebook posts in advance, as well as a blog topic or two. This exer­cise should help you get over writ­ers block and make post­ing every few days easy. Once you have your planned posts, you will start get­ting more com­fort­able with the task and find that you actu­ally have lots to share with your cus­tomers, even on a daily basis!

I was resis­tant to the idea of instant con­nec­tiv­ity when I started as well, but then it got fun! I was shar­ing favorites spots around town, repost­ing arti­cles that I enjoyed and inter­act­ing with peo­ple I never would have been in con­tact with oth­er­wise. What’s more, I started offer­ing the ser­vice to my F+B Therapy client base, includ­ing Grace Hightower & The Coffees of Rwanda. I jumped at the chance to develop their social media pres­ence, because Coffee of Grace has a great story to tell, which makes it all the more inter­est­ing to share.

With this in mind, con­sider your company’s story and what it is that you would like to com­mu­ni­cate to your cus­tomers. Not just pro­mos and daily activ­i­ties, but what your com­pany stands for and why you do what you do.

At F+B Therapy, I have always had a diverse offer­ing. From my 12 years expe­ri­ence in cof­fee to my 9 years of film­mak­ing and writ­ing, social media has been a great way to inte­grate all my pas­sions and tal­ents into a focused effort for my own busi­ness and for my clients. I try to share my love of food, bev­er­age, and the ser­vice indus­try. I also want busi­ness own­ers to know they are not alone, so I offer free tips on improv­ing their busi­nesses. These are all brand-building activ­i­ties that come from an hon­est place.

So, be hon­est about your own pas­sions, get out there, and start writ­ing your own story! The first step is, Just. To. Start!

JakeBiopicBigJake Leonti is a writer and food + bev­er­age advi­sor work­ing in New York City. He has worked in the food + bev­er­age indus­try for over 12 years. His true focus is cof­fee, hav­ing worked in every capac­ity from barista to sales to roaster to ori­gin.  Jake has built retail cof­fee pro­grams for restau­rants, hotels, cafes and bak­eries, as well as whole­sale pro­grams for roast­ers and cater­ing companies.

You can con­tact Jake at F+B Therapy:
And fol­low him at: or @fnbtherapy

Coffee of Grace

Categories: 2013, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It was September of 2011 when this all started. I had the plea­sure of meet­ing President Kagame of Rwanda at an inti­mate gath­er­ing at a friend’s house. I had never heard any­one, in pol­i­tics or not, speak so pas­sion­ately about his peo­ple and his coun­try. The sim­plic­ity he spoke was inspir­ing.” This led Grace Hightower De Niro to meet with the Rwandan ambas­sador in New York to learn more about Rwanda and its peo­ple. Of course, one of the first things to come to mind in con­ver­sa­tions on Rwanda is the geno­cide only a few decades ago.

The ambassador’s wife touched Grace with this phrase… “They had to move on.” Grace had asked… “How do you move on with some­one who is stand­ing next to you who has killed your par­ents, or maybe your child or sib­lings?” The ambassador’s wife responded, “It’s sim­ple. You either choose to live or not live.” Grace con­tin­ued, “For me that stuck with me because I know that we have a great deal of chal­lenges here in America and we think our chal­lenges are so mon­u­men­tal (and some are), but noth­ing by com­par­i­son, with what they have gone through. It really started to make me think about my per­sonal life and come to some real­iza­tions about liv­ing. These peo­ple really do live. They really do live in the moment.” This spurred Grace on to con­tinue her quest. Though cof­fee had not been the focus of her thoughts ini­tially, she told me, “Rwanda got into my spirit, into my soul.” A friend of hers rec­om­mended she get into cof­fee. “Really?” was her sur­prised response.

Grace con­tin­ued brain­storm­ing with the Rwandan ambas­sador. “He explained to me there would be a lot of ben­e­fits for edu­ca­tion and health­care by work­ing with Rwandan cof­fee farm­ers.” She had never tasted Rwandan cof­fee and was rec­om­mended by the ambas­sador to try the Rwandan café in New York called “Bourbon Coffee.” Though she was not famil­iar with the café, her hus­band was.

Grace con­tin­ued, “Something just stuck with me. I had seen the movie, “Hotel Rwanda,” which also stuck with me, long before my meet­ing the pres­i­dent and my heart went out. I couldn’t quite fathom, how could this hap­pen? And the world didn’t really stop it. That got into my soul as well.”

I came to real­ize that it is far more reward­ing to work your land with your hands than to accept hand­outs. One of the things I was really impressed with was when President Kagame said he did not want his county to be depen­dent upon aid. He wanted trade. I like that idea. I think empow­er­ing peo­ple is the way to go. I don’t think you empower peo­ple when you give a handout.”

My vision with the cof­fee project (and there is some­thing added to it every day) is that I would like to see women and more young girls given the oppor­tu­nity (not exclud­ing males) to do busi­ness, to learn, to be edu­cated, to have vision, to have voice.”

In the short time Coffee of Grace has been pur­chas­ing cof­fees and pay­ing pre­mium prices more than 9,000 cof­fee fam­i­lies have been impacted. “We were told by the peo­ple in Rwanda that the sale of the cof­fee had helped build the local school.”

Grace focused on try­ing to find wash­ing sta­tions and farm­ers that are pro­vid­ing [social] ser­vices. However, she did empha­size, “Quality comes first. It has to be qual­ity cer­ti­fied by us, mean­ing it has to be some­thing we would want to per­son­ally con­sume. All of the cof­fee is Q-Graded at 85 or above.”

Throughout this jour­ney in cof­fee, Grace has insisted on two guid­ing prin­ci­ples: “The qual­ity had to be really, really good. And it had to be sus­tain­able.” When asked about expand­ing beyond Rwanda, Grace shared, “I am very open to work­ing in other cof­fee ori­gins and espe­cially work­ing with women farm­ers in these coun­tries.” Her part­ing thought was, “I would like to achieve suc­cess, sus­tain­abil­ity, eco­nomic invest­ment, social aware­ness, and a new way of doing busi­ness while hav­ing a fab­u­lous time. It is a lit­tle bit of fun, and a lit­tle scary.”

About Grace
Grace Hightower De Niro is an American mother, phil­an­thropist, actress and singer.  As a board mem­ber of the New York Women’s Foundation and a mem­ber of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, Grace strives to empower women and their com­mu­ni­ties to achieve mean­ing­ful and sus­tain­able lives through their work. Grace’s love of cof­fee and ded­i­ca­tion to empow­er­ing women world­wide led her to launch “Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda,” with the mis­sion of enhanc­ing the lives of the Rwandan peo­ple by pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to mar­ket their unique prod­ucts to the world. Grace also serves as a board mem­ber of the New York Fund for Public Schools, as well as a mem­ber of Ronald Perlman’s Women’s Heart Health Advisory Council. The New York Women’s Foundation and the American Cancer Society of New York City have hon­ored her for her work and ded­i­ca­tion. Grace resides in New York City with her hus­band, actor Robert De Niro, and their two children.

Fair Trade, Shade Grown, Organic Coffee Sales Continue to be Hot!

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 22-ASales of cof­fee cer­ti­fied to organic, Fair Trade and Bird Friendly shade-grown stan­dards con­tin­ued to increase sub­stan­tially over the last two years. This is the direct result of con­sumers con­tin­u­ing to vote with their pock­et­books in favor of com­pa­nies pro­vid­ing high qual­ity cof­fee that is also cer­ti­fied to stan­dards that pro­tect work­ers and the envi­ron­ment. But, the sales could not increase if it weren’t for the cof­fee importers and retail­ers across the coun­try that have incor­po­rated increas­ing amounts of the cer­ti­fied cof­fee into their prod­uct lines.

12_12 22-BIndeed, imports of Fair Trade Certified™ organic (FTO) cof­fee grew 14 per­cent in 2011 to just over 72 mil­lion pounds, rep­re­sent­ing 52 per­cent of all Fair Trade cof­fee imported into the U.S. with an esti­mated mar­ket value of $700 mil­lion, accord­ing to the lat­est data from Fair Trade USA. The annual aver­age increase for Fair Trade organic cof­fee imports was 11.5% from 2008–2011. The total esti­mated retail sales value is based on both out-of-home sales (cafes, cof­fee shops, restau­rants) and retail sales at main­stream and spe­cialty gro­cery stores.

The demand for Fair Trade Certified organic cof­fee from both con­sumers and indus­try has made 2012 an excit­ing year for the com­mu­ni­ties we sup­port,” said Jennifer Gallegos, Director of Coffee at Fair Trade USA. “We expect this momen­tum to con­tinue in 2013, help­ing farm­ers earn fund­ing for much-needed social, envi­ron­men­tal and qual­ity improve­ment pro­grams that will uplift the cof­fee indus­try as a whole.”

In addi­tion, sales of the strin­gent Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly® stan­dard, con­sid­ered by many to be the ‘gold-standard’ for shade-grown cof­fee pro­duc­tion, reached $5.3 mil­lion in 2011. Bird Friendly®-certified cof­fee enjoyed a 29% aver­age annual increase in sales in the global mar­ket from 2008–2011, accord­ing to Dr. Robert Rice, coör­di­na­tor of the Bird Friendly program.

The North American organic cof­fee mar­ket topped 1.4 bil­lion dol­lars in 2009, the most recent data avail­able, accord­ing to lead­ing mar­ket ana­lyst Daniele Giovannucci. But it’s not only organic cof­fee sales that are increasing—the U.S. organic indus­try grew by 9.5 per­cent over­all in 2011 to reach $31.5 bil­lion in sales. Of this, the organic food and bev­er­age sec­tor, includ­ing organic cof­fee, was val­ued at $29.22 bil­lion (the organic non-food sec­tor accounted for $2.2 bil­lion), accord­ing to find­ings from the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2012 Organic Industry Survey.

One of the most recent indi­ca­tions of cof­fee retail change-of-course is the com­mit­ment of Bolla Market, a chain of New York City-area high-end con­ve­nience stores, to switch to offer­ing only top-quality, spe­cialty cof­fee cer­ti­fied to organic, Fair Trade, and Bird Friendly® shade grown stan­dards for all its cof­fee offer­ings at its 21 loca­tions rang­ing from Brooklyn to Riverhead on Long Island as well as in Staten Island, New York. Similarly, Pennsylvania-based Golden Valley Farm Coffee Roasters has found con­ve­nience stores increas­ingly inter­ested in offer­ing high qual­ity cof­fee cer­ti­fied to the stan­dards, although the chains they sup­ply often choose not to adver­tise the cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and let the increased cof­fee sales speak for themselves.

12_12 22-CSandra Marquardt is the pres­i­dent of On the Mark Public Relations and the cof­fee spokesper­son for the Organic Trade Association (OTA). She for­merly coör­di­nated the Organic Coffee Collaboration – a project of the OTA.

Where Quality 
Meets Sustainability

Categories: 2012, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Twice a year, a panel of experts from the cof­fee indus­try con­venes to accom­plish a com­mon goal: demon­strate the qual­ity of sus­tain­ably pro­duced cof­fees. Since 2003, the Rainforest Alliance has been host­ing Cupping for Quality events to rec­og­nize farm­ers for their hard work in adopt­ing envi­ron­men­tally and socially respon­si­ble man­age­ment prac­tices, and to dis­pel any per­cep­tion that qual­ity is com­pro­mised for sustainability.

Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Ethiopia, Colombia, Guatemala, and El Salvador earned top marks at the Spring 2012 Cupping for Quality in New York City. The results were announced on April 20 at the annual Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual tradeshow in Portland, OR.

This cup­ping had the most robust set of flights yet, with a total of 90 cof­fee sam­ples from nine ori­gins sub­mit­ted, At the InterContinental Exchange Grading Room in New York City, a group of 12 expert cup­pers par­tic­i­pated in the two-and-half-day event, eval­u­at­ing the sam­ples accord­ing to their aroma and fla­vor pro­files. The sam­ples were roasted and pre­pared by Marty Curtis of Combustion Systems Sales, who also led the cupping.

The best part of our cup­ping events is who they bring to the table,” said Maya Albanese, event host­ess and Coördinator of Sustainable Agriculture at the Rainforest Alliance. “Luminaries in the cof­fee indus­try dri­ving social and envi­ron­men­tal change in busi­nesses of all dif­fer­ent shapes and sizes come together to sup­port the mis­sion of the Rainforest Alliance. By spend­ing time tast­ing and eval­u­at­ing Rainforest Alliance Certified cof­fees, they are sup­port­ing farms with sus­tain­able man­age­ment prac­tices and help­ing to grow the mar­ket for sus­tain­able coffees.”

The high­est score – 86 points – went to Idido of the Kokie Farmers Coöperative, an asso­ci­a­tion of small­holder farm­ers located in the moun­tain forests of Yirgaceffe in Southern Ethiopia. Over 95 per­cent of the sam­ples scored above 80, the thresh­old for spe­cialty cof­fee — an indi­ca­tion that sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices often con­tribute to the pro­duc­tion of high-quality cof­fee. Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are required to adopt social and envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment sys­tems that are ben­e­fi­cial to the pro­duc­tion process, envi­ron­ment, and out­put of the farms.

Since the very first Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality event in 2003, it has been a joy to see improve­ments all along the way — and not just qual­ity improve­ments, but also new ori­gins with cer­ti­fied pro­duc­tion and over­all increases in the avail­able cer­ti­fied sup­ply,” said Chad Trewick, Cupper and Senior Director of Coffee & Tea at Caribou Coffee. “This event is tes­ta­ment to the great ben­e­fits of rec­og­niz­ing and reward­ing qual­ity within a prag­matic and effec­tive cer­ti­fi­ca­tion program.”

I believe that most of this advance­ment is a result of sus­tain­able prac­tices insti­tuted over the years,” added Marty Curtis, Lead Cupper and founder of Combustion Systems Sales & Service.

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms are com­mit­ted to reduc­ing their envi­ron­men­tal foot­print, being good neigh­bors to human and wildlife com­mu­ni­ties and abid­ing by a strict set of social and envi­ron­men­tal cri­te­ria out­lined by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, a coali­tion of lead­ing con­ser­va­tion groups with the Rainforest Alliance as lead coördinator.

The Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality takes place twice per year to accom­mo­date vary­ing cof­fee har­vest cycles around the world. Cuppers par­tic­i­pate on an invi­ta­tion only basis, but invi­ta­tions can be requested from the event coör­di­na­tor by vis­it­ing: The next two cup­ping events will take place in Long Beach, CA, on December 6 and 7, 2012, and in New York City on March 28 and 29, 2013.

To meet rapidly increas­ing con­sumer demand for sus­tain­ably pro­duced goods, more cof­fee com­pa­nies glob­ally are sourc­ing their beans from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. In 2011, over 245,000 met­ric tons of RA cer­ti­fied cof­fee were pro­duced. This is an increase in pro­duc­tion of 20 per­cent over 2010. Rainforest Alliance Certified cof­fee now rep­re­sents an esti­mated 3.3 per­cent of the global mar­ket. Another mile­stone of note in 2011 was the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of two cof­fee farms under the Rainforest Alliance’s new cli­mate mod­ule. El Platanillo in Guatemala and Daterra in Brazil are two cof­fee farms that will now be able to reduce their green­house gas emis­sions and bet­ter adapt to chang­ing cli­matic con­di­tions because of their addi­tional climate-friendly certification.

To learn more about Rainforest Alliance cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and how it improves the lands, lives and liveli­hoods of cof­fee farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties, visit:


Categories: 2011, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Land­ing in Saõ Paulo after the 9 hour flight from the States, I didn’t know what to expect. Actually, in all my years in cof­fee, I have never been to Brazil. My assump­tion was that the world of cof­fee in Brazil could not be that sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from cof­fee grown in other parts of the world.

It is fair to say that I came to Brazil with a num­ber of prej­u­dices about the qual­ity of the cof­fees pro­duced there and, if oth­ers were being hon­est, they would admit this too. When I was first start­ing out in cup­ping, some of the more expe­ri­enced cup­pers dis­missed any Brazilians that were on the table with “ oh, it’s a Brazilian, its an ‘80’.” With hind­sight, I real­ize that this is remark­ably unfair and totally against the ethic of the ‘Q’ but nonethe­less, there it is. In truth, when I have par­tic­i­pated in blind cup­pings, such as the Rainforest Alliance com­pe­ti­tion, the Brazilians often scored 85’s or higher.

Then there is that whole “Brazilian” thing. Vast farms; machine har­vest­ing; rows of trees laid out by satel­lite; 25% of the total world pro­duc­tion of cof­fee; Corporate Agro-business detach­ment; it seemed con­trary to a world that I would per­ceive as pro­duc­ing cof­fees of high quality.

To coun­ter­act these prej­u­dices was our friend and world-renowned key fig­ure in the global cof­fee world – Edgard Bressani, the newly appointed CEO of O’Coffee Brazilian Estates, the cor­ner­stone of Octavio Café that recently pur­chased Dallis Coffee, the fabled spe­cialty cof­fee com­pany founded in 1913 and based in New York City. It seemed highly unlikely that Bressani would set­tle for second-rate coffee.

So, as you might imag­ine, I jumped at the chance to travel to Brazil at the invi­ta­tion of Dallis Coffee, and their par­ent com­pany Octavio.

Octavio Café, a prin­ci­pally agri­cul­tural based com­pany in Brazil owns Fazenda Nossa Sehora Aparecida located in Pedregulho, Saõ Paulo. 6000 acres of what was once vast sin­gle estate from the cof­fee baron days, Octavio has 1200 acres under cul­ti­va­tion for cof­fee and the remain­der is given over to live­stock, tim­ber, and other crops.

Coffee was intro­duced in Brazil by Francisco de Mello Palheta in 1727 from Cayenne, French Guiana. Legend has it that Francisco de Mello had an affair with the wife of the Governor of French Guiana, per­suad­ing her to gift him a sim­ple cof­fee plant.  This was a sim­ple gift of enor­mous inter­na­tional polit­i­cal import. The Spanish and the French care­fully kept the abil­ity to pro­duce cof­fee in the New World from the Portuguese, thus pro­tect­ing an enor­mous source of wealth.

The Portuguese were cut out of the lucra­tive European mar­ket for cof­fee cheaply imported from South America and had to sit by and watch the Spanish monar­chy become increas­ingly wealthy polit­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily. Once cof­fee was smug­gled into Brazil, the car­tel was bro­ken. Brazil took to cof­fee like a duck to water. The rich vol­canic soil of the high alti­tude inland plains, the humid sub-tropical weather, and the prox­im­ity to numer­ous deep-water har­bors led to the explo­sive expan­sion of cof­fee in Brazil. Coffee in the 18th and 19th cen­turies was the lead­ing prod­uct of Brazil and the pri­mary source of wealth. Coffee fueled the indus­trial rev­o­lu­tion in Saõ Paulo and is respon­si­ble for that city becom­ing the 7th largest in the world.

Today, Brazil is the world’s largest cof­fee pro­ducer and is a sig­nif­i­cant player in the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try. Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, and Mundo Novo cof­fee vari­etals are grown in the states of Paraná, Espirito Santos, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, and Bahia.

What I found at Octavio was an extra­or­di­nary com­mit­ment to qual­ity and con­sis­tency at all lev­els of the orga­ni­za­tion. This com­mit­ment is not founded on mod­ern Quality Control Management sys­tems but instead on the pro­found vision and impact of Octavio Quércia who in the 1940’s dreamed of pro­duc­ing high qual­ity cof­fee. Now in the fifth gen­er­a­tion as a cof­fee cul­ti­vat­ing fam­ily, the impact of sev­enty years of laser tight focus on qual­ity in all things shows in the care and main­te­nance of old build­ings, clean­li­ness in the mill, near pris­tine con­di­tions in the roast­ery, to the plan­ning and lay­out of the patios, and their com­mit­ment to self-sufficiency and sustainability.

Dispelling one of my assump­tions – that mechan­i­cal har­vest­ing of cof­fee is not as good, or as qual­ity focused, as pick­ing by hand – Bressani demon­strated that by chang­ing the ten­sion on the beat­ers and mov­ing the level of the beat­ers so that dif­fer­ent parts of the trees are har­vested at dif­fer­ent times. The inci­dence of strip­ping the trees and tak­ing too many unripe cher­ries in a pass is dra­mat­i­cally reduced, to the point that the machines have become as effec­tive as hand pick­ing. Also, the trees are pruned to be tapered, wider at the bot­tom than at the top so that the cher­ries on the top ripen earlier.

The design of the plant­ing rows is done to max­i­mize the effi­ciency of the gigan­tic pick­ers as well as to opti­mize air­flow, mois­ture, soil reten­tion, and sun­light so that a more con­sis­tent ripen­ing sched­ule can be achieved. Several passes are made by the machines dur­ing the pick­ing sea­son to gather the ripen­ing fruit using the gen­tler pick­ing style of the mod­i­fied Jacto pick­ers. At the end of sea­son, the remain­ing fruit is hand­picked, strip­ping by hand.

The cul­ture of Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida is far removed from the cold Agro-business envi­ron­ment I expected. This is a fam­ily oper­a­tion, albeit a huge enterprise.

One exam­ple of this is Chapadao, a small vil­lage that until recently was in ruins and aban­doned but now has been pur­chased by the Quércia fam­ily and lov­ingly restored. This town once was the cen­ter of the orig­i­nal Coffee Baron’s oper­a­tion hav­ing a train sta­tion to send his cof­fee to Saõ Paulo and receive the thou­sands of Italian immi­grants as well as other nation­al­i­ties com­ing to work the cof­fee fields in Saõ Paulo, Minas Gerais, and on into Brazil. (This rail­way had only 11 stops and was built by the gov­ern­ment to sup­port the 11 cof­fee grow­ers who con­trolled this vast area) These immi­grates replaced the slav­ery sys­tem that per­sisted into the late 1800’s. (Brazil was the last coun­try to abol­ish slav­ery, pri­mar­ily because of cof­fee and the power of the shock­ingly wealthy Coffee Barons.

To this fron­tier train sta­tion came a young poor Italian immi­grant woman who would become Octavio Quércia’s grand­mother. The house in which Vincente Quércia , Octavio’s father, was born to lowly con­di­tions was in this vil­lage. Today this vil­lage is a reminder to the Quércia fam­ily of their hum­ble begin­nings and their good fortune.

This con­nec­tion to fam­ily is also reflected in the way the fam­ily embraces their employ­ees. Through high wages, ben­e­fits, oppor­tu­ni­ties to have small fam­ily farms sub­si­dized by the fam­ily, edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits and sup­port of the local town, the work­ers of the farms are sur­pris­ingly prosperous.

To the fam­ily, cof­fee is every­thing and reflected in their logo (the “O” is a bean), their café in Saõ Paulo (which looks like a picker’s bas­ket, is sur­rounded by cof­fee trees, is filled with cof­fee infor­ma­tion, and from the air is the shape of a bean), their cor­po­rate head­quar­ters build­ing (more of the same), to the lit­tle vil­lage of Chapadao.

The farm has a tim­ber­ing oper­a­tion of Eucalyptus trees that replen­ishes every seven years through sys­tem­atic har­vest­ing. This wood is used to fire their dry­ers in the mill. The farm pro­duces nat­u­rals and pulped nat­u­rals, as well as some wet milling. In order to con­serve water and energy, cen­trifuges are used to extract much of the water used in milling and then recov­ered back into the wet mill.

But the proof ulti­mately is in the cup­ping. Octavio and Dallis have hit a home­run with their almost obses­sive focus on qual­ity through agri­cul­tural and pro­cess­ing prac­tices. We cupped a wide array of prod­ucts from the farm as well as pre­mium prod­ucts from other farms. The Octavio/Dallis Brazilians, both nat­ural and pulped nat­ural were far supe­rior, rat­ing eas­ily into the mid to high eight­ies to ninety.

Octavio does indeed achieve the 8 ele­ments of qual­ity that are the focus of the International Coffee Organization.

Congratulations to O’Coffee, Octavio Café, and Dallis Coffee as well as thank you to Edgard Bressani, John Moore – VP of Sales and Marketing for Dallis Coffee, and Marcelo Cresente – CEO of Dallis Coffee.

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