As one of the first certified organic coffee roasters in Southern California, we've been pioneering organic, relationship-based, and sustainable coffee sourcing since the early '90s.
To us, coffee isn’t “just coffee,” but something very special instead. Coffee has a story, one that connects us to farmers and growers all around the world.
Most of the coffees we source come from “small holders” — farmers growing on lots of half-an-acre to three acres. The coffee cultivated on these farms is often a large investment for these growers and their families. As a result, it represents a substantial portion of their livelihoods. While coffee market prices may fluctuate, the real price of producing great specialty coffee is labor intensive and remains expensive even in down markets. We source our coffees with these realities in mind.
Where we can, we purchase from farms certified sustainable by organizations like Rainforest Alliance and UTZ. In addition, we source coffee only from farms that are certified organic, which means we pay a premium for our coffee. In doing so, we hope to help our grower communities become economically sustainable enterprises and ensure that the profession of Coffee Grower is an attractive option for the next generation.
When it comes to pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, coffee is the third-most sprayed agricultural crop in the world. It seems thousands of little creatures, plants, and fungi want their morning coffee too.
Most major coffee producers coat their crops with a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals to fight these intruders and increase crop yields. The question is not whether the chemicals make their way into your morning cup. At peak temperatures above 450 degrees, the roasting process will most likely burn off any residual chemicals. The real question is what do these chemicals do to the environment and communities where they are sprayed? The data is clear; the effects on groundwater, nearby crops, and people’s health are well documented.
Yet this is just one reason to choose and promote organic coffee. Without the advantage of herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, coffee farmers have to take better care of their trees to experience the same quality and crop yields per tree as their toxic competitors. Organic farmers have to choose viable soil and water sources in order to avoid adding synthetic nutrients later. They have to grow their coffee at higher altitudes, which dissuades many insects and parasitic plants, resulting in a slower-developing, more complex-flavored coffee bean.
Organic farmers have to accept a trade-off of lower overall yield in exchange for a more bio-diverse habitat. In return, coffee roasters and their customers pay them a premium to continue the practice. We think it’s money well spent.
Why Fairly Traded?
As with most legal agriculture occurring in the developing world, coffee has a long and sorry history of giving the farmers the short end of the stick when it comes to who gets paid and how much. Even when coffee prices go up, it is oftentimes a vast network of brokers, traders, and shippers who profit even before the coffee reaches the roaster. The farmers, who have the least clout or leverage, are usually the ones who receive the least.
The Fair Trade Movement was started to try and right what has been perceived as a historic wrong. Various organizations were formed in recent years to collectivize farmers and pay them a guaranteed “fair price” for their coffee beans. However, concerns have been raised that although the Fair Trade system provides farmers with a guaranteed floor price for their coffee, it does little to promote a rise in quality of the coffee or sustainable growing practices.
A new system has emerged, known as direct trade or relationship coffee, in which roasters work directly with farmers to help them meet higher standards for coffee quality in exchange for a premium price.
Did you know?View All
It’s said that coffee was discovered by goats of an Ethiopian goatherd named Kaldi who observed his animals acting unusually frisky after eating berries from a bush.
Coffee is a green bean hidden in the red cherry of the coffee tree. Coffee beans are actually seeds.
Coffee was first cultivated after being transported from Ethiopia, where it was discovered, in what is today the country of Yemen.
The two main types of coffee trees, Arabica and Robusta, can produce crops for 20-30 years under proper conditions and care.
More than 53 countries grow coffee worldwide, but all of them lie along the equator between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn
Starting in the 15th century, coffee traveled to Turkey, and then on to Europe. Migrating up from Italy, it arrived in Paris in 1686 when the first French café was opened.
With the exception of Hawaii and Puerto Rico, no coffee is grown in the U.S. or its territories.
The world’s largest coffee producer is Brazil, with upwards of 3,970,000,000 coffee trees.
One coffee bush yields slightly less than one pound of coffee per year.
Coffee ripens unevenly, hence gourmet and specialty coffee must be picked by hand.
In 1720, a French lieutenant traveled with a coffee plant he’d received as a gift. He planted it on the island of Martinique and plantations soon grew from French Guyana to Brazil and Central America. Almost all the coffee in Latin America descends from that single Martinique plant.
Today, coffee is a giant global industry employing more than 25 million people worldwide.
Most coffee farmers have never tasted their own coffee.
Coffee ranks second only to petroleum in terms of dollars traded worldwide.
For every pound of specialty coffee sold, a coffee farmer may receive between 12 and 25 cents. Only one cent of the price of a $2 cup of coffee goes to the grower.
Espresso came from Neapolitan impatience: they simply couldn’t wait for coffee to be brewed. The French introduced the first espresso machine in 1822, but the Italians perfected and distributed it.
Espresso has roughly 1/3 the caffeine as a regular cup of coffee.
Ninety percent of Americans consume caffeine in some form every day.
Decaffeinated products still have caffeine in them. In the U.S., “decaffeinated” means that a product contains no more than 2.5% caffeine.
Instant coffee was invented in 1906 by Mr. G. Washington, an Englishman living in Guatemala.
With more than 500 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage.
You snooze, you lose.
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