Coffee Market Prices and Counter Culture
Dear Friends and valued customers,
The world of coffee has changed. Over the past several months the cost of the coffee we purchase has increased by more than 60 percent. There are many factors contributing to the increased cost, including supply challenges and increased demand. We feel as though coffee prices will remain at this level or higher for quite some time.
In response to substantially higher coffee costs, we are raising the prices of our 12 oz blends, effective today. Thank you for understanding that this price increase means that we can continue to maintain the superior standard of our products and services.
Earlier this year, our Director of Coffee and co-owner, Peter Giuliano, and our Graphic Designer, Katy Meehan, collaborated on a comic titled "So What's the Deal with the Coffee Market?" to illustrate these changes and the opportunity it presents. If you would like more information about the current state of the coffee market or have other questions, please feel free to write to us or give us a call at 888-238-5282.
Counter Culture Coffee Pop Up Cafe at SCAA
We're excited to announce that Counter Culture Coffee will operate a Pop Up Café from Friday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1, in the Level 2 Concourse of the George R. Brown Convention Center during the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Expo in Houston. The pop up café will offer a seasonal selection of handcrafted coffees and espresso drinks – all of which will be free for Expo attendees – served in ceramic drink ware.
Our farm-to-table cafe space will also host daily coffee cuppings with producer partners such as Aida Batlle of Finca Mauritania and Marysabel Caballero of Finca El Puente; feature new single-origin espresso offerings each day; and hold a daily Taza Chocolate Happy Hour with Taza’s Counter Culture Coffee Chocolate Mexicano discs and mochas crafted with Taza’s stone-ground organic chocolate.
Attendees and others interested may find our 2011 SCAA Pop Up Café schedule on our Facebook page.
On a related note, Zach Neuman of Café Helios in Raleigh took top honors at the inaugural Southeast Regional Brewers Cup in Atlanta in February with Counter Culture Coffee and our Bonmac Pro Series Dripper. Zach will compete in the 2011 USBC Brewers Cup this weekend in Houston with his trusty Pro Drip Cone and a new washed Ethiopian offering called Konga that we'll roll out later this week.
Back from the Road: Aida Batlle Tour 2011
Since 2004, pretty much any project Aida Batlle touches has been among the highlights of my personal coffee career and, indeed, a highlight for Counter Culture, as a whole.
In the past, we have always been struck by the attention to detail Aida has in her picking. "Ripest coffee I have ever seen" is a common phrase from anyyone who has been to her farms or even just seen photos. I think last year her ripe average was 97.2 percent or something crazy like that ... and, yes, she is meticulous enough to know that information, as well.
I was in El Salvador a few weeks ago visiting Aida's coffee farms, and, this year, while still being awestruck at the ripeness selection, the new title for the coffee is "most experimental." Aida has taken her drive and put it full force into making her process better, using concepts and ideas from around the world to accentuate the character of her coffees. This willingness to keep perfecting the process every year – to such an extent – is one of a kind. And, of course, that applies to Aida herself.
Here is my photo set from the time that Peter and I spent with Aida along with notes on each photo.
Carbon Footprinting for a Better Tomorrow
Since the beginning, Counter Culture has pursued coffee perfection by developing partnerships that ensure prosperity for all people, improving the natural environment, and operating efficiently to minimize our environmental impact – and we continue to make progress in all of these areas. Our Sustainability & Producer Relations Manager Kim Elena Bullock filed an update this week on how we're measuring our progress toward an increasingly sustainable business via proactive, supply-chain auditing.
We're excited to introduce our new SEEDS program
Over the years, we have supported a variety of projects in the communities where we source our coffees. These projects sometimes have a social focus, like a drink-your-own-coffee campaign in Rwanda. At other times, our projects benefit the natural environment, as exhibited by a reforestation effort in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. In every case, however, these projects are important tools for us to use to add value to our relationships and deepen our commitment to real sustainability at each stage in the coffee chain.
Recently, we formalized that participation into a program called SEEDS: Sustaining Environmental and Educational Development at Source. The first project to receive funding from the SEEDS program is a training and capacity-building program run by the Cenfrocafe co-operative in San Ignacio, Peru, which brings us coffee from the five small communities of Valle del Santuario. With more than 2,000 families to represent and support, the agronomists, soil specialists, and coffee-quality-development staff employed directly by Cenfrocafe struggle to reach of the co-op’s members on a regular basis.
About two years ago, Cenfrocafe received a grant to develop a train-the-trainer program for a group of 50 young people, all of whom are the children of co-op members. These promotores (promoters) have learned about everything from soil-building practices to cupping for quality and they are now empowered to teach! The most recent phase of the initiative has been to set up a small coffee plot in each community where the local youth promoter can demonstrate good growing techniques, with an emphasis on organic management, stable levels of production, and high-quality coffee. Sounds awesome, right?
This project fits perfectly with the goals of SEEDS and our company’s overall commitments to coffee education and to creating coffee people at every stage in the supply chain. Our SEEDS project provided the funding for three demonstration plots, which not-so-coincidentally belong to the three promoters based in the communities where we source Valle del Santuario! I am excited about the long-term potential of this project and I can’t wait to both see these demonstration plots and talk to some of the older growers in the area about the impact of the on-the-ground youth promoters. Until then, I hope this makes your morning cup of Valle del Santuario taste extra sweet.