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Reusing plastic coffee bags for employee CSA distribution! #SustainableSummerEvery once in awhile the coffee department decides it's time to clean out the drawers where we keep green coffee samples. In each drawer, which represents a month, there are various and sundry sample baggies – small ones, large ones, thick ones, thin ones, and even the occasional cloth one! I suppose many places and many employees would quickly reject these as waste. Here at Counter Culture, however, the conversations about what to do with stray bags occur pretty much weekly.

Here are just a few things I'm looking forward to doing with those bags:


  • take them to the farmer's market for fruits and veggies
  • bring them to the co-op for my favorite trail mixes
  • store herbs in them for herbal summer water!

I asked a few co-workers, and here's what they would do:


  • use them as trash can liners for smaller bathroom trash cans
  • take them to the grocery store to be recycled
  • store stray buttons and broken jewelry for rainy day mending projects
  • transporting vitamins

Really, the opportunities are endless. So, it's a little quaint, maybe. But, the realness of landfill diversion and the commitment to not purchasing plastic bags that take a ridiculous amount of energy to create isn't just a drop in the bucket. Tim's words, "All right you guys, have at it!" as he set the bags on the counter, are still ringing in my ears!


Each week throughout August, via a Sustainable Summer Facebook group, we'll offer suggestions for little things we can all do to challenge climate change and conserve resources.Part of what we love most about summer is the time we get to relax outdoors, slow down from life's hectic pace, and reflect on the months gone by. This August we invite you to put that relaxed, reflective mood to good use by making small, positive changes to your everyday habits, and living a little greener before the leaves turn brown.

Each week throughout August, via a Sustainable Summer Facebook group, we'll offer suggestions for little things we can all do to challenge climate change and preserve our natural resources. By tackling habits in the areas of Home, Work, Leisure, Transportation, and Food, we'll see firsthand how big an impact even small actions can make.

Participants will have the chance to enter raffles for great prizes (including coffee, tea, and chocolate) as a reward for green deeds done well; together, we'll end the month by celebrating sustainability with organic snacks, lively conversation, and a panel discussion about climate change and the future. (Of course, there will also be plenty of coffee.)

Join us, as well as our friends at Rishi Tea, Taza Chocolate, King Arthur Flour, and TS Designs, as we send this summer out with a sustainable bang! Take the pledge at on Facebook or e-mail us for more information.

Aida Batlle is an inspiring coffee producer.
Thanks to coffee producer Aida Batlle's persistent quality focus, meticulous picking and sorting, and expert processing, Finca Mauritania from Santa Ana, El Salvador, continues to be among our all-time favorites. We offer this year's harvest of Finca Mauritania with pride, respect, and gratitude. And, we hope that you enjoy Finca Mauritania as much as we do with its perfect balance of sweetness and brightness, notes of sweet pastry, and a hint of fruit over a light and creamy body. And, again, this year's harvest arrived earlier than ever before!
Buying coffee from the Productores Indígenas de la Sierra Chiapaneca (PROISCH) cooperative in 2010 allowed us to realize our long-held desire to explore the coffees from small-scale producers in Chiapas, Mexico. Farmhouse and Apollo benefited greatly that first year from PROISCH's quality and provided the perfect showcase for this coffee. Since then, we visited the co-op for the first time and worked on quality initiatives – and then visited the co-op again. Having overcome some challenges along the way, we're finally able to offer caffeinated coffee from PROISCH as a single-origin coffee called Las Milpas. We hope that you'll agree that this harvest's notes of vanilla, fig, and nougat were worth the wait.
POSTED IN: coffee
Roberto Salazar of Finca Pashapa in Honduras heard about our cookstove project and wanted to.
You may recall what a big hit our carbon footprint reduction project in Honduras was at the end of 2012. Not only were we excited about the offsets, but the excitement sparked a good deal of interest within producer communities, as well. For us, this is the ideal way for good work to get done: groups recognize a timely, valuable, well-organized project and non-governmental organization (NGO) when they see one and want to be a part of it all without us saying a word!
For weeks, after Roberto Salazar—a member of the cooperative COCAFELOL, which has provided us with delicious Honduran coffees in years past – heard about the clean cookstove project that we did with the COMSA cooperative in Marcala, he was emailing us asking how he could get in on the fun. We put Salazar's cooperative in touch with the contact at COMSA and with Trees, Water, and People—the NGO responsible for training on the construction of the stoves—and let the magic happen from there.
We recently received news from Roberto Salazar that they successfully made a partnership with Trees, Water, and People to build clean cookstoves. June 18 marked their first day of construction on 85 stoves with members of their cooperative.
Thanks to all for generating the enthusiasm, making connections, and getting it done!
Aklilu Kassa, owner of Kilenso Mokonisa, has invested heavily in the southern Ethiopian town.
The rush of new arrivals continues with a wide range of flavors. This week, we welcome back the berry-heavy Kilenso Mokonisa Natural Sundried, sweetly crisp Haru, brightly complex Karatu Peaberry, and spicy-sweet Atu Lintang.
Kilenso Mokonisa Natural Sundried, from Aklilu Kassa's washing station in Kilenso Mokonisa in southern Ethiopia, showcases what natural sundried processed Ethiopian coffee is all about. Big flavors of blueberry and blackberry are accentuated by a juicy body.
This year, we worked with Haru and the Yirgacheffe Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia to recreate the immaculate coffee we bought last year. Better cherry selection and better processing resulted in another lot exclusively for Counter Culture that hits the hallmarks of a great Yirgacheffe coffee. Bright, crisp flavors of lime, jasmine, and sweet honey.
The Gitwe Farmers cooperative – near the eastern slope of the Aberdare mountain range in Kenya – impressed us with an amazing coffee two years ago. This tiny, few-hundred pound Karatu Peaberry lot proves that was not just a fluke. Complex tropical fruit, hibiscus, and citrus notes.
Atu Lintang grew out of a conversation about improving quality at the Jagong mill in Sumatra a few years back. Weather and mitigating circumstances prevented us from accessing it again for a few years, and we feel fortunate to have revived this project and excited to feature a coffee from Sumatra that reflects our commitment to quality there as everywhere else we work. Look for notes of bell pepper, green grape and spice.
POSTED IN: coffee
Members of the La Voz que Clama en el Desierto co-op in Guatemala learning aout.
We received news a few weeks back from La Voz que Clama en el Desierto, the cooperative in Guatemala from which we purchase coffee that brings delicious flavors to Farmhouse part of the year. The cooperative manager, Andres, wrote to let us know that they started their project with Seeds funding in earnest. As a quick reminder, they were one of two projects selected for this funding cycle,, and their goal was to offer training to coffee producers on how to prevent and combat leaf rust with organic methods.
So, far they have contracted the appropriate agronomist to lead the trainings, and they have already held eight days of workshops with the producers. The topics included at the workshops have covered methods for effective pruning and renovation of coffee plants. They have also started discussing fertilizers and effective treatments to protect plants from leaf rust.
In the coming months, they will continue the series and touch on more specific application of the techniques, as well as a broader discussion of how to strengthen the cooperative associations as a whole through these types of efforts.
Coffee from La Voz arrived and will be available as Farmhouse starting Tuesday.
POSTED IN: sustainability
Nice work, Krystal Jackson, winner of the June 2013 Counter Culture Coffee Cup Tasters Challenge. Photo by Scott Satterwhite.
Congratulations to Krystal Jackson of Asheville's High Five Coffee Bar. Krystal was the overall top finisher in last night's Cup Tasters Challenge event. Participants at each Training Center tasted four sets of three cups each and tried to identify which was different from the other two in each set. Krystal identified all four flights correctly in 52.5 seconds!
The Cup Tasters Challenge title belt will be heading to Asheville because the top 5 participants there got the most right of any of our Training Centers. Way to go, Asheville.
Thanks to everyone who competed and special thanks for gracious help from prize sponsors Baratza grinders and Espresso Supply!
Hope you can make it to the next one,
POSTED IN: regional events