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ur Counter Culture Direct Trade Certified Transparency Report aims to give a succinct summary of our financial and personal relationships with our producer-partners.
Today we are proud to present you with our third annual Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification Transparency Report. Each year it continues to be more important for us to communicate, both with our partners in origin countries and with our partners stateside. In this report you will find details about our financial and personal relationships with coffee producers in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
This year we welcome back some old certified friends, and we initiate some newer relationships. In total, we have nine relationships that we consider hallmarks of transparency, communication, and quality. 2011 was a year filled with experiments and continued commitments on both the sourcing and producer side.
We hope you will join us in celebrating this unique way in which we continue to live our mission – bridging quality, sustainability, and knowledge sharing throughout the coffee supply chain.
Our new Work In Progress Series debuts with our Fruit Bombs and Fermentation Tour!
Our Fruit Bombs & Fermenation Tour wrapped up last night in Durham with Samuel Penkacik's name drawn from all raffle entrants as the winner of the "Fruit Bombs & Fermentation" custom-edition La Marzocco GS/3. Congrats, Sam! And, huge thanks to La Marzocco for cosponsoring the tour and donating the GS/3!
Our "Work in Progress" series kicked off Monday, September 17, at our Boston Training Center with the inaugural tour, titled "Fruit Bombs & Fermentation." The twice-yearly Work in Progress series will be a showcase for ongoing projects and collaborations by our incredible staff – with diverse talents and interests – and our peers in the coffee industry.
"Fruit Bombs & Fermentation" focused on Coffee Buyer Tim Hill's experimentation with coffee processing in Ethiopia and New York Coffee Trainer and 2012 United States Barista Champion Katie Carguilo's fermentation-inspired, USBC-winning presentation from 2012. Attendees tasted exotic and experimental Ethiopian coffees along with Katie's awarding-winning signature beverage.
Thanks to everyone who attended each stop on the tour!
POSTED IN: regional events
Our carbon nuetrality off-sets in action. Photo by Trees, Water, and People.
After a fascinating and surprising first foray into carbon-footprint measurement at the end of 2009 – a project to track the carbon footprint of Finca Mauritania's coffee from seed to cup – Counter Culture decided to commit wholeheartedly to carbon neutrality for the company. We set a target date of 2015 because, to tell the truth, we weren't entirely sure what we were signing ourselves up to do.
In a serendipitous turn of events, we were able to reach our five-year goal in only two years and achieved carbon neutrality at the end of 2011 by offsetting our 576-tonne greenhouse gas footprint through tree-planting and fuel-efficient stove construction in Central America.
We arrived at that 576-tonnes-of-greenhouse-gas figure with the help of Vancouver-based Climate Smart, a foot printing organization that takes a unique approach to auditing by empowering businesses to measure themselves.
Having established a baseline, we turned our attention to potential areas of reduction. We started reaching out to providers of offsets and reconnected with Trees, Water, and People (TWP), which manages offset projects ranging from tree-planting and stove construction in Central America and Haiti to wind power in the American west. They distinguished themselves from other offset providers by offering to implement a project building fuel-efficient stoves with Organic Coffee of Marcala, S.A. de C.V. (COMSA), a cooperative that Counter Culture works with in Marcala, Honduras. After enthusiastic planning with TWP, AHDESA – a development organization in Honduras – and COMSA, the team built and installed 86 clean cookstoves in 2 weeks, impacting a total of 626 family members! We are grateful for this successful partnership!
-Hannah and Kim
POSTED IN: sustainability
Welcome back Los Cipreses from Marcala, Honduras.
Our commitment to organic agriculture has gotten stronger every year. We're working toward only buying organic coffees, and, in 2010, we were at 77 percent – data for 2011 should be ready very soon. We also recently launched the Save Our Soil campaign to encourage people to become advocates for organic agriculture. So, it is with particular enthusiasm that we welcome back Los Cipreses, which, in addition to being organic, is also in incredibly delicious coffee.
In the five years we've worked with Marysabel Caballero and Moises Herrera in Marcala, Honduras, for all of the experiments and the successes we have experienced together, one obstacle has remained: their farm, Dulce Nombre de Jesús (better known as Finca El Puente), is not certified organic. Strong encouragement for organic certification has become a regular feature of our conversations with them.
So, we were more than just a little surprised when they told us that they had been managing the highest area of their farm – a parcel called Los Cipreses after the cypress trees that grow on that portion of the farm – organically for the previous three years. Thankfully, an organic coffee cooperative in Marcala made it possible for the pieces to fall into place for Counter Culture to purchase the first-ever certified organic coffee from Dulce Nombre de Jesús last year. And, we're excited to offer it again this year.
Los Cipreses offers vibrant flavors of citrus and peach perfectly balanced by a juicy body. This is clean, sweet Latin American coffee at its best.
POSTED IN: coffee
Boston and Philly Training Center planning materials.
We're thrilled to announce the opening of new training centers next month in Boston and Philadelphia. The two new regional training centers extend our network of spaces dedicated to cutting-edge coffee education curriculum, wholesale customer support, and hands-on training for coffee and food professionals, as well as home coffee enthusiasts.
"Philadelphia and Boston are amazing cities with incredible coffee communities, and we are proud to be a part of each," notes company President and co-founder Brett Smith. "We look forward to sharing what we know and learn about coffee with the many talented folks who live and work there."
In welcoming local communities to these new outposts, each new Training Center will host a a Saturday open house in September.
The Philadelphia Training Center – located at 2149 unit B Catherine Street in Philadelphia – Open House will be held on Saturday, September 8, from noon to 4 p.m. RSVP via Facebook.
The Boston Training Center – located at 374 Somerville Avenue, in Somerville, MA – Open House will be held on Saturday, September 15, from noon to 4 p.m. RSVP via Facebook.
Look for additional details coming soon via Facebook and sign up to get emails about Boston or Philadelphia via our newsletter.
Pavement ist rad!
As a lot of folks already know, we don't operate Counter Culture Coffee shops. So, we rely on the people making our coffee and serving it to the public to ensure that the same level of attention to detail is given to brewing and serving our coffee as goes into sourcing and roasting it. (This is why we created our Counter Intelligence coffee education program , btw.) We're very grateful to the many high-quality shops, restaurants, and specialty groceries that serve and sell our coffees.
It's especially gratifying to have two of our friends and partners, Pavement Coffeehouse and Ultimo Coffee, be named the best coffee shops by Boston and Philadelphia magazines, respectively.
"One of the first places in Boston to offer pour-over and cold-brew coffees," noted Boston Magazine. "Pavement goes well beyond crafting lattes and cappuccinos (although these are fantastic here, too)."
Congratulations Ultimo!
And, of Ultimo, Philadelphia Magazine wrote: "The inviting staff, comfortable vibe and Counter Culture coffee would be enough to make Ultimo Philadelphia’s best. That the Newbold spot shares space with Brew-a beer store-makes it the ultimate for a 2 p.m. pick-me-up followed by a 4 p.m. happy hour."
We're very proud of both teams and want to thank their owners, management, and staff for their hard work!
POSTED IN: brewing
Welcome back Ndaroini.
As many of you may recall, we have bought coffee from the Ndaroini washing station in Nyeri, Kenya – as well as the other two washing stations of the Gikanda cooperative, Gitchathaini and Kangocho – in past years, and we couldn't be happier to have Ndaroini back in our lineup after a two year absence.
"I'm pretty sure that I've never been as impressed with Ndaroini as I am this year," notes Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu. "A deep, Concord grape quality underpins the savory and citrus flavors that we revere in great Kenyan coffees. This fine specimen rolls out on Monday, so jump on it!"
POSTED IN: coffee
Back from Rwanda.
Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill recently returned from a trip to Bolivia with the newest member of our Coffee Department, Hannah Popish, whom some of you may recognize from her work as an consultant on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots earlier this year.
In Bolivia, Tim and Hannah met with a company called Agritrade and Virmax, our exporting partners from Colombia, to taste coffees and work out the logistics of organizing improved quality Bolivian coffee with more prompt shipment. And, of course, they visited some farms, as well. Read Tim's report and peruse photos curated by Hannah in this flickr set from their trip to Bolivia.
Prior to Bolivia, Tim traveled to Rwanda and Burundi, and made his first, very brief visit to the Congo. Check out our Coffee Department trip reports for each of Tim's photosets from his trip to Africa in June with full annotation. And, stay tuned ... Tim head's to Papua New Guinea in just a few weeks.