Sunday

In Stark Contrast to Starbucks

So, more than a few folks have wanted to know, if not Starbucks, then what? Where do I get my coffee fix? I am sure there are any number of better alternatives to a multination corperation. In general, you will get the best flavor and highest degree of accountibility from local roasters. I get my Joe from two sources, one -Red Wing, is local, the other sells on line, allowing anyone who reads this blog to access thier beans.

"Good people, Great history, Amazing coffee" unlike so many companies, Nossa Family Coffee actually lives up to their slogan, and their values of social and environmental responsibility. From the rich volcanic soils of the Brazilian Highlands, this family bussiness has nurtured a tradition of award-winning quality for nearly a hundrad years, without exploiting the land or the people.

Whether it be through their support of SHIFT, involvement with local charities or national non-profits, Nossa Familia is all about empowering people to make a difference through their actions and choices. These ideals are practiced in different ways in different areas, as appropriate to the local region. On the farms in Brazil, workers are paid a living wage well above the average for the industry. Nossa Familia also provides comfortable housing, schools, health clinic, church, sport facilities, etc. These farms are true agro-villages that should be used as models to deter the migration from rural to urban areas.

Environmentally, they have a commitment to use the least amount of chemicals as possible - they do this by recycling nearly everything. When the husk is removed from the coffee bean, it is seperated and used to generate power for the farm. The remaining husks are used as fertilizer for the coffee plants and the cycle begins all over again. This reflects the core values of the family. They also strive to protect native species and habitat. In addition to setting aside areas to be untouched, they plant on average between 6000 and 8000 native plants per year. We've been growing coffee at this farm for over 100 years and plan on being there for another by being good stewards of the land and responsible employers.

Certification by Utz Kapeh reaffirms these practices. The Utz Kapeh Code of Conduct includes elements such as standards for minimizing and documenting use of agrochemicals, protection of labor rights and access to health care and education for employees and their families. Their regular inspections verify our practices and ensure traceability to the end consumer.

Oh, and their coffee! The first coffee plants were planted at Fazenda Cachoeira (Waterfall Farm) in 1890; now 4 generations later they are preparing for the 109th coffee harvest! On this farm everything is done manually, which includes coffee planting, harvest, drying and roasting. The quality of the coffee produced by Fazenda Cachoeira is the result of dedication and care during all coffee production stages, from the selections of the nursery trees and plantation to harvesting.

The coffee planted here is 100% Arabica, of the yellow bourbon variety. This rare variety is well known for its exceptional body, profound aromas, and non-existent bitterness. One might ask why it is a ‘rare’ varietal if it does indeed have such desirable qualities? The reason is that it is very, very delicate plant, requiring just the right rainfall, plenty of sunlight, and high altitudes. Luckily, Fazenda Cachoeira has it all, at an elevation of 3,600 ft with well-defined seasons that help the yellow bourbon Arabica beans flourish year after year.

The high quality of these beans have landed the farm various awards, and has placed Fazenda Cachoeira among the finalists of the Brazil Cup of Excellence Competition in its 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004 edition.

Social responsibility and environmental sustainability are at the forefront of the farm's mission. Lindolpho de Carvalho Dias and his son Gabriel Carvalho Dias who now runs the farm, developed a reforestation program planting native species to help maintain a better ecological balance. All the wastewater generated in the farm is treated to avoid polluting the local stream. Socially the goal is to provide excellent conditions for the workers and their families. This is why the farm, with the 47 resident families, functions almost as a self-sufficient community. The farm has a school for kids from Kindergarten to eighth grade, a clubhouse where folks can gather for fun and games, a health clinic, and most importantly—since we are talking about Brazil—a full size soccer field!

The finest beans, grown in the richest soils, buy workers who are respected and well supported, all for $9/ld. I dont own stock in their company, but they have earned my loyalty and my respect. I actually had the opportunity to meet a member of the family, who lives here in Oregon and helps promote their coffee. You think I'm tough on companies in this blog, imagine being cornered and grilled in person. This lovely young man answered all my questions with grace and honesty, and I have been drinking their coffee ever since. Perhaps if Starbucks could learn something from him. But then, they wouldnt be Starbucks.

4 comments:

Rain said...

Thanks for the information in this post. I might be buying bulk coffee in the near future, maybe not enough to make a difference, but who knows.

zilla said...

Very interesting.

The Free Trade organic coffee I've finally found, contrasted with Starbucks (Breakfast Blend), is the nicely DECREASED jitter-factor. I had no idea how much I'd appreciate the gentle nudge as opposed to the jolt :-)

zilla said...

has a, not is the -- maybe I need a jolt! heh heh

griffin said...

hey there rain~ The things we do, the choices we make: they make a difference, I promise they do.
Zilla, I hadnt thought about the low-jitter factor, but that certainly is a plus- sort of a good karma pay off!