Guys, lets have some real talk about coffee and sustainability. Specifically, how coffee gets from the farm to your cup.
Fact: Coffee is the second most highly traded commodity in the world next to oil - let that seep in for just a second, folks.
The thing with commodities is that there are so many people involved in the business of trading them and getting them to the end user - and all of those people want to make as much money as possible - someone, or many people end up getting the short end of the monetary stick. When it comes to coffee, the people most often holding the short straw are the farmers who worked very hard to make your $5 macchiato possible.
Blanchard's Coffee Co. buys several coffees in the traditional manner on the commodities market with brokers. The coffees we source in this manner are excellent, quality-wise, and consistent. Many of these coffees are staple foundations for some of our most popular blends. Do the farmers harvesting these coffees get a fair price for their hard work? Well, they get industry standard pricing which keeps them living and farming, but we all know it could be better.
Several years ago, Blanchard's Coffee Co., recognizing that the system could, in fact, be better, earned its Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade Certification ensures that a certain percentage of the coffee we source, roast and sell is Fair Trade Certified. It also ensures that there is oversight of this by a certification agency - in our case that is Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade Certified coffees are slightly more expensive and a larger percentage of the total purchase price goes back to the farmer, hopefully improving their life in some way.
We're proud to be a Fair Trade Certified roaster and it goes hand in hand with our corresponding USDA Organic Certification, but here's where the real straight talk comes in - of the $50,000+ we spent on Fair Trade Certified coffee in the past year, about $1,000 above and beyond standard pricing actually made it to the farm level. That is spread over six origin countries, by the way. It is something, yes, but once again, we think it can get a lot better.
Blanchard's Coffee Co. currently sources six different Direct Trade coffee varieties from five different countries. What is Direct Trade coffee? Pretty simple - we cut out the commodities market and all the middlemen and get as close to handing a farmer a wad of cash as possible. We work with three companies (Thrive Farmers, Sriwijawa Coffee and Tierra Alianza) to source our Direct Trade selections.
How does it work? These three companies all operate in a similar basic fashion - they either own or invest in farms with potential to produce top-end coffees. They work at the farm level to increase quality, sustainability and yield then they come back to craft roasters like Blanchard's Coffee Co. and sell directly.
What makes this better? For every single pound of Direct Trade coffee we purchase to roast, at least 75% of our purchase price goes directly into the farmers' hands. In context, that means if we buy and roast just two bags (300lb) of this coffee, which takes us about ten days, we have already surpassed the entire total farmer benefit for an entire year spread over six countries... FOR ONE FARMER.
The numbers, clearly, are staggering. Needless to say, given our mission of sustainability, we are pushing as hard as we can in the direction of Direct Trade coffee. The beautiful thing is that it barely affects the final price you pay at the store. Not only that, but these farmers are taking their earnings and investing them right back into their farms because they see how much easier it is to sell more coffee at better prices when the coffee is, simply, better; so your cup of coffee keeps getting better the more you support sustainability from soil to cup.
We really hope you'll join us in this movement.
With that said, here are our Direct Trade Coffees and a few places you can buy them:
San Rafael Urias Estate, Antigua, Guatemala
La Violeta, Tarrazu, Costa Rica
Organic Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic
Lintong Estate, Sumatra
Gayo Mountain, Gajah Estate, Sumatra
--more blends to come--
Ellwood Thompson Local Market
Dawson's Market (Rockville, MD)
The Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab
Select Kroger Locations
Whole Foods Market Short Pump
Crossroads Coffee, VCU
Last week we put out a newsletter with all the latest happenings and great news coming from Blanchard's Coffee Co. If you missed it, you can see it here (and you should definitely check it out).
So, if you did, in fact, miss our newsletter, that probably means you're not a member of our mailing list. I'm not really sure why that would be the case, but hey, everyone makes mistakes! The good news is, you can sign up here and never worry about missing out again!
Finally, we've said it before and we'll say it again; have a VERY HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
July! Here already! Hard to believe, isn't it?
Well, we're pretty pumped about Independence Day - for the record, we'll be closed from 7/4 - 7/8 at the Roast Lab, but we will be at the South of the James Farmers Market, as usual.
Anyway, the 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays. I mean, come on, fireworks, cook-outs, summer, days off, ColdBrew, beer, friends and AMERICA - no brainer.
This year we decided to roast something special to celebrate how much we love the USA. We only roasted a small amount and we'll have it up for sale as long as we have it.
We call it: AMERICA BLEND ...duh.
It is a pretty awesome cup of coffee - bold, bright, full of flavor, intense - you know, all those things that make you think of love for your country. We totally dig it and we hope you'll snag some for your 4th of July festivities and beyond. Hint: AMERICA BLEND makes a stellar ColdBrew.
BUY SOME! And have a safe and happy 4th of July.
As many of you know, we recently held a pretty unique event here at the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab. We teamed up with Grid Magazine, 804&1/2, Relay Foods and Thrive Coffee to hold a large coffee cupping for the purpose of using crowd sourcing to choose the next direct trade coffee and farm we would feature at Blanchard's. Additionally, that coffee will be featured in Grid Magazine's Makers series and we'll donate a portion of proceeds from sales to a local charity.
The event was a complete success. Nearly fifty coffee fans piled into the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab and, after introductions, we dimmed the lights and talked, via Skype, with Raul Valdez of the San Rafael Urias Estate in the Antigua region of Guatemala. Raul's coffee was ultimately the favorite of the crowd compared to the excellent Costa Rican and Honduran coffees also on the list.
We had a blast and it was awesome to see so many folks coming together to cup coffee, especially sustainable coffee with direct ties and greater financial benefit to the farmers who grow it. We hope you'll enjoy some photos from the evening!
Malawi Washed AA Estate
Papua New Guinea
How many of the things that you eat and drink can you trace back to its very beginning? Are you a part of the "eat local" movement? Are you proud of fact that you met the guy who grows your kale, the gal who gathers your eggs, the folks who brew your beer? How about that cup of coffee (or three) that you drink every single morning?
We think it is a big deal to know where your coffee comes from and what it takes to get it to your cup in the morning; that is why we are beginning a series of coffee education events like the one we had last night in partnership with SlowFoodRVa and Alchemy Coffee.
Take a look at some of the pictures from the event!
We started the evening off with a tasting of the first recorded coffee blend, Mocha Java - a blend of Indonesian and East African beans - as Eric Spivek of Alchemy Coffee walked us through the historical origins of coffee and how it came to be a beverage enjoyed worldwide.
Stephen Robertson of Blanchard's Coffee Co. walked us through farming, harvest, processing and procurement practices and how that all relates to the Slow Food Movement and the world economy.
We then took the class down to the Roast Lab where Stephen demonstrated coffee roasting and Eric talked about brewing techniques. With Press Pots, Chemex, Clever Drippers and Melitta Drippers, we tasted Ethiopian Harrar, Papua New Guinea, Guatemalan Huehuetenango and Sumatra Mandheling.
There were tons of questions, answers, laughs and everyone went home with a bag of freshly roasted Dark Roast Ethiopian Harrar; and hopefully a better understanding of how they get that cup of coffee that starts their day.
Sign up for our email newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get information on our next Coffee Ed. event!
There are so many coffee lovers out there who are drinking several cups of pricey specialty coffee a day and have absolutely no idea what it takes to get that coffee from where it was grown to their cup.
I'll be the first to admit, I spent the first several years of my career in coffee not knowing that information, and when I finally learned, it was an eye opening experience that totally changed my outlook on this product that is so deeply intwined in so many of our lives.
Please join us Tuesday, January 15th at 6:30pm in the Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab as we team up with Slow Food RVA and Alchemy Coffee to present Coffee: Farm to Cup; an exploration of what it takes to get our morning coffee, who is affected and how to make the best of the whole process for everyone involved.
We'll also have roasting and brewing demonstrations with some samples for you to take home as well as any of our coffees available for purchase if you're looking for something specific.
Please RSVP here as space is limited and we need an accurate head count to make sure the event is best for everyone who attends. We hope to see you there!
Well folks, not only have we survived another holiday season, but a Mayan Apocalypse as well; we'll call that an overall success!
We truly hope you all have had a wonderful holiday full of friends, family, good food and, of course, great coffee.
We couldn't be more thankful for all of our family and friends who support Blanchard's Coffee Co. and all of the awesome businesses and coffee lovers who help people enjoy a great cup of fresh roasted coffee every day. With all of your help, we can proudly announce another record breaking year here at Blanchard's, including over 2,100 pounds roasted in a single day during the week before Christmas! Yes, if you're wondering, that is a ton of coffee--literally.
Its easy to fall into a deep winter slump after all the excitement of the holidays wears off, so we're working on a few things to keep you pumped, in the least, about coffee.
First up, this was a HUGE year for our seasonal Holiday Blend, but even good things must come to an end. Before we wrap up the Holiday Blend for this season, we wanted to offer you the chance to pick up a few more bags at a great sale price as a thank you for all your support. Starting January 1st, for a limited time, you can pick up as many bags of Holiday Blend as you like from our website for $7.00 per bag--as a loyal blog reader, you can get a head start by buying here:
Holiday Blend 12oz Bag
We're also going to start a Blanchard's Newsletter to which you can subscribe for email alerts about cool happenings at the Roast Lab and beyond. You can subscribe here--we promise, we will not spam you.
We'll be announcing stuff like new blog posts, coffee events, featured coffees, coffee specials and awesome partnerships like the ones we have with the James River Association or Road Holland, so be sure to sign up!
If your home is anything like mine, a morning isn't complete without a great cup of coffee--especially during the holidays. Coffee has a social, conversational effect that brings people together in that soul and body warming kind of way, so its a great treat to share when the family is around.
Coffee also makes a great gift, not just for family and friends, but for officemates, clients, business contacts--even the mailman!
Blanchard's Coffee Co. has everything you need for holiday coffee, starting with our yearly release of our Holiday Blend. The 2012 Holiday Blend is a delicious blend of Indonesian and African coffees that is bold and spicy with a slight hint of dark fruits.
We also offer a wide range of gift options from single bags of a coffee of your choice to our Signature Gift Boxes to custom gift sets for corporate giving.
You can order Holiday Blend 2012 along with the rest of our coffees and Signature Gift Boxes here at the online store.
Contact Stephen at 804-516-5213 or firstname.lastname@example.org for custom corporate gift questions and/or orders.