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Coffee-101

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Coffee has been reported being the second largest traded commodity in the world – second only to petroleum – and the only food product in the top five commodities. Coffee is BIG business.

“Three companies account for around 42 per cent of global coffee sales. Coffee growers receive 7-10 percent of the retail price of coffee in supermarkets while 33 percent goes to the retailer.” — Fair Trade UK

Two types of coffee

The majority of coffee produced in the world comes from two types of plants that have their own characteristics, flavours, and growing requirements.

Robusta is grown at lower altitudes, quite often on plantations (the plants can handle mechanized picking), has a heavier flavour and has twice the caffeine of Arabica beans. Though there are some very good quality robusta beans being produced the majority of robusta is used for coffee flavouring, adding a robust taste to espressos, and for the lower mass produced coffee market.

Arabica is the term used to describe the coffee plant that originated in the Arabian Peninsula. This coffee grows at higher altitude, has more subtle flavour nuances, and Arabica accounts for about 75% of the world’s coffee production. It is usually grown at altitudes of between 1,300 – 1,500 metres above sea level.

Caffeine/Roasts – coffees are roasted to different temperatures – the higher the temperatures the darker the roast. Many people like the dark roast flavour (up to a point – then it tastes charred). The darker roast flavour tends to be more pronounced but they actually have less caffeine than coffees that are lighter roasted. When the bean is not overly roasted the nuances and character of the bean is more revealed whereas with dark roasts it is the darkness that ends up being the taste. So like roast more caffeine and dark roast less caffeine.

Shade-Grown is a term associated with coffee growing. Coffee grows natively under the canopy of taller trees – ergo shade-grown. Shade-grown coffee is also part of the ‘traditional farming’ methodology of growing coffee. Shade-grown coffee also has a larger diversity of animals and birds living amongst the coffee plants and forest. On non-shade-grown coffee plantations (Sun Cultivation/Sun Plantations) the plants are need to be fertilized more often, more pesticides are used, and there is a marked decline in fauna. So if you like bird watching then look for Fair Trade and/or Shade-Grown certified coffees.

Decaffeination – Some people wish to avoid caffeine but love the flavour of coffee. Industry has figured out how to remove the caffeine and retain the coffee flavour. There are a variety of ways that industry achieves this – most of them use chemicals – chemicals we believe are not good to be used in this manner or for the planet. At Earth’s General Store we use beans that have been decaffeinated via the Swiss Water Process rather than other forms (chemical solvents). Though it is called “Swiss” it is actually a Canadian development. You can learn more about this process by watching this video.

Fair Trade – is an organised relationship between producers and end users (roasters). You can get some excellent information about Fair Trade from the Fair Trade Canada website. It is easy to identify products that have been Fair Trade Certified by looking for this symbol.

Why do we choose to deal with Fair Trade products (we have over 20 different products)? Because it is the right thing to do, it is about showing respect for the labour of the people that are picking our coffee beans (and many other items), and we like to treat people how we would like to be treated.

Earth’s General Store has been a certified Fair Trade roaster since 2006. We are Edmonton’s original and only roaster that roasts 100% Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffee beans.

Our roasted beans are usually only a week old (maybe a little longer for decaf) and I believe it is the freshness of our roasted beans that people get so excited about (“best coffee I’ve had”, “the best decaf I have ever drank”, “Love your coffee”, “do you ship”…). Therefore to follow along the road of freshness it is best that coffee is ground in smaller quantities since this will preserve the flavour the best.

Earth’s General Store has a coffee grinder for people to freshly grind up their coffee beans (you can grind before or after you purchase your beans). Select the right setting for your machine or brewing process.

Roasted Coffee Beans

Fair Trade Organic

Brazilian — Medium Roast
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee and Vietnam is second. Brazilian coffee roasted to a medium roast is great as a base for many espresso blends. Brazilian beans are roasted to a light or medium roast since anything darker would over power or destroy its inherent nutty qualities and other characteristics.

Our producerAssociação dos Pequenos Produtores de Poço Fundo (Poço Fundo) is an association of small-scale farmers located in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. Poço Fundo was formed from a collective desire to improve the living standard of farmers and to reduce poverty and emigration. In 1991, 76 families united to form the association, intent on increasing the productivity of their small plots and sustaining the quality of family-oriented agriculture in the region. Poço Fundo was Fair Trade certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) in 1998. The co-op began exporting to the United States in 2003.

Ethiopian, Yirgacheffe — Medium Roast
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
This coffee comes from Ethiopia (credited as the birthplace of coffee). Overall the Ethiopian Yirgacheffee coffee is very spicy and fragrant, often with a slightly chocolaty or nutty quality. Its complexity makes a perfect “single origin” cup of coffee which is why we tend not to blend it with other coffees.

Our producer – Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, has more than 1.2 million coffee growers and approximately 15 million households dependent on coffee for their livelihoods. Coffee accounts for more than half of Ethiopia’s export earnings. OCFCU (Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union) is the largest Fair Trade coffee producer in Ethiopia.

Oromia was founded in 1999 when 23,691 members of 35 small Ethiopian cooperatives came together with the goal of exporting their coffee directly to the specialty market. All six varieties of Oromia’s Highland Coffee are grown by indigenous farmers of the southwestern rainforest of Ethiopia. Oromia sells its coffee to Fair Trade markets in the Canada, United States and Europe.

Bi-Continental Blend
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
This blend of Peruvian and Ethiopian (Sidamo) coffees is the “little brother” of our most popular blend PS475. Both these blends use the same coffees but are roasted to different temperatures. The Peruvian coffee provides an earthy base while the Ethiopian coffee adds more complex highlights to the overall taste.

Black and Tan Blend
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
This coffee is named after one of my favourite drinks, the Black and Tan beer, which is comprised of a dark stout with a lighter lager layered on top. This analogy can follow through in this unique coffee blend with a dark Colombian roast blended with a light Nicaraguan roast. The dark roast gives the coffee a deep flavour profile that compliments the “highly caffeinated” lighter Nicaraguan.

This coffee is becoming very popular and we are working with our inventory levels to avoid stock outages.

PS475 — Dark Roast
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
Meet the “big brother” of Bi-Continental! This roast is our darkest roast and most popular blend. It has a very robust up front flavour, full body, and mild acidity. What is lacks in caffeine it more than makes up for in aroma and flavour!

Espresso Blend
Fair Trade, Organic, Edmonton Alberta, Canadian
Firstly, let me clear something up: espresso is not a coffee unto itself but a “method” for making coffee, any coffee can be espresso. Our espresso blend uses 2 parts Colombian dark roast, 1 part Brazilian medium roast (see Brazilian notes above), and 1 part Nicaraguan light roast. This particular espresso blend has a very robust flavour, good crema [the pale brownish creamy foam that baristas make patterns with on the surface of you espresso drinks], and a very nice follow through flavour. It is also good used in a French press! – but you need to use a different grind setting for the beans and not the Espresso setting on the grinder ☺.

Green Coffee Beans

We encourage people to roast their own coffee and make available to everyone our Fair Trade and Certified Organic coffee beans.

Mexican Fair Trade Organic
CESMACH, Mexico
Campsinos Ecológicos de la Sierra Madre de Chiapas (CESMACH) is a coffee cooperative located in the southern highlands of Chiapas within the buffer zone of the El Triunfo Biosphere. El Triunfo is an area of great ecological importance because it contains two of the most complex and beautiful ecosystems in the world: the cloud forest and the tropical rain forest. El Triunfo’s unique ecosystems are home to an incredible quantity of plant and animal species considered rare or in danger of extinction CESMACH members are deeply committed to sustainable agricultural practices that prevent the encroachment of agriculture into the Biosphere and the disturbance of the natural resources within its boundaries.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
Good acidity and body, exquisite aroma

Brazilian Fair Trade Organic
Coop supplier: Associação dos Pequenos Produtores de Poço Fundo
Poço Fundo is an association of small-scale farmers located in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. Poço Fundo was formed from a collective desire to improve the living standard of farmers and to reduce poverty and emigration. In 1991, 76 families united to form the association, intent on increasing the productivity of their small plots and sustaining the quality of family-oriented agriculture in the region. Poço Fundo was Fair Trade certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) in 1998. The co-op began exporting to the United States in 2003.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
roasted nuts, peaty, and smoky

Colombian
Fair Trade, Organic
Coop supplier: COSURCA, Colombia
Empresa Cooperativa del Sur del Cauca (COSURCA) is composed of 15 farmer associations and coffee cooperatives from four municipalities in Cauca, a mountainous province of Southwestern Colombia. Founded in 1993, this organization has been seriously affected by armed extremist groups who value the area for its proximity to the jungle and abundant natural resources. Many farmers in the area have converted their coffee crops to more profitable, illegal ones while others have been threatened and displaced by armed groups.

In contrast, COSURCA’s 1,090 members have a strong organization and financial stability as a result of Fair Trade.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
medium body, medium-high acidity, and sweet berry flavor

Ethiopian, Sidamo
Fair Trade, Organic
Our producer – Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, has more than 1.2 million coffee growers and approximately 15 million households dependent on coffee for their livelihoods. Coffee accounts for more than half of Ethiopia’s export earnings. OCFCU (Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union) is the largest Fair Trade coffee producer in Ethiopia.

Oromia was founded in 1999 when 23,691 members of 35 small Ethiopian cooperatives came together with the goal of exporting their coffee directly to the specialty market.

All six varieties of Oromia’s Highland Coffee are grown by indigenous farmers of the southwestern rainforest of Ethiopia. Oromia sells its coffee to Fair Trade markets in the Canada, United States and Europe.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
pleasantly sweet, balanced acidity

Ethiopian, Yirgacheffe/Yirga Cheffe
Fair Trade, Organic
Our producer – Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, has more than 1.2 million coffee growers and approximately 15 million households dependent on coffee for their livelihoods.

Coffee accounts for more than half of Ethiopia’s export earnings. OCFCU (Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union) is the largest Fair Trade coffee producer in Ethiopia. Oromia was founded in 1999 when 23,691 members of 35 small Ethiopian cooperatives came together with the goal of exporting their coffee directly to the specialty market.

All six varieties of Oromia’s Highland Coffee are grown by indigenous farmers of the southwestern rainforest of Ethiopia. Oromia sells its coffee to Fair Trade markets in the Canada, United States and Europe.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
medium body, tart acidity, floral aroma

Ethiopian Harar
We sometimes carry this coffee and when we do people drop by specifically to purchase it since it has such a wonderful flavour. Call before you head over to confirm whether this is in stock (780-439-8725).
Our producer: Oromia, Ethiopia

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
Medium to light acidity, full body, and strong mocha flavor with blueberry notes

Nicaraguan
Fair Trade, Organic
Coop Supplier: Promotora de Desarrollo Cooperativo de las Segovias, Nicaragua
We are a second-level cooperative organization that groups 38 base cooperatives composed of 2,300 small farmers, 30% are women. Growers and producers are located in different communities and coffee areas of the departments of Esteli, Madriz and Nueva Segovia in northern Nicaragua. They provide services such as marketing, cooperative development including technical assistance, training, credit, institutional strengthening of cooperatives, improving coffee quality and social projects.

PRODECOOP is a cooperative organization certified, 100% of the partners work with Fair Trade, since 1992 we are exporting directly to the international market, we currently have 18 clients in Europe and the United States, and since 2006 began negotiations with customers Japan. On average coffee export 30,000 bags, of which 50% of the total volume is organic.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
an exquisite coffee with good acidity, aroma and body; is a balanced mix of areas of Pueblo Nuevo, San Juan del Rio Coco and Jalapa.

Peru
Fair Trade, Organic
Coop Supplier: CECANOR, Penachi, Peru
Central de Cafetaleros del Nor Oriente (CECANOR), formerly CSECANOR, is a cooperative of coffee farmers from the Lambayeque region of Peru. Established in 1999 as a partnership between three regional cooperatives, CECANOR strives to receive a higher profit margin through direct sales to international markets. Since its inception, the cooperative has been committed to quality production, environmental preservation, and community development. Twenty percent of CECANOR’s members are women, and a woman represents the cooperative on Peru’s National Coffee Board.

Cup Characteristics/Flavour profile:
Good body, slightly sweet, mild acidity

Peru DECAF Swiss Water Method
Fair Trade, Organic
Coop Supplier: CECANOR, Penachi, Peru

Swiss Water Decaf Process logoThis uses a Peruvian decaf that is “Swiss Water” processed. To decaffeinate the coffee bean by the Swiss Water method, a batch of green (unroasted) beans is soaked in hot water, releasing caffeine.

When all the caffeine and coffee solids are released into the water, the beans are discarded. The water then passes through a carbon filter that traps caffeine but lets the coffee solids pass through. The resulting solution, called “green coffee extract (GCE)” is now available for decaffeinating coffee. New green coffee beans are introduced to the GCE. Since the GCE is coffee solids without caffeine, only the caffeine diffuses from the new beans.

The GCE passes through proprietary carbon, which captures the caffeine. The process repeats, filtering out all the caffeine until the beans are 99.9% caffeine-free.

These beans are removed and dried, and thus retain most, if not all, of their flavor.

 

 

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