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The Artistry of the Roast

The Artistry of the Roast

Does your cup of coffee transport your senses to a different place depending on the flavor and your mood? Roasting coffee beans is an art no different than painting a masterpiece; time, heat, and color take the place of brushes and palettes. Your favorite roast requires an artist skilled in the nuances of coffee bean flavors and aromas; anything less is like snapping a Polaroid versus creating a Rembrandt.

The heat is on

A coffee bean starts out as a hard pit; then it goes through a process of fermentation and drying making it softer and sort of grassy smelling. In this state, it can be stored without losing its quality or taste, but you wouldn’t be impressed by either of those attributes until its flavors are released through roasting. Roasting machines are set to temperatures between 370 and 540 degrees Fahrenheit, the beans are constantly moving for even heating from a few minutes to a half hour. Once removed from the heat, the beans are immediately cooled.

The process of roasting causes changes to occur in the bean’s chemical make-up. A combination of science and years of experience are what make a Roast Master; you don’t just walk in off the street and get a job roasting coffee. Beans are brought to high temperatures pretty rapidly it takes a master roaster to know the moment the beans have reached roasting perfection.

Color me fascinated

Different roasts create different depths of flavor; lighter roasts keep most of the natural bean flavor while darker roasts remove more of the sweetness for a full bodied taste. Each degree of roasting is gauged by color; obviously, the longer the beans are left to roast the darker they get.

Lightly roasted beans will have a more cinnamon color, light brown with reddish tones, original bean flavors. Mild beans are better when lightly roasted, leaving you with layers of flavor depending on where the beans were grown and the surrounding vegetation.

Medium roasts are the most popular because the flavors are the most enhanced, the color palette for medium roasts ranges from light-medium brown to medium brown and oily. A shiny appearance will happen when temperatures are high enough to begin releasing the natural oils within the bean. Often, big coffee companies will employ a medium roast to average quality beans in an attempt to fool you and bring out a richer flavor. Camano Island Coffee is made from the highest quality, single-origin Arabica beans, so our medium roast coffees are balanced and flavor filled.

Dark roasted coffees range in color from medium-dark brown and oily to very dark brown. The longer the beans are left to roast the smokier the flavor, with a lower acidity and richly coated in coffee oils these tend to be internationally favored. Make sure you’re getting high-quality beans since many mass-produced coffee makers will use the dark roast in an attempt to hide poor quality.

There is a niche market of coffee lovers that prefer extra dark roast coffees, the beans are almost black in color and can be shiny or brittle. These beans have none of their original flavor left; you have to be of a strong constitution to enjoy this flavor of roast. We don’t go too dark, instead relying on varietal beans that blend so well you can enjoy your espresso alone or in your favorite creamy concoctions.

Regional flavors

Our regional blends offer another option. We roast our single-source coffees separately, then blend the regional coffees together to bring all of your favorite coffees into a single cup. Camano Island Coffee offers a variety of roasts and blends, including espresso and less caffeinated choices.

The daily grind

Everyone involved in the process at Camano Island Coffee Roasters is there to bring you the best tasting, highest quality coffee you’ve ever had. We believe everyone from the farmer to the consumer is of the utmost importance, and because we believe that on every box we make sure to pass along the messages of hope and success that we’ve created together. Together is the most important idea of all, for once you decide to support social and environmentally sound businesses you change the world with every purchase, with every cup, with every sip. Now, isn’t that a great tasting cup of coffee?

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Top Five Health Benefits of Coffee

Top Five Health Benefits of Coffee

Are you wondering if your coffee has any health benefits? Are coffee naysayers touting the ill effects and making you want to give up on your cuppa coffee? Well, we have put together the top five reasons why you shouldn’t.

Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease

Studies have shown that individuals who consume three to five cups of coffee in a day are less likely to exhibit the signs of heart disease. Individuals with an intake of at least three cups of coffee are less likely to develop calcification in the coronary arteries. For more info on coffee and heart health check out our blog post, 3 Ways Coffee Improves Heart Health.

How is this possible, you ask? Well, coffee protects the muscular chamber of the heart from artery damage which may be due to inflammation.

Lowers the Risk of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is increasing rapidly in the aging population. Since there is a lack of curative treatment as of now, the protective effect of coffee against Alzheimer’s disease is of great importance. Based on the findings of studies regarding coffee, in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, coffee has favorable effects when it comes to cognitive decline / Alzheimer’s disease. For more information on coffee and brain health check out our blog post, 4 Ways Organic Coffee Improves Brain Health.

Caffeine can reduce beta-amyloid buildup. Beta-amyloid is reckoned to be the prime reason for Alzheimer’s disease. Polyphenol, found in coffee, has antioxidant effects that lower inflammation and helps to protect the brain from a decline in function due to age.

Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)

The inefficiency of the body to sufficiently produce or effectively use insulin results in T2D. This results in an increase in the level of blood glucose. Findings in research show that individuals who upped their intake of coffee by a cup per day, were less likely to develop T2D and those who reduced their intake of coffee by a cup per day were more likely to develop T2D. For more info on coffee and diabetes check out our blog post, 3 Ways Coffee Prevents Diabetes.

Reduces Depression

It comes as no surprise that coffee does have a positive impact on the mood. Besides uplifting your mood, studies have shown that coffee helps in preventing depression of mild level to moderate level. The bad immune reaction causes inflammation in our brain. This results in depression. Due to the combination of various antioxidants in coffee such as nicotinic acid, chlorogenic acid, tannic acid, quinolinic acid, pyrogallic acid, trigonelline, etc. coffee helps to relieve this inflammation.

Protects Against Liver Cirrhosis

Sure, one can reduce the intake of alcohol to prevent liver cirrhosis. However, a study indicates that drinking coffee protects the liver. As per the study, levels of the liver enzyme were lower among those who consumed decaf and/or regular coffee.


While there are many more healthy reasons not to give up your coffee, this list of the top five health benefits of coffee will easily help you ace your debates with coffee naysayers. Being able to brew yourself a great cup of coffee at home is valuable. It makes sense to have a good home espresso machine to maximize convenience. That said, it is also essential to remember that coffee is not a magic potion. Coffee alone is not responsible to keep your overall health in top shape. You must ensure that you eat healthy food, workout regularly, and maintain a wholesome and healthy lifestyle.

About The Author

Olivia is an avid traveler, has a quest for music, adventure and is a coffee junkie. She co-owns and writes at Fourth Estate Coffee & Pretty Home. She lives to explore and can never say no to a well-made cup of coffee.


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Reducing the Risk of Liver Cancer is Easier Than You Thought: Drink Coffee!

Reducing The Risk Of Liver Cancer Is Easier Than You Think: Drink Coffee!

Check out this latest guest post by Greg Haver of Greg dives into the latest research on how coffee reduces liver cancer risk. Once you’re done with this post, check out the other great content on

While I usually tout moderation pretty ardently, this is the one time science has literally proven that taking in an enormous amount of one substance can be super healthy for you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not alcohol.

And tea drinkers can choke on the smoke from coffee roasters, because drinking a mug of java has a benefit that tea can’t compete with: coffee greatly reduces the risk of liver cancer.

Yes, on top of doing a world of good against cirrhosis, reducing the risk for type II diabetes, and the whole host of antioxidant benefits, coffee fights cancer.

Who Says So?

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Southampton in the UK somehow interacted with 2.25 million people across 26 observational studies. If that doesn’t offer enough credo for you, you’re forever going to be dissatisfied with life, friend.

These studies were global, too, so it meshed together findings from the US, Japan, Europe, Hong Kong, and Singapore. There were eight case-control groups, too, but they do notate that the caffeine content wasn’t regulated at all. While the average mug of joe has 95 mg, the study didn’t account for the multiple ways we consume java across different cultures.

They did, however, find that coffee’s benefits are pervasive; they apply whether you’re a smoker, with or without the presence of alcohol, have Type II diabetes mellitus, have a high mass body index, or have hepatitis B or C.

Why Do I Care?

You are clearly not hearing me! Coffee can significantly reduce the risk of cancer! There are more numbers and cool things to go along with that, and I’m getting to it, but just read those words a few times.

We, a group of intelligent beings, are struggling to find ways to prevent cancer other than yearly screenings to catch it at early stages. Coffee, that stuff you mindlessly pour into a mug every morning, then again at 2pm to mitigate the mid-afternoon drowsiness, is dominating the game.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer, and it often develops from those stricken with chronic liver disease.

Liver cancer often has a poor prognosis, which largely is what makes it the leading cause of cancer deaths globally. In the US, 40,710 adults will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year alone, while men are three times more likely than women to develop it. The general 5-year survival rate is at a despairingly low 18%.

I’m not trying to make it as depressing as a high school poetry club reading in here, but I’m just trying to emphasize how damn impressive it is that coffee’s able to hold this hellish cancer at bay.

Okay, I Care. What Now?

Drinking one cup of coffee per day reduces your risk by 20%. Two knocks that number up to 35%, and drinking five cups of this magical bean juice reduces your risk for liver cancer by a whopping 50%.

They also measured those who drank decaffeinated coffee and found that it decreased the risk of liver cancer, but not as drastically as the caffeinated version, so everything is right with the world.

There wasn’t any documentation for consumption of more than five cups, but, well, to be honest, we all know over five cups of coffee per day and you evolve into a superhuman being impervious to any and all ailments.

What’s even cooler is that this study also showed that the decrease in risk is available to even those jumping on the coffee bandwagon later in life! You don’t have to have been endlessly consuming it for 10 years (*cough* me *cough*) to reap the benefits. March your butt to the nearest coffee shop and take a sip knowing that you’ve immediately reduced your risk like the total boss of your life you are.

You don’t even need to prepare it in any special way – boil it, brew it, filter it, whatever your cute little heart desires. As long as it makes its way from the mug to your gut, you can take pride in the fact that you’re doing your body good.

Disclaimer and Conclusion

Drinking coffee isn’t for everyone, and drinking five cups of the stuff every day really isn’t for everyone. The researchers didn’t measure whether or not imbibing that much caffeine outweighs the benefits of reducing liver cancer.

Read your body, search your soul, and do what’s right for you. If you want to drink a cup or two and bask in the benefits like reducing the risk of liver cancer, totally do it! If you’ve long since hopped on the caffeinated train like yours truly, you just keep doing your thing.

Greg Haver
Greg Haver

A ten-year veteran of the coffee business, Greg Haver is the creator and editor of Coffee or Bust, a blog for coffee lovers. With an audience ranging from aspiring home baristas to coffee-making veterans, Coffee or Bust provides in-depth equipment recommendations, brewing guides, and other information on coffee-related topics.

Follow Greg on Facebook and Twitter for more recipes and coffee news!

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Save Yourself From Bad Coffee

Save Yourself From Bad Coffee

We asked you to tag a mom in your life who could use some good coffee. Your response was fantastic. As a result we have picked 5 winners. Congratulations to you guys!

And, remember, if you didn’t win you can still get your first bag free when you join the Coffee Lovers Club. If it’s not the best coffee you’ve ever tried simply email to cancel. We make it easy!

And when you join make sure to enter the friend who referred you. They get $20 towards their next shipment!

How The Free Pound Works

  • Just pay 99¢ shipping and handling.
  • If it’s not the best coffee you’ve ever tried simply email to cancel.
  • Next shipment auto-ships 3 weeks later.
  • You’re never charged for your first free pound.


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Ericson Family Vacation 2018

Ericson Family Vacation 2018

We’ve been meaning to post these photos from our family vacation for months now. We’ve finally gotten round to sharing them. Jodi and I had a great time treating our kids and grandkids to a family trip to Disneyland this past spring. It was great to see the faces of our grandkids light up when they got to meet their favorite characters. The adult “kids” had a pretty good time too!

Share your favorite vacation photo with us in the comments below or on facebook. Photo with the most likes gets free CICR diner mug. BONUS POINTS if your photo includes a bag of Camano Island Coffee!

Winner selected at the end of the week!

Jeff Ericson

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5 Steps To Fixing Fair Trade Coffee

5 Steps To Fixing Fair Trade Coffee

Coffee farmers are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Typically one tree produces one pound of coffee per year. That’s 2,000 beans. That means a farmer needs to pick over 1,000 coffee cherries to produce one pound of coffee. And that doesn’t include the labor involved in processing the beans after picking. In spite of the fair trade movement coffee farmers only receive pennies for every pound you buy. This is because of the unintended fair trade coffee problems. There is a better way — fixing fair trade coffee.

Fixing Fair Trade Coffee Step #1:

Buy Coffee That Gives a Hand Up Not a Hand Out

If we will give coffee farmers a hand up instead of a hand out, they will work their way out of poverty. A hand up can take many forms. A hand up can be loans, education, and support. A hand up is supporting farmers in a way that enables them to work themselves out of poverty. If we simply provide hand outs in the form of food, materials for shelter, or medicine, we make ourselves the savior of the rural poor. By enabling coffee farmers to provide for themselves we allow them to have dignity and independence. At Camano Island Coffee Roasters the idea of a hand up instead of a hand out is a crucial tenet in helping coffee farmers eradicate poverty in their countries. It is an important first step in fixing fair trade coffee.

Fixing Fair Trade Coffee Step #2:

Buy Coffee That Promotes Land Ownership

Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA require farmers to own land to participate. So many farmers, however, merely work for a larger coffee plantation. So before we can begin discussing, education or improved agronomy techniques, the coffee farmers need land to call their own.

One nonprofit that helps with this is Agros. Agros helps the rural poor in Central America to purchase their own land. Agros will work with the local community to buy a large tract of land. Then they divide the land into parcels for individual families based on the type of land, and the type of agricultural business the family plans to build. These families then work their business on their land and repay the loan to Agros in 7 – 10 years. Agros can then take these repaid funds and invest in another village further propagating the system.

Fixing Fair Trade Coffee Step #3:

Buy Coffee That Partners With Farmers In Utilizing Modern Agronomy Techniques

The next step in the journey to end poverty is education. Agros also helps farmers to improve their crop yields, through education. Agros employs a team of Agronomists who help their farmers improve their yields and also diversify their crops.

Fixing Fair Trade Coffee Step #4:

Buy Coffee That Helps Farmers Diversify Their Crops.

Agros also encourages farmers to diversify their crops — from chili pepper farming to tilapia fish farming. This diversification of their crops on their land ensures they always have something to eat or sell.

Another nonprofit we consistently support, Food 4 Farmers, also helps coffee farmers diversify their crops. Food 4 Farmers provides education and mentorship in diversifying crops and expanding businesses. One of the best examples of this is bee-keeping. To learn more about bee-keeping and the impact it had on one coffee farming family, click here. Even if pests or monsoons tear apart their coffee crop, these farmers have another way of providing for themselves.

Fixing Fair Trade Coffee Step #5:

Buy Coffee That Rewards Best Practices

One of the fair trade coffee problems is the unintended consequence of selling inferior beans as fair trade. A better approach is to reward farmers for cultivating the very best beans. Paying for excellence incentivizes farmers to do their best work and also gives them an opportunity to make much more per pound than lower quality coffees.

Organic coffee is a great example of the right incentive. The coffee tree is one of the most absorbent crops on the planet. It drives its flavor from the mix of minerals and type of soil in which it is grown. And, then consider that most coffee grows in the developing world. This results in a lack of pesticide regulation. Years ago here in the US we banned many of the same pesticides readily available in the developing world. Farming using dangerous, unregulated pesticides results in harmful exposure to carcinogens and also birth defects for farmers and their families. Also, what effect can these unregulated pesticides have on the coffee drinker?

Encouraging Shade Grown coffee is also very important to farmers due to the impact environmentally on their farms and their local environment. When big coffee moves into a region and clear cuts the forest to increase the total yield per acre, the unintended consequences can be soil erosion. Additionally, when the rainforest is removed, lasting damage is done to the environment and specifically bird habitat further damaging the ecosystem.

Farmers earn a higher price per pound for excellence. Encouraging farmers to cultivate the best tasting coffees ensures farmers receive the best price per pound possible. In addition to organic and shade grown coffee, Arabica beans help farmers earn more — simply because they taste amazing. The alternative Robusta contains twice the acidity and caffeine of Arabica. The easiest coffee beans to grow are robusta, but they also contain twice the caffeine and acidity. Robusta coffee gives very bitter flavor. Due to the better coffee experience, the market dictates a higher price per pound for Arabica. Why not reward farmers for providing a superior coffee experience.

Summary: Fixing Fair Trade

Buy coffee that gives a hand up not a hand out. Empower farmers to work themselves out of poverty sustainably.

Buy coffee that promotes land ownership. This gives farmers the foundation to work their way out of poverty.

Buy coffee that partners with farmers in utilizing modern agronomy techniques.

Buy coffee that helps farmers diversify their crops.

Buy coffee that rewards farmers for producing the highest quality coffees.

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5 Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems

5 Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems

What if fair trade could guarantee a fair wage for a beautiful product like coffee? Unfortunately, unintended fair trade coffee problems can hinder the coffee farmer’s long term future. But there is hope. There is a better way.

How Does Fair Trade Work?

Fair Trade International and Fair Trade USA organizations created what we know as Certified Fair Trade. They based Certified Fair Trade on a cooperative approach where farmers join the Fair Trade Organization and follow best practices. Green bean purchasers pay a price minimum — currently at $1.40/lb — plus premiums of $.30 per pound. Also, coffee farmers pay certification fees to participate. Yes, growers must pay to receive a ‘fair price.’ In fact a 2010 study by the University of California estimated growers pay $.03/lb just to be part of the process.1

While the minimum price floor of $1.40 may be good for farmers (you will see it has its flaws too), the premiums paid by buyers rarely end up in farmer’s pockets. $.10/lb goes back to the Fair Trade organizations. This is essentially marketing for Fair Trade. The remaining $.20/lb does not go back to farmers directly either. Instead, this portion of the premium is intended for local cooperative projects such as equipment upgrades, and education (you will see this has flaws too).

The fair trade organizations set up Certified Fair Trade with the best of intentions. In their words “use a market-based approach that empowers farmers to get a fair price for their harvest, helps workers create safe working conditions, provides a decent living wage, and guarantees the right to organize.2 In practice, however, unintended fair trade coffee problems impact not only the coffee farmer, but also the coffee consumer.

Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems #1:

Lower Coffee Quality

To understand how fair trade works you need to know some basics about the coffee market. The coffee market is split into different categories based on quality. From lowest quality to highest quality: Off-Grade, Standard Grade, Exchange Grade, Premium Grade, and Specialty Grade. The most well known — Specialty Grade — is where your high-end coffees come from.

Fair Trade coffee can come from any category of coffee, however.3 So farmers can use lower quality coffee as fair trade. Due to its “fair price” requirements the industry considers Fair Trade specialty. This creates a quality problem. Since low quality coffee can be fair trade and therefore specialty without maintaining the higher quality standards required for other specialty grade coffees, farmers sell their lower grade coffees as fair trade. Then their higher grade coffees they sell on the open market, since they receive a higher premium for the coffee due to its quality.

The unintended fair trade coffee problem is the well-intentioned consumer — buying fair trade beans — is left with an inconsistent and low quality product. This is not sustainable. Consumers will not continue to pay a premium for a poor flavor experience. This creates an inconsistent and poor experience for the consumer and also undermines the effort of the farmer and intentions of fair trade.

Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems #2:

A Price Ceiling Instead of a Price Floor.

Due to lower quality coffees being placed in Fair Trade offerings, the reputation of Fair Trade coffee has been tarnished. Many coffee importers and roasters are shying away from Fair Trade due to the quality issue, and because of this they are less likely to pay more than the pricing floor of Fair Trade. So in some cases even if a particular crop is higher quality, the perceived value of Fair Trade being lower means that the Fair Trade rate of $1.40 is the highest a buyer will pay. This leads to a pricing ceiling of $1.40 instead of the minimum price.4

Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems #3:

Those Who Need It Most, Don’t Have Access.

For all intents and purposes, Fair Trade is essentially a massive collection of co-ops. Most Fair Trade coffee comes from the countries that already have some form of development: mostly Central and South America. The lesser developed coffee growing countries — such as those in Africa and Southeast Asia — do not have access to the Fair Trade market as they are small landowners who cannot afford the Fair Trade certification fees. Additionally, land ownership is an integral requirement for participation in the Fair Trade cooperatives.5 In the poorest parts of the world many farmers work for larger plantations and do not own their own land. Thus the efforts of Fair Trade do not help these farmers. Unfortunately, Fair Trade does not help the poorest of the poor.

Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems #4:

Fair Trade Creates Laborious Bureaucracy For Farmers

Fair Trade International requires good record keeping at the farm level. Collecting data helps both farmers and Fair Trade International make better business decisions. Data collection ignores the real-world challenges of farmers, however. First, many coffee farmers in the developing world are illiterate, making it impossible to keep good records.6 For literate farmers, keeping records on top of cultivating their crop is impossible for some. Partly due to low wages, but also because coffee growing is labor intensive, many coffee farmers work long hours during harvest season and simply lack time to keep records. Just trying to provide for their families is a farmers primary objective. The time consuming aspect of maintaining the paperwork along with the fees of Fair Trade mean many farmers don’t participate who would otherwise benefit. This lack of participation further undermines the movement.

Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems #5:

Fair Trade Premiums Building Offices Not Schools

Another critique of the Fair Trade cooperative model is the small amount of funds that actually make it back to farmers. Ndongo Samba Sylla, the author of The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich, estimates that no more than $.03 of every pound makes it back to the individual farmers.7 While the $.20 premium meant for infrastructure projects, oftentimes goes towards improved offices for the co-ops instead of . . . schools or organic farming.8

Summary of Unintended Fair Trade Coffee Problems

While started with the best of intentions, Certified Fair Trade falls short of helping the poorest of the poor. Certified Fair Trade incentivizes production of lower quality beans, lowers earning potential of some farmers, and costs farmers to participate.

1. Fair Trade Coffee maintains a minimum price of $1.40 per pound of green beans.

2. An additional $.20 per pound must go back to invest into the producer cooperatives and the local community but often times goes to co-op office buildings.

3. Some Researchers estimate that no more than $.03 per pound makes it back to the farmers.

4. Farmers must pay to be part of a local Fair Trade cooperative and maintain cumbersome records.

5. Inadvertently rewards cultivation of inferior beans.


  1. Alain de Janvry, Craig McIntosh, Elisabeth Sadoulet. “Fair Trade and Free Entry: The Dissipation of Producer Benefits in a Disequilibrium Market”. University of California. July 2010.
  2. Colleen Haight. “The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee”. Stanford Social Innovation Review. 2011.
  3. IBID.
  4. IBID.
  5. IBID.
  6. IBID.
  7. The Fair Trade Scandal: Marketing Poverty to Benefit the Rich. By Ndongo Samba Sylla. Translated by David Clement Leye. Ohio University Press; Found in The Economist. July 5th 2014.
  8. IBID.
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A Guide into The Incredible World of Coffee – Infographic

A Guide into the Incredible World of Coffee – Infographic

Did you know that 54% of people drink coffee daily? With coffee being such a ubiquitous part of our lives, you might think you already know everything there is to know about it. But there’s a lot more to coffee than meets the eye.

Take a look at this infographic, designed by Printwand, Inc. It examines a wide range of clever coffee facts, including some obscure ones that you may not have heard before. For instance, the most expensive variety of coffee is Kopi Luwak—made from the feces of a cat-like animal called the palm civet. Read on to learn more about where coffee comes from, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different types of coffee cups.

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The Second Generation: Katerine’s Story

Katerine Orozco’s story is about returning to coffee farms. Returning to her roots.

Katerine was born and raised in Popayán, Colombia by coffee farmers. Early on Katerine’s mother decided that she wanted Katerine to have a chance of a better life. School was the only way to make this possible. Through their hard work this dream became a reality not only for Katerine but also for her two brothers. All three attended university with one brother becoming an accountant and another becoming an engineer. Katerine initially studied to become a nurse, but when the opportunity to enroll in agricultural engineering occurred, she grabbed it. As a result Katerine has become an example of the second generation returning to the coffee farms to make their communities better.

Today, Katerine is the Food Security Program Coordinator for Nuevo Futuro in Colombia. She’s excited about the work. “Being able to give a small push so people can make changes on their own and with their families has been so gratifying,” Katerine said.

“You can see this with Doña Leida – a widowed mother of three girls who through the program has been able to sell cilantro she grows in her home garden. She is using this for her girls, so they can move forward. Before the Food 4 Farmers food security program, we were struggling. One cannot live only on coffee, so for Nuevo Futuro families this has been so important.”

Katerine Orozco

Katerine continues,  “I’m interested in the social aspect of my work, to be able to contribute through my role as a community promoter.”

Every day, I see coffee farmers participating in the food security project teaching others something new. We all believe that we are going to be successful in growing and diversifying our farms. Thanks to Coffee Lovers like you we are able to invest in stories like Katerine’s. Thank you for making a difference with your daily cup of coffee.

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What the heck is cascara?

What the Heck is Cascara?

We have a special post from our friends at Triple Bar Coffee. Here is a informative piece by Tyler on Cascara Tea– made from the fruit of the coffee cherry:

In the last few years, a new buzzword has gained popularity in coffee/tea culture: cascara. You may be wondering, “What is this mystical sounding thing and how do I drink it?” Cascara, which means “shell” in Spanish is the outer skin of the coffee fruit.

While most of the stuff we drink tends to be brown, coffee actually begins as a red or yellow berry. This berry, often referred to as the coffee cherry or coffee fruit, grows on the coffee tree. Inside of these cherries is a pit that we know as the coffee “bean.” We call these “beans” because, when they are halved, each seed resembles a bean in size and shape.

The Makeup of the Coffee Fruit

Each coffee cherry is made up of the outer skin, pulp, mucilage, parchment, silver skin, and the coffee bean.

How Coffee is Processed

A lot of processing is involved before a coffee roaster can roast their beans to perfection. When the coffee cherry is ripe, it will turn a red or purple shade. Farmers pick the cherries and then remove the beans from the fruit. This usually involves using a machine to separate the beans by force, but sometimes farmers will leave the cherries out in the sun to dry the fruit off of the bean.

Using the Coffee Fruit

In the past, the coffee cherry has long been considered a byproduct of the coffee growing process. Historically, everything except the bean was discarded or composted and considered to be of little value. Recently, with the surge of environmentalism, savvy farmers and coffee processors began harvesting and processing the fruit with the intention of keeping both the coffee bean and the fruit.

Caffeine Content

Although cascara comes directly from the coffee fruit, it has nowhere near the amount of caffeine that a coffee bean has. Think more along the lines of black tea. The coffee experts at Square Mile Coffee Roasters did a study of the contents and found that cascara only had around 110 mg of caffeine per liter, while a cup of brewed coffee can range from 400 to 800 mg of caffeine.

Uses of Cascara

The main use for cascara is as tea. I’ve found that when it is steeped like a traditional tea, it produces a wonderfully tart and aromatic drink. If you’re a fan of herbal tea, the scent and flavor of cascara will feel familiar.

Historically, cascara has been used in combination with cinnamon and ginger in a drink called qishir, and though I haven’t tried this variation, it sounds like a great way to literally spice up your drink.

Since cascara is so trendy at the moment, other, more creative uses for cascara like — cascara beer and cascara toddy — are popping all the time.

Aside: Do note that some people vehemently oppose using the word “tea” to describe cascara, and while they might be technically right, nobody should want to be that guy. If you’re expecting anything like coffee when you go to drink your cascara brew, you’ll probably be disappointed.

Brewing instructions

With cascara being so new to the coffee and tea scene, there aren’t many tried and true recipes for brewing it to perfection. Square Mile coffee suggests using 5 to 7 grams of coffee for every 8-ounce cup of water. Be sure to let the water boil, then remove it from the heat and let the boil reduce before pouring the cup. As with teas, the longer you steep it, the stronger the flavor profile will be.

Other coffee shops suggest using the cold brew method and serving the cascara tea iced. If you decide on this method, be sure to use 6 tablespoons of cascara per 10 ounces of water. You’ll want to let this brew in your refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Once the waiting period is over, just strain the brew to remove the cascara. Then pour it over ice, and enjoy.

Why You Should Try It

The production of cascara is an intelligent blend of environmentalism and capitalism. In the past, the coffee fruit was considered to be a waste stream in coffee processing. By farmers developing a niche around the byproduct, they were able to cut down on waste and improve their bottom line.

Cascara is also great for tea drinkers who want to feel like coffee drinkers. We all have that friend who hates coffee, but whenever it comes up interjects, “But, I like tea!” Now that person can have a guilt-free seat at the coffee table.

An additional benefit to drinking cascara tea is the amount of antioxidants it has. It also is low in caffeine, which is great for those of us who prefer half-caf or decaf beverages.

Want to Try it?

If you’re interested in trying out tea made from the coffee fruit, odds are a specialty coffee shop in your area is selling it. If not, you can purchase dried coffee fruit from a variety of online sources. Here at Triple Bar Coffee we’re partial to Sweet Maria’s because we often source green coffee beans from them, but you should be able to find cascara from most green coffee importers.