Posted on 9 Comments

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

Posted on 9 Comments

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.

Footnotes:

  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. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_problem_with_fair_trade_coffee
  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. https://www.economist.com/business-books-quarterly/2014/07/05/good-thing-or-bad.
  8. IBID.
Posted on 3 Comments

A Note From Jeff In Guatemala

A Note From Jeff In Guatemala

Here I am standing at 8,000 feet above sea level. I’m struggling to catch my breathe after a long hike through this lush and green countryside. 

We stumble upon this peak in the Ixil region of Guatemala — the region where our farmers live. The farmers you’ve had a hand in helping.

Here are just a few of the amazing outcomes and stories that have occurred since Agros entered the Ixil region:

Maria, from Agros child to School Director at just 24 years old

A prospering Goat Initiative to provide additional income  for villagers

Land ownership and sustainability now a reality for our farmers

Thanks to coffee lovers like you, generational change has occurred and sustainability is now alive in one of the most desolate regions in the world. To join the conversation on sustainability and see pictures from my inspiring trip, please visit the link below, or scan the QR code.

Guatemala Trip

Posted on Leave a comment

How Can You Brew the Best-Tasting Coffee?

How Can You Brew the Best-Tasting Coffee?

Did you know that coffee quality depends on a combination of factors? Having high quality, fresh beans of course helps. But clean, good-tasting water is also a must for the perfect cup, as well as clean equipment. There are even more brewing variables. You must keep the water at right temperature for the right amount of time while brewing. Brewing is less about pushing a button to make coffee, it is somewhat of an art form.

Fascinated? Here are some commonly asked coffee questions.

At What Temperature Should Coffee Be Brewed?

Whether you want to impress at your next coffee club meeting or have purchased gourmet coffee online and want to make the most of it, you need to know what temperature is right for brewing. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), a water temperature of between 92 – 96 degrees C, or 195 – 205 degrees F is ideal. Brewers should avoid boiling and then cooling the water to the proper range. If water is too cool the brew turns out sour; water boiled too rapidly loses dissolved air, rendering the coffee flat.

What Is The Perfect Water Quality?

Of course, great coffee needs great water. Even the best coffee can taste better when brewed with quality water, preferably bottled or filtered tap water. Sink-based filters or carafes tend to perform better than tap water alone. Water should also begin cold. Hot water loses some of the dissolved air and can pick up minerals from your pipes, but water heated directly by your coffee maker or stove can avoid some of these additives.

How Much Coffee Should I Use?

A standard cup uses six ounces of water. The standard measure of ground coffee, therefore, is 10 grams or just over a third of an ounce. To simplify that further: it’s two tablespoons. Ground coffee absorbs water, so you are typically left with five and a third ounces of coffee.
 
If you prefer a larger cup of coffee, use approximately 3.75 ounces of ground coffee per half a gallon of water. If that’s just a little too strong for you, simply reduce the amount of coffee until your desired strength is reached.
 
But of course, for the best cup of coffee, you should always use whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. This means you should always grind a little more than the ground coffee volumes listed above.

How Can You Keep Coffee Hot?

For best results, brew a fresh batch whenever you feel like coffee. To keep it hot for shorter periods of time, or for traveling purposes, use a thermally insulated cup that will reduce the loss of aromatics and retain overall flavor.
 
Instead of continually heating and reheating your coffee, it is best to try and maintain its initial heat. Optimal flavor can be achieved by keeping the coffee at high temperatures of at least 170 degrees F. Insulated containers that have glass internals, while they may be delicate, tend to hold heat the best and have the least effect on the taste of coffee. Quality stainless steel cups are great as well.
 
Coffees with substantial residual residue, such as those made with a French press device, don’t fare too well when kept hot for extended periods as the sediments continue extracting, rendering the coffee somewhat bitter. If you’re planning to brew a carafe of coffee and sip it all morning, it’s best not to brew with a French press.
 
Direct heat, such as that from a warming plate, should never be applied to brewed coffee, or not for more than a few minutes at a time anyway. Continued heating just burns the particles of coffee in the water, making the coffee bitter. This is mainly a concern for auto-drip coffee makers that usually keep a hot plate on the coffee after brewing.
 
As for reheating coffee in a microwave, this is a controversial subject. The main issue here is the uneven heating that microwaves are known for. Some say that parts of the coffee tend to overheat, making it taste unpleasant and spoiling the entire cup. No coffee maker is perfect at removing sediment from the coffee, and uneven heating can cause this sediment to settle and over-extract.


Looking For Gourmet Coffee Online?

Camano Island Coffee ships top-quality, Organic, Fairly Traded Coffee directly to your home. Join our coffee lovers club for a free pound today!

Posted on Leave a comment

Why Is Some Coffee More Bitter Than Others?

Why Is Some Coffee More Bitter Than Others?

What could be worse than thinking you’ve bought the best coffee for home, pouring a big cup, bringing it up to your lips, taking the first sweet drink, and realizing it’s bitter.

A cup of coffee should burst with flavor, not be overpowered by bitterness. Why does coffee sometime end up bitter?

Should Coffee Actually Be Bitter?

It’s pretty interesting that coffee is so often thought of as bitter. Coffee should never taste bitter. Rather, coffee should have a variety of flavors, from spicy to floral to even hints of chocolate. In fact, there’s a whole flavor wheel dedicated to ways of describing great coffee. Let’s take a look at some of the causes of bitterness, and how to avoid them.

Let’s Look at The Technicalities: Does Brewing Make a Difference?

Coffee brewing is actually quite a science. One of the main reasons why coffee can seem bitter is due to over extraction. The process of extraction is where flavor is pulled out of the coffee, rendering clear water into that deliciously dark brew. When water mixes with the coffee grounds, there is a chemical reaction wherein the flavor compounds are dissolved. The trick is to extract the delicious flavor compounds without the overly acidic ones, which tend to overpower with more time and create bitterness.

Keeping this in mind, here are a few points that could be creating your bitter cup of coffee and that easily be avoided the next time you make a brew.

You’re Leaving the Coffee To Steep For Too Long

This point is particularly common when a French press is used to brew coffee, since a lot of people tend to leave the coffee in the press once they have pushed the plunger down. When the grounds are left in too long, the coffee continues to extract after the delicious flavors have already been extracted. This is easy to fix. If you really prefer to drink your coffee in a leisurely fashion, don’t leave it in the French press or brewer when it is done brewing. Immediately transfer it to a thermal carafe which will keep it hot.

You’re Not Using The Right Size Grind.

Grinding coffee beans can change how the compounds dissolve. This means that if the beans are too coarsely ground, you run the risk of under-extraction and this in turn leads to a flat-tasting coffee. However, if the beans are too finely ground, they become over-extracted and you’re left with bitter coffee. Different brewing methods tend to require different size grinds so sometimes you need to experiment a little to figure out that perfect sweet spot. However, if you are getting a bitter cup, chances are good your grounds have been too finely ground.

The Water’s Been Boiled Too Hot

Water temperature actually plays a big role in coffee brewing. Boil it too hot and you start extracting the bitter compounds. The ideal boiling temperature is 195 -205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction. Simply put, do not let your water over boil and remember to let it sit for a minute just before pouring over your coffee grounds.

The Equipment is Dirty

Bitterness doesn’t only occur from over extraction. Residue coffee that has been left over from the last time you brewed a batch can certainly affect the flavor of your future cups. So be sure to keep your brewing equipment squeaky clean.


Eliminate Bitter Coffee – Drink Better Coffee

What’s the best way to eliminate bitter coffee? Don’t settle for low quality coffee. Our coffee is shade-grown, meaning it naturally has less acidity which means a smoother, less bitter Cup of Joe. A focus on brewing will help too. Check out our brew guides to learn how to make better coffee with the coffee brewer of your choice. We’d suggest trying a Chemex brewer for the best results.

Posted on Leave a comment

Future of social enterprise | Jeff Ericson | TEDx Sno Isle Libraries

Future of social enterprise | Jeff Ericson | TEDxSno-Isle Libraries

This past summer I received a call from TEDx. The voice on the other end of the line asked me to speak at a TEDx event in November. At first I was hesitant. I was nervous.

I speak in front of small crowds all the time. I’ve had the honor to lecture on social entrepreneurship at the University of Washington and abroad in India. I’ve even been on the radio. But I’ve never spoken to such a large crowd full of distinguished thinkers, businesspeople and local leaders.
But what an awesome opportunity! So I went for it. I shared the business model of Camano Island Coffee Roasters. I shared the impact the buyers of our coffee have on coffee-growing communities worldwide.

Did you know that coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world? Only oil is traded for more money each year. And yet, despite a healthy market demand for great coffee, many coffee growers struggle to make ends meet and their communities face extreme poverty.

At Camano Island Coffee Roasters, we’re focused on solving this discrepancy with responsible business practices and social entrepreneurship. I explain much more about this in my talk.

You can watch my TEDx talk in it’s entirety here. I’d love to hear what you think.

Full Transcript:

Jeff Ericson : A good social enterprise is a system or a structure of different groups working together all while dedicated to solving the social, economic, and environmental problems that have long plagued human kind like hunger, homelessness, disease, and ignorance. Let me tell you a little bit about my story. From the time I was very young I had an entrepreneurial passion. I was always finding ways to make extra money, start part time jobs, find some concept that would get my juices flowing and it usually centered around business, but I had a family structure that was very much involved in ministry and so I was very conflicted, almost as if I was the black sheep because business got me juiced up.

When it came time for college I made a decision. I was going to take the high road. I was going to attend seminary. Great decision except for the only problem was my mind kept wandering back to the passion of business and I would get these part time jobs. I would get involved in more ventures and eventually I realized that my future was going to be in the world of business. In the day you had to make a decision so my decision to go into business meant I was going to take all the training in seminary, put it in a folder, put it back on a shelf and never turn around and look at it again. By outside appearances I was the picture of success. I had surpassed all my wildest financial dreams but inside I was empty, I was unhappy, I weighed 420 pounds.

Everything inside was broken. After a prolonged illness at the age of 30 the doctors told me I had 6 months to live. I’ll never forget that day sitting in the chair and realizing I had made the wrong decision. I didn’t know my wife and kids. Something had gone wrong. I had taken the wrong path. I kept looking back at that folder and thinking for as long as I have left somehow I have to take this passion for business but I have to open up that folder. I somehow have to connect my beliefs that I can change the world, that I can actually make a difference in the world with my passion for business. That led us to a goal. Remember, this is 20 years ago. The word social enterprise, social business didn’t exist. We actually had to stop and say what does this mean?

We decided that we were going to take the passion and the energy of a for profit business, we were going to fold in the ideological core values of a not for profit, we were then going to take this and attach it to a product that would actually add value to the customer because if you’re not adding value you don’t have a business to talk about, and then we were going to use that to attach to a story of a disadvantaged group or a chosen group. In our case it was going to be agricultural farmers in the poorest countries in the world. We created a company by the name of Camano Island Coffee Roasters and people ask me all the time why did you start in the coffee business?

Well I absolutely love coffee but that wasn’t the reason. Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth next to oil. More money trades hands in this whole concept of coffee than anything else next to oil. We knew in that there was a solution and yet the agricultural farmers that work so hard for this product that you enjoy every day rarely get to share in the rewards of the profits of this product. Somehow we had to change that. How are we going to create this new dimension for capitalism? By the way, I am a capitalist. I believe in capitalism but I believe there’s a new definition. How are we going to fold it in and actually have this goal of fulfilling human need?

Over these 18 years of Camano Island Coffee Roasters and lots of small wins and big wins and setbacks and failures and all of that we have come up to the conclusion that there are 4 main groups in a social enterprise model. I am going to have an imaginary picture for you because this is going to get a little complex and I want to make sure everyone follows with me. I’m going to have a table here, this is a dinner table. We’re going to call it the table of capitalism and I’m going to invite 4 guests to this dinner party. The first guest is going to be my farmer. We call it the chosen group.

The second guest is going to be the not for profit. The third guest is going to be the for profit and the fourth guest is going to be the customer or the consumer. Now that you know who my guests are let’s kind of zero in on these people and find out what makes them tick. Here’s what I’ve learned over these 20 years. What we do and who we are is two completely different things. Everybody viewed me as a money making machine, somebody that could just get in business and go for it. Making money and making a profit and growing a business is what I do. It’s not who I am. With our farmers farming is just what they do. They are people with the same goals and desires that we have.

When I was given the 6-month death sentence I had a chain of printing companies and I had to get out of dodge quickly. I didn’t have much time and so how am I going to sell these businesses? I was really inspired by the creators of the employee stock ownership programs and as I dug into their model I realized something. In situations where the business owner gave the company to his employees they almost surely failed and yet in the situations where the owners taught the employees to think like owners, to make the critical decisions of ownership not only did the companies do as well they usually flourished and did better. When we started working with the farmers the first thing we said is ownership is going to be the answer.

We started with land ownership opportunities. We actually signed deeds to our farmers. Everyone’s going deeds? How are they going to pay for them? We’re going to work with them on that. There’s something significant that happens when your skin’s in the game, when you actually have a stake in the ground. The first thing we did, because we do believe in some other important things like the environment is we said to the farmers if you grow organic coffee we’ll pay you a premium. If you grow coffee in the shade of the rain forest and don’t remove the rain forest, premium. Because we’re capitalists if you grow the top 1% of ravica coffee, produce excellence we’ll pay you a big premium. With those premiums you can pay your land payments and you’re going to have extra to take care of your kids, healthcare systems, clean water systems, and so forth. What happened?

The first thing is they quit saying thank you. They got to work. Ownership is pivotal to this paradigm change in social enterprise. All of the sudden they’re not thinking about dinner, they’re making long term decisions. The land is theirs, it’s going to be their kid’s. The environment’s important. All of the sudden things start falling into line. Ownership is a very important part of sustainability. The next group is our not for profit. In the beginning we partnered with organizations like [inaudible 00:08:19] international and some other really awesome not for profits that did really great work in ownership arenas. Guess what? The thing the not for profits talk about all the time, sustainability, rarely applies to their own business process. They’re in a donor model. I call them the gleaners. They’re constantly asking for donations and when the big donors disappear they have to work harder. Guess what’s happening?

The donors are disappearing. There’s a paradigm shift and we knew in this opportunity we had to do something different. We had to work with the not for profits to increase their influence. We had to get them out of the fund raising mode and into the work mode. You know what? We know who the non profits are. These are the people doing the good work. These are the people whose feet are on the ground and they are actually changing the world. Other partners need to come together and produce the fuel to fuel that machine. We can’t make them produce the fuel and have the machine at the same time.

The third guest is our for profit corporation. What a misunderstood group. You know we disrespect them for making a profit and then we come and want to take their profit. Making a profit’s what a corporation does but there’s people in that corporation that want to make a difference in the world. The first thing we need to do is tell them put their checkbook away because we see them for who they really are, a for profit corporation works for years to create trust with their customers and in that circle of trust that they have with their customers they have an amazing wealth. We go to the for profit and we ask them for their influence. Can you share the stories of our farmers and the great work that the not for profits are doing? By the way, use it as your corporate social responsibility and as you share those stories your influence will increase. We’re not taking anything from you.

All of the sudden the not for profits are gaining more exposure, more money’s coming in and the great thing about the old missionary model of tell people what to grow and do is it’s not a build it and they will come, it’s a build it and we’re out there hustling to get them to come. We’re exposing the customers to more of the farmer’s great work. The fourth partner at the table is our customer or consumer. That’s really changing. 20, 30 years ago we told people make money and then write checks to charity. The problem is the money’s not falling from heaven like it used to and the stresses are through the roof. We can’t practice emotional extortion anymore with our customers. We have to tie, we have to connect products that they purchase every day to the good that they can do every day.

How in the world can our customer make their house payments, take care of their kids, have two career families go through all of this and then lay their head on the pillow at night and feel guilty about the plight of the world’s poor. There’s just too much stress. We have to turn this around and through the products that they purchase every day we have to show them that there is a new world coming. We chose Camano Island Coffee Roasters in order to do that process. These are our 4 guests. It’s now time for the entrée at this dinner party. We created a monthly club called the Coffee Lover’s Club and it was a subscription based coffee program because we wanted to get the box in people’s homes and all the box is is a carrier of a message.

As these people get the box they’re going to find out a whole lot about this coffee. They think they’re buying coffee. They don’t really understand that they’re connecting to a story. With every shipment a percentage of the money from this box is going to go through the non profit and to the farmers for direct product as well as some extra help. Okay, first of all now the not for profit has some income coming in. They can reinvest that income and do good. They do know how to spend their money well. They don’t have to spend 80% of it fundraising. The farmer gets excited because the more things they can come up with they can sell so everything starts falling into place. In this box, which we view as a story stick, we get to start attaching stories and they’re never sad stories. We have no children starving.

They’re esteeming stories that tell you that the people you’re buying coffee from are forever changed because of your purchase. I like to tell a really quick story here about a woman that I met in one of the villages 7 years after she had tried to commit suicide and we brought her into the village and her life had been transformed. To really make this story short during one my personal crises in life I was in Nicaragua and went into that village and met up with her and she again was reiterating the story of her life and she said because of where I am today I know my children will never have to make the same decisions that I made. Sustainability equals hope. Charity checks actually breed fear because you’ve got to work harder for the next one. It also creates a little bit of puppetry which we don’t want to do.

The other thing is if I tell you that millions of people are starving to death that’s a big number, a little overwhelming, and did you connect to it at all? When I start showing you people’s lives, individual family’s lives who have been transformed through your purchase you’re connecting to it. My box makes the message very sticky. The unintended consequence of this box is we didn’t even think that our customers also had influence. They have family, friends, and neighbors and they take our conversation cards and move them on and it’s created quite a ripple effect that wasn’t even in our original plan. The other thing is not just the story stick, not just the fact that it’s making the invisible visible, like I am actually showing you people’s family’s lives. What it’s really doing is connecting you to the products that you use every day.

You’re not just buying a product. You’re buying a process, you’re buying life, you’re buying hope, you’re buying generational change and you’re getting to enjoy your cup of coffee. In this social enterprise cycle it’s really quite simple, and as a matter of fact these 4 players, we let them create the cycle. Guess who spoke first? The business person. They said we have power, we have influence, and we have lots of followers. What are you going to give us that we can offer our clients? A free pound of coffee. Okay, great. They get out there, they say we’d love to give you a free pound of coffee and tell you a story. If you’re interested stay on the program. It was pretty simple. By the way, we’re now gathering customers at no up front cost so what’s happening? Our profit margins are able to go to our farmers. We’re cutting out the middle men.

Of course as the for profit corporation starts telling stories of the farmers and the great work that the not for profit’s doing people are jumping in and connecting. Our customers are really starting to make a change. Here we are. Things have fallen into place. It’s 18 years later, we now have 24,000 farmers whose lives have been generationally changed. Thank you. The invisible is now visible but it’s just beginning. These farmers drive us crazy sometimes so we’ve started microeconomic programs so they can get involved in more things. They’re now involved in tilapia fish, snow peas, peppers, goats, and the list will go on and on, trust me. The list will go on and on. More importantly capitalism has taken over and these people are in control of their own future.

Years ago one of the true visionaries in the social business world, Mohammed Yunis, stated that the only place that we should see poverty is in a museum. We believe the social enterprise model takes a giant step in that direction. First of all the reminder of the table of capitalism in a social enterprise model is a reminder that we are all undeniably connected. We need to quit having dinner parties without the poorest in the world at the table. They are a guest at the table of capitalism. The other thing is that in a true social enterprise world we no longer have to wait for government to solve the problems of homelessness, hunger, disease, ignorance. We are the solution. In closing, I’m going to bring a fifth chair to this dinner party and that chair is reserved for you. I’m going to ask you how are you going to make the invisible visible? What is your role in the future of social enterprise? Is it simply as a guest, a consumer, a customer or is there another role that you can play? I invite you to be a part of this new paradigm. Thank you.

Posted on Leave a comment

Cold Brew Coffee – All The Flavor, None of The Acidity

Cold Brew Coffee – All The Flavor, None of the Acidity

We all know that coffee is one of the world’s most favorite drinks, and getting a cup of it into your system every morning is probably already one of your most looked forward to activities. So wouldn’t it be great if you could extract even more flavor out of your cup every day, reduce the acidity levels and even reduce the bitterness?

Not only are all of the above possible, but you can get more out of your best liquid thanks to one of the earmarked 2016 coffee trends: cold brew coffee. The good news is you don’t even need to head to your nearest coffee shop to give it a try — you can make it right at home.

Here are a few of the surprising benefits of cold brew coffee.

The Taste

Even coffee drinkers who take their brew with loads of milk and sugar will love cold brew coffee because the beans are brewed with cold water instead of hot, bringing out a sweeter flavor in the roast. The cold water along with the unique brewing process changes the chemical profile of the coffee beans, resulting in a sweet tasting cup of deliciousness.

If you’ve been looking for a coffee that doesn’t need a ton of sugar, this is one of the 2016 coffee trends you have to try. A lot of people enjoy cold brew without the flavoring. Try it with syrups or fruit juices or just sip it plain black. Experiment with it to discover which you enjoy best.

The Acidity

A lot of people avoid normal coffee as it’s just too acidic for them. Those people tend to suffer from different digestion and stomach issues. While there certainly are low-acid coffees on the market, they don’t taste as great as good, organic fairly traded, coffee should. Cold brewed coffee tends to be naturally low in acids owing to the way it’s brewed.

Since hot water is not used, the coffee’s oils that usually contain all the acid aren’t permeated into the mixture as much as they normally would be with a hot brew. This makes cold brew coffee gentler on the stomach as well as the digestive system. Most coffee has up to 65% less acid when brewed cold.

The Variety

If you’ve been wanting to enjoy a low acid variety, you’ve probably only had a few choices available. Those coffee beans can be hard to find, especially at a regular grocery store. With cold brewing, you can brew any coffee you desire. So you can try out different kinds that you’ve been avoiding just because of the high acidity. It’s also a lot of fun trying different flavors to see how they compare when cold brewed as opposed to hot brewed.

The Cost

Coffee is a massive industry, raking up billions of dollars a year, particularly when it comes to home brewing devices. Instead of splashing cash on a fancy machine, try cold brewing at home for just the cost of a cup of drip coffee. In our Coffee Lovers Club members can brew a cup of coffee at home for as low as $.20 per cup.

The Simplicity

It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to make cold brew coffee on your own. All you need is coffee, water and the correct tools to make it happen. Even if you do decide to invest in a cold brew machine, it’s really easy to use as it doesn’t pull electricity or sport fancy features that need figuring out. Coffee brewed cold is tasty, simple and easy to try.

Want to make your own cold brew coffee? Check out our cold brewed Chemex tutorial here

Get With The Trend

If you’re looking to try 2016 coffee trends, try cold brewing. We offer packets of low acidity Organic Fairly Traded Coffee that’s just as delicious cold-brewed as it is hot-brewed.

Want to give cold brew a try? Try our Coffee Lover’s Club and get your first pound FREE. Click here to learn more.

Posted on Leave a comment

2016 Coffee Trends – What’s Hot This Year?

What’s Trending This Year?

When it comes to our favorite morning, and often afternoon, beverage, we often find ourselves wondering what the next trend will be. Each season, coffee aficionados wait with bated breath to see what the new year brings.

Here are some of the major trends you’ll hear more about this year:

1. Nitro Coffee

This is when cold brew coffee is infused with nitrogen gas so it can be released through a pressurized valve with very small holes. A high pressure then forces the cold brew past a disc, creating a creamy, almost stout-like effect. Nitro coffee is smooth and clean. It even tastes silkier when you drink it. This exciting style of coffee is served straight from the tap and there’s no ice, which would ruin the Guinness-like effect. The whole process of the cascading of the coffee is simply beautiful, and the taste is incredible.

2. Waste Removal

When it comes to coffee production, this is a major buzz trend. When the cherry skin is removed during the harvesting process, coffee farmers use it to turn it into a coffee flour that can be used for baking. The green cherries that are removed at harvesting via mechanical means are roasted so consumers can now use the entire harvest.

3. Specialty Coffee

The quality of the coffee along with the increasing importance of specialty coffee are two coffee trends that are helping to shape the future. Whether you are an experienced coffee drinker or just getting into Organic Fairly Traded Coffee, there is a greater expectation for high-quality coffee beverages. What’s more, specialty coffee and even espresso-based beverages are gaining traction.

4. The Water

One of this year’s coffee trends has to do with water. This may sound a little odd but there has been much talk recently about what people are using to brew their coffee. In the near future, we will see the industry as a whole looking more closely at water and using the ingredient in different ways. We’re really not far off from coffee shops offering a coffee brewed with as many as three different water sources, or even water that measured several different levels of Total Dissolved Solids. After all, coffee is just 2% of the beverage with water making up the remainder 98%.

5. The Technology of Production

This year’s coffee trends are set to focus on the technology of producing coffee beverages. The chance to produce coffee drinks in an even more specific way as well as the calibration to the type of drink and even the customer’s specifications are going to see an increase in popularity.

6. Combination Beverages

A combination of tea and coffee beverages – that’s right, brewed tea and coffee together – is going to start growing in popularity. It’s already popular in Asia and other parts of the world.

7. Chicory

Coffee with chicory is set to see a comeback, particularly in cold brew varieties. Originally from New Orleans, this mixture was actually a necessity during the Civil War and was implemented to make coffee supplies last that much longer.

8. Baristas

The role baristas play is going to keep on expanding. Baristas have become more central to the entire beverage-making process, as opposed to simply being a server. They’re now considered more as mixologists.

9. Retention Programs

Programs at the origin where coffee is actually grown are going to be implemented to inspire next generation coffee farmers to stay close to the coffee sector and to keep driving quality.

Want Gourmet Coffee Online?

Take a look Camano Island Coffee’s selection of Organic Fairly Traded Coffee today.

Posted on Leave a comment

7 Interesting Facts about Coffee Grown Around the World

7 Interesting Facts about Coffee Growth Around the World

Coffee is a popular commodity in the United States. As a matter of fact, we spend $40 billion dollars on coffee each year. Have you ever wondered where the coffee comes from and why it matters? Coffee plants prefer warm, wet climates, and some of the tastiest coffee is grown at high altitudes. Let’s discover 7 interesting facts about coffee grown around the world.

1. The Coffee Plant Originated in Ethiopia

The province of Kaffa in Ethiopia is where the first coffee trees grew, and Kaffa is where coffee got its name. The coffee trees grew wild in the forest and natives were familiar with the fruit and often drank tea from the beans. Coffee still grows wild in Ethiopia, and it’s currently one of Africa’s largest coffee producers.

2. Coffee is the Seed of a Cherry

The coffee tree grows fruit referred to as a “cherry.” Coffee beans are actually the pit of that cherry. When the cherries are dark red, they’re ready to be harvested. The cherries are either picked by hand or by a machine, and then the pit or green coffee bean is separated from the fruit and dried before being shipped for roasting and selling.

3. Strong Coffee is Created During Brewing Not Roasting

Brazil has been the largest coffee exporter for the last 150 years. The coffee plant was brought from Ethiopia to Brazil in the 18th century. By the 19th century, Brazilian coffee was prevalent in both Europe and the United States, making coffee a bigger commodity than sugar for Brazil.

4. There are Only Two Commercially Cultivated Varieties of Coffee

Even though there are over 60 varieties of coffee, only two are commercially cultivated and sold around the world. The two types are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is better tasting, higher quality coffee. It’s the choice for most coffee establishments. Robusta beans are easier to grow and cheaper to buy, but they also have a higher content of caffeine giving the coffee a bitter taste.

5. The Sale of Coffee Supports 25 Million Farmers Worldwide

Most coffee farms are in underdeveloped countries, and 25 million farmers depend on income from the sale of their coffee crop. That’s why it’s important to buy fairly traded organic coffee. When you buy fairly traded coffee, you’re supporting fair wages for farmers, better working conditions, and a better life for their families and community. It also encourages environmentally-friendly farming practices. So, when you buy coffee online or from your favorite coffee shop, be sure to choose fairly traded varieties.

6. Higher Elevation Produces Harder Coffee Beans

Many coffee connoisseurs claim that coffee grown at higher altitudes is more complex and delicious. The truth is, coffee plants grown at a higher elevation produce harder coffee beans. Coffee grown in high altitude tends to mature slowly, developing more character, depth of flavor and a higher sugar concentration. This improves the flavor profile of the coffee bean. So maybe those experts are right about coffee from mountain regions.

7. Bees Like Coffee Too

It’s true! People aren’t the only coffee lovers. Honey bees are attracted to the flowers on coffee trees. When they feed on the nectar of the coffee flowers, they ingest small amounts of caffeine. The effect of caffeine on bees is similar to the effect on humans. It gives them an energy boost, improving concentration and performance.


This is one more important reason to choose organic coffee. Organic coffee is grown without the use of harmful pesticides, which can harm bees and other insects. Camano Island Coffee promises to offer the highest quality organic fairly traded coffee online. It’s our goal to change the world, one coffee cup at a time by protecting the planet and providing fair wages to coffee farmers.

Posted on 7 Comments

Little Known Facts About Coffee Strength vs. Coffee Roast

Little Known Facts About Coffee Strength vs. Coffee Roast

Most people confuse coffee strength with coffee roast. A dark roast means increased coffee strength, right? Nope. Think you know the difference between coffee. If you think you know all there is to know about coffee strength versus coffee roast, you may want to check out some little-known facts about coffee strength vs. roast.

1. A Light Coffee Roast Has More Caffeine.

That’s right! Light roast coffee has more caffeine. It’s not a typo. Most people think the lighter color and flavor means less caffeine, but that’s not the case. The longer a coffee is roasted to create a rich, robust flavor, the less caffeine it maintains. When coffee is dark roasted, the bean cracks twice, leaving it lighter and less dense. Light roasted coffee beans maintain more density and naturally occurring caffeine.

2. A Light Coffee Roast is More Complex.

When coffee beans are roasted at a lower temperature for a shorter time, the coffee keeps more acidity and intense flavor that represents its country of origin. On the other hand, a darker roasted coffee boasts the roast profile rather than the true flavor of the bean. A dark roast coffee’s flavor is indicative of the roaster’s ability to create a sweet, decadent taste with a less complex flavor profile.

3. Strong Coffee is Created During Brewing Not During The Coffee Roast.

Contrary to popular belief, coffee strength is determined by the ratio of coffee grinds to water during the brewing process, NOT during the roasting of the coffee. The person behind the coffee pot has the final say in whether the coffee will be strong or weak. It has absolutely nothing to do with the roasting of the coffee beans. Just because a dark roasted coffee may taste bitter, doesn’t mean it’s stronger.

4. Espresso Isn’t a Coffee Roast or Variety of Coffee Bean.

Everyone knows espresso is coffee’s strong cousin, but it has nothing to do with the roast or the bean itself. Espresso gets its strength from the brewing process. Some coffee beans are ground finely to be used in the preparation of espresso, which is created using a high-pressure brewing method with finely ground coffee beans. It can be brewed with light, medium or dark roasted coffee. Any roast can create a delicious cup of espresso when made right. It all boils down to personal preference and has nothing to do with the roast of the coffee.

5. Bold Coffee is Different Than A Dark Coffee Roast.

If your favorite coffee shop sells ‘bold’ coffee, it’s not necessarily made with dark roasted coffee beans. The boldness depends on how the coffee is brewed. For a bold cup of coffee, you’ll need a higher coffee to water ratio when brewing. It’s as simple as that. A bold cup of coffee can be made with light, medium or dark roasted coffee. What makes it bold is the fact that there’s more coffee jammed into that one cup, giving it more caffeine and a stronger flavor.

6. Roasting Shade Grown Coffee Creates Less Acidity

At Camano Island Coffee, we ensure you’re getting the best gourmet coffee online, whether it’s light or dark roasted. We always use the highest quality USDA Certified Organic green coffee beans. The coffee we sell is grown without the use of harmful pesticide, which is healthier for you, the environment and the families that live around the coffee farms.

Growing coffee trees in the shade naturally makes the coffee beans lower in acid. Believe it or not, shade grown coffee contains half the amount of caffeine than regular coffee! So, if you’re looking to buy the best coffee online, you’ve come to the right place. From the Earth to your cup, you can feel good knowing that we’re making a difference in the world with our ethical practices. Each package of Organic Fairly Traded Coffee you purchase from us is organically grown and roasted to perfection for your satisfaction.

BONUS: The Secret To Brewing The Perfect Cup Every time.

So, what’s the secret to brewing the perfect cup every time?
There is not one simple answer but instead a formula.

Personal preference is the key.

  • If you like your coffee weaker follow this ratio: 3 Tablespoons per 10oz of water
  • If you like your coffee medium strength follow this ratio: 4 Tablespoons per 10oz of water
  • If you like your coffee strong follow this ratio: 5 Tablespoons per 10oz of water