Made In The U.S.A.

Posts Tagged ‘Coffee’

I guess I need a new coffee pot.

In Adventures on September 18, 2009 at 12:31 am

If you read my last post, which I’m sure you did, you know that my favoritest coffee pot is two things: An awesome heaterless design, and a fire hazard in waiting. Since it’s been recalled, I will no longer use it. In fact, after writing my last post, I unplugged it just to be safe. (How ridiculous is that, right? It’s been fine for years. Now I know that its recalled and I won’t even leave it plugged in.) Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Not Buying

In Adventures on August 23, 2009 at 12:12 am

I did it. I didn’t really buy anything for a week.

Sunday I stocked up on groceries and coffee to make sure I could get through the work week without a Starbucks stop or my typical lunchtime dining out habit. (By “dining out” what I really mean is driving through, walking in and taking out, or maybe a visit to the grocery store salad bar.) Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee and ecology

In Adventures on March 1, 2009 at 12:09 am

This isn’t your regular report about coffee and the environment and how buying responsibly involves organic and fair trade and that sort of thing. It’s a broader issue I’m interested in, and it pertains to a lot of products besides coffee. Here’s what I want to know: is delivery bad for the environment.

As I sit sipping my Kaldi’s Organic Fair Trade coffee, I think about how I preferred the flavor of the last locally roasted coffee I picked up from Oregon Trail Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee drama. Yet again.

In Adventures on February 26, 2009 at 12:19 am

This week’s addition to the coffeegate conundrum comes by way of a local coffee roaster. I bought a pound of Kaldi’s Certified Organic Fair Trade French Roast ground coffee. I did this because:

a) It’s locally roasted, i.e. “made”, in St. Louis Read the rest of this entry »

Save the Universe: Drink Coffee

In Edibles on February 2, 2009 at 5:59 am

1.17.09: Treehugger says that you can Save the World if you stop drinking coffee. It can’t be!

Good. It turns out to not be. The premise is that by not consuming the natural resources it takes to grow harvest and deliver coffee to our cushy American palaces, those countries and the environment are better off. But the writer, in fact, then cites the benefits of Americans drinking imported coffee.

I understand that our coffee consumption benefits the economies of other countries. This article is written from the perspective of coffee drinkers such as myself, who don’t have enough of an income to justify spending $50 a month on the stuff, especially now when we need to focus on being more domestically productive and sustainable in the long term.

So, essentially, he’s saying it’s a luxury we don’t need and cutting it out is a good way to get healthy and save money. I probably can’t argue with that. But in the grand scheme of expensive things that are bad for us (booze, smokes, food) coffee is a tolerable luxury for me. Useful, even.

Then there was this article on Change.org about how Fair Trade coffee is in fact good for the world. (Perhaps a benefit that overrides the benefits of buying local, especially with a product that is practically impossible to buy locally.) It cites lots of reasons why coffee, particularly the Fair Trade variety, is beneficial to economies, people and the planet.

Maybe the growing push for saving the universe is why Starbucks plans to yet again double its purchases of certified Fair Trade coffee in 2009.

My head is spinning with all of this coffee concern. One thing’s for sure: I won’t save the world by giving up coffee. (Even if it could save the world, I’m still not so sure I’d give it up.) And there are a lot of external factors that change the dynamics about what kind of coffee is the best kind of coffee to buy. I’m still looking forward to the all-American Kona bean from Belleville. Fingers are crossed.

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Coffeegate Continues

In Edibles on January 30, 2009 at 6:06 am

1.14.09: My good friend Dan, always looking out for my best interests, has thrown a wonderfully awful wrench in my coffee buying plans. He emailed today with a coupon from his local coffee house (The Oregon Trail Roasting Company over in Belleville, not too far at all) for $5 off Kona coffee. Better yet, the coffee is roasted right there in Bellevegas. On Main Street. Locally.

Last month we introduced you to our exclusive Kona coffee from Hawaii. It is the only coffee grown in the United States. We get our beans from Kona Earth, a small coffee farm located on the tropical slopes of the Hualalai volcano in the famous Kona coffee district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The high mountain “mauka” climate allows their Arabica trees to grow lush and the coffee to ripen slowly, creating beans of remarkable size and flavor. This Estate-grown 100% Kona coffee is controlled by Kona Earth from beginning to end to ensure the best possible quality. The coffee is hand picked, sun dried and pesticide free. It is never mixed with lower grade coffees such as Kona Blend (don’t be fooled by cheap prices—it usually means only a small percent of Kona.)

So it’s grown in the USA and roasted in my hometown. I think I have to buy it.

I wonder if they accept Starbucks gift cards?

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Starbucks and Fair Trade

In Edibles on January 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm

1.10.09: Stopped at Starbucks today, not only for my favorite drink (a venti iced coffee with three Splendas and half and half) but for a pound of coffee and advice. I asked about fair trade, and they pointed me to the Café Estima blend. They even ground it for me. I decided that in the world of coffee, Fair Trade certification is more valuable to the conscientious consumer than locally grown. You can buy it here.

I looked online to learn more about Fair Trade and Starbucks roasts. I can’t for the life of me figure out where the heck they roast their coffee. Based on what I’ve learned this week (if it doesn’t say MITUSA, it wasn’t) I’m wondering if they have bulk roasters in foreign lands. I’ll have to continue this investigation.

Though I didn’t learn what I wanted, I did learn this: Coffee is the second-most traded commodity (after oil) on earth.

You can’t really get either one of them efficiently MITUSA.

I also found an interesting discussion about asking for Fair Trade coffees in Starbucks. It turns out that there’s a whole movement of people who’d really like you to ask for a cup of Fair Trade the next time you’re in Starbucks, because they’ll brew one up special for you. One commenter made a great point about how and why this shift in demand would create a shift in the corporate behavior, making it easier to get Fair Trade coffees in Starbucks. It seemed to apply to buying American as well.

Why do you have to ask? Because we live in a market-driven system (for better or worse) and by demanding you affect supply. (I’ll give a nod to the fact that most of our so-called “democratic economy” is actually a command economy, but that’s for another day.) In the end, an educated consumer and demand-driven economics is the “best” solution.

I then learned that a command economy would have supplies and prices set and controlled by the government. Presumably that poster would argue that our economy is such because of government subsidies and stuff.

I guess I’m back to thinking that my coffee is made at the local Starbucks, and the ingredients are imported. I can’t help but think I’d be better served by a truly locally roasted bean. I’m definitely investigating that—as soon as I’ve spent my Starbucks bucks.

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You crazy, Kona. You crazy.

In Edibles on January 25, 2009 at 10:21 am

You have got to be kidding me.

You cannot buy American-grown locally roasted coffee unless you are rich. Period.

We have our first MITUSA casualty. It is coffee. I am sad.

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expensive kona

Coffee with a Conscience

In Adventures on January 25, 2009 at 9:52 am

Last night I hit the Oregon Trail. It was difficult. I didn’t love it. Many died.

My hopes and dreams for buying locally-made American coffee died.

The Oregon Trail Roasting Co. you may recall is the local coffee roaster in Belleville—my hometown a mere 20 miles from where I sit. Not only is the coffee they sell locally made, but they offer a 100% Kona coffee. That’s a bean grown in Hawaii, delivered to Belleville and roasted here. In terms of coffee, buying a locally roasted Kona is about as American as you’re gonna get.

So I made a special trip to go get some.

Of course, the bedredlocked young skinny man behind the counter was unaware and apparently unconcerned if they had any Kona beans. “I guess we don’t have any roasted up right now.” He was also unaware what it cost or if/when they would have it again. The look in his eyes said, “They don’t tell me much.” So I stopped asking too much.

I think the only appropriate fix is to email them and ask if they’ll hold some for me. Or I can ask Dan and Crystal (who live in Belleville) if they’ll keep an eye out for Kona when they’re in there.

So no Kona for me. But it again got me thinking: what constitutes MITUSA coffee? If I apply the same standards as I do for shampoo and clothing, it’s “made” in the states even if it comes from imported parts (or beans). So even Starbucks coffee, assuming that it’s roasted on these shores, passes muster.

And yet…

There’s so much more responsible consumerism that can be done with coffee. Based on that, it seems that my obligation is to aspire to the most liberal American coffee I can find. That coffee would be:

Grown in America – Hawaiian Kona
Roasted locally – At Oregon Trail or any number of other local roasters

The problem with buying Kona is that it’s difficult. The grocery store sells a Kona blend (10%, and mixed with coffee from who knows where produced who knows how) and my Starbucks doesn’t stock it. I appear to be at the mercy of local roasters who choose to offer the expensive bean. Or don’t. Failing that availability of a very specific American bean, the ideal coffee would be:

Grown as close to America as possible. Maybe Mexico? (Canada’s coffee output is surprisingly low.)
Shade-grown. These coffees grow slower in the shade of a canopy of trees. Many coffee farms increase output with sun-grown coffee. That is accomplished by deforestation to thin out the trees. This has negative effects on the surrounding flora and fauna—specifically the birds who are disappearing because of it.
Organic. Just like organic tomatoes or lettuce, organic coffee is produced without use of pesticides and other nasty chemicals.
Fair Trade. This is the biggen. Fair Trade coffee beans are purchased at a “fair” price; i.e. not the bottom dollar price that has presumably been paid to poor coffee growers in third world countries for generations. In exchange for this fair price, growers are encouraged to operate in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.

So, no Kona at Oregon Trail. But they did have others. So I bought one: A Mexican-grown, Belleville-roasted, shade-grown, organic, Fair Trade coffee. And I’m drinking it now, and it tastes good.

Even if it’s not 100% MITUSA, it feels good to consume coffee with a conscience.

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Refill your Uh Oh, mister?

In Edibles on January 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

1.4.09: Uh oh.

I found a list of American Made Coffees.

They include: Bad Ass Coffee, USA Coffee Company and various other Hawaiian-grown coffee companies. I guess that means I have to start buying American-made coffee and not Starbucks’ nectar of the gods. Read the rest of this entry »

How about a nice cup of Uh Oh?

In Edibles on January 18, 2009 at 10:45 pm

1.4.09: I’ve been doing some research to head off Coffeegate before the ____ hits the ___.

Kona coffee is grown only in specific districts of the big island of Hawaii. It has “developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world.”

Great. Read the rest of this entry »