We really don’t talk enough about the coffee that we use for Mocha My Day. Yes, it is true that it is “Fair Trade” and “100% Organic”. But there is so much more to it than that! We have partnered for many years with Dean’s Beans Coffee Roasters in Orange, Mass. Dean’s Beans is truly more than just a coffee roaster. They make direct impacts on the areas and communities that they purchase their green beans from. From community programs to environmental projects, they constantly work to make life better for the people and countries they buy from. Here are just a few of the wonderful things that Dean’s Beans is doing around the world right now:
Sumatra – Paman Dean Eco-Management Program
Over beer and food, the farmers came up with a great way to address labor shortages on their farms in northern Sumatra, as well as the lack of and high cost of organic fertilizer. They figured that water buffalo could provide the fertilizer while keeping the weeds down. Thus was born the Paman (“Uncle”) Dean project. We provided the water buffalo, built its housing and the farmers monitored its “output” and its effect on the plants in a controlled manner. The project was really successful and we supplied five additional buffalo through donations from other Cooperative Coffee members.
Papua New Guinea – Connecting to the World
With few roads from the interior to the processing plants and shipping on the coast, coffee farmers in the highlands have to rely on lots of middlemen to get their coffee out, which means hardly any money for the farmers. In the Central Highlands there are fourteen airstrips where the farmers bring their coffee, wait for the missionary airplanes to arrive, offload their preachers and bibles, and take the coffee down to the processors – at a fee equal to most of the profit of the farmers. When there is a thick cloud cover the planes don’t fly, and the coffee can rot while the farmers wait. We came up with a simple solution, inexpensive hand depulping machines at each airstrip, that allow the farmers to begin processing the coffee and slowing the fermentation rate (means better quality) as well as dropping eighty-five percent of the weight of the beans (less money for transportation). The result is higher quality beans with less overhead, meaning the farmer keeps more of the profit.
Ethiopia – Miriam’s Well
Everywhere we go in Ethiopia, the communities identify access to clean water as their top priority, followed by education. For most of our farmers, getting water means having to walk about a mile downhill to a stream polluted by agricultural runoff (chemicals, farm animal waste) and carrying fifty pounds or so of water back up the hill for the day’s water. This is done by the women or by the children (who often miss school). We created a program called Miriam’s Well to address these issues. We granted ten thousand dollars to the Oromia Cooperative to fund the program. The farmers of each sub-coop are required to form water management committees and present a plan on how they will manage the fund and the ultimate water source to insure free and equal access to water for all community members. A coop borrows the money to build the well and distribution system and then pays back the money to Oromia at a penny per pound of coffee sold at the next coming harvests (it may take two years of coffee sales to repay the loan). Once replenished, the loan then rotates to the next coop, which builds its well and repays and so on.
Environment Friendly Packaging
Deans’ Beans uses a fully compostable line of packaging for their coffee. Their five-pound and one-pound bags are biodegradable and can be either home composted (just remove the tin tie and/or valve), or they will decompose into nothing in the landfill. The bags are made of a high-barrier material that decomposes in about six-months. Unlike “bioplastics” that break down into small balls of plastic doom, these bags simply disappear as humus (that’s soil-like matter, not to be confused with hummus, which can sometimes taste like soil.)
So try to keep up with them if you can! They have a wonderful and educational website. www.deansbeans.com. Buy their coffee!!! Drink it and know that you have just made the world a better place!!