blog action day: climate change — taking action against climate change and getting a buzz doing it

so i love it when i sign up for these “everyone blog about such-and-such topic” deals and i have no idea what to write about.  ha.  this post is for blog action day, a thing i didn’t know anything about until i saw someone’s badge.  i’m all for these “get together and blog on a particular subject” things, and this project seems pretty cool, so check them out.  this year’s topic is: climate change.

actually, the problem with talking about climate change isn’t that i don’t know what to talk about, it’s how to choose my topic.  cuz this is a topic that i already think about.  for one, it’s my goal (our goal, really), to eventually be using 100% clean energy for our business operations at arcane palette (see: our commitment to being green).  i’m constantly on the lookout for good web hosts that use clean alternatives to power their data centers — real alternatives, not just carbon offsets.

but that’s not what i’m going to write about.  no, i’m going to write about something much less geeky (but nonetheless nerdy).  i want to write about coffee.

how can you change the world by drinking coffee?  i’ll tell you.

here’s the deal with coffee: your typical, mass-produced coffee manufacturers go to some south american country, level a whole crop of land, and plant coffee beans.  this creates consistency on a large scale by using huge equipment to harvest the crops.  companies hire laborers on the cheap, who aren’t trained to pick out quality beans for the coffee, just quantity, and as quickly as possible.  this is where you get, say, Folgers.

there are better alternatives.  no, i’m not going to say go organic, because you can have an organic coffee plantation and still be leveling the land required to farm it.  and as we all know, when you level a bunch of land — often tearing down native trees and rainforest, it affects the ecosystem.  animals are evicted from their homes, and the less trees we have, the less they are able to produce oxygen which we all need to, you know, breathe.  organic just refers to how the plants are grown and maintained, it says nothing about the environment in which they are planted, and in this case, it matters.

shade-grown coffee is a better alternative.

most of what i know about coffee growing and shade-grown coffee, i learned from my friends at caffe ibis, a small, local coffee roaster in logan, utah.  i visited them about a year ago with a couple of my friends from the Park City WF specialty department, and they told us about the coffee plantations they get their beans from.  Shade-grown is sort of a misnomer.  when you hear “shade-grown” you think of artificially planted trees or maybe some kind of big structure creating shade.  or maybe you don’t think that, but that’s what i think.  in reality, shade-grown means that they don’t do anything to the land.  no leveling.  no huge crops of identical plants.  no large equipment.  no destroying the rainforest for our morning beverage.  instead, the coffee is grown in its’ natural habitat, in lush rainforest.  the moist soil and shade from the trees, and the ecosystem of plants and animals going through their normal cycles, all create an ideal environment to grow coffee.  those huge plantations in full sun are ideal environments to grow bad coffee.  coffee naturally grows in shade, not sun, and the only reason companies like Folgers, and even Starbucks, use the huge plantations is because it’s cheaper and you can use the huge mechanical equipment to harvest the crops.  shade-grown coffee requires more manual labor.  each bean is hand-picked, which means there is more quality assurance that each bean is actually ready for picking.  caffe ibis takes pride in their beans, in the fact that a bag of their coffee has no fragments or beans unfit for roasting.

and since you don’t need to tear down the natural rainforest to grow shade-grown coffee — in fact, it’s the best location to grow coffee –shade-grown coffee is actually good for the environment.  and the birds, too.  something i haven’t mentioned yet is that many of ibis’ shade-grown coffee beans are smithsonian certified.  that means the smithsonian institute (you know, the one that studies birds) comes out and inspects the plantation, and certifies it as being bird-friendly.  not only are we not harming the environment by growing beans in shade, but we’re actually putting a value on leaving the rainforest intact, because it’s the ideal environment to grow coffee (and probably other stuff, too, for that matter).  see how i brought it all back to the environment?

caffe ibis is just one of a whole host of coffee roasters that feature shade-grown coffee, but they have been a leader in the industry for a long time, and are one of the few roasters that “triple certify” their beans (bird friendly, organic, fair trade).  that’s no small feat considering certifications are long, arduous processes that require, as much as anything else, the availability of trained certification experts in the area to conduct the evaluation.  ibis is awesome, and i don’t think so just because i have a thing for egyptian mythology (although, there’s that, too).  they’re great people with a passion for great coffee, and are real leaders in the industry.  and once you try their coffee, i promise you, you’ll never, ever go back to Peets, and may swear off Starbucks as well.

buy some ibis coffee now.  i like highland sumatra.

learn more about shade-grown coffee:

caffe ibis: smithsonian certified shade grown coffee
what is shade grown coffee?
eartheasy: shade grown coffee
shade-grown coffee plantations

this blog post was written as part of blog action day.

spicy aztec coffee

we’ve been out of (flavored) creamer, so i invented this.  i’ve decided it’s awesome.

2 heaping tsp Lake Champlain Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate (if you needed to, the Allegro Mayan Drinking Chocolate that you can get from Whole Foods would probably work)

Coffee (maybe slightly less than you’d usually pour into your cup)

Creamer/Milk/Half & Half (i think this works better than doing it black, but you can probably do that too)


scoop the chocolate mix into the cup first.  pour in the coffee.  pour in however much creamer makes you happy.  stir.  revel in awesomeness. 

caffe ibis

we took a field trip to logan, utah, to visit caffe ibis.  i was seriously impressed by their commitment to sustainability, fair trade, and making a positive difference on the environment.  seriously.  took a tour around the roasting facilities and then had a mini cupping.  the cupping was interesting, kinda obviously done for our benefit, which is to say, toned down quite a bit…by toned down, i mean, he (randy, the guy that runs ibis) said that when they’re doing a real cupping, they’ll do it with 5 different beans from the same country to figure out which is best, or try to decide which roast is best by roasting 5 different ways.  the first cup we tasted, he said “the unique feature of this coffee is the blueberry.”  i took a sip, just coffee.  i took another and let it sit in my mouth a second and, holy crap! blueberry!  i wanted more of that when we were doing the cupping, unique features to look for that my palette is too dull and untrained enough to notice without help, but he really just described brightness and body and didn’t talk on the specific coffees we were tasting.

the really impressive thing about ibis was learning about their triple certification.  they are certified organic, and fair trade certified, but also smithsonian certified.  smithsonian?  isn’t that like a museum or something? it’s a lot of things, it’s a research institute and being smithsonian certified means that the coffee plantations support migratory birds and native wildlife by now plowing down the rainforests and leaving the trees and natural vegetation intact.  which is pretty much awesome from an environmental standpoint, but it also fosters higher quality beans and more sustainable agrigulture since they don’t have to pollute the soil with fertilizer which ultimately ends in the land no longer being able to sustain vegetation.  you can learn more about natural shade grown coffee and smithsonian certification, it’s interesting.

food it is, then…

so, i just checked my wp analytics and the last post, new topic: cheese is my top post and most active.  so, um, i guess i should talk about food more.  ha.

which really makes the ubergeeky theme for the site somewhat unrelated.  so yeah, it’s on the list…

the big boss came (regional pres) today and arrived last night. so everyone’s running around like chickens with heads cut off freaking out about making the store look pretty.  I threw the cheese load as fast as humanly possible, faced up the tea, and then started cutting cheese to fill the holes and…by the time i left he still hadn’t shown up yet.  figures…

i’m excited because i got my login stuff set up so i can officially start talking to vendors and ordering chocolate.  i sent an email today to amano to set up a wholesale account for our team.  i’m excited to bring their product into the store and give it a push.  i’m also trying to set up a field trip to visit the factory.  i’ve never been into a factory, let alone a chocolate factory — even though i lived within walking distance from the see’s factory in south city.

my specialty team is also heading out to logan to visit caffe ibis next week.  that’s exciting, too, cuz, you know, coffee.  and they’re cool and their coffee is the best we sell in the store (though i’m still bummed that we can’t get salt lake roasting company coffee in to sell).  also, the awesome power of sampling was able to sell some of the cowgirl creamery MT TAM i blogged about the other day which we have at exorbitant cost due to not being able to get it from cali.  still, it’s probably the best triple cream we have (it’s my current favorite, anyway), so it’s kinda worth it.

in other news, my decision re: the mac is to keep it at Tiger.  it works, i can use the iSight, it actually opens Photoshop files now and so long as i don’t install any updates at all it should continue to do so, so it does everything i really need it to do.

(posted from a mac)