Yerba Mate

This October, we are featuring one of our favorite caffeinated beverages. Yerba mate, which is cultivated from the South American plant with the same name, is often referred to as the “drink of the gods” for its nutritious benefits. This plant is a member of the holly tree family and has been consumed for centuries by indigenous South Americans —particularly in the subtropical rainforests of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.

Like coffee & other teas, yerba mate packs a punch of caffeine and can be brewed in its green form but can also be aged or even toasted. According to a study by the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1964, no other plant in the world can deliver as many minerals, amino acids, and vitamins as yerba mate and as such, it can be considered one of nature’s most balanced stimulants.

Our offering is an organic product from Brazil. We would describe it as “invigorating and nourishing with a complex, earthy body and a smooth, mellow finish.” We recommend brewing in water that is at a slightly lower temperature —  similar to green tea — around 158-176 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on your desired strength, you can brew for anywhere from 3-10 minutes.

Grab some today and give it a try! 

Decaffeination

Decaf Beans
Columbia Decaf

Take a look at these two samples of coffee beans. What if I told you that these are both green (unroasted) beans? The darker sample is an example of decaffeinated coffee beans. Why the darker color? There is more to decaf than what meets the eye -- It's all about the process. 

Coffee Beans can be decaffeinated in a number of ways, but here are two common methods: chemical or water-processed. We refrain from saying “natural”, because one of the chemicals, ethyl acetate, can legally be labeled as natural. Our beans are decaffeinated through a Mountain Water Processbut more on that in a moment!

In most of the methods, there is a common flow. Green coffee beans are immersed in water to extract the caffeine, yet the flavor oils are also extracted. This “charged” water is then carried to a tank where it is either treated with a chemical, or run through a filter. Here, either the solvent works on the caffeine, or it is organically filtered out. What you have left is the water with no caffeine, but all the flavor oils. The beans are then reincorporated into the water where they will reabsorb their original flavors, and are then sent to dry. After having gone through all of that, you can see why the color of the beans is different!

The chemical process is achieved with either Methylene Chloride or Ethyl Acetate acting as the solvents. The coffee beans either come in “direct” or “indirect” contact with these solvents. Decaf made with these chemicals was the only choice available for many years, but there have been significant efforts and improvements to natural decaf processing over the last couple of decades. The demand for better overall quality has opened the door for the following water-process methods: the Swiss Water Process and the Mountain Water Process. 

The Swiss Water Process (SWP) began in Switzerland around 1933, and for a long time, it was the only company removing caffeine without the use of chemicals. They have since moved to a plant in Canada. This method achieves decaffeination with water, a form of Green Coffee Extract (GCE), and carbon in the form of activated charcoal which has been designed specifically to catch only the caffeine molecule.

The Mountain Water Process (MWP) is a method of indirect decaffeination pioneered by Descamex, a company based in Córdoba, Mexico. Green coffee beans are immersed in glacial water from the Pico de Orizaba mountain, creating a solution of coffee oils and caffeine. After the solution is filtered to remove the caffeine, the water-soluble oils are returned to the coffee, preserving the coffee’s natural flavors and aromas.

A more recent method uses CO2, carbon dioxide, as the solvent to extract the caffeine. This method is a higher-cost process because it requires the investment in heavy-duty equipment for pressurization and monitoring, as well as high energy costs to operate the decaffeination tanks at the forces needed to compress the gas.    

Decaf coffees often get a bad rap for lacking the complexity of flavor of their caffeinated counterparts, but our Mountain Water Process Colombian Decaf is surprisingly bright and vibrant, with notes of citrus, hazelnuts, and magnolia. We hope that you enjoy our decaf as much as we do!  

References:
Coffee Confidential
Descamex
I Need Coffee
Roast Magazine
Swiss Water


 

 

Fazenda at Whole Foods

While you can always #FindFazenda coffee at your local Whole Foods Market, you can often catch us doing a demo!

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We typically choose two distinct coffees from our collection to sample, and brew via our nifty Chemex Ottomatic Coffeemaker

If you see us, be sure to come talk to us to learn more about our coffee offerings, roasting philosophy, brewing suggestions, or to just nerd out about all things coffee!  

Here are a few tips for shopping for Fazenda Coffee at Whole Foods:

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  • Look for the green labels for our “Reserve Coffees”

  • One Reserve Coffee - Rwanda Kivu Belt Farm - is purely a Whole Foods exclusive! It’s the only place you can get it.

  • All our coffee is sold as “whole bean” for maximum freshness. If you don’t have a home grinder, you can grind your Fazenda beans using the store’s bulk grinder to grind for anything from french press, to auto-drip, to espresso.

  • In case you're running low or in need of filters, most Wholefoods locations sell filters for cone brewers, Chemex brewers, and auto-drip machines.

Be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to see where we will pop up next. 

See you soon in a Whole Foods near you!

 

March/April Reserve: Huila, Colombia

Finca El Carmen

This is a Colombia Excelso EP from Finca El Carmen in the Sur Oriente de Garzón municipality of Huila. Our El Carmen Colombia is available now through April.

About the region

Huila has been producing some of the best quality coffee in Colombia for over a decade.

It is a high altitude region in Colombia’s southwest — an isolated, “seismically active” valley in the Andes Mountains, rich with micro-climates and biodiversity — with two coffee harvest periods per year. For these reasons, although most coffee grown in Huila consists of Caturra and Castillo varietals, Huilan coffees offer a range of flavor profiles.

The Sur Oriente de Garzón municipality in Huila is part of the larger agricultural region, mainly farmed by small landowners. Coffee farms in the area each typically produce 15,000–30,000 pounds of exportable coffee each year.

The coffee growers in Huila are a vital part of their communities; farming is a way of life in Huila. Farmers provide jobs and other resources if they have larger holdings, and all farmers support local food sovereignty and regional identity, regardless of whether their holdings are large or small.

Recently, larger farmers and peasant-farmers in Huila have been working together to protect the area from development they see as dangerous to their environment and livelihoods. A future post will tell you more about this issue. If it’s important to our growers, it’s important to us.

                                                                        Finca El Carmen

                                                                        Finca El Carmen

About the coffee

Our El Carmen Colombia is produced near the town of Paloquemao. The primary producer of this coffee is Jamir Quitian.

(Paloquemao is located not far from the Magdelena River and just a few mountainous miles off the Pitalito-Isnos-Paletará Highway 20, in case you’d like to make the trip. Pictures of the highway and the farm are on the right. )

Like most Huilan coffees, coffee from Finca El Carmen is somewhat atypical for Colombia. Rather than sweet caramel and nuts, the tasting notes favor malt, chocolate, almonds and citrus fruits. Grown at an average elevation of 1500 meters, this a high-to-very high altitude, strictly hard bean coffee. It is excellent.

Available for a limited time. Order online today.

El Carmen Colombia
Colombia Light Roast
$16.00/12oz

Available March–April 2016.

Region: Huila, Colombia
Altitude: 1480–1520 meters/~4,900 feet
Estate:  Finca El Carmen
Process: Fully washed
Notes: malt, chocolate, almonds, citrus fruits

 





 

Employee Profiles: Meet Anthony & Jumeesha

Employee: Anthony Cardoza

Position: Packaging Prep

Anthony has been with Fazenda for about 3 months and comes in regularly in the afternoons, 3–4 days a week. He’s been great. We caught up with him last week and asked him a few questions about his experiences with the Best Buddies job program and working at Fazenda, and a few questions about himself.

How did you get involved with Best Buddies?
Through Mass Rehab. They told me about it.

What’s your experience with the job program been like?
It’s a great program. The people I’ve met are really nice, really interested, and were great at helping me find a good job.

Did you have another job before coming to Fazenda?
Yes. I did data entry and filing at the Department of Revenue. That was a good job. The people were really nice but I was too fast and ran out of work too soon. (We all laughed.)

What’s it like to work at Fazenda?
It’s great. It’s a wonderful work environment for me. It’s very relaxed. As long as you get your work done, you’re responsible for yourself. And I have my own space, which is a blessing for me.

Did you have to learn anything new for this job?
No, not really. I’m basically a free agent and can do different things they need. Right now I do labeling—which is perfect because it’s peaceful, which I like. I like coming in and just doing my work. Eventually, I might start weighing tea.

What would you tell people who are thinking about joining Best Buddies for work?
I’d tell them you made a great choice. Best Buddies definitely fits the bill. It’s the best job program in Boston. 

What about people who are thinking of hiring through Best Buddies?
You should do it. Best Buddies makes sure that new hires do their jobs and know what they’re doing. It’s very personalized. The same person who gets you the job comes to check in and helps you if you need it, until you’re good to go. They’ll come as often as they need to. They’ll keep coming in until everyone is 100% satisfied.

How long did your counselor come in?
(smile) Not long.

OK. Now some important questions. Do you get free coffee?
Yes. But I drink tea, so I get free tea.

What’s your favorite?
Chamomile, and Crimson Red Berry. And I like black tea at night.

I see you listen to music while you work. What’s your music?
Classical. I discovered I really like it.

Favorite composer?
Beethoven.

If you could choose a superpower…?
I’d control the wind.

Really?
Think about it. What can stop the wind? 

…Nothing?
Exactly.

Employee: Jumeesha Young

Position: Packaging Prep

We missed Jumeesha for last week’s group pic but caught up with her in time for this post. Jumeesha has been working at Fazenda as a package labeler since last September. Another great employee we’re proud to introduce. We asked her a few questions, too.

How long have you been involved in Best Buddies?
A while! I’ve had jobs at Goodwill, a grocery store, a coffee shop, and now here.

What kind of work did you do in your other jobs?
At Goodwill, I did a lot of things, like housekeeping and hanging clothes. I also worked in the kitchen washing dishes and, sometimes, cooking lunch. At the coffee shop, I helped with packaging, cleaning tables, replacing the milk and sugar… Everyday, I met a lot of new people, which I liked.

Here, you’re helping us with labeling (thank you) — do you like working at Fazenda?
Yes, I like it here. It’s quiet and relaxing. It’s very comfortable. 

Did you have to learn any new skills for your job here?
No, but Best Buddies came in helped get me going. They’re also going to be helping me find the bus route so that I can take the MBTA to work. 

Coffee or tea?
I drink tea. 

What is your favorite?
All kinds! I like to have tea with lemon and honey. I love honey in my tea. 

Jumeesha with Business Manager, Laura Chin

Jumeesha with Business Manager, Laura Chin

Do you have any hobbies?
I have a lot! I like to read books, I do sign language, and I bake cakes, do puzzle books, and listen to music. 

What type of music do you like?
Jamin’ 94.5!! It’s my favorite. 

If you could choose a superpower…?
I would tell people what to do.

And they would do it.
Yes. (smile)

For more information on Best Buddies and the Best Buddies employment program in your area, check out www.bestbuddies.org and www.imintohire.org.

More Reasons to Drink Coffee!

(As if we need a reason…)

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The calendar still says January (and we’re still getting used to writing “2016”), so we’re going to call it and say New Year’s isn’t over yet. This means we’re still in the universally honored season of making resolutions, reviewing life choices, and taking stock. It can be an eye-opener…

Fortunately for all of us here, our coffee madness is something we don’t need to feel the least bit guilty about. And we’ve got the science to prove it!

In fact, a new wave of studies continues to support the news that coffee is good for you.

Coffee has been shown to help:
• Improve mood and short-term memory
• Improve overall brain function and reaction times
• Prevent Type 2 Diabetes    
• Prevent certain cancers
• Protect the liver
• Lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
• Lower the risk of gout and heart disease in some people

Additionally, coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the average American diet. (This surprised us! Drink your coffee!) This means coffee is also our #1 source of something that helps protect our DNA from the normal damage it undergoes as we age.

According to an NBC news report last year, government advisers say our dietary proposals should mention the benefits of coffee. We agree. Caffeine is proving to be much more helpful or benign than harmful and, unlike energy drinks (which are often full of sugar and other ingredients that don’t make the list of recommended things to consume), coffee naturally contains phytochemicals which are “increasingly shown to benefit health.”

Are there any downsides to coffee or caffeine? Yes… as with anything you consume, don’t over do it. Research shows that drinking moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee while pregnant is safe but too much might lead to some serious risks, and consuming it late in the day can interrupt a good night’s sleep for anyone. And while it’s hard to reach dangerous levels with coffee unless you are unusually sensitive or have a health condition, too much caffeine can cause your system to be over-stimulated, which leads to a range of issues. Otherwise, “There doesn't seem to be anything with coffee that causes concern," [according to the spokesperson for a 2015 government advisory panel]. "For decades we have been looking for something that is bad about it, but we haven't really found that."

If you are (smartly) suspicious of a product’s health benefits being listed on a blog written by people who make the product, we encourage you to do your own research. We think you’ll find more reasons than ever to hug your brew.

Honestly, though? As good as they are, the health benefits are overshadowed by the real reason we love our coffee.

There’s just nothing better that you can pour into a cup.