Archive for March, 2009

Going Down That Old Dusty Road in Guatemala

I took this photo on my first trip to Guatemala in 1990. I was in search of certified organic coffee. Wandering around the countryside one afternoon near the city of Antigua a man with his sack of stuff came walking toward me on the dusty path we both shared for the moment.

Dusty Road

I pulled out my camera to catch the man as he approached but I discovered that I had run out of film. I hurried to reload the camera as the man passed by. We greeted each other with smiles and then he was past me. I think he was Don Juan but I didn’t ask him if he would be my  Shaman  because I was afraid he would say , “yes son, come with me. We will talk to the Jaguars tonight and you will disappear into the stars”, or something like that. I felt I was not ready  so a smile sufficed as he passed.

I loaded my camera and shot the photo. It has become one of my favorites.

Paul Katzeff

Part II: All You Need to Know About Growing Coffee Trees in Your Home

The coffee tree is an evergreen . It does not shed its leaves . They are on the tree year round. That makes them good for indoor beautification. You can get them to grow into a tree that is 5-8 feet tall or you can train them to be a bush 3-4 feet tall. They are pretty flexible.

Where to find coffee tree seedlings:

I have found them most consistently in places like Safeway, Longs, Rite Aid and Whole Foods flower Departments. These places carry mostly impulse items when it comes to plants. I think they all have the same supplier, or it seems that way. Your local florist may have them too and if they don’t carry them in stock, they will order a pot or two for you.

What to look for:

Seedlings in the stores are no more then 3-4 inches tall and are about 3 months old . They were grown from seed. Usually, they will come in a 2-4 inch pot, and there will be four to six little starts bunched together in the center to make it look substantial. Price is usually between $4.95 – $8.95.

What to do when you get the pot of seedlings home;

You have purchased one pot but you have acquired six trees. You don’t want them to grow up together so you need to separate them and repot each seedling in a 4 inch diameter pot. Here’s how you do it: Submerge the pot of seedlings in a bowl of warm water that is on the cool side of warm. Leave overnight . This does two things. It allows the seedlings to load up on water and it softens the potting soil . Get your potting soil and 4 inch pots together for your replanting . Now remove the loose ball of soil with the seedlings from their pot and lay on some newspaper . Slowly and softly pull the seedlings apart. Don’t be afraid of killing the trees ,they are very hardy and strong. Now repot each individual seedling in its own 4 inch pot. Six trees for the price of one !

Lets talk soil and repotting;

For the four inch pot and your initial repotting, you should use an organic potting soil. It is rich enough in nutrients to feed the plant until it is eight inches tall. You won’t need to add fertilizer to get the trees to 8 inches. Now things begin to change because at eight inches tall, the tree has spread out it’s root system throughout the small pot and unless you repot to a larger vessel, the tree will not grow much more. So, move the tree into a  12 -18 inch pot . This “home” is large enough to add soil amendments. At this stage of the plants growing history it needs lots of Nitrogen so keep that in mind . We are helping the tree grow trunk, branches and leaves. That requires lots of nitrogen. This pot stage should take your tree up to the 24-36 inch size. (this should take 12 to 18 months) .

When the tree gets to the 24-36 inch size it is time for it’s final repotting into a half wine barrel or the equivalent. Now your tree is ready to kick into high gear because it senses that it can grow a root system that can support full production. Within one year from this last repotting your tree will have grown to four feet and it will begin to create beautiful white flowers that will fill your home with the scent of Jasmine and orange blossoms.Nitrogen is no longer needed in growth level amounts . Now it is the flower and fruit supporting supplements that are needed. Rose food is my favorite coffee food but try to stay as organic as you can. It effects the flavor of the coffee you will be getting and you don’t need to support companies that manufacture oil based chemical fertilizers.

Flowering Phase: It lasts about a month. The sweet aroma will blow you away, but that will come to an end just about the time you are tired of coming home to paradisiacal aromatics. Coffee is self pollinating so do not worry about pollination. The flowers form at the nodes on each branch, just behind the leaves. Each flower will become a fruit (coffee cherry). The flowers will turn brown and fall off the branch. Not to worry. Left behind is the carpel, a small round ball that over the next six months will grow into a fruit with one or two seeds. The seeds are known as “coffee beans”

Jungle Jasmine : Coffee Flowers

Jungle Jasmine : Coffee Flowers

The Fruiting Phase:

This phase lasts about six months. Coffee cherries ripen slowly. For the first 5 months they will be green and rock hard. Then they will begin to lighten and turn pink and then cherry red, then dark red to purple. Dark red is when you pick the cherries.

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Watering; Coffee trees like water and need enough to feed the leaves and support the fruit. But they don’t like to sit in water so water from the top, like rain waters forests. Water until the water comes out the bottom of the Pot. Use warm water. That is what the tree would get in the tropics. Why shock the tree as if it was jumping into an ice cold lake? Warm water feels good to the tree just as it does to our face when we wash. And if you live where the air is cold at night , you can bet the soil is cold too. So warm up the soil and you have better growing conditions, conditions that the tree will recognize and be thankful for.

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Where to place tour growing and mature tree;

Coffee is a shade loving tree that grows under the canopy of the forest . It needs little direct sunlight . Direct sunlight after noon time will fry the leaves and kill the tree. Yo need to position your tree so it gets morning direct sun. This is perfect light . East facing windows do the trick. As the sun goes to the west , the light coming into your home from an easterly window is soft , yet still bright enough to provide the equivalent of shaded sun. If you bring your tree outside, remember, a 10 minute frost will kill it and so will 3 hours of direct afternoon sunlight between May and November.

Cherry Picking and Roasting:

When the cherries are ripe, and they will all ripen over a 2 month ripening period, you have to take them from the tree. With a simple twist and pull they will come off easily.

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Pick once a week , only the true red all over ripe cherries. Squeeze the seeds out of the cherries and drop them into a bowl of water for 24 hours. This softens the remaining pulp stuck to the beans and makes it easy to remove after the beans are dried. Place the beans onto some newspaper ( it is important that the stories on the page are positive and uplifting) and allow them to dry slowly. Sun drying is good but watch out you do not bake them. They should take about a week to dry to a stable condition. Repeat the process until all your cherries are picked and put to dry. Don’t forget to taste the pulp !103_03041

Roasting is the next step in this cycle. That is for another time and another blog entry.

Part I: The Beauty of Growing Coffee Trees in Your Home

When I was growing up in the Bronx in the 50’s my mom would stick three toothpicks into an avocado pit, balance the pit on the rim of a water filled glass, submerging the bottom half in the water. In a few weeks up would pop a plant with iridescent green leaves.

Today, 60 years later, I follow in my moms footsteps and plant coffee seeds in a 2 inch wide flower pot, wait 3 months for the seeds (beans) to pop up, and then nurture the seedling through three successive  repottings  into larger containers until the tree is 7 feet tall and producing thousands of beautiful red cherries.

Me with a three year old coffee tree

Me with a three year old coffee tree. Note the small amount of the deep red cherries of the trees first crop  sprinkled throughout the tree.

Last month I  received a letter from Woody Hastings . I gave a him seedling coffee tree back in the summer of 2006 . He took the gift seriously.

He wrote to me last month and sent along these photos by way of a “tree progress report . His letter inspires this blog entry.

“Hi Paul,

I’m Woody, the guy you gave?/sold? a coffee plant to at SolFest 2006. You and I have crossed paths at SolFest ever since and I think a few times at GreenFest too.

Here’s what I look like…

outlookOr maybe you recognize my wonderful wife June who works at Global Exchange.

Anyway, I wanted to show you a couple of photos of the fantastic coffee plant you gave me. It is now fruiting with about 20 cherries and  I plan to roast them per your instructions at the last SolFest and have a cup of my own home grown, home roasted, home-brewed coffee!  And the plant, which is about 3 feet tall…outlook_3

Really just thought you might like to receive such a good progress report, and wanted to thank you for giving me this living thing that has brought me (us)  so much joy and entertainment!

Happy New Year to you.

See you at SolFest!

Cheers,

Woody

PS, Almost forgot to mention, Mr. Coffee, as the plant is known, was dressed up with ornaments and served as our “christmas tree” this past December. What a hoot!outlook_4I wrote back…….

Woody,

I wonder if I can put your letter and photo on our website so other people can learn and see your success with the coffee tree, I am proud of you. You found the magic within you. I Thank you for the photos. You will need about 30 beans (15 cherries)  for a cup of coffee. about 12 -15 grams) What is your cycle ? When does it flower and when are the cherries deep red? Where do you live?

Paul

Woody replied,

Hi Paul,

Feel free to use whatever  I sent you for your website, plus the following info too if you wish. If memory serves well,  I think I first noticed the flowering in mid-summer, cherries emerged in the fall, and started turning red  in December. Judging by the pace at which they are all turning deep red, I will have harvested them all before the end of February.

I live in Noe  Valley, in the  geographic center of San Francisco, west of the Mission, east of Twin Peaks. We have a tall east-facing window in our living room and that is where Mr. Coffee spends most of his time. You had told me that they like morning sun, and he gets a lot of it there. On nice warm days we sometimes put “him” out on our deck that gets a lot of sun. Only problem with that was that one day we put him out when it was very hot and a few of the leaves “burned.” The soil I potted it in is a mix of bagged planting soil and other soils from various plantings, plus a small amount of worm castings.  I’ve fed it diluted worm tea from my worm bin about once every two months. I think that helped a lot. Since I have 20 cherries, it will be one strong cup!

I think the one thing we have been mystified by is how the blossoms could have been pollinated. I was happy to see the blossoms and figured they would just drop and produce nothing. So surprised and gratified to actually get cherries, but how does that work? Self-pollinating?

Best Regards,

Woody

Tomorrow I will continue this blog with my Tips for growing coffee trees at home successfully . Look for EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GROWING COFFEE TREES AT HOME

The Bean and Human Enterprise: Not Just Another Cup of Coffee

Please join me in welcoming Maury Gloster;   guest writer,   friend, and coffee aficionado.   Maury, his wife Ibby, and daughter Michelle, a freshman home from college on spring break, visited Thanksgiving Coffee after many back-and-forth emails, phone conversations, and calendar checks.   It was great showing them the inside workings of Thanksgiving, and hearing their passion for the projects, movement, and future of global sustainability .   Thank you Maury, Ibby, and Michelle, and to you – the reader of this post.

Holly

THE BEAN AND HUMAN ENTERPRISE: NOT JUST ANOTHER CUP OF COFFEE by Maury Gloster

Let’s be clear. My wife and I are coffee aficionados and our daughter is beginning to follow a similar path. It is not difficult to engage us in discussion about coffee, or drinking coffee, nor are we hesitant to try new varieties. We are long past the point when, during years of arduous education and training, coffee’s value proposition was its stimulatory effect. Now, it’s just simply pleasurable.

So, a few years ago, we Sacramentans found ourselves standing in front of a rack of Thanksgiving Coffee offerings in the Mendocino Bakery, deliberating about what would be best to choose for brewing during our stay in Mendocino. A fellow, recognizing our indecision, suddenly appeared from behind the food counter to engage us in conversation about a wide variety of topics, with all at least remotely related to coffee. That was one Paul Katzeff, owner of Thanksgiving Coffee. Over the ensuing 45 minutes, spent mostly listening to Paul, we were regaled with stories, admonitions and caveats about growing coffee plants, preserving forests and protecting song birds of Central America, plane rides with Sandanistas and the superior taste and finish of light and medium brew roasts compared with the far less sophisticatation of our characteristic preference, the deep, dark roast. We were enlightened and entertained. And then we bought a deep, dark roast.

We’ve been devotees of Thanksgiving Coffee and its coffees ever since. The brew is one thing—the mission is the other. Paul has leveraged his career and passion for social work into a business that supports the disadvantaged, the ravaged, the forgotten and the irreplaceable elements of our environment. And he uses the success of his growing business to heighten our awareness of social, economic and environmental issues while bringing tangible assets to peoples from Latin America to Africa. You just have to examine his business pro forma, or simply peruse the Thanksgiving Coffee website, to gain insight into this unique blending of coffee and mission.

So, it was against this background that a few days ago our family of three visited Thanksgiving Coffee. Arriving in the mist of a March Monday morning, we were greeted by Holly Moskowitz, a key ambassador of the Thanksgiving Coffee outreach, in particular to those growing coffee beans on a Ugandan cooperative incorporating followers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity and benefiting in a variety of ways from the helping hand extended by Thanksgiving Coffee. Holly has educated members of the coop on HIV/AIDs and diabetes, befriended its peoples and represented what is the best of America as it supports those easily ignored or forgotten. Spend a moment scanning Holly’s impressive photographic collection of her days in Uganda on the Thanksgiving Coffee website and you’ll get the idea.

And Paul has designed his business model to return a portion of the profits he earns from buying the coop’s beans and selling its coffee in a unique circuitry that merits recognition to match the appreciation, easily reviewed on the website, expressed by coop members. It’s a passion and a raison d’etre for Paul and it shows. Just spend a few minutes with him.

This is not to say that the Ugandan project is a stand-alone. Notably, the Thanksgiving Coffee reach is across continents and causes, aiding peoples and the world in which they—and, ultimately, we—live. For example, if you raze tropical forests to grow coffee beans, you desecrate the nature of the land and, at the same time, destroy the habitat of song birds. An alternative is learning to grow coffee plants in the shade, thus balancing nature with enterprise. But you have to care to make it happen, enlist the skills, talent and sacrifice of people of similar mind, and create the economic engine that sees the mission through. Paul has assembled those elements and has maintained a variety of missions through years of endeavor.

Our visit to Thanksgiving was further punctuated by a “cupping” set for us by Holly and her colleague Ben Corey-Moran, who provided us education, insight and discoveries about coffee that otherwise would have been unreachable. We had the opportunity to smell and taste coffee roasts of beans from a wide range of geographies, all the while learning to appreciate the differences, great and small, among them. The opportunity, offered in the context of shared coffee passion, was singular and deeply appreciated.

“No coffee, no mission”, Paul told us. To be sure, he operates a business whose success allows him to fulfill his drive to support and to protect. Fortunately, Thanksgiving Coffee offers a variety of roasts that are easy to embrace, so contributing to a greater good through purchase of its coffees comes with little challenge. The choice is always there: enjoy or enjoy and give back. Paul and his Thanksgiving Coffee family have provided us with the opportunity to both satisfy our conscience and our love for great coffee.

But just don’t let him catch you with a dark roast.

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

Ibby, Michelle, and Maury cupping coffee at Thanksgiving

Byron’s Maracaturra (a special indeed)

This month we’re offering a special on a very special coffee: the Maracaturra varietal, grown by Byron Corrales Martinez on his small family farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The back of the package tells the story (in Byron’s words) but because you haven’t already hooked yourself up with one of the sweetest, most nuanced coffees in the world (you should) I’m going to share Byron’s message via this fine blog. Here goes…

I was 7 years old when my grandfather taught me to plant my first coffee tree. I liked to look at sun coming through the trees, to share the lessons my grandfather taught me about the growth of plants, and watch the rain fall and surrounded by the scent of the earth. I listened to the song of the birds and rode my horse to school every morning. 42 years have passed in my life since then and I want to transmit our family’s art, our work of many years, discovering the flavors we’ve learned to bring forth from our mountains, expressed in this cup by way of respect for our envionment and the songs we sing every day in our coffee farm.

 I talk every day with my plants, and they ask me who will consume each bean of our production and in this moment when you are tasting our coffee, I want to talk with you and tell you in silence that you are contributing to the conservation of our plantet, that this cup has come from the Arenal Forest Reserve, that its flavor that you’re tasting on your palate is the expression of life and the life energy of all the living beings who live in our community. Now we are together in embraced by this moment celebrating with joy the responsibility of protecting the future of our generations.

 The cup of responsibility is a song of love.    

Byron practices biodynamic agriculture, in the tradition of Rudolph Steiner, and the ancient farming societies before him. His coffee is planted, pruned, fertilized, and picked in accordance with lunar cycles and the ebb and flow of the seasons. If you think this all sounds like a lot of hot air, check out this link to a third-party review of Byron’s coffee…scoring a 94 out of 100.

coffeereview.com

We’re offering a special for the next month: Buy 3, get 1 free. Just add 4 bags to your cart and use promotion code “luna” when you checkout on our store.

Here’s to Byron, and to coffee with a taste of the moon.

~BCM

Cupping Ethiopian Coffees

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"Natural" drying method in Ethiopia (photo credit: Menno "the Dutchman")

About two weeks ago Ben  came back from Uganda and Rwanda after visits with the coffee  cooperatives we are working with . You can read his blog entry to learn what he does when he makes the long voyage to Africa twice each year, and why such visits are so central to the way Thanksgiving Coffee does business. In fact, the way we “source ” our coffees is the defining difference between Thanksgiving Coffee Company and all other specialty coffee companies in the USA.  On his way home  Ben stopped in Amsterdam to visit with our Ethiopian Coffee intermediary and exporter at his office which happens to be less then 500 feet from where the first coffee exchange was set up over 500 years ago.  There is a great book about the way coffee and coffee tree seeds were smuggled out of Yemen in the late 1490’s by a  Portuguese  Jewish man( who escaped the Spanish Inquisition seeking  religious  freedom in Holland) and his financial partner, a Dutch woman of great stature.  The name of the book is The Devils Cup . It reads like a cross between a Hunter Thompson Gonzo monolog and a John Steinbeck travelog . A thoroughly enjoyable read. But I digress…     While in Amsterdam Ben received a dozen samples of various Ethiopian coffee samples to bring home for us roast up and taste.   This we did yesterday and the results were just wonderful . All the samples were from the Sidama Region . It is traditional in the coffee trade here in the USA to call the region “Sidamo” but I have been told by  knowledgeable  people that Sidamo means monkey and is considered a racist slur in Ethiopia. Regardless, the coffees were produced using the “washed” or “wet” method as opposed to the “dry” or “natural method”. I am partial to coffees produced via the wet method and Ben is partial to coffees produced using the dry method. The difference in taste each produces from the same coffee is profound and worth noting for your reference.     Dry or Natural coffees  are processed by allowing the cherry pulp to dry while still surrounding the coffee seeds within the cherry. This allows the fruity/fermenty flavors in the pulp to penetrate the seeds as they dry, imparting a sweet-sour flavor that reminds one of Blueberries and strawberries . When the whole cherry is totally dry, it is taken to a mill and “dehulled” to expose the coffee beans(seeds). The best “naturals” have so much personality you almost believe they have been altered with fruit syrups . Ethiopia and Yemen do the best jobs with naturals in my opinion. The blends we created for The California Academy of Science and for the Danville Chow Restaurant are based on Ethiopian naturals that ben discovered last year while  trekking  through the coffee regions of Ethiopia in search for a great Natural . I believe the one he found at the Hache Cooperative is one of Ethiopia’s best.

Coffee blossems have a fine aroma

Coffee blossems have a fine aroma

We purchased 37,500 lbs of it last year and we anticipate the coffee will be just as fruity in 2009.       I, however, prefer the wet processed ethiopian coffees. The pulp is removed from the seeds within hours of picking. The seeds are soaked water for 24-36 hours depending on water temperature, and then the seeds(beans) are set out to dry on cement patios to get down to a stable 11-12 % moisture .   Coffees processed this way  have a distinct citric brightness or acidity , showing hints of lemon and stone fruits like apricot and peach. They are bright and lively in the cup , which I prefer over the heavy and mellow mouthfeel of the naturals. But dont get me wrong, my preference is for washed coffees but a good natural is a wonder to behold.  We are now at 601 words. Enough!  You all are in for some great Ethiopian washed coffees this year in addition to  the great naturals we found last year. We will keep you posted as to their arrival date and availability

 

Gather ’round for a coffee story

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Paul and Joan Katzeff at our factory in Noyo Harbor, 1972

I began my work here at Thanksgiving Coffee Company in 1972. The company was quite young back then, actually , it was like being there at conception . (inception ?) . There was no specialty coffee , nobody walked around in the streets with “to go” cups. There was Nixon and funny  colored  busses on the highways. People listened to the Moody Blues and said “oh Wow ! Petrol was 22 cents a gallon and a cup of coffee was a dime. I fell in love with the current President of Thanksgiving Coffee Company (Joan Katzeff)during those heady years of” anything is possible”, and together we embarked on a journey that eventually turned into Thanksgiving Coffee Company      We have been in business as a specialty coffee company since a time when there were less then ten coffee companies in the entire country that focussed on taste as a function of terroir and craftsmanship.  There were many excellent small coffee companies that specialized in coffee for specific ethnic groups,  like Bustelo that roasted for the Puerto Rican Community or Madalia D’oro That roasted for the Italian community. There were Turkish coffee stores, Armenian ones, and there also, lurking in the background, were shops like  Gillies and McNulty’s and Flavor Cup in New York  and Capricorn and Peets in California. The  forerunners  of todays 4 Billion Dollar specialty coffee industry and it’s “to go cups” .They were “Big City “companies all, and  Thanksgiving Coffee slipped in to that “uncrowded field” through the portal of the Mendocino Coast  of Northern California  .

Me and Brownie McGee

Me and Brownie McGee, New Guinea 2005. Many farmers in New Guinea speak english because they were colonized for 50 years by Australia. We had a long conversation about agrarian reform and revolution. He had traveled two weeks on foot hunting with a blowgun for food to bring a small sample of his cooperative's coffee to the tasting event that I attended.

The stories I tell in this blog are those of someone who found magic in the first sack of green coffee he opened (pardon the third person reference to myself) and later discovered that the magic came from the people in far off places…the farmers and campacinos that  cultivated and cared for the land upon which their coffee was planted. This discovery opened up the floodgates of adventure and experience proving that passion comes in many unexpected  forms as does kindness  and a great cup of coffee.

Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera

Children singing, playing, laughing, burdened by reality, hopeful for chance, thirsty for knowledge, yearning to be heard and understood.   Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

The second project I completed in Uganda was a note card project for the O Ambassadors program. For about a year, I have been corresponding with Nadja Atkinson, an Oprah Ambassador from Miami, Florida. Before I left, she and I spoke about ways to open her students’ eyes to life in Uganda, inspire, and motivate them to take action.

Nadja has been a wonderful supporter of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative, and when I told our friends in Uganda that our goal was to bridge the gap between cultures, provide Ugandan youth with the opportunity tell their story, and hopefully connect with Oprah, the farmers and their children were very excited to participate.

The only instructions I gave to the youth were to write their name, age, village, and “something about me” on a note card I provided. Then I collected the cards and took a photo of the student with their card. Those who were too young to write drew pictures. Everyone was eager to share a part of him or herself.   Students asked if they could take cards home for their siblings and neighbors, and promised to bring them back as if it were a life and death matter.   To them, their stories and opportunity to be heard were.

I’m proud to share some of their photos and cards with you.   Please,   Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

In addition to providing Nadja’s students and you with a glimpse into Ugandan life, our ultimate goal is to have Oprah read the cards and see the photos. Maybe with time, the villages of Peace Kawomera can become affiliated with Oprah’s education network. Most of the cards say something about the desire to learn and the struggles faced by students to pay fees. As we all know, education is the window to the world.

Fair Trade pays above market price for the harvest.   This extra money is usually used by families to pay for school fees, uniforms, and materials.   Many children who were unable to attend school in the past are now able to thanks to Fair Trade prices.   However, the average family in Uganda supports 8 children.   While the system helps a great deal, there isn’t always enough to go around.

In the Meet the Farmers section of our site, you can read stories from farmers on how fair trade has provided extra money and with that money how many families are now able to send some of their children to school.

In peace,
Holly Moskowitz

Meet the Farmers of Peace Kawomera

While I was in Uganda, I conducted nearly two dozen interviews with farmers from the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.   It was fascinating to hear their stories, and I am pleased to share their joys, struggles, challenges, and hopes with you.   The questions I asked pertained to issues of human rights, fair trade, and faith based relations in an interfaith coffee cooperative context.

 

Click on the individual links below to read each story, or visit   “Meet the Farmers” on the Mirembe website (in “The Story” tab) .

I sincerely thank the farmers for providing a pathway and allowing us to enter their world. I invited them to share with me so I could in turn share with you.   Please take a few minutes to meet the incredible human beings who grow the Delicious Peace coffee you hopefully drink every morning.

Abdu Karim *           Abudu Kadambi *       Alamaza Mabende

Dan Kasakya *       Danieli Magonya *                 Erishama Lunjaya

Hadija Naibisi *         Hadija Wankusi *         Hajira Nakandi

Jalia Nakenzi *       Kadija Lackahi *     Khainza Jane

Mbirago Muhammud *   Natega Charles *     Rashidt Muzinzibali

Sinina Namudosi *     Sofia Nandudu *         Wadundu Davdi

Wafuba Taibu *         Wilson Kyebo *         Yolam Were

JJ Keki *                     Athalia Deborah *             Fende Aziz,

Nakidodo Alisati *         Nehemia Hasakya *         Wotti Elisa

In peace and human relations,

Holly Moskowitz

Meet the Youth

Children singing, playing, laughing, burdened by reality, hopeful for chance, thirsty for knowledge, yearning to be heard and understood. Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

The second project I completed in Uganda was a note card project for the O Ambassadors program. For about a year, I have been corresponding with Nadja Atkinson, an Oprah Ambassador from Miami, Florida. Before I left, she and I spoke about ways to open her students’ eyes to life in Uganda, inspire, and motivate them to take action.

Nadja has been a wonderful supporter of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative, and when I told our friends in Uganda that our goal was to bridge the gap between cultures, provide Ugandan youth with the opportunity tell their story, and hopefully connect with Oprah, the farmers and their children were very excited to participate.

The only instructions I gave to the youth were to write their name, age, village, and “something about me” on a note card I provided. Then I collected the cards and took a photo of the student with their card. Those who were too young to write drew pictures. Everyone was eager to share a part of him or herself. Students asked if they could take cards home for their siblings and neighbors, and promised to bring them back as if it were a life and death matter. To them, their stories and opportunity to be heard were.

I’m proud to share some of their photos and cards with you. Please, Meet the Youth of Peace Kawomera.

In addition to providing Nadja’s students and you with a glimpse into Ugandan life, our ultimate goal is to have Oprah read the cards and see the photos. Maybe with time, the villages of Peace Kawomera can become affiliated with Oprah’s education network. Most of the cards say something about the desire to learn and the struggles faced by students to pay fees. As we all know, education is the window to the world.

Fair Trade pays above market price for the harvest. This extra money is usually used by families to pay for school fees, uniforms, and materials. Many children who were unable to attend school in the past are now able to thanks to Fair Trade prices. However, the average family in Uganda supports 8 children. While the system helps a great deal, there isn’t always enough to go around.

In the Meet the Farmers section of our site, you can read stories from farmers on how fair trade has provided extra money and with that money how many families are now able to send some of their children to school.

In peace,
Holly Moskowitz

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