Peace Spokes from Peace Coffee
 
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Dear coffee drinkers,

January is a month perched between -- all around us, pundits are recapping the year that just passed and predicting what is to come.  For me at Peace Coffee, January is a moment of transition, the conclusion of the whirlwind holiday roasting season, turning my eyes from inward and operational to outward as our producer partners in Central America kick off their harvest season.  

As we start a new decade, we can’t help looking back a little -- at the beginning of the year 2000, we were a tiny start-up with two staffers camped out in a basement office with just a few accounts and even fewer producers we were buying from. Fast forward ten years and there’s a lot going on in our sunny roastery and green offices.  In 2009, we bought from 16 producer co-ops, a grand total of just shy of 16 whole semi-truck loads. Assuming that you all brewed all the coffee you bought, that’s about 19.5 million cups of coffee, always organic and fairly traded. 

We’ve had a busy year here in Minneapolis. We donated coffee to almost 200 events and organizations around town and set up our booth at another 50.  Easily our biggest event of the year was the State Fair, a truly Minnesotan experience where we unveiled our pedal-powered grinder and handed out coffee samples--almost 35,000 cups of coffee, working 12 hours a day for two weeks!  Such a marathon would have never been possible without the participation of the Oxfam Action Corp and a variety of community volunteers.  

Our partnerships strengthen our work both locally and in communities around the globe and we’re excited to hear more and more people join us in telling the stories of what they eat and how it got into their cups (or onto their plates). Our parent company IATP has been very involved in the local food movement. This year they hosted a number of food film makers and took on the Food and Society Fellows program, supporting emerging leaders in food policy and practice. They’ve also helped to establish mini-markets throughout the city providing great access to healthy food for all.

And, just in case you thought we were getting too serious, we mixed a good amount of play in with our work, continuing the fun of sponsoring the North Star Roller Girls, Birchwood Bike Team, Balance Fitness XC Ski Team, Fitger’s Brewhouse Bike Team, the U of Minnesota Cycle Team, and, of course, the Peace Coffee Racing Team. We also enjoyed some beer and bikes at the first Tour De Fat to hit the Twin Cities and the Urban Assault started and finished at our Roastery!

Back here at the roastery, it was a busy year. We made ourselves at home with our new roaster, crafting batch after batch of coffee and spending lots of time in the lab slurping and spitting. Despite the bad news in the job market on all sides, we’re proud to have created three additional living wage jobs in our community this year and expanded our workforce in new ways (see our recent newsletter article on our partnership with Lifeworks.) We launched a new line of seasonal coffees, highlighting the widely varying seasons that Minnesota has to offer and have been using our quarterly coffee selection to connect us to new origins and producer partners including the popular Ugandan, Brazilian and new Tanzanian.

We’ve also been taking our love for quality coffee on the road -- 2009 saw us lead home-brewing workshops at our natural foods co-ops, teaching passionate coffee drinkers how to make their pound of coffee really shine every morning. We enjoyed hosting a number of cuppings and tours in our busy roastery for school groups, Slow Food MN members, local chefs and cafes, and enthusiastic customers who stopped by.  The number of these will grow in 2010 with our first public cupping at the end of the month, hosted by our friends at Simple, Good & Tasty!  We also led roasting workshops with farmer partners in Oaxaca, making that quality connection at the other end of the supply chain. We’re continually humbled and amazed by the hard work that goes into the coffee that we roast before it comes to us and do our best to share the understanding that our travel brings us with you. This spring, we launched our site MapMyBeans.com to bring those connections one step closer to you.

Looking back on 2009, we’re profoundly grateful to everyone who hoisted a cup of Peace Coffee and to all of those who tended a coffee tree for nine months to yield just one pound of roasted coffee. As I write this, I’m heading off to Peru to visit our producer partners at Cenfrocafe, kicking off another busy year of travel. We’re looking forward to the New Year with lots more travel, new coffees, new and old friends, and keeping the fun quotient high as always. We hope to hear from you soon. 

Wishing you a wonderful new year,

Lee

P.S: We’re always looking to do things better and one way you can help us with that is by taking the short survey that we’re including in this newsletter. We’d love to hear what you’re thinking. Click here to take survey!


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