Peace Spokes - Peace Coffee

  1| Shifting Gears

  2| Winter Bike Delivery

  3| Sourcing Beans in Brazil

  4| IATP Report: Trade and Aid

  5| Volume Discount News

  6| Quote of the Month

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It's late January, and after dealing with the challenges of a winter that that has thrown a substantial amount of white stuff our way, the Peace Crew is finally getting settled into the new year... one that starts with some changes for us. In this edition of Peace Spokes, we bid adieu to Andy Lambert, our long-time co-worker, who is leaving Peace Coffee for new life challenges (read his goodbye in this issue, as well as his poem about the challenges of winter bike delivery). Next, we share the happy news that we're welcoming a new Brazilian coffee into our lineup. And finally, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our volume discount, due to price spikes in the worldwide coffee market. Also in the issue, we offer a piece on balancing trade and aid from Andrew Ranallo of IATP. Happy New Year from all of us at Peace Coffee... have a sip of your favorite brew and read on...

by Andy Lambert, Peace Coffee Bean Hook Up

Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you were offered an opportunity that got you so excited you could hardly believe it was happening? An opportunity that you knew would entail life changing experiences, new friends and the chance to learn fascinating new things? This happened to me when I was driving down I35 coming home from a trip to the north shore of Minnesota, it was the summer of 2004. After a lengthy interview process, I received a phone call with an offer for the Events/Outreach Coordinator position at Peace Coffee.

In my time at Peace Coffee, I’ve had the amazing fortune to travel to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala to learn about Fair Trade and organic coffee from the farmer’s perspective. I’ve slept on dirt floors, picked coffee cherries and sampled coffees that were grown less than a mile from where I sat. I’ve also had the incredible experience of working with college students from around the country who were passionate about social and environmental justice as it relates to coffee production and the millions of people around the world who depend on coffee as their main source of income.

When bike delivery called my name, I saddled up and delivered around 44 tons of coffee beans over the course of 18 months. Being on the delivery side of Peace Coffee allowed me to be out in the community everyday and form long lasting friendships with the amazing people around the Twin Cities who support what Peace Coffee stands for and appreciate the hard work that our roasters put into every batch of carefully roasted coffee.

For the past two years, I’ve been the "Bean Hook Up" (aka Sales Manager) at Peace Coffee, working with our Department of Awesomeness (aka Customer Service team) to bring in new accounts and show the love to the accounts that we currently have. However, during the past few months, something else has been calling my name which entails leaving this wonderful group of people at Peace Coffee, but feeds a passion of mine that permeates every day of my life. As of January 31st, I’ll be shifting gears and begin a new adventure working for Civia Cycles, a proprietary brand of Quality Bicycle Products (QBP). Based in Bloomington, MN, Civia is a commuter-focused brand whose mantra is "Life is Better by Bike," something I wholeheartedly believe is true and know deeply on a personal level.

As I prepare to leave, Peace Coffee is lucky to welcome a new (yet familiar) face to the Sales Manager position -- Jody Treter. Jody co-founded Higher Grounds Trading Company, Michigan's only coffee company offering exclusively organic and Fair Trade coffees, after living in Chiapas in 2001 and 2002. Her expertise includes operations, human resources, budgeting and cash flow, information management, cooperative development, the creation of new revenue streams and strategic planning. Jody was the Project Manager for Peace Coffee’s expansion into retail, the Wonderland Park Coffee Shop.

Jody has extensive experience traveling in Africa and Latin America, primarily working with coffee farming co-ops. She has marketed, organized and led over twenty educational tours to coffee-growing regions, connecting US-based consumers with small scale coffee growers and indigenous artisans in Chiapas, Colombia, Nicaragua and Ethiopia.

Peace Coffee has given me invaluable experiences on so many levels that it’s difficult to put into words how fortunate I feel to have worked here for the past 6 ½ years. Despite the international travel, inspiring work in the Fair Trade movement, making a living delivering coffee by bicycle, and all the delicious coffee I could drink, the people who are Peace Coffee and the friendships I’ve made during my time here are what I hold most dear. I will always be humbled and grateful for the personal growth opportunities and consciousness that this company has given me.

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by Andy Lambert, Peace Coffee Bean Hook-Up

This morning was daunting riding to work,
Old man winter was totally a jerk.
But my duty calls and I’d never forsake thee
Though our journey today might just well break me.

We started our relationship so long ago
Me on my bike, and you in tow.
10, 20, 30 miles at a time,
Our outings are grueling, but mostly sublime.

Snow-crusted beard and the roaster is hot,
Stereos hummin' and I’m pullin' a shot.
Invoices in hand call for 400 pounds
It's damn near arctic, snow and ice covered ground.

The Greenway to River Rd. then snake-it up Otis.
To Summit and Dale, ALL HILLS and YOU KNOW THIS!
Yet I see how important and crucial it is,
That you get to those near-empty gravity bins.

French Roast is on sale and it flies off the shelves,
We do quicker production than the Keebler elves.
The trailer creaks and my frame is stressed,
That twelve-below chill pierces my chest.

Some people say that I’m crazy to do this,
But the sacred beans are what light my fuses.
I summon the tenacious mind of the turtle
And think of the farmers in fields so fertile.

The dark little bean gets respect from me,
It has sparked revolutions throughout history.
To deliver by bike says more than "we’re green"
It's a two-wheeled rebellion against the machine.

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by Anna Canning, Peace Coffee Project Manager

Last Spring when our roasting team created the Pollinator blend, they asked the question "How many cups of coffee does it take to make a blend?" The answer was somewhere in the mid-80s. Most recently, we've asked an analogous question: How many miles and how many meetings does it take to meet a new buying relationship? The answer, of course, is that it depends. Just before Thanksgiving, our Head Roaster Derek took off on an expedition to Brazil to source coffee. Now that the rush of the holidays is over, we finally had a chance to catch up with him and hear about his trip, just as we're about to begin tasting the fruits of his labors (OK, we've been sampling the fruits of his labors in the lab for a few weeks as he prepares the coffee for public consumption).

Brazil is the giant of world coffee production, growing approximately 1/3 of the world’s green coffee. Giant not only in output, much of coffee production in Brazil is comparable to corn and soybeans in Iowa: big, mechanized business. In most of the world, coffee is painstakingly picked by hand, here however there are giant machines to pick the coffee on huge estates. When Derek returned, he was amazed by the scale of industry on the country, the giant semi-trucks, the vast truck stops and their huge buffets. Unlike many of the communities where we buy coffee, Brazil is a thoroughly modern place, developed in so many senses of the word.

Read on...

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by Andrew Ranallo, IATP Communications Assistant

The Obama administration's Feed the Future initiative is designed to reduce hunger and increase food security in developing nations by, in part, "unleashing the proven potential of small-scale agricultural producers" -- especially women, whom the website declares a "pivotal force," producing "between 60 and 80 percent" in most developing countries. Encouraging local food production, highlighting the titanic role of women in developing-country food security and helping reduce hunger -- so, where’s the issue?

As IATP’s Karen Hansen-Kuhn points out in a new report, this U.S. development agenda is at direct odds with an increasingly aggressive trade agenda that, among other things, is aiming to double exports—including food exports—in the next five years. So while the Feed the Future initiative encourages local, small-scale production systems, U.S. trade aims to flood these developing markets with cheap food prices that local farmers simply cannot beat.

Instead, Hansen-Kuhn explains in her latest report, "trade and food security policy should focus on rebuilding local food systems" by "considering ways to ensure that trade complements, rather than substitutes for, local food production." Read the entire report on our website at

Andrew Ranallo is the Communications Assistant at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. He wishes our resident bike master Patrick good luck at the Arrowhead 135 Mile Ultra next week!

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At Peace Coffee, there's a certain tension built into what we do. Our goal has always been to pay coffee farmers good, fair prices that recognize the hard work that goes into growing coffee, to pay our own staff living wages and provide benefits, and to do all that while making exceptional coffee accessible. Elsewhere in this newsletter, we have an example of just how much costly work goes into growing, picking, and processing the beans that make your daily cup possible, and while that may be a more pronounced example, we're seeing that everywhere.

The commodity market for coffee has recently spiked, hitting 13 year highs, meaning that coffee prices are currently high for everyone from the purchasers of commodity grade coffee to the buyers of exceptional beans. In our work with coffee producers, we've come to understand that a fair price is much more than a flat, stable minimum number. Over the past six years, we've steadily increased what we pay farmers in recognition of the true, and increasing, costs of growing and processing quality coffee. While the market price is currently high, we're committed to continuing to negotiate sustainable prices to coffee farmers over the long term, regardless of ups and downs in the market.

As we enter the New Year, we're passing a price increase along to all our customers. For those who buy through our website, you won’t see an increase in the price per pound at this time; instead, we'll be reducing our volume discount for orders of 10lbs or more to 10% off your order, effective February 1st.

We appreciate all your support in our endeavors. Without your patronage and loyal encouragement, the work we do in our own community and with coffee farmers around the world wouldn't be possible! We're looking forward to 2011 and our continued collaboration.

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"The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live."

 ~ Flora Whittemore

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Peace Spokes is a monthly publication from the crew at Peace Coffee.
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