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Congrats, Lee!  • Meet the New Face at Peace Coffee  
IATP Report: Batten Down the Hatches  • Pollinator: A Sure Sign of Spring  

And unseasonably early too. In this issue of Peace News, we reflect on our conflicting feelings about this unusually balmy weather. While we've been loving the good biking weather, dreaming of our gardens, and spotting spring flowers, we are aware that these nice days have larger consequences. In his IATP report, Andrew Ranallo addresses the unusual weather and the need for climate insurance. We also give a huge shout out to our Queen Bean Lee for her recent honor, offer a Q&A with new staffer Anne Costello and celebrate the return of a sure harbinger of spring, Pollinator Blend. Grab a hot or iced mug of Peace Coffee, sip, savor and read on... n...

We're proud of our Queen Bean (AKA CEO) Lee Wallace for being named one of the top 40 business leaders under 40 in the Twin Cities by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Delicious coffee, fair and transparent business practices, and having fun while you do it -- she helps inspire us all towards those goals, and we're proud that those values are recognized by our local community.

To see an excerpt from her feature, click here.

This month we're welcoming a new face to the Peace Coffee -- meet Anne Costello!

Q: Your position at Peace Coffee is "Director of Coffee." Tell us a little about what that means.
A: My job is to source green coffee, manage our green coffee inventory, forecast use, and work with the roasting team to guide our roasted coffee lineup. This means I get to geek out about coffee and help others to geek out too! I am incredibly excited to oversee Peace Coffee's supply chain and help to uphold Peace Coffee's mission and vision

Q: You've been on the importing side of specialty coffee for several years. What's your favorite part of traveling to origin?
A: Meeting the producers. Listening to the stories of producers and learning more about their coffee always reminds me how amazing it is that coffee can connect people and places thousands of miles away. To me, one of the most important aspects of being a transparent company is that the stories of producers are connected to their product. Peace Coffee's dedication to transparency is one of the many reasons I'm excited to be a part of the team.

Q: You mentioned loving to geek out about coffee. What's your favorite, geekiest coffee fact?
Two of my favorite’s statistics are that one coffee tree produces one pound of coffee per year, and that it can take a coffee tree three years to start producing cherries. If you are enjoying a cup of coffee, it means that many, many people were incredibly committed to the beans that are in your cup.

Q: We just re-launched our popular Pollinator Blend and rumor has it that you've got a good bee story to share...
A: During college, I was part of a study that focused on orchid bees on coffee farms in Costa Rica. The goal of the experiment was to see if orchid bees were a bioindicator of overall ecosystem health on coffee farms. The hypothesis was that organic coffee farms would have higher numbers of these bees than non-organic farms. So we sat and counted the number of bees on organic and non-organic farms that came to a piece of paper covered with eucalyptus oil, a natural attractant for the bees. After hours and hours of monotonous counting, we found our results of our data were inconclusive, and more data was needed. This was far before my discovery of coffee but helped me decide that biology experiments weren't my calling in life.

Q: The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA)'s annual convention is fast approaching. What are you most excited about in going there?
A: It's exciting to spend three days immersed in the world of coffee with producers, exporters, importers, roasters, and people who love coffee. I always come away with a new perspective and information. This year I'm most excited to meet the producers Peace Coffee works with and get to know the people at Cooperative Coffees.

Q: Finally, what's currently your favorite coffee?  How are you brewing it?
A: That's a tough one as I feel like I have a lot of favorites! If I had to choose it would be the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. I love the citrus and bergamot flavor notes. At home I'm a big believer in the French Press -- for both the quality of the cup and because it's one of my favorite weekend rituals.

by Andrew Ranallo, Communications Associate, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Whether or not we believe it, spring actually seems to have sprung in Minnesota. It feels kind of unnaturally early, and unnaturally warm. In fact, last week, the National Climatic Data Center declared this the fourth-warmest winter on record for the lower 48 states, making it official. Thinking back clearly to last year's nearly record-breaking winter in Minnesota is difficult, and it seems the inconsistency isn't an isolated incident. Experts seem to agree: more extreme weather is occurring than ever before, more is coming, and it's all directly related to the earth's changing climate. It's not surprising, then, that crop insurance is one of this year's hottest topics in the Farm Bill debate.

IATP's Julia Olmstead takes an innovative, long-term approach to crop insurance: "Right now," she writes in her latest blog, "our federal crop insurance program only protects farmers from being wiped out financially from extreme weather. Farmers need that protection, but the rest of us -- the eaters -- also need a secure, reliable food system." So what does she propose?

By creating what she calls "climate insurance," the U.S. could continue to provide farmers with the protection they need from being financially buried by extreme weather events, and in return, farmers could make changes to their farming methods in order to be more resilient when those climate change–induced weather events hit.

"Farmers have always been at the mercy of the weather, which is why the federal government has offered subsidized crop insurance since the late 1930s," she continues. "This kind of income insurance is critical to help keep farmers on the land, but our food supply needs insurance, too."

With over one billion people hungry around the world, and more extreme weather on the way, here's to helping those that produce our food batten down the hatches. Read Climate insurance, not just crop insurance for more.

by Anna Canning, Special Correspondent

Once again the Pollinator, our spring seasonal, is here! Each year our roasting team dreams up a new interpretation of the theme of spring -- this year it's a cup brimming with oranges and spicy ginger against a backdrop of honeyed nuts.

Spring has sprung unseasonably early in Minnesota this year, speeding dreams of gardening from glossy seed catalog pages to backyard beds sooner than usual. There's an optimism to this stage of gardening before anything's in the ground.  All of last year's crop failures are just hazy memories and the limitations of sun, shade, and space don't need to be reckoned with quite yet. For now, the garden's just a dream that gets tended from armchairs in sunny windows; all it asks for fertilizer is one more cup of coffee.

As I sit in my window contemplating the tiny annual optimism of my own garden fantasies, my mind skips to the staggering feat of optimism that is coffee farming. I vividly recall the first time I stood in a coffee field. It was high in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, and a few of the members of the Maya Vinic co-op had just taken us on a 45-minute hike up a steep, switch-backed trail. A little boy, barely kindergarten age, ran eager laps up and down the trail, the flapping of his oversized puddle boots taunting my proper sturdy footwear as he summited the equivalent of three peaks while I slogged up one.


Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"

~ Robin Williams

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