Caravan Giving Back

Caravan Coffee has partnered for 8 years with Newberg Early Bird Rotary Club for humanitarian projects in La Plata, Colombia. La Plata is our “sister city” where we not only give back but build relationships. We invest 5% of our monthly coffee club subscriptions into projects in La Plata.

This relationship in Colombia started almost a decade ago with an introduction from our Colombian coffee hunter, Alejandro Renjifo. He introduced me to a group of Colombian Rotarians in La Plata who were passionate about helping the poorest of the poor in their community. Through a series of meetings and personal visits in Colombia, we first started working together building biosand filters for the outlying areas where the drinking water was not clean. This led to many other projects over the years, including building a series of parks in depressed neighborhoods.

This year we are working on a sanitation project on a hillside above the city of La Plata. There, a community of about 400 have not treated their sewage in generations, which has not only polluted their own water table, but has contributed to polluting a river that flows down into the city of La Plata. This has lead to much sickness, which especially impacts the children who miss school due to dysentery and other maladies from poor hygiene.

This project has been complicated due to the steep terrain and heavy rainfall in the area that creates many washed out roads and landslides. There are no paved roads nor access to public utilities for this community. Due to these conditions, building a septic system requires bringing in supplies by horseback and manpower.

The following pictures are before and during the construction of the Sanitation Units with private toilets and baths using traditional septic systems. Completion of the project is anticipated this fall, when will send a group from our Newberg Rotary team to inspect the Sanitation Units and the impact that it is having on the community. In addition, we will be completing an assessment to discover the greatest needs for our next project. Stay tuned as we build relationships, change lives, and have fun.

Mothers in Coffee

My motherly smile is shining as I sit staring at the desktop background image of my sons, Shepard and Jamison. We recently made a trip to the grocery store and I unashamedly bribed them with the promise of two rides on the pink horse carousel if they listened and stayed close to me for our “quick trip” inside. This time, the bribe paid off (hallelujah!) and I helped them up on the beloved pink horse together. As the mother to these little darlings, I’m constantly adjusting the way I learn to steward their vastly different personalities and protect who they are while they are just beginning to figure that out for themselves. This sense of stewardship surfaces when I think about cultivating a concept of the ceiling of my talents and ideas becoming my children’s floor and launching pad for something bigger, better and brighter.

One of my favorite definitions of the word ‘mother’ is something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.  What a beautiful picture this portrays. Whether you are a woman who has birthed and mothered a child or a woman who has birthed and mothered an idea from deep inside, you are given this title as the origin or source of that beautiful creation. Women across the globe have given birth to movements and inspired the healing of lands, relationships, and human rights.

Throughout the world of coffee, the term mother is used both literally and metaphorically in a myriad of ways. Ethiopia is referred to as the mother or birthplace of coffee. When we reference coffee origin and stress how important the traceability is, we give credit to its motherland and those who have taken protective care over the wonderful beans we roast and brew.  I see coffee stewards everywhere doing their best to create a better world for the current and next generation of coffee producers, roasters, and enthusiasts alike.

If we, as a coffee industry, do just what this definition suggests and intentionally give rise to new thoughts, talents, and conceptions, I think we will continue to see a coffee world better than what we could have created by trying to hoard all the next big ideas for ourselves.

Cheers to all and Happy Mother’s Day!

Kat Stauffer

Kat-Stauffer

 

A Roaster at Origin

Pineapple. It is such a common fruit that you could walk into almost any grocery store in America and be overwhelmed by the selection and preparations of pineapples. Whole, sliced, chunks, canned, you name it. We are all very familiar with pineapples but how well do you “know” a pineapple?

You can look at pictures, get the latest stats on importing pineapples and even do a number of lectures on such a topic. But to “know” a pineapple, one needs to bite into one or, even better, go to the actual plantation. Only when you can talk to the farmers and taste pineapple from the origin, will truly “know” a pineapple.

You might be asking, “Where are you going with this?”

It’s easy to pontificate about coffee’s many different attributes and feel like you have a full understanding of it. Until you have been present locally with the coffee farmers and walked on the farm yourself, you don’t really “know” coffee.

To see the trees, to touch the freshly dried seeds and to smell the unique fragrance is nothing less than inspiring. But you truly begin to “know” the coffee when you are standing side by side, cupping coffee with the men and women who grow your coffee and who share in your passion for it.

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So last year when Pete, Caravan’s Proprietor, suggested a 3 week trip to origin, I was more than thrilled. A trip like this would not only benefit Caravan Coffee or me personally, as Caravan’s roastmaster, but it also benefits you, our customers, by giving you a chance to “know” your coffee.

When you travel to origin, the coffee is no longer simply a commodity; it becomes an extension of the real people who work the soil, tend the trees and harvest the coffee. No longer is it just a co-op in Kochere, Ethiopia, but it’s Miriam, living with his sister, passionately working just 2 minutes from the Kochere dry mill on his 2-acre plot.

When I was there I was even able to see our broker, Dominion Coffee, at work and caring for the people they buy from. People like Tsehey, a double amputee, who was provided with prosthetic legs which allow her to go to school and get an education. She beams with joy! Knowing their stories and other personal narratives bring a new depth and perspective to the coffee we sip.

Even back at Caravan, when I am able to visualize those men and women, the daily tasks seem purposeful and energized.

It is an amazing experience to find that your pursuit of excellence in roasting is mirrored in extremely inspired farmers who feel the same connection to their own product as we do in roasting it.  Quality focused farmers are looking for someone they can connect with just as much as roasters are looking for great coffees and their farmers to connect with.

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When those connections happen, quality suddenly goes to a higher level. I was able to partake in new crops of Kochere, Abaya, Yirgacheffe… probably over 30 different coffees in the land they were grown and with the people who grew it. You can be sure the coffee you get back at Caravan Coffee will be both very personal and very delicious.

Coffee is not coffee without people connecting over it, and to truly “know” coffee is to know its story from beginning to end. This is either going to be in the form of a shared cup or an awareness of all the crafting hands involved in its journey to your table.

-Paul Allen

 

Women in Coffee -Mica Villasenor

In celebration of International Womens Day on March 8th we’ve interviewed two women and asked them to talk about their views and experiences of being a woman in the coffee industry. Our first interview is with our very own coffee roaster Mica Villasenor.


Q: How long have you been in the coffee industry?

A: Since High School really…so 15 years! Oh my.  I started working as a Barista at a local drive thru. We actually served Caravan Coffee.

Q: What is it that drew (or draws) you to coffee?

A: I think initially, as a teenager I just wanted a job. (I may have also had a crush on the guy that got me the job.) 🙂 Once I started, I found myself fascinated by everything about coffee. I really gravitated to the agricultural side of coffee, because I grew up on a plant nursery and my family had a side business of ornamental tree/shrub propagation.  I find coffee plants are beautiful and distinct.  I’ve also been one to seek or learn new things, and in the coffee world there is no limit to what you can learn.

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Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

A : Understanding my supervisor and his accent…I‘m kidding. I think the most challenging part is staying on top of the education and technology that enhances/simplifies the roasting process.

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Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

A: Honestly what I find most rewarding is knowing that when I roast coffee, I’m helping a farmer’s child go to school or get medical care, or a habitat for a species of plant/animal is being protected.  I respect and admire the activism aspect within the coffee world.  The Specialty Coffee realm, specifically, focuses on maintaining higher ethical, humane, and ecological standards as compared to your run of the mill coffee producers. Although conditions of most coffee farms around the world often fail to meet the level I would like to see,  

I’m impressed by the progress the Specialty Coffee Association of America has elicited and continues to improve upon. I’m very grateful that my job and the company I work for focuses on these matters when sourcing coffee.  Compared to even ten years ago, working conditions and environmental stewardship has improved, and that eases my soul a bit. There is also some appreciation for my work when I get to observe happy customers sipping on a freshly poured cup, smiling when they are being educated about the coffee, or when children (or grown children) peer in the window with a look of intrigue as I roast. There is a direct view from the roasters to the tasting room at Caravan, and I get to see this almost everyday.

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Q: If you could visit one coffee growing region which would it be and why?

A: Oooh…that’s a hard one. Perhaps Peru. We (Caravan Coffee) source some coffee through a Women run cooperative, Cafe Femenino, which is all over Latin America.  We specifically use Peruvian coffee, which happens to be one of my favorite to roast.  I would love to see how the ladies work together and the impact they have made in their local growing region.

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Q: What is your favorite single origin coffee?

A:  I tend to fancy most Ethiopian Coffees…and although we do not carry it at the moment, I enjoy Ethiopian Harrar.

Q: How well do you feel women are represented in your field?

A:  I am aware of the existence of other lady roasters. While at conferences I have met many, though the acknowledgement of Lady Roasters is a bit scant.

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Q: What is the  importance of women in the coffee industry?

A: It’s huge, because women currently make up about 85% of the workforce in coffee production.

Q: If you could change one thing in the coffee industry today what would it be?

A: The industrialized agriculture of coffee.  What does that mean? Any industrialized mono-culture creates havoc on the land and environment.  In regards to the coffee growing regions; the biodiversity of both plants, animals, as well as the natural resources are compromised, ensuing complications with the health and welfare of the local population.

Plus, good coffee is best grown in areas of high biodiversity, which contributes various nutrients from other plants that enhance the complexity and flavor of the coffee. More biodiversity also protects coffee plants and reduces the use of pesticides. Since it takes a full coffee tree to produce a pound of coffee, you can imagine the acres/hectares of land that is destroyed.

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El Salvador Las Isabellas: A love affair with coffee

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Almost 15 years ago, a young man in his early 20’s came into my store-front with some green coffee and a big smile. He told me his name was Francisco Valdivieso and that this coffee was from his family farm back in El Salvador. It wasn’t every day that I met someone like this in Newberg, Oregon, so I was intrigued to say the least.   

He told me about his family history and how, as a young boy during the peak of a civil war, his father moved their family from El Salvador to Oregon to start a new life. Meanwhile his father’s brother, Uncle Ricardo, stayed in El Salvador to manage the family business.

Their coffee farm is located in the western region of El Salvador and has been in Francisco’s family for over 120 years. Hiding among the farm’s shade-grown coffee plants are numerous Mayan ruins. Archeologists have dated some of these sites at over 3,500 years old.

Fascinated by this story and this young man, I took his sample of green coffee with the promise to “cup” it and let him know what I thought. Maybe it was the bias I had developed toward Central American coffees after my first trip to Costa Rica, or maybe it was the excitement of being a part of such a long lineage of coffee farmers. I don’t fully remember. What I do remember is feeling that we needed to offer this coffee to our customers.

I was compelled to acquire this coffee even though, at the time, we already carried a good selection of Central American coffees. I knew the importance of being passionate about the coffees we offered and working with growers who share in that passion. This was one of those coffees and the beginning of our love affair with it.12301711_1272294759462571_6385008008557665071_n

In 2006, my wife Krista and I were invited to take a trip down to the farm in El Salvador to meet the family that had stewarded this coffee farm for the past 120 years. It was a journey of a lifetime that left a mark on me as a person and instilled in me a commitment to seek out and partner with the amazing, vibrant people who grow coffee all around the world.

11219641_1281180785240635_7301883589676014227_nFour years after we first started offering this coffee, we were told that it would no longer be available to purchase. We were heartbroken, but this is not an uncommon situation in the specialty coffee world. It is easy to forget that coffee is an agricultural product subject to growing seasons and fluctuating markets.10170805_1286824291342951_7325454862719768089_n   

A few months ago, I learned that a local restaurant chain had purchased a container of this green coffee and that there would be a possibility of snagging a few bags “off the back of the truck” I was ecstatic! I had a chance to reunite our customers with a unique piece of Caravan history.

It has been seven years since Caravan has offered El Salvador Las Isabellas and I am happy to announce that it is available once again! With its smoky fragrance up front and rose petal and cinnamon finish, this coffee will not disappoint. 

It is available online and in our tasting room. (BUY ONLINE)

47 Tips To Make Pour Over Coffee Like A Barista

Our partner, Handground, recently released an amazing article and quoted Kat Stauffer, Caravan’s Tasting Room Manager on brewing through the Able Kone. She says,

“The Able Kone tends to brew best with gentle agitation. After the bloom, pour gently through the center until about 300 ml of water has been reached. Gently break the crust then return to a slow and steady stream pouring down the middle.”

Read the article for yourself here! We’ll be getting new grinders from these good folks in the Tasting Room May(ish).

 

Caravan’s 2016 Road Map

We are going on a Road Trip!

And your Caravan Team has a Road Map for our 2016 road trip. This is going to be a great adventure. Like every good Road Map, we’ll show you where we are now, where we are going and the path that we will take.  

First of all, this road trip began in 1990, 25 years ago when we started the longest running espresso bar in Oregon. So, this is just another leg in our journey – one that is filled with confidence, excitement, and readiness. Our adventure in coffee has been rooted in community and seeking quality with respect to all concerned. Our brand and style has changed over the years, from Magic Carpets to Camels, and now the iconic Travel Trailer. All that to say; we are “Well Traveled”.

As we jump into this Road Trip of 2016, you can expect our Mission and Core Values to remain the same. What is changing is a refining of our brand and our business.

We will be releasing a unified theme that will be carried out in our blend names, packaging, web site, and all printed material. We also will be refining our coffee offerings to a smaller number of blends and origins that will allow us to do a better job on presenting the best to you. These transitions will happen over the course of 2016, with an anticipated full release in the winter of 2016.

As an example of this blend refinement, we had 4 different Dark or French Roast styles of coffee that were offered in 2015 and we now have one. Instead of eight different decaffeinated coffees offered, we now have three, of which are all certified organic, fair trade, and naturally processed.

We have also refined our origin sourcing of coffee to selections that are all certified through our strict social and environmental criteria, (see “Statement of Sourcing” at www.caravancoffee.com). We are committed to giving back in a bigger way, both locally and globally. This coming year, our giving commitments include a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a Water Sanitation Project in La Plata Colombia and a Socially Conscious Coffee project in Bahia Brazil.  

So let’s get rolling down the road for a fun-filled 2016! 

– Pete Miller, owner & proprietor

Coffee Spotlight: Ethiopia Sidamo Peaberry

This Ethiopia Sidamo Peaberry coffee comes from an Ethiopian-led community health project that has taught health education to one million people to date. Covering a broad base of topics, from maternal and child care to HIV-AIDS, nutrition, water purification, sanitation, micro-business, women’s health, and aid to people with disabilities, the non-profit we are partnering with has a proven track record in Ethiopia. This relational coffee is traceable, sustainable, and fits with Caravan’s core values.

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As if specialty coffee isn’t special enough in its own right, sometimes only one bean grows in a coffee cherry instead of two. This serendipitous anomaly, known as a peaberry, happens in only about 5-10% of coffees and results in a smaller, rounded, extra tasty singleton. Perhaps because one bean gets the flavor meant for two, peaberry coffees present a distinct taste difference from their larger, flatter fellows from the same lot. Case in point, our new Sidamo Peaberry, which showed up on the cupping table in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Cuppers raised their collective eyebrows as they sipped caramel and butter notes melded with spice, nuts, and chocolate. Patently wonderful.

A good peaberry coffee is exciting at any time, but especially so when the origin country is Ethiopia: definitely worth the extra labor and expense to separate the peaberries from the rest of the lot. We already had some great new crop coffees from this trip to Ethiopia–Kochere, and the raspberry syrup flavor from Abaya–and this peaberry was the icing on the cake. Caravan Coffee nabbed 20 bags!

The farmers in this region are proud of their land and their coffee. On plots of approximately 2 hectares on the average, they cultivate and manage their plants with expertise, and send their crop to the Kedir Ibrahm wet mill. Care and quality show in the fruits of their labor, and we’re thrilled to partner with them in offering you this Ethiopia Sidamo Peaberry.

Latitude: 6° 45’ N
Longitude: 38° 20’ E
Altitude: 1815 masl
Region: Sidamo
District: Dale
Varietal: Ethiopia Heirloom

Tasting Notes: A balanced coffee with almond, cashew and hints of juicy plum up front with a full-bodied chocolate and nutmeg finish.

Meet the Roaster: Franc!

We are delighted to welcome our beautiful new Series-2 San Franciscan 25-pound roaster, “Franc”, to our team. Franc replaced faithful “Cisco”, and takes his place next to “Frannie”. With next-level controls and brand-new manufacturing, Franc enables us to provide even better coffee to you.