Women In Coffee – Traudel Germann Mick

Deep through the tortuous roads of Villa Rica, Peru, over the Andes mountains from the metropolis of Lima, is a bonny coffee farm. With varieties like Pacamara, Red Catuai, and Gesha lining the dusty roads for kilometers before the final grind to the house, worker lodgings, and processing facilities, Finca Santa Josefa is almost, but not quite, as impressive as its owner, Traudel Germann Mick.

Traudel impresses you on first meeting. Her eyes wide with passion as she discusses her farm and her coffee with a tumbling mix of German, Spanish, and English, she dominates any room. Until recently her beloved husband, Juan Luis Vier, stood beside her as a quiet counterpoint to her enthusiasm. Together they began changing Peruvian coffee producing culture in a way none of us will forget.

Santa Josefa had long produced a lot of solid Villa Rican coffees, but nothing very exceptional. Four or five years ago Traudel caught the specialty coffee vision. Juan Luis, who was an engineer, took her vision and executed it on their farm, creating processes, methods and equipment that allowed them to begin experimenting with fermentation times and types, variety separation (for the first time), and other unique approaches to coffee production.

It was with great sorrow that we, around the coffee world, learned of the death of Traudel’s husband Juan Luis, after a long battle with cancer. This hardship has only firmed Traudel’s resolve to produce better and better Peruvian coffee, proving to the world Juan Luis’s legacy of quality. As a coffee professional who counts among my most treasured moments the days I spent with Traudel and Juan Luis on Finca Santa Josefa last year, I also vow to carry his legacy through the years.

We women of coffee are widely diverse, remarkable, and courageous. We work on the impossible Andean slopes picking cherries, we drive international companies, and we tell stories that change the landscape of the world. Traudel Germann Mick is just getting started, and so are we. United by passion and hard work and our love for this wonderful beverage that brings us together, we, the women and the men of coffee, pivot from the old to the new with joy in our hearts.

Emily McIntyre


Christmas Blend, From Magis to Snowflakes

We have a long tradition here at Caravan Coffee of offering a seasonal blend that is introduced this time of year, “Christmas Blend”. This tradition includes both special packaging and the coffees that are blended together to create this popular coffee.

First of all the packaging of the Christmas Blend started out not even being called “Christmas Blend” but rather “Magi’s Blend”. Our Caravan Coffee branding started out with an Arabian Theme that included coffee names such as Bedouin Blend and Midnight Mirage with images of camels and the dessert. Along this same theme, we introduced our Christmas Blend with the ancient story of the Magi coming to see the King. Contrast this branding and name to our current Christmas Blend with snowflakes and a camping trailer!

Now, for the important piece: the coffee flavor profile which is developed with the season in mind. We concentrate on the sweetness of this Holiday – whether it is grandma’s pie, chocolate from your spouse, or fruit cake from Aunt Betsy. Also we consider the natural aromas of Christmas that includes cedar or pine, and spice. Our Roastmaster presents several different options for our team after many experiments to highlight aromas and flavors of Christmas. The result, “HO! HO! HO!, Merry Christmas to all, And to all a good night!”  

Celebrate with Us: National Fair Trade month

fair trade coffee

October is the 9th National Fair Trade Month, and with many of our coffees certified Fair Trade and all our coffees bought at better-than Fair Trade prices, we are celebrating. But what exactly is Fair Trade? The words have become buzzwords, a certification, a movement. Perhaps you, like many other coffee lovers, will only drink Fair Trade-certified coffees–and your dedication to justice is worthy of applause. Again the question: what IS Fair Trade, and why should we care?

Today, 168 million children are trapped in negative labor situations. The coffee industry is well-known to be one of the worst for child labor exploitation and sub-human working standards. The average coffee farmer barely breaks even financially, and his workers are seasonal drifters, whose children pick in the fields from dawn til dust beside them. Education is spotty or non-existant and food and shelter, especially in off-harvest seasons, are iffy.


Then, look at the life of the average coffee farmer in, say, northern Peru. Usually he has to take out a loan from the local umbrella cooperative to make it through the year until his coffee harvest comes in. Once the coffee is sold–to the lowest, quickest bidder, because he doesn’t have resiliency to wait for better prices–he makes just enough to pay his workers and pay back the loan, only to start the sordid cycle over again. He is preyed on by coyotes, or unscrupulous coffee buyers, and can’t develop the time and education needed to advocate for himself in the international coffee forum.

This is why Fair Trade coffee exists. If a coffee is certified Fair Trade, it is guaranteed to have been purchased at better-than commodity-market prices, to have been produced under fair working conditions without child or slave labor. The farmers have access to education and micro-loans, and as many middlemen as possible have been eliminated.

While Fair Trade is not the ONLY kind of buying that puts justice for the producers foremost, we are proud to roast multiple Fair Trade coffees, including the Organic Sumatra Mandheling. Thank you for joining in with the just coffee revolution!

Sometimes Coffee

School has started once again, and I take my cup of coffee in hand and reminisce while my teens head for the schoolbus. I reminisce because it hasn’t always been this way. I used to take my coffee in hand to bolster my resolve, and head into the dining room where my homeschoolers awaited my instruction in grammar, resisted my assignments in math, and sought to avoid history like the proverbial plague. Actually, homeschooling wasn’t always like that. I also remember all the times I savored a hot cup of Columbian or Yirgacheffe while cuddling on the couch with my current first-grader, helping him/her sound out words to the scent of South America, or leaning against the kitchen counter sniffing the fragrant steam of my second-cup-of-the-day before correcting the day’s’ schoolwork. I have 23 years worth of these accumulated homeschool moments under my belt, and sometimes coffee and school mornings take me on a sentimental journey.

bandBut this fall, it’s not only my last two teens that are going back to school. It’s me. Pursuing a degree in Graphic Design, I wave goodbye to the kids and head to my own 8:00 class. Math book? Check. Backpack? Check. And of course, coffee in my to-go cup. One day in the mad dash to usher the crew off with lunch, permission slips, and musical instruments in hand, I forgot coffee, and I didn’t even notice until about twenty minutes into pre-algebra. Eyelids drooping, brain grinding between neutral and low gear, the longing for a fresh French-pressed cup of joe took center stage. Sometimes coffee is all that wards off slumber. So of course I made an emergency run between classes. No time for French press, thank you. I order an iced coffee and by the time I was sitting in English class, my brain had begun to function once more. It turns out that coffee is as necessary to school as my math book and pencil.

IMG_8115[1]I have a half an hour between the end of my classes and the arrival of my teens, at which time I will morph into mother mode, dispense snacks and how-was-your-day questions, and figure out what to make for dinner. But the time before I hear their footsteps on the porch is mine. I drop my backpack in the corner and kick off my shoes. Check my emails. and breathe deep in this lull before my orbit intersects two other full-on worlds. And then I make coffee. Because sometimes coffee is the only fitting way to commemorate special moments in life.

Leslie J. Wyatt

Women in Coffee: Kat

Continuing our promotion for Women’s Equality Day on August 26th, here is an outstanding video with Kat Stauffer sharing what coffee means to her.

Enjoy! And, as a quick reminder, for every pound of Peru Café Feminino coffee you purchase, we will donate $.50 to the cooperative to support the women changing their lives in Peru, through the end of August. Click through now!

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe

Road signs to the contrary, you can’t always tell when you are officially in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia. It’s a region and a district as well as a town. Furthermore, as a transliteration of an Amharic word, multiple spellings exist: Yirgachefe, Yergacheffe, or Yerga Chefe. But whatever you call it,  this area is widely considered the birthplace of coffee.

The town of Yirgacheffe itself has a population of 20,000, similar to Caravan Coffee’s own hometown, Newberg, OR.

“When we were driving into this area, we noticed a unique fragrance of [coffee] fruit in the air,” said Paul Allen, Roastmaster.

So if you didn’t know you’d arrived in Yirgacheffe by sight, perhaps you would know it by smell. And also by sight; coffee trees aren’t just growing on farms and in back yards, they’re even growing along the roadside, bathed in the dust and noise of traffic.

The wet/washed process, which removes the cherry skin and pulpy fruit before entering the water tanks, helps keeps our Yirgacheffe coffee clean and consistent. With its unique citrus notes, this offering might just remind you of why you love coffee. Enjoy!

Tasting Profile: A medium-bodied coffee with lemon and red grapefruit up front and a smooth, earthy finish.

Recommended Preparations: Aeropress, French Press, Chemex, Pour-over

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Coffeehouses: Fomenting Revolution

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”    -Thomas Jefferson

On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence. This incredible document written by our founding fathers gave America its direction and has shaped our politics ever since. On July 4th, we celebrate our independence from the colonial rule of Great Britain. We celebrate American freedom. However, what many people may not know is how influential coffee was in the revolution.

Three years earlier, a group of upset Americans raided British ships and threw barrels of tea into the ocean, in a wild night that became the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Since tea was taxed without proper representation in England, it became unpatriotic to drink tea in the Americas. Coffee, the lesser-consumed beverage at the time, became the drink of choice for revolutionaries.

People began meeting in coffeehouses to talk about politics and freedom. The unique culture that sprang up allowed people to meet without the threat of the tea-loving British overhearing the revolutionaries’ plans. This provided the time and space for the Declaration of Independence to be crafted without fear of punishment. Thus, coffee became a symbol of hope and freedom. Coffee’s tradition of freedom and hope continues today with the rise of the Fairtrade, Direct-Trade, and other ethical sourcing practices. Coffee, when sourced with equity, continues to change the world from tyranny to liberty.

For more fun facts about coffee visit http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/04/24/178625554/how-coffee-influenced-the-course-of-history and http://www.thecaffeinateddaily.com/coffee-and-the-american-revolution

Barista Showdown: Changing the World

Anyone who knows me will often hear me saying, “I want to change the world”. I’m passionate about it, and I measure all my endeavors against that ideal. Recently, in a conversation with a dear friend, I learned that for some, this phrase is too big; too idealist. It can make people uncomfortable. I certainly want to be aware of the impact of my words on others, but something happened this weekend that encouraged me in my mission.

What happened? The 3rd annual Caravan Coffee Barista Showdown happened! A community of sponsors, roasters, baristas, and supporters came together in our roasting facility to benefit the Newberg Area Habitat for Humanity. We laughed, clapped, tasted, and celebrated together over live music, great food, and of course delicious coffee. The goal of the event was to build lasting relationships in the local coffee community, better our craft, have fun, and give back.  We had a fantastic turnout and raised quite a bit of money for Habitat for Humanity.

Here’s the mission of Habitat for Humanity: “we are dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. Our ministry was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent place to live in dignity and safety.”  In other words, Habitat for Humanity is making a real difference in the lives of many who live in our local communities.

One sponsor who happened to play a vital role in the Barista Showdown was the friend I mentioned earlier. He may not have liked the phrase, but he joined us in changing the world. No, the 2015 Barista Showdown didn’t end world hunger or eradicate slave labor in a foreign country. However, we validated baristas who are passionate about their craft, and by contributing substantially to Habitat for Humanity, we impacted families on a visceral level: safe housing. Maybe we didn’t shift world politics, but we really did change their world.

– Marcus Karaffa

Holiday: St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of that most American-Irish holiday, St. Patrick’s day, we asked Emily McIntyre, our resident beverage writer-geek-lady, to furnish an Irish Coffee recipe. Turns out, she’d asked her bartender-consultant-friend-guy in Kansas City, Kenny Cohrs, the same question. We’re delighted to post the result! And, if you plan to try this out, may we suggest you click through to join our newsletter to access a coupon code for the coffee?

Irish Coffee

4.0 oz. fresh-brewed quality coffee

1.5 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey

1.0 oz brown sugar simple syrup*

unsweetened cream, lightly whipped

In a preheated, Irish Coffee Mug, or even a white wine glass, combine coffee, whiskey and syrup. Stir slightly to combine , then whip cream until just less than still and still pourable (I use a Ball jar and fill half way, replace lid and shake to stiffen my cream). Gently ladle roughly one inch of cream on top.

Holidays: Love in a Cup

love, coffee love

Whether you are double or single on this Valentine’s Day, we want to take a moment to honor you. You are complex, earnest, talented, and unique. You deserve all the love you can give yourself–and all the love we can give you, too. Take a moment this morning, or tomorrow morning, or the next, to enjoy peace in a cup, and let us thank you by furnishing the coffee you need.

We are offering 25% off any online 12-oz bag of coffee with the code ‘coffee love’ by way of thanking you for sharing your life with Caravan Coffee.

Now go celebrate!