Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Solar-powered Coffee Processing

At the Yoro Processing Center in Honduras, a ground-breaking initiative is taking place: the world's first solar-powered green coffee processing mill. "The Yoro processing center is 'off-grid' in that it generates its own electricity, and allows local farmers through their coop to not only process but also to export their harvest directly to the world's specialty coffee market." -Peter Friedland of Coffee Talk

Managed by women and operated by youth of the community, the initiative of COMISUYL coop is gaining attention as a new model of sustainability. The center is able to dry coffee without burning wood from tropical forests. Additionally, the solar energy plant is backed up with other renewable energy made from an indigenous tree, Jatropha Curcas. 
Jatropha oil extraction 
The solar dryer is the result of a  partnership between the Mesoamerican Development Institute in Massachusetts and the COMISUYL coop. Cafe Solar coffee is now the official coffee of the UMass Lowell campus.

These new initiatives are shaping the future of sustainable harvesting and economic development. 

Read more about off-grid coffee processing here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

FTGU at the Good Earth Food Co-Op

From the Ground Up coffees will soon be available at the Good Earth Food Co-op in St. Cloud, Minnesota! We are more than excited that our mission to support coffee growers aligns with the mission at Good Earth to have sustainable, organic, local and Fair Trade products whenever possible. 
If you're in the St. Cloud area or just driving through, check out the co-op, grab a pound of coffee and enjoy! 

Our coffees are also available online:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

History of Coffee Roasting

The Arabs discovered in the late 13th century that applying heat to coffee beans, grinding the beans, and boiling the grounds in water, would release the unique aroma and taste of coffee. Many other methods of preparing coffee were practiced. The berries can be fermented to become a wine, the leaves and flowers can be dried and prepared as a tea, the raw beans can be soaked in water and spices and eaten like candy, or the husks of the dried coffee fruit can be boiled with spices to make qishr, a Yemeni drink. 
Despite all this, roasting, grinding, and steeping the beans produces the drink that captivated the world. When the coffee bean is roasted, oils are produced that give coffee its beloved primary tastes. In addition, sugars in the bean caramelize, contributing to color, body, sweetness, complexity, and flavor.The Arabs roasted beans over an open fire, and the Europeans roasted the beans in their ovens. In the 19th century large roasting equipment developed, turning coffee roasting into a commercial operation. 

Now we have the luxury of huge batch roasters with automated control panels and digital screens where you can input and save programs to ensure consistency and repeatability. Fancy environmental controls allow for less fuel consumption and more efficient cooling techniques. The roaster pictured above is where the magic happens at From the Ground Up (cool fact: this baby has a capacity of over 100 pounds)!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Latin American Coffee Market

From the Ground Up works in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru, and therefore cares a great deal  about the people and economy in these countries. Overall, in the 2012-2013 harvest year, production was down 20% in Central America due to coffee rust ("La Roya") and adverse weather conditions. 
Coffee Rust Fungus is particularly hazardous for coffee regions of Latin America

Updates by country:

Production was estimated to be down by as much as 400,000 quintales this harvest due to La Roya. This decrease in production affects exports and also impacts coffee prices worldwide.

Coffee export sales down 17.9% in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011. Although they have increased export volume, the export sales by income has decreased. "According to Anacafe, thee Coffee Exporters Association, the drop in income is due to market supply and demand, the international economic crisis and increased production in Brazil and Vietnam." -Coffee Talk Magazine

The government of Mexico, through the Secretariat of Agriculture, has launched an emergency program to mitigate coffee rust, especially in Chiapas and Veracruz, the two main coffee-producing states. Fortunately, production volume is up by 3.5% from the previous year's harvest.

Low yields in the 2012 harvest due to scarcity of labor and the spread of coffee rust fungus caused an estimated 25% drop in production compared to 2011.

From the Ground Up is working with coffee farmers in Nicaragua to replace all old and dying coffee trees with new coffee trees in the next five years. Read more on our website: 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Step Aside, Gents. Witness The Rise of Women in Coffee" -NPR

...As the International Trade Centre has documented, women on family-owned coffee plants in African countries take on about 70 percent of maintenance and harvesting work. Yet they tend to have little or no control over their farms' finances, and they typically do not own land or have easy access to credit.
But change is coming. 

Increasingly in Central and South America, women are making progress. On Tuesday, we documented the story of Guatemalan farmer Miguelina Villatoro. In Colombia, 47 percent of the National Federation of Columbia Coffee Growers' members are female. In fact, one-fifth of that country's farms are owned and operated by women, according to the federation.
(read the full article here).

From the Ground Up sources a fantastic coffee from CODECH in Guatemala; Cafe Mujeres, which is not only comprised of female owners, but the profits are going towards building a women's health clinic in the community!  Taste some here

Monday, April 22, 2013

Coffee Quiz

Test your coffee knowledge on this fun little quiz. I got 8 out of 10, can you beat me??

NPR: How Coffee Brings the World Together

Coffee is more than a drink. For many of us — OK, for me — it's woven into the fabric of every day.
It also connects us to far corners of the globe.
For instance, every Friday, a truck pulls up to the warehouse of Counter Culture Coffee, a small roaster and coffee distributor in Durham, N.C., and unloads a bunch of heavy burlap sacks.
On any random day, that truck could bring "10 bags from a farm in El Salvador; 20 bags from a cooperative in Burundi; two bags of a special coffee from Guatemala," says Kim Elena Ionescu, one of the coffee buyers for Counter Culture Coffee. She travels the world, visiting coffee farms and deciding which beans the company will buy.
The best coffee, she says, comes from high altitudes, but you cannot grow it in places that freeze, "so you need that mixture of high altitude and warm climate, which makes the tropics the place to grow it."
All across Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, people grow coffee.
In many tropical countries, especially poor ones, it's a pillar of the economy; exports of green coffee beans, globally, are worth $15 billion a year.
Read the full story here.