Converstion with Kevin…

and I’m going to post some of it. We had been talking about eating locally and how that may not really be possible with coffee. Kevin had some good points.

I agree with trying to eat as much as you can, things grown as close to where you live as possible. But of course coffee is one of those things we can’t grow here — it’s a tropical plant. And there are always going to be some things that we need or want that aren’t grown where we live — sugar, spices and there aren’t many (none) wheat farmers around here, so bread flower has to be brought in from other places.

One thing I’m doing with Blue Smoke is sourcing all of my beans from as close to our region as possible — and that is Latin America. So I’m phasing out my beans that come from the other side of the world. Primarily because I want to continue to reduce Blue Smoke’s carbon-footprint and I want to extend my “carbon-neutral” model to include the transport of beans from the farmer to me (now it’s from my roasting shop to my customers/accounts) — but to be able to afford to offset the carbon from the farmer to me, the beans can’t be sourced from Indonesia or Africa (let the folks in Europe have those beans). The good thing is the Latin American beans, I think, are even better than the Indonesian or African beans.

Another thing to consider about the argument of not drinking coffee because it isn’t grown locally. Consider that Fair Trade coffee is providing coffee farmers with a living wage and if you insure you also only purchase Shade Grown beans (all of Blue Smoke’s beans are shade grown and fair trade), then you are also supporting a crop that doesn’t contribute to global warming to grow, since shade grown coffee is grown under the canopy of trees and therefore rain forests are preserved.

Therefore, when we support Fair Trade and Shade Grown coffee, we are insuring that those farmers in Latin America can make a living growing a crop that doesn’t harm the environment. If we don’t support these farmers, then they would likely turn to other profitable crops that require rain forests to be cut down to grow. For example, in Brazil, they are cutting down hundreds of thousands of acres of rain forests to grow soy beans — mostly for China’s demand, their largest customer. If we stop buying Fair Trade, Shade Grown coffee beans, then that rain forest land used to grow shade grown coffee today would likely get plowed down and turned into soy bean fields or some other mass produced and profitable crop.

Also, coffee has a tremendous number of health benefits”

-It was interesting to me. This conversation started after I was reading No Impact Man’s blog. I was curious as to how caffeine was taken out of the bean to make decaf. Many companies apparently use the same chemical used in dry cleaning? So Kevin described to me how the Swiss Process was done, which involves water.

“The swiss water process is the only decaffeination process that does not use chemicals.
Here’s how the process works:

1. Some coffee beans are soaked in spring water. This causes the beans to give off both the caffeine and the coffee flavor. They do this until the water is completely saturated with coffee flavor (saturation meaning no more flavor can be absortbed).

2. They compost those beans then filter the coffee flavored water to remove the caffeine.

3. New green coffee beans that are to be decaffeinated are cleaned then soaked in this flavor saturated water. The beans can only let off the caffeine since the water won’t allow it to let out flavor (because it is saturated with the the flavor from the original batch of beans). The caffeine is then filtered out through a carbon filter.

4. This is continued until no more caffeine is present. Then the beans are sent to be dried.

The whole process manages to take out the caffeine but retain all the original coffee flavor (without the use of chemicals).”

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