Turkish? Pour-over? French press? Among coffee connoisseurs, the best method for making an exquisite cup of coffee is a matter of intense debate. But one thing is for sure: Coffee is better when it’s good—when beans are grown and harvested more sustainably, in ways that protect ecosystems and worker well-being.
No matter what method you choose, knowing the coffee comes from a healthy ecosystem sets the stage for a perfect morning treat.
How to treat your responsibly grown coffee beans
Store your beans in a glass or ceramic container with a rubber gasket. Contrary to popular belief, you should keep coffee beans at room temperature (not in the fridge). It should go without saying that you must grind your own beans each morning—experts say that you have about 5 minutes after grinding before the coffee starts getting stale.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Just pour some water over grounds in one of those beaker-like carafes? Not so fast. The expert technicians at the Oakland, California, based coffee roaster Blue Bottle recommend first wetting the paper filter completely with just-boiled water. Next, you place the grounds in the filter and use a light, consistent pour to moisten the grounds—then stop! Wait 30 seconds to allow the coffee to “bloom.” Pour the remaining hot water over the grounds slowly. Like, really slowly. You should be pouring so slowly that it takes a full four minutes for the water to drip down into the base of the flask.
For the French press, Serious Eats recommends the coarsest grounds possible to reduce the muddy sediment at the bottom. Scoop them into the carafe and add just-boiled water, giving it a gentle but thorough stir. Wait 30-45 seconds—again, to allow the coffee to “bloom.” You’ll know it’s time to place the lid on when most of the coffee has sunk to the bottom. Wait 6-8 minutes, then plunge gently, pour, and drink up!
Stovetop espresso maker, the moka pot
Yes, even this traditional Mediterranean device has given rise to a set of specialized instructions. Stumptown, the famed Portland coffee purveyor, recommends that you first boil water in a kettle, as you don’t want the moka pot to get too hot and impart metallic flavors; you then pour the hot water into the bottom half of the espresso maker. Insert the basket and fill it with fine grounds, then screw the two parts together (you must somehow remember to use an oven mitt before having caffeinated yourself, to prevent burning yourself on the base that you've just filled with boiling water). Brew on moderate heat with the lid open. Once the stream of liquid bubbling forth is the color of yellow honey, remove from heat and close lid. Wrap the bottom in a chilled bar towel or run it under water to stop the extraction. Pour immediately.
For many, iced coffee is a cherished summertime pick-me-up, but if you want to do it right, you’ll need 12-24 hours (and you thought the pour-over method was slow!). Stir coffee grounds and water in a pitcher, cover, and let steep a minimum of 12 hours; when the brew is ready, strain it, and store it in the refrigerator for another 2 hours.
Like other methods, brewing Turkish coffee calls for its own set of tools, including a lovely little cup called a finca and a small brass pot known as a cezve. Boiling the grounds—which should be finer even than those for espresso—together with water makes this thick brew. Traditionally, a cup of water is served with Turkish coffee to clear the palate before partaking in the delicious dark concoction (hipster coffee snobs have nothing on the Ottomans). Be sure not to drink the grounds at the bottom of the cup—you’ll need them to tell your fortune (and if you don’t know the ancient art of reading coffee grounds, never fear—there’s an app for that!).
This year we have all faced some pretty serious challenges and none more-so than COVID-19. Every country has been impacted and its effects have and will continue to be felt for years to come. So while we feel the challenges at home, what impact does the pandemic have in other countries?
According to Beanscene article, “The risk posed by COVID-19 on Africa’s agricultural sector remains critical, given the sector accounts for 23%of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product, with food and agricultural exports averaging US$35 billion to US$40 billion annually.”(Building a post-COVID -19 resilience for Africa’s coffee sector, Beanscene Magazine 2020)
Each year, Africa’s agricultural products (including coffee) are worth US $8 billion and it is believed the pandemic will not only impact the country’s earning capacity between US$100 million -$200 million, but also will have a direct impact on close to 7 million people’s jobs in the coffee sector.
Going hand-in-hand with a pandemic, the other massive issue facing farmers is global warming and the unpredictable seasons which (specifically in Rwanda), caused massive flooding which saw crops we had invested in last year for the female farming co-operative of Cocagi totally destroyed.
So to ensure the project we started with Cocagi, reaches its full potential, we are continuing to funding this community again this year. We will be purchasing them an additional 2 hectares of land, 8500 coffee seedlings, fertilizers for the full 6 hectares of land, other plants (sunflowers and bananas to replace the destroyed crops) and additional training.
The group is supported by Rainforest Alliance and as part of that, they have learned the value in crop diversification which is why we have invested in the additional banana and sunflower crops. This will allow the women to sell product to the local markets and the training will teach them how to produce sunflower oil again for the domestic market. Not only does it take 3 years for coffee crops to establish itself, but it means that they are able to make money from the land immediately and diversify their risk should a crop be destroyed by weather again.
We are committed to seeing this project reach its full potential for the group and the addition of more land again will assist them in growing their capacity to sell to international markets and earn more income for their community.
Again, we are grateful to all our customers, returning and new ones, who support us. Because this project is all funded by YOU through your purchase. We have big ideas to do more and as we grow as a brand, we are excited by the prospect of being able to support more coffee growing communities around the world.
Make sure you follow the progress by following us on Instagram and Facebook. Thank you to Rainforest Alliance for again supporting us with this project.