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 are continuing our funding for Cocagi Femme. Due to climate issues and COVID-19, this coffee community faced some big challenges that destroyed some of the crops we purchased and donated to them last year.
So to ensure, this project is a success, we are back supporting them, replenishing crops that were destroyed, buying an additional 2 hectares of land, fertiliser for the whole 6 hectares of land, additional coffee seedlings and sunflowers to they can earn additional money from the land while they are establishing the coffee plantation.
Cocagi have been busy preparing the original 4 hectares of land (including weeding, purchasing liquid organic fertilizer and mulching) before planting 7318 coffee trees to ensure a healthy crop. They are now on track to plant the remaining 2,682 coffee trees by the end of January totalling 10,000 new coffee plants. They are still looking to secure the new 2 hectares of land which they have planned to use for both coffee and bananas, hopefully by our next report this will be secured and land preparation will be underway for this new addition!
As well as prepping the land and planting the coffee plants, the community have also been preparing the land to include sunflowers after severe weather destroyed the tomato crops last year. Plant diversification is very important to ensure that the women can secure an alternate source of income while the crops are being established. It also diversifies the risk of reliance on one crop and is an important aspect that is taught by Rainforest Alliance to these communities to ensure they can continually make money from the land and support their families.
As part of our support, we also invest in training for the Cocagi Femme who together with the support of Rainforest Alliance teach the community about leadership, gender equality, trade and marketing of their coffee. We also funded the cost of two female agronomists to assist the farming project. An agronomist are plant and soil scientists who work with the cooperative on the most up-to-date farming practices to boost crop yields while managing weeds, pest control and working in alignment with the surrounding environment.
As we have seen, no project is free from challenges like unpredictable weather, but so far, the project is moving forward without any issues. Thank you to our customers for buying St Remio. Your support is allowing us to fund this community and empower them in business and support their families. Coffee is the lifeline of many communities and your support will ensure that these communities can thrive and we can enjoy coffee for years to come.
Thank you to Rainforest Alliance for their support in this project too. This is a partnership we are so proud to be aligned with.
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.
As you will have seen, last year we started our relationship with UTZ, ensuring that we sourced all our coffee from UTZ certified farms, providing greater traceability again to the consumer. Our packaging changed to show the UTZ logo, giving confidence to the consumer that the coffee was sustainably sourced and that we as a business ensured we paid a fair price to coffee growers.
In 2018 the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ joined forces to build an alliance to create a better future for people and nature by making responsible business the new normal. That’s why you will see the new Rainforest Alliance certification seal on our products. Just like the UTZ label, the Rainforest Alliance seal stands for farmers and companies working towards a world where people and nature thrive in harmony. It represents the next step in sustainability and is a signal that St Remio is committed to never stop getting better at what we do. We want to be transparent about our progress and share the responsibility with farmers and others in the supply chain to reach this mission.
Did you know the Rainforest Alliance seal features a frog for an important reason? As one of nature's super indicator species, the presence of the frog is a positive sign that a natural ecosystem is balanced and thriving. When we no longer see the frog, we know that the environment is compromised and other species within that ecosystem will soon suffer if we don’t do something urgently. That’s why we ask you to follow the frog. By buying St Remio Coffee with the frog seal you help contribute to better farming practices, fight against the climate crisis, conserve our forests, protect the human rights of farmers and workers, and improve their livelihoods.
You will start to shortly see some of our packaging transitioning to the new Rainforest Logo and overtime our whole range will feature the new logo allowing you to #followthefrog and again be assured you are purchasing sustainable coffee. We are committed to sustainable coffee and we are committed to supporting farmers. That is the St Remio difference.
To learn more about Rainforest Alliance visit https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/