Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Camping with the Bonavita Clever

Well, all my fellow campers, hunters, backpackers, and hikers....here is our first brewing method review.

We (my husband and I) have found that we are unreasonably grumpy when we wake up, anytime we go camping. "Why?" you ask...because we have a toddler sleeping between us all. night. long.

So, to help us bypass the morning frustrations of getting the fire going and waiting for our pot to start boiling water, we've bought our newest toy. The Jet Boil. (Find it here online or at REI stores.)
We used it for every pot we made simply because it was easier than filling a kettle and waiting for it to boil while continually stoking the fire.

I decided to take my trusty Bonavita clever (buy it here on Amazon) to brew our morning Cup o' Joe. All you need is the Bonavita clever, cone filters (white is best but brown will do), and coffee, we brought along Latin Silk (buy it on our website, in your local Fairbanks store,or at our warehouse).

Once you pour the coffee in (about 2 tablespoons) begin pouring your hot water (just off a boil) over the grounds.

1.   Wet the grounds just enough to cover them at first. Wait about 5 seconds before pouring in the rest of the hot water about a half inch from the top of the clever.

2.    Let brew for 3-4 minutes.

Open the stopper and let it drain into your cup. 

Here are the Pros and Cons of using this brewing method outdoors.

Brews coffee quickly (with Jet boil, only 6-7 minutes total)
Gives an excellent tasting brew without electricity
Requires minimal to no cleaning (simply remove the filter and let air dry)

The clever is porcelain (breakable and heavy)
Must use filters (extra trash and one more thing to bring along)

Overall we give this brewing method a 3 out of 5 as an outdoor brewing process.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Camping Season

It's practically summer here in Alaska and so we break out the shorts, light jackets, and hiking boots. We live for this time of year, it's why we brave and knuckle through the -40 winter days and the unrelenting dark, short days.
The never ending sun and quick transition from Winter to Summer is our payoff and we're oh-so-ready to get out in the untamed wilderness we love. 

For our hard core, North Pole Coffee lovers we'll be trying out new brewing methods that are perfect for camping, backpacking, and hiking. If you're outdoors, we've got a brew solution for you.
Follow our Trek Team this summer as they test our latest brew technology and venture into some of the most amazing trails the interior of Alaska has to offer. 

Trek Team Bios:

Angie Coelho
Came to Alaska in 2012. Angie is the Business Developer for North Pole Coffee Roasting Co. She and her husband have traveled around the world and finally settled down long enough to enjoy the wild of Alaska and have their first child.

Doug Coen:
Came to Alaska in 1996. Doug is the Master Roaster for North Pole Coffee Roasting Co. He and his family love to fish and camp. Want to know the best place to catch silvers, reds, or any other kind of fish? Doug's your man.

Cyle Demoski:
Grew up in Alaska. Cyle served in the armed forces and made his way back to North Pole Coffee to work as a technician. He is an avid camper and knows all the best spots in the interior.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

History of Coffee ~ Part 6

In the wake of the death of  six Brazilian men, the world begins to think of ways to counter act the coffee market that makes the rich man richer and the poor man poorer.
Many coffee consumers want to be educated about where they are purchasing their coffee from. The question of how to distinguish farms who made and effort to take care of both their people and the land from those who didn't was of crucial importance. Organizations were formed to give farmers a way to show their efforts in making a difference.
Some popular organizations that have made it their priority to advocate for farm and farmer are:

Fair Trade: This organization is the leading American certifier of fairly traded products. Coffee is only one product among many this organization works with. Their staff work in country and in the US to ensure each farm certified with Fair Trade provides a safe workplace and a fair wage to their employees.

Rain Forest Alliance: This non-governmental organization certifies farms that participate in their conservation of biodiversity. Meeting a long list of requirements for their land and farming practices, farms that obtain this certificate show their care for the land they take their pay from.

USDA Organic: This organization certifies farms who participate in practices that preserve or help the environment as well as use very little to no synthetic materials in their product or production.

Bird Friendly: This organization requires farmers to meet very high standards of production including the requirement of up to forty percent of their farm to be shade grown crop. This ensures the wildlife in their area has ample space to thrive. The organization works closely with biologists that recommend the best trees and habitats for the wildlife in the farming area.

These organizations and the people who work with them are investing not only in the earth from which our coffee comes from, but in people's lives, giving them the opportunity to make a better life for themselves.
Searching out products with these certifications is a great way to invest in others and be a responsible consumer.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

History of Coffee ~ Part 5

We left off on the winds of change in Brazil and the global economy. Brazil tried to stay ahead of its boom/bust cycle but found it was impossible. The bust was inevitable and the country was tired of seeing their economy collapse because of it. The people, pointing fingers at President Varga, called for his impeachment. In response to their accusations the President wrote a letter to the nation. In his letter he shared his sadness at their claims of bad leadership on his part. He ends the letter with a goodbye saying, "I have given everything to this country, and the only thing I have left is my blood. That I now give." President Vargas then shot himself in the head, committing suicide.
On the cusp of the Cold War, the Inter Coffee Agreement (ICA) was founded with all coffee consuming countries joining in, with exception to Russia. This guaranteed a quota for each coffee producing country. It created rules that allowed participants to sell a certain amount each year based on the country's producing ability and dependence on the profit. Countries who took part in the agreement both hated and liked it at the same time. Because of its close regulation of exportation, the coffee market stayed relatively competitive. 
In 1989 the Cold War ended and so did the ICA. This caused the bottom to drop out of the coffee market. For the first time in years coffee producing countries could sell as much as they would like to whomever they would like. Brazil tried to fight the low prices by developing equipment that did the farmers' job. This decreased the farm's overall costs, but had a huge, detrimental effect on the quality of their coffee. However, not all coffee farms made the transition to machine labor, and some of those plantations are still around today, keeping with the quality craftsmanship the farms were founded on. 
All of the sudden, in the 1990's, Vietnam shows up on the coffee scene overnight. They have the man power to produce large crops, but unfortunately, the climate and terrain are not suitable for high grade plants. Vietnam's cheap, Robusta coffee infiltrated the coffee market created a drought of work in Brazil. A small group of men decide to do something about their situation and leave their homes to find work in other territories. When they die crossing the dessert, their sacrifice makes national news. Americans, Europeans, and other coffee consuming countries begin to get serious about responsible consumerism. 

Join us next time as we discuss the different trade groups in depth.

Friday, January 30, 2015

History of Coffee ~ Part 4

Brazil has been known for their coffee for decades. What most people don't know is that years ago in 1880 a boom/bust cycle was put into motion in this country's coffee crop. Because this is a cash crop, (meaning the crop's sole purpose is to return a profit), the country can grow large amounts and see immediate profit. When America and Europe couldn't buy all the coffee Brazil was harvesting there was a huge economical crash that shook not only Brazil, but other countries as well. In fact, the stock market crash of 1910 followed closely behind the coffee market crash.
The president of Brazil, Getulio Vargas, decided that the only way his country could bounce back from this devastating economic collapse was to burn the excess crops of beans. This would in a way, restart the market and give farmers an edge again. Unfortunately, this did not work as President Vargas had hoped.
Around the time Brazil was desperately needing to sell its quality coffee, America came up with instant coffee. Coffee only by name (it was made more from coffee flavored powder than actual roasted beans) became popular in America by the Navy's advertisement in World War II. The Navy created a buzz with its "Cup 'o Joe" slogan. "Joe" was every sailor's friend, he helped them stay awake long hours on watch. He helped them stay warm while running training exercises on a windy deck in the middle of the Pacific. Every sailor needed a "Cup 'o Joe". This created a market in which advertising became more important than taste.
Though Brazil was growing coffee by the truckload, America used less real coffee, and more coffee substitutes. Brazil wouldn't see an upswing in the market until 1950.
While the coffee in America grew more tasteless, the advertising became more enticing. Folgers used the lovable character, "Mrs. Olson", in their commercials, ensuring women their husbands would love their coffee (and them) so much more when they used Folgers Mountain Grown.
At this time Sanka, the very first decaffeinated, coffee came on the market. Instead of drinking coffee to stay awake, people could now drink coffee to relax.
Finally in 1950, due to terrible weather conditions in Brazil, coffee prices soared. This prompted a congressional hearing in America. Officials met to discuss the effect of coffee on the economy. It was resolved that coffee was no longer just a commodity, instead, it represents the lives of millions of people.

This ignited a windfall of questions. How can we better protect the farm from which our coffee comes from? How can we ensure the farmer is able to do his job? How can we get the best coffee for the best price without taking away from the lives of those who cultivate and prepare the green beans?

Join us next time when we discuss how the boom/bust cycle of coffee came to be and the crop's market value throughout the years.

Monday, January 26, 2015

History of Coffee ~ Part 3

We last left off at the Industrial Revolution and the need for coffee to keep workers awake.
Today we pick up at the Gold Rush. When people caught wind of gold in the west, there was a race to the hills and of course they needed their coffee to stay awake at the sluice box. 
James Folger, the youngest of three brothers who had come west to seek his fortune. He realized quickly, however, that he could make his fortune by bringing coffee to the miners working day and night. He would roast and grind coffee, then package and haul it by the pound to those at the mines. A fresh egg would sell for as much as thirty cents on the trail during that time, so as you might imagine, a whole pound of coffee brought a much higher price. 
On the tails of this increase in coffee consumption were rich investors, trading in coffee as a family business. The Sandborne brothers were up and coming coffee investors who developed the concept of pre-staled coffee. Folgers and other companies like them, roasted and packaged their ground coffee specifically for the consumer, but the Sandborne brothers went one step further with their Mocha Java brand. This pre-staled product allowed for quicker packaging after roasting, which meant more coffee on the shelves. 
One of the Sandborne brothers took his daughter to their coffee plantation in Brazil for a tour of the production. Upon seeing the great misfortune of the farmers and how poorly they were treated, she wrote in her journal, "Someone must do something." 
It is no secret that fair market goods are dedicated to giving the farmer or industrial worker a fair price for their labor. Sandborne's daughter imagined a market in which this would be the normal treatment for each laborer, whether in the field, the warehouse, or the office. 

Join us next time when we discuss America's consumption during wartime and how instant coffee got its start.

Monday, December 22, 2014

History of Coffee ~ Part 2

We left off on our coffee journey in Europe. Since coffee has made such a splash on the continent it seems only right that it would eventually spread to it's American colonies. In fact, when a tax was imposed on tea and the angered colonists dumped all of the tea freight into the harbor, coffee was deemed the drink of the patriots. Coffee became a political symbol signifying separation from England and unity with the United States of America as it was later to become.

Meanwhile, the French and Dutch were disputing border rights and asked a Brazilian official to adjudicate. This Brazilian official fell in love with the French man's wife, but once the border issue was solved the French woman sent the Brazilian official away with nothing but a token of her love. This token, however, proved to be very valuable as it held fertile coffee beans. Brazil now has it's hands on its very first cash crop that swept the nation and gave its people a new economic standing.

Because of the huge market for coffee, Brazil clears many of its rain forests in order to make room for more coffee plantations. These coffee plantations ruin the ecological system and begin to ruin families as they bring in African Americans to harvest the coffee as slaves.

Coffee Barons spring up like weeds in Brazil. These plantation owners were considered royalty and the farms were passed down from generation to generation.

Back in America, the desire for Brazil's coffee skyrocketed. Cowboys made the drink popular by drinking it to stay warm and alert while tending to their cattle. In order to drink the charbroiled sludge their percolators spewed out, they would clarify the coffee by putting eggshells or fish skin in the cup. This made the ground sink to the bottom.

Industrial Revolution workers began to drink coffee also to stay alert and warm in the factories wile they worked 12, 14, 16 hours at a time. A man named Jabez Burns saw a need for a different kind of mass producing roaster, one that would create a unique, delicious roast, without burning the beans badly. Thus, he invented the self-emptying batch roaster. This concept is used in almost all modern models today.

John Arbuckle, known as the master marketer, saw a niche for packaged coffee. It was great for large companies to buy these batch roasters and sell the coffee, but how would folks get it home? Arbuckle began putting roasted coffee in paper bags.

Now....up until  now the world has only seen coffee in a cafe setting (roasted on location) or in small batches, roasted at home. It is during the Industrial Revolution that America birthed the idea for mass amounts of beans to be roasted for consumers to take home and brew at their convenience. This is the beginning of what we are familiar with today.