Stellar Stuff - Week #3

In the spirit of Daylight Savings Time and losing an hour of the precious, elusive thing that mamas rarely get enough of....*sigh*....I want to highlight this weeks "Stellar Stuff" -- COFFEE!

Truth be known: I started drinking coffee when I was 22. That's right. 2.5 years into my college career. I made it through many cram sessions without the black brew. I probably would still avoid the stuff had I only been exposed to Folgers and the like.

Then, the turning point: a trip to Costa Rica for an agroforestry seminar in the J-term of my junior year in college. We ended up touring a great coffee farm, a processing and roasting facility, and having a fresh cup that was literally from the bush to the cup in the 24 hrs prior to our arrival. That's pretty much as fresh as it gets. I drank it to be polite, but was shocked when it passed my lips and I enjoyed it! I didn't use any additives and it was already very flavorful and sweet. Not at all bitter and weak tasting like tainted warm water from home! It was amazing. I still haven't had another cup of coffee to equal that one. But that day wrecked me. I went home with 3 lbs. (the allowable amount for one person) in my luggage and continued to order from that company for the next year. See the website below if you would like to experience the liquid dream. :) Spanish background helps but is not necessary to navigate the website.

Back then I was ordering ground coffee. I had moved up in the world and drank GOOD coffee, but little did I know how much better it got when you could grind your own! I got a coffee grinder and was making myself some Joe that other coffee snobs were equating to coffee shop goodness. :) Made in my 4 cup drip maker. Life was good. It still is good. I went back to Costa Rica in 2008. I brought home more coffee and some chocolate covered coffee beans. Yum.

That year I began working an 11pm - 7am night auditor job at a local hotel. I drank so many pots of coffee. This was the liquid variety that came in large plastic containers that simply flipped upside down into the coffee machine, and presto! Coffee that is consistent in flavor, everytime. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this coffee. (As much as a coffee snob can enjoy it anyway!) It is what got me through the nights, and 1/2 of my classes the next morning. And hey, what college kid can afford to ship themselves good coffee to support the habit constantly? Not this one. All good things come to an end. Or in my case a brief hiatus.

I now request coffee when traveling relatives ask what they should bring home for me from trips abroad. I also became friends with a co-worker that is 1/2 Guatemalan and happens to have a family coffee farm in Guatemala. So, now we buy our coffee there. You should too! It is a great fair trade, sustainable operation. You can be sure the money gets to the growers and not the corporate coffee pimps like Starbucks, Caribou, Cameron's... Here is the link:

I really like supporting small coffee growers. I WISH they could ship me the coffee berries! Not many people realize that coffee beans are encased in a delicious fruit. If you go to the above link, you will see as you scroll to the very bottom that there is a giant mount of reddish, spherical objects. Yum. Coffee berries! At the very least, for all of you green mamas out there, please buy certified coffee! Rainforest Alliance is a great seal of approval to look for. Peace Coffee is a good company. There are so many really respectable small operations out there and yes, they are generally a little more expensive than your red can of swill at the big box, but it's worth it. For the taste, for the environment, for the economies of other small families. It's also a really interesting business to look into. Coffee producers typically offer some kind of eco-tour of their facility, and that remains one of the neatest environmental education tours I've taken to date.

Enjoy your java!

**I was not paid or even asked by any of the mentioned companies to review or even mention them in my post. These are my opinions from my own experience. Take from this what you will. :) **


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