Friday, October 22, 2004

press release

Press Release: October 9, 2004 Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Can an American for profit business succeed without greed? Can it create success without taking advantage of third world people or destroying the environment? A new and growing venture with a conscience joins the growing list of Colorado small businesses. With offices in Wheat Ridge, the Earth Friendly Coffee Company thrives on doing the right thing.

Small indigenous family farmers in remote volcanic mountainous regions of Central America have been economically displaced by a worldwide over production of cheap sun grown coffee. Unable to afford the harvest of their own coffee, they have sought grim alternatives. The worldwide over production of sun grown Robusta Bean coffee resulted in a glut on the market and unsustainable prices paid to the traditional producers of shade grown mountain coffee. The low price paid to the farmers, stewards of the highest quality Arabica Beans, forced them to abandon their harvest and at times their farms. The low commodity prices aggravated what was already a problem with the exploitation of indigenous farmers by supply side shippers and processors. A system of cooperatives developed, but they were unable to successfully pass the costs of production on through to the consumer. Rather, the low commodity price became a windfall to the middlemen and the roasters.

The over production was an unintended consequence of well meaning promotion of coffee as a money crop in newly emerging agricultural initiatives such as Brazil and Viet Nam. This story has been told. The money made available in these new areas of coffee production went into large corporate farms. Mechanization, chemical fertilizer, pest control and huge open accessible fields assured a high yield. Planers, often oceans removed, quoted the economic mantra that those who cannot compete will migrate to other endeavors. This was said, without consideration of the consequences further stress on the indigenous people might bring. Neither was there anticipation of the loss of quality coffee that might result from abandonment of remote high mountain farms tended beneath the shade of the critical rain forests.

This small company plans to change some of that. Diane Hughes, the founder of Earth Friendly Coffee established a personal relation with a number of small mountain farmers and co-ops in Northern Guatemala with a promise of better than Fair Trade prices for their excellent crop. This gutsy promise depends upon bypassing multiple layers of profit in the distribution chain, and to transform these choicest beans into an affordable bag of the richest specialty coffee for the consumer.

Diane runs like a turbine, a New Yorker, who lost her accent but not the motor. The coffee import business, this social entrepreneurial venture, one would have given a slim chance. It was a challenge for this one-woman show. There were more challenges along the way. Energy and perseverance won out, with much help from business schools. The dream is in its second year of reality.

This new Information Age Company, EFC makes maximum use of the Internet in support of its supply and distribution. It supports the small family farmers. It supports the environment and the rain forests. It offers an organic, genetically true product of superior quality at a reasonable price. The packaged coffee product trades nationally. This kind of excitement must be what the venture capitalist sees.

It turns out that the mountain grown coffee, growing beneath the protective canopy of high mountain rain forests in rich volcanic soil, yields a far superior quality compared to the sun grown varieties. The small family farmer hand picks the cherries and mulches the trees with organic fertilizers. Chemicals are not used because they are less needed at the higher altitudes. The Arabica beans require shady slow ripening on high mountainsides. The gradations of quality, assigned to coffee, match the hardness and exciting taste of coffees from these higher volcanic mountains. The higher the altitude, the better the coffee. SHB, strictly hard bean, designates the highest grade of Arabica. These SHBs ripen the slowest of all. Their quality proves consistent because of the hand picked cherries and careful selection of the best beans. EFC imports only these high quality beans.

Importing this superior coffee serves the indigenous mountain people of Guatemala. Most are Indian, or Mayan. Many speak neither Spanish nor English but only a local dialect. Promoting a Fair Trade price allows the farmer to cloth, to educate his family and to improve the health in his village. The Fair Trade mountain coffee proves people friendly, tree friendly, bird friendly and earth friendly. Environmentally sound, the imported coffee remains chemical free without genetic alteration. Without clear-cutting or the slash and burn techniques used elsewhere. The critical rain forests are preserved. The people and the creatures that live there will thrive. These high quality fair trade, organic and shade grown coffees earn the name, Ecologically Sustainable.

The consumer enjoys the benefits of taste, nutrition and price. The superior taste derives from the slow ripening, the handling and the rich volcanic soil. The high quality Arabica provides health benefits from lower caffeine content, an anti-oxidant effect as well as less irritation to the GU system. The later would make a good graduate study. Earth Friendly sets the retail price at a modest level compared to many other Specialty Coffees and the prices are a bargain for the shopper seeking quality coffee. By simplifying the supply and processing channels, Earth Friendly delivers a gourmet product at a reasonable price.

By far the majority of store bought coffee stems from, sun-grown Robusta Bean Coffee. It ripens faster in the sun, leading to greater productivity and profit. The mechanized farming and chemical treatment insure a greater yield and a lower price. Because of cost, even the high-end specialty coffee roasters blend in the cheaper bean. The product of the sun grown or plantation harvest accrues to the affluent, the politically connected and the wealthy landowner. On the distribution side, the greatest profit accrues to the roaster. The tight control of distribution channels results in high prices to the consumer despite low commodity prices for coffee.

The US imports about 1/4th of the world’s coffee, about four and a half billion pounds annually, according to the Sustainable Coffee Survey of North America. The Specialty Coffee business accounts for about 17 percent of that volume, but its sales represent about 40 percent of the total US Coffee Market in dollars. The market growth of Specialty Coffee approaches 10 percent annually. The Sustainable Coffee Market, on the other hand, comprises only ½ percent of US imports and 1½ percent of that dollar market, but with an explosive growth of 27% a year.

College students and young people in general demand Fair Trade, environmentally correct products. They are suspicious of globalization, and are sensitive to the plight of the indigenous people. Coffee emerges in the for-front, of that concern. Young people seek ecologically sustainable products. Business schools promote the social entrepreneurial enterprise as a desirable business strategy. These young people, themselves, comprise a fast growing demographic with a social conscience.

Earth Friendly works as an importer. The wholesale distribution of the coffee takes place through socially conscious organizations that resell the coffee as a fundraiser. Many Colorado area clubs and colleges have participated in this distribution A unique feature of the sale is the opportunity for ongoing income derived from the re-orders of coffee from satisfied customers. Another unique benefit results from the promotion of the club’s own, mission by providing a private label. Re-selling Earth Friendly, coffee offers a unique triple win scenario.

Earth Friendly Coffee can be purchased at Gold’s Market, Wadsworth at 26th, at Heinie’s Market, 44th near Ward Road, from any number of soccer and rugby clubs and on the Internet: Anchorage, Malibu and Jacksonville outlets are open now. The Earth Friendly Coffee Company, a Colorado corporation, has offices in Homer, Alaska, Wheat Ridge, Colorado and Guatemala City. Diane Hughes, founder and president, can be reached at 303 641-4283 or at 866 807-6089, Alaska, 907 235-4229. The Wheat Ridge offices can be found in the US Bank building, 4350 Wadsworth, suite 240, 80033.

The Earth Friendly Coffee’s Alaska office and the Earth Friendly Foundation’s office address are: PO Box 9 Homer, Alaska 99603-0009. Funds channeled through the independent Earth Friendly Foundation are directed towards facilitating: the supply channel from Guatemala and towards developing a suitable label identifying Sustainable Fair Trade Coffee. That label if endorsed by the Specialty Coffee Association will be available to other producers of Sustainable Coffee.

Contact: Clancy Hughes 907 235-4229

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bacterial Decaffeination


Genetic Decaffeination of Coffee