Travel – San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico. November 2011.

Blog, Work

In September 2011 I was given the opportunity to travel to San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, to meet with the coffee cooperative Maya Vinic and give advice and guidance in the opening of their cafe. This was my first visit to Mexico, and San Cristobal is a wonderful town, full of culture and beauty.

Most of the time was spent in the offices of Maya Vinic, working with the coop on the opening of their cafe. We took a day trip to their production facility, as well as Acteal. In Acteal, we not only got to see a clean water project being worked on, but got to see the vivid details of the Acteal Massacre.

Places visited: San Cristobal de las CasasMaya VinicActealOrquídeas MoxviquilMuseo del Ambar.

Special thanks to: the Cooperative Coffees crew (Tomas, Janet, Matt, Chris), Mike Mays & Heine Brothers’ Coffee, everyone at Maya Vinic, Alex, the people of Acteal, and everyone else we talked with, shared coffee with, and laughed with.

Javatrekker – a book review. August 2008.

Misc.

I picked up a copy of Javatrekker after being asked to represent Heine Brothers’ Coffee in the Just Creations International Book Club. Author Dean Cycon is the owner of Dean’s Beans, another founding member (including HBC) of Cooperative Coffees. Things didn’t work out with the book club, but since I am interested in travel, the lives of coffee farmers, and fair-trade, I sent ahead and read the book.

Dean Cycon has traveled the world, visiting coffee farmers, and has a great story to tell. He is also a great story-teller, and does an excellent job keeping the reader entertained in the various antics that go on during his travels, but also reminds the readers that coffee farmers are some of the poorest people in the world, and deserve a lot more for the coffee the produce for their customers.

Africa, the Americas, Asia – he has been to them all, and has adventures that really make me want to hop on a plane and visit some of these farmers. Fair-trade coffee is a great step in helping these farmers – if you are looking for a local fair-trade roaster, check out Cooperative Coffees member list.

Finding the perfect soy milk for espresso drinks

Vegan

I manage a fair-trade / organic coffee shop, and part of the job is making sure that every drink that goes to a customer is the best drink possible. With our quality espresso and trained baristas, that usually isn’t a problem. One thing that I (as well as several of the baristas I work with) am not happy with is our soy drinks. We currently use Silk Vanilla. It has an ok taste, but it doesn’t foam well – and who wants just a cup of hot soy milk with espresso added? The texture of the milk is a main part of espresso drinks, and its something that I would like to see improved with our soy drinks.

Because of this, we decided to try out some other soy milks. I went to 2 local natural food stores, and bought a variety of soy milk products. The only requirement when selecting them was that it had to be organic (our current, Silk Vanilla, is “natural”, not “organic”, which they changed somewhat recently).

We had 6 people rating the drinks. We rated them all on a 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing) scale, both in taste and in foaminess. The results were not too surprising, there are definitely some better soy milks out there for foaminess, and some worse soy milks out there for taste. We did find one that we all agreed was best on both ratings, and we are hopefully going to be able to switch to it in the near future.