May the force of the Bean be with you!
Throughout the past year or so we have tried to direct some of your attention to the problem of Roya (coffee leaf rust) throughout the coffee community. While our farmers have been living with its devastating consequences, we as consumers are just now coming to feel the vastness of the destruction. Our coop partners have been having a difficult time collecting coffee, what precious little there is. Coyotes from corporate conglomerates wait at the farm gate and offer cash immediately and often above what the coop can pay. There are no concerns or demands of quality; it is volume that is king at this point. This has exaberrated the shortfall that many cooperatives are experiencing in terms of delivering on contracts.
First off, coffee is in short supply because of roya and a variety of climate nightmares. This in turn has created enormous demand for what little can be had. Our coop, Cooperative Coffees has renegotiated some of our contracts to give the producer cooperatives a fighting chance at supporting its membership. We are also supporting farmers, in the case of Maya Vinic, by purchasing their transitional coffee. Transitional coffee is coffee that is in the process towards organic certification. It is often difficult to find a market for this coffee as consumers increasingly look for organic certification. This can be very discouraging for farmers who, while doing the work and making the commitment, are not rewarded for it financially. All of this is to give you the heads up that while most of our beloved Chiapan coffee will continue to come from the Maya Vinic Coop, much of it will not carry the organic certification. It is grown with the same passion and care for quality as that which is certified, it is simply on the journey! We trust that you will continue to support the farmers of Maya Vinic and enjoy the coffee that they are so rightly proud of.
Have taken a tour of Coop Coffees revamped website? Refreshed and reloaded, we encourage you to visit and learn more about the righteous entity that makes it possible for us to continue offering our customers in Toronto and beyond, fairtrade and organic certified coffees procured from small and independent thriving farmer-led and democratically organized coops in the global south. Check it out at http://coopcoffees.coop/
A reminder that we have a copy of "Connected by Coffee" available for loan. This doc features a number of our producer partners and 2 Coop Coffee members on a tour of Central America looking at coffee as a means of empowerment - where we are and the distance still to cover. Thought provoking!
GROW AHEAD has gone MOBILE! Scan this QR code (any QR reader app will do), it'll take you to GA's mobile page where you can become a grower by lending monies towards the financing of a coffee container from one of our coffee producer partners! Want to become part of a truly revolutionary financing model but haven't got a smartphone? You can still make a loan online at www.growahead.org (remember to select Alternative Grounds as your affiliated partner). Coffee addicts, drinkers, fairtraders and farmers unite!
LIKE WALDO, THE AG BEANS ARE EVERYWHERE! FIND THEM AT:
- Hello Junction! Find our beans at the JUNCTION FROMAGERIE, 3042 Dundas West, junctionfromagerie.com. Reload on fresh locally roasted fairtrade coffee beans while shopping for artisanal cheese, preserves, bread and other goodies!
- Right on Roncie! Pick-up your AG java along with your favourite bread, cheese and/or treaties at MABEL's, 323 Roncesvalles Ave. (and 1156 Queen St. West), Hours: 7:30-7:30 weekdays and 9-6pm on weekends. You can also find our fine java when you head south at EVERGREEN NATURAL FOODS, 161 Roncesvalles Ave. And last and not on the strip but close by, at SUNNY JOE's (250 Sorauren Ave., across from the park), open 7:30 to 5:30 Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8:30 - 5:30.
- In Parkdale? No problem! We deliver regularly to the GOOD CATCH GENERAL STORE (1556 Queen W. at Sorauren), and the WEST END FOOD COOP (1229 Queen W. at Dufferin). And still in the west end but just a tad bit north, find us at the NUTHOUSE (1256A Bloor St. West).
- Further afield? Now you can find our coffee at Abokichi! 258 Dupont St. You can purchase beans or grab a cup when you are getting your onigiri!!
The wait is over!!!! All you who have been pining for our Colombian coffee from Fondo Paez, it is back in stock!
So we are now fully re-loaded with coffee from the Congo! If you have not yet sampled this coffee, now is the time to try it. We roast it as a full-city and as a dark roast - it is lovely and fragrant, BIG and BOLD! Coop Coffee's cupper Ellen, describes it as "sweet, creamy and well-balanced". Get it well you can as it will be gone by May. See if you agree! To find out more about SOPACDI, the coop that brings us this coffee, you can click on this link: www.sopacdi.com
"My farm was beautiful; it was big.. Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," Edwin Diaz (Guatemalan coffee farmer). Cooperative Coffee's Roya Fund, which we started last year, continues to support our partners! As the article featured in NPR's the Salt indicates, we can not underestimate the devastating effects this fungus is having on communities across Central and into South America. Kudos go out to all the organic innovation intiated at the farm level by so many of our partners, including those at COMSA who have been leaders in teaching other farmers best practices. Read the full article here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/28/335293974/rust-devastates-guatemalas-prime-coffee-crop-and-its-farmers
“For coffee farmers who are dealing with this rust crisis ... if they don’t have coffee to sell, they don’t eat,” - Charlie Fishbein ( The Coffee Exchange) speaks about the Roya Crisis. Read a great piece written by one of our own Coop Coffees Monika by clicking on this link! This article recently published Canada's Media Co-op, an online magazine that covers "news from the grassroots", addresses the crisis impact on farmers. We are happy to report that through our Roya premium fund and with the help of Root Capital, we at Coop Coffees have delivered around $300,000 to our Latin American partners working to renovate and/or resist the effect of roya.
OTHER GOOD STUFF!
A new app was launched this month to help you find a retailer of ethically sourced chocolate, ChocoFinder. I'm not sure how the retailers are vetted but it seems like a useful initiative. Let us know how you find it.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal announced that the province would finally move to limit the use of Neonicotinoids (pesticides) come fall. He is under pressure from large agro-corporations not to do so. If you love to EAT, you have to love the BEES! Time to get those digits busy and tweet @ your support. For more info visit www.organiccouncil.ca/news/action-4-pollinators!
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Our spring spotlight shines bright on newest kid on the block in Bloordale Village: Coffee Guitar, 1280 Bloor St. West, 647.748.3319, www.coffeeguitar.ca.
Coffee Guitar is the brainchild of veteran guitar repairman and musician Bruce Domoney; a hub where guitar owners, players and lovers get their instruments fixed and build community while savouring a satisfying cup of joe.
Most certainly the big draw to this neighbourhood hangout is the promise of your string pal getting the royal treatment by capable and experienced hands. Coffee Guitar is that and more. The ambience is cool and laid back, the coffee is local and freshly roasted and the company is friendly (and uber cool). And they do have treats: Muffins, pies and other goodies carefully sourced by Mr. "Jack of many trades " and "wearer of many hats" Bruce.
Coffee Guitar offers wallet-friendly rates to its customers in order to make instrument repair, restoration and maintenance affordable to all. The menu includes: binding, set ups, refrets, pickup rewiring, crowning & polishing, structural work, etc., etc. They also have a limited number of buy and sell instruments on consignment, and have plans for a line of custom-built guitars.
Next time you go west, stop at Lansdowne and visit our pals at Coffee Guitar, check out the merch, pick a few tricks of the trade and enjoy a cuppa of AG brew. And keep yourselves plugged by following @ and liking www.facebook.com/coffeeguitar.ca!
EVENTS & HAPPENINGS
Vote Mavericks! Start Something With Alesse is a nationwide competition that offers funding to Non-Profit initiatives. Our friends at the Coffee Shed are starting a Barista Institute program for people with developmental challenges. "Made by Mavericks" is one of the Top 5 finalists in this year's competition. More funding will facilitate the purchase of better quality equipment and jumpstart this program. For the Mavericks to get top place and score $5000 in funding, they need all the votes we can cast. YOU CAN VOTE ONCE A DAY for the next six weeks (Feb. 03 – Mar. 24)! Cast your ballot here: http://ow.ly/InN1Ahttp://ow.ly/InN1A
Holy Smokes! Parkdale Seedy Saturday is this Saturday March 7th! From 11-3pm you can participate in a seed exchange, workshops, eat yummy food and purchase from local vendors all things earthy and gardeny!! Now that is the way to fertilize the Spring in your Soul!! The event is pay-what-you-can and held at 250 Dunn Ave. (S of Queen) in Bonar Parkdale Presbyterian Church.
Have you heard that Toronto's 1st tool library is open in the basement of PARC? (1499 Queen St.W) They are taking donations and looking for volunteers. You can purchase a membership and borrow all the tools needed for that long-delayed project! Find out more at www.irbe.org. You can also call 647-965-5604.
Beit Zatoun Looking for stimulating and mind expanding activities in the city, make sure to review BZ's impressive calendar of events at www.beitzatoun.org/cms/events.aspx for concerts/recitals, art exhibits, workshops, talks and film screenings. Looks like May is going to be jam-packed!!
There will be food! The Sorauren Farmers Market is still happening every Monday (indoors, at the Fieldhouse).
Interested in learning more about Fairtrade, Organics and Social Justice? Make sure to check our Resources page for more info and great links!
Check out "Fair trade vs. Free trade" a concise educational and advocacy piece produced by the fairworldproject.org:"Wouldn't it be great if public policies benefited the public, so everyone could prosper, and so-called "free trade agreements" valued our precious resources rather than exploiting people and the planet? As consumers, we have the power to vote with our dollars, as well as to engage in local and federal policy reform in order to help change.." Watch at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNPkiJrk_Bw
A must read: Fairtrade Manitoba has published online a piece written by Linda. Thought provoking and insightful, this is something you must check out, www.fairtrademanitoba.ca/why/profile/an-alternative-perspective-on-the-benefits-of-certified-fair-trade . And here's another fantastic article via the Fairtrade Federation that provides an inside look of the business behind your daily cup of fairtrade joe - it features our coop and a few of our dedicated partners: www.fairtradefederation.org/what-do-you-know-about-the-business-behind-your-coffee. Read on!!!
Another must read: Cooperative Coffees Position on Fairtrade. Also, do check regularly our coop's news section for great articles, reports from the fields and updates on our members and producer partners, www.coopcoffees.coop/whats-new/external-news.
Also remember to check out Faitrade Proof, one of Coop Coffees' initiatives which addresses "transparency" in fairtrade transactions made by its members. At www.fairtradeproof.org, you can trace the beans you love from farmer to roaster, and learn about the intricate yet rewarding inner workings of fairtrade partnerships.
Remember, if you want to become better acquainted with our fairtrade pricing policy, check out the Fairtrade section of this website. We are always on the look-out for great ideas - things that partner well with us and what we are trying to accomplish through Alternative Grounds. So feel free to drop us a line and share suggestions with our staff.
Also, check out our Greenstuff section for tips and suggestions to help us soften our collective and individual carbon footprint! In this section you'll find neat and fun ideas for the use and re-use of our burlap/jute bags, paper bags, etc. And we bet your compost could use a little of our coffee chaff to lighten its load!! If you are indeed interested, give Linda a call at 416-534-6335
We're Passionate About Fairtrade and Love to Share Our Passion! Over the years we have gathered a good collection of articles, books and videos about different aspects of Fairtrade and coffee. These are available for your perusal at the cafe or on loan. We're also available to do slide shows and presentations. So give us a call at 416-534-6335.
AND THANKS TO...
Gerry for bringing a quotation from the late Tommy Douglas to our attention:
"Courage, my friends. It is not too late to build a better world."
Words to live by!!