I’m sure you all are aware that I love coffee and visiting cafés during my days off is one of my favourite ways to unwind. Is it a shame that I don’t have a grinder at home to make my own? It sure is. Although my Nespresso and local downtown shops suit my daily addiction, that didn’t stop me from enjoying what Edmonton’s Good Coffee had to offer when I did a cupping with founder Justin Minott and his team earlier this month. Who is Good Coffee? What’s a cupping? Read on below and enter the giveaway for a free bag of Good Coffee beans for your home brew!
Good Coffee Story
A month ago, Good Coffee reached out to me to talk about their story and their beans. My first thought: who is Good Coffee and how are they local and how have I not heard of them?! The Edmonton-based company is primarily an online retailer and promises two things when you buy a bag of their Good Coffee:
- You get good quality coffee: the beans, the roast, the flavour, and the aroma.
- Your bag does good things: paying farmers fair wages and investing in community projects.
With a coffee industry worth $4.12 billion, you’d think that farmers get paid a good portion of that. They don’t. With an average income of $26 per year (PER YEAR!), coffee farmers are not getting their worth. Good Coffee not only believes that you can start your day off with a good cup of coffee, but you can also make an impact on the lives of farmers that help to bring that cup of coffee to your home.
Currently, Good Coffee is using beans from Burundi in East Africa, ranked the fifth poorest country in the world in 2014*. Coffee in Burundi has the potential to be the best coffee in all of Africa, but it’s not. Nobody’s really sharing the story! Everything you would need to make the most beautiful coffee, land near the equator, an appropriate altitude, great rainfall and great sunlight, it’s all there. It’s estimated that 60 to 70%, and even up to 90% of Burundi’s GDP is coming from coffee but the farmers are unable to produce and unable to access the main markets.
Justin Minott traveled to Burundi initially to support various water projects and health projects, when he started thinking about how he could have a sustainable impact on the communities. The concept of Good Coffee was born, and working alongside Ben Carlson of Long Miles Coffee Project, they are continually supporting Burundi’s coffee industry as well as keeping it sustainable. Along with direct trade wages, 25% of the profits from Good Coffee are reinvested through their partners to train farmers, provide tools and resources, construct new washing stations, and empower the communities to improve the quality of life of farmers and their families. Not only that, the original water and health projects are also supported, thereby benefiting the community beyond the scope of just coffee! Other investments can include infrastructure outside of the farms, including hospitals, schools, and orphan care, and Justin’s favourite thus far, transportation like small motorcycles or “piki-piki” to help farmers commute to work as well as reach remote areas for further harvesting.
So what happens to the beans once Good Coffee gets their hands on them? Well, they’re roasted locally for you right at Transcend Coffee’s roastery! That’s right. Transcend Coffee offers their support in roasting and quality control and inspection to support Good Coffee’s cause. It’s great to see the coffee community come together!
Good Coffee aims to have 36,000 pounds of coffee beans through their hands this year. Currently moving an average of 3,000 pounds a month, Justin and his team hope to actually move closer to 50,000 pounds by the end of the year and doubling that volume next year. The team is always bean hunting, with their connections throughout the world always searching out new stories and new beans from unexpected places. Beans from Ethiopia, Brazil, and Columbia are amazing, but the market is already carved out and infrastructure is more or less already in place to continue the industry in these countries. With Burundi’s unstable political climate, it makes sense to Good Coffee to continue supporting the community in times of need. Currently, Laos and Myanmar (Burma) are on their radar.
It’s pretty cool that Good Coffee is focusing on areas that aren’t as well known but have plenty of opportunity to cultivate great beans. With Laos, for example, one of their challenges is actually convincing more farmers to work in the coffee industry. Hopefully with the investment of infrastructure, more washing stations, and continual education, the coffee industry can grow in these areas. Alongside bean production, working with cooperatives to carry out programs that export the beans is something really important to Good Coffee.
Not only is the story behind a restaurant, café, or business important to me, but let’s get to the bottom of things. How is their coffee? I was surprised to learn that Sugar Bowl has been using their Burundi beans for all their espresso-based drinks for some time now, which means that I have actually already tried it! You can also grab a cup of Burundi coffee and beans at Block 1912, and at Crepe & Shake in Beaumont. Purchase a bag or subscribe monthly from their website to make a difference with every sip! To get to know Good Coffee a little bit better, I was lucky enough to sneak in with the team to do a coffee cupping, or coffee tasting, and check out their process for selecting beans and roasting profiles for their bags.
Recap of Cupping with Good Coffee
Josh Hockin from Transcend Coffee is Good Coffee’s go-to guy for all things roasting and tasting. I absolutely love that Transcend Coffee supports Good Coffee’s cause and they both work together to bring the product to your home! The Good Coffee team’s specialty is in sourcing and exporting the beans and finding unique stories and communities to support, and are extremely delighted to leave the technical aspects of a roast to Transcend Coffee, who we all know already focuses on specialty coffee.
After a multitude of introductions and hugging (they’re such a close-knit team!), we went through the whole process from the time that Transcend Coffee receives the beans selected by Good Coffee to the roast to the taste. We briefly went through the assessment of the physical qualities of the green beans (assessing damage from milling, insects, and mold and the bean size) and then proceeded to cupping. I knew I was in for a treat when I saw all the cups: three different beans sourced from Laos and three different roasts of their current Burundi bean.
The main goal of a cupping or tasting is, for lack of a better description, to taste! The beans are ground and put into standardized cups. Since the sample sizes were quite small, there were three cups of each bean/roast, to make a total of 18 samples. We went through smelling each one before the extraction. We then went through each one again and gave each a good whiff. That table must have been circled at least a dozen times that day! We started the caffeine party soon afterwards and tasted each cup to assess taste and body, or mouthfeel. What should be going through your head during a tasting or even trying a new coffee: Do you like it? Why or why not? Is it bitter? Acidic? Sweet? Or a balance of all three? Your body isn’t designed to tell the pH of a substance or know that the water you’re touching is exactly 19 degrees Celsius. But given a comparison of two (or more!) things, your body is well tuned to making the distinction that hey, this cup of coffee is more acidic, or that water you’re touching is colder than another.
From the Laos selection, all of which were last year’s harvest, the three cups were noticeably different and we all had our own opinions of each. Compared to the Burundi, the flavour profile was mellow and a whole lot more floral. Josh informed us afterwards that all the beans were picked under ripe, giving it more acidity. Some samples had insect damage or even mold! And that is why Josh is an expert and Master Taster. Who would have thought? He advised Good Coffee to continue doing their research for next year’s harvest. The team already has plans to visit the farms in Laos this year and to do a cupping on the ground. Looking into the process of picking, washing, and drying the Laos beans will also be a focus for them. From the Burundi beans, I preferred the medium (again, all relative) roast to bring out the fruitier flavours of the bean. Last year’s Burundi beans were actually roasted light medium. Feedback from customers came back that the bean almost tasted too fruity and Good Coffee is now roasting their beans more of a medium to adjust to their client’s home roast. A dark roast is also available for purchase on their website. Love it!
Thank you to Good Coffee for letting me sip with them and be a part of their selection process! It was awesome talking to Justin and the team about their efforts in sourcing and supporting communities that have tremendous potential and the stories behind them. Thanks to Josh from Transcend Coffee for another outstanding cupping session, I learn a little bit more every time I see him! You can purchase a bag of Good Coffee or subscribe monthly to enjoy a cup at home, all while doing a little good and supporting the coffee farmers and their community. It technically is your own community, just across the globe!
Enter for a chance to win one (1) 12 oz. bag of Good Coffee (Burundi). Contest runs from Thursday, October 22, 2015 until midnight (MST) Saturday, October 31, 2015. Entrants must be a resident of Canada and have a valid email address as he/she will be contacted via email on the morning of Sunday, November 1, 2015. The winner will have until the end of Monday, November 2, 2015 (MST) to respond or another entrant will be randomly selected. The Good Coffee bag was given to me by Good Coffee to give away to my readers.
How To Enter
Using the widget below, you can do each and receive one entry.
Follow @dogoodcoffee on Twitter.
Follow Good Coffee on Facebook.
Follow @goodcoffeeco on Instagram.
Follow @cindurh on Twitter.
Spread the word and tweet about the giveaway on Twitter (limit one entry per day). (Bonus +3 more entries!)
Visit LET’S OM NOM Facebook Page, like and share the giveaway post. (Bonus +2 more entries!)
Comment on this blog post and answer one or all of the following question(s):
What kind of brewing system do you use at home? and/or How do you like your coffee in the morning?
Disclosure: This is an affiliated post with Good Coffee. All opinions are of my own.