• Homemade Truffles and Coffee — the Perfect Romantic Gesture for Valentine’s Day

    by Amy Cimo | Feb 05, 2018

    Sure, flowers and a box of store-bought chocolates make a perfectly acceptable Valentine’s Day gift; there’s a reason why it’s a classic combination. But if you’re looking to put together a more personal romantic gesture for Feb. 14 this year, pairing a special-occasion coffee with a homemade chocolate dessert is an excellent way to show your special someone you truly care.

    Desserts, especially chocolates, can be intimidating for even experienced home cooks. That’s why we asked Isaac Fort, the pastry chef at Poupart Bakery, a long-running French bakery in Lafayette, for a decadent chocolate dessert that’s simple enough for just about anyone to make in their kitchen. His suggestion: Chocolate Ganache Truffles.

    These smooth and creamy spheres of chocolate have a rich, decadent flavor that is not overly sweet. Best of all they’re easy to make, which means they’re a perfect way for even a novice cook to create a homemade chocolate expression of affection. “All you need is a bowl, a pot, a whisk and three or four ingredients,” Fort says. “If you want to do something that you make yourself, that’s personal, and you don’t have a ton of skill, I think you can manage this. It’s not too difficult.”

    Chocolate desserts and coffee are a match made in culinary heaven. The richness of these tiny treats will pair nicely with Community® Private Reserve® Evangeline Blend™, which was created to honor the Acadian culture that supported the company in its early years. We blend 100 percent specialty-grade Arabica coffee beans and roast them to create a deep, semisweet flavor that will complement the bold flavors in these rich chocolate truffles.

    This Valentine’s Day, express how much your significant other means to you by surprising them with the combination of  top-notch coffee and homemade chocolate.

    Chocolate Ganache Truffles

    1 cup heavy cream
    8 oz. dark chocolate
    1 Tbsp unsalted butter
    Cocoa powder, crushed nuts or candy sprinkles

    It’s best to start with small pieces of dark chocolate. Chocolate chips work well, but a chocolate bar is fine if chopped into small pieces. Place the chocolate pieces in a medium-sized bowl.

    Put the cream and butter into a sauce pan and heat until it just comes to a boil. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolates and whisk together until smooth, then place the bowl in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Remove and stir again. Repeat the process several times every 5-10 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.

    Once it is thick enough, shape the chilled mixture into 1-inch balls (gloves may help with this step). Once you’ve shaped the truffles, roll them in cocoa powder, candy sprinkles or your favorite variety of crushed nuts for additional texture. Fort recommends crushed hazelnuts, which is a classic pairing with dark chocolate.

    Makes about 24 truffles.

  • Today Is the Perfect Day to Celebrate Baked Alaska

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 26, 2018

    Baked Alaska, that classic and confounding dessert of ice cream and cake topped with browned meringue. How does the ice cream stay so cold in the oven?

    The magic and intrigue of Baked Alaska, which dates to the 19th century, stems from the combination of cold ice cream surrounded by a pound cake and flambéed meringue. The unusual combination of browned exterior concealing a cold suprise has impressed diners for well over a century.

    The origins of the dessert are not entirely clear. There are reports of Count von Rumford, an 18th-century physicist and inventor, discovering that the air bubbles inside whipped egg whites made meringue an effective insulator and allowed for exterior browning without melting the ice cream within.

    The name is believed to have been coined by New Orleans chef Antoine Alciatore, who in 1867 reportedly perfected and named the dish in honor of the United States’ agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia. Chef Charles Ranhofer of the New York City eatery Delmonico’s popularized the dish in 1894, calling it “Alaska, Florida,” in an apparent homage to its combination of hot and cold elements. The restaurant still serves the dish today.

    Whatever its origins, Baked Alaska has deep roots in New Orleans thanks to Antoine’s, which keeps the tradition alive today at its French Quarter location, some 150 years after Alciatore first offered it to diners. The French-Creole fine-dining locale serves the dish in an elaborate tableside show in which a server flambés the egg-white meringue on the outside to perfection.

    Although its popularity has waned over the years, Baked Alaska remains an iconic New Orleans dish worthy of a celebration. February 1 is officially National Baked Alaska Day, making it the perfect occasion to honor this classic American bit of culinary ingenuity, preferably paired with a high-quality cup of coffee.

    We suggest Community® Cafe Special® Blend, which was created for the finest restaurants and is commonly found on some of the best menus in New Orleans. This welcoming, medium-dark-roasted coffee, made from only 100 percent select Arabica coffee beans, has a full-bodied flavor with a smooth and balanced finish.

    Feeling ambitious and want to make Baked Alaska yourself? The Food Network’s classic recipe will take plenty of time, but not any special baking skills.

  • Kick Off a Healthy New Year and Celebrate National Drinking Straw Day with These Fun Drinks

    by Amy Cimo | Jan 03, 2018

    Way back in 1888, inventor Marvin C. Stone was awarded a patent for the paper drinking straw, setting off a beverage-sipping revolution that continues about 130 years later. Each Jan. 3 people across the United States celebrate his tubular invention on National Drinking Straw Day by kicking back with their favorite beverage.

    But as the calendar turns over into 2018 and New Year’s resolutions come into play, many people become increasingly conscious about the health consequences of the liquid portion of their daily diets. “Sugar-sweet beverages add tons of calories, and added sugars and can lead people down the wrong path,” says Kathy Garvey, a registered dietitian in New Orleans. “So watching what you drink is a simple way to clean up your diet.”

    Luckily, it’s possible to celebrate the beauty of the beverage without derailing your healthy goals for the new year. We asked Garvey for a few fun-yet-healthful drink options that she suggests for her clients to make at home as they bounce back from the annual circuit of decadent holiday meals and parties. So grab your favorite straw and give these tasty beverages a try.

    Lime Basil Spritzer

    This refreshing and surprisingly complex beverage is an excellent cocktail alternative for those looking to take a break from alcohol after the holiday season and before Mardi Gras.

    First, combine several fresh basil leaves with lime juice and let them steep together for a few hours in the refrigerator. Remove the basil and add 1-2 tablespoons of the juice to a 5-ounce glass of sparkling cider or sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil. “It’s a delicious and light treat,” Garvey says.

    For an adult version perfect for an early-season Mardi Gras outing, simply replace the cider with prosecco, the crisp and fizzy wine with a delicate citrus flavor.

    Straw Suggestion: Multicolored tropical umbrella straw.

    Low-Sugar Chocolate Milk from Scratch

    A new year often spawns a renewed focus on workouts, but all of that additional exercise should be supported by appropriate nutrition to help your body recover. 

    “Chocolate milk has some good evidence behind it as a recovery drink, which is related to the carb-to-protein ratio,” Garvey says. However, many mass-produced chocolate milks can contain large quantities of sugar or corn syrup as well as preservatives.

    The solution, Garvey says, is to make your own from scratch. Start with your favorite variety of milk and add some cocoa powder and a half of teaspoon of maple syrup. Whisk it together for a satisfying beverage that will help you bounce back from your new year’s workout routine. For an extra-hearty drink, turn your homemade chocolate milk into a full-fledged shake by blending in half of a frozen banana.

    Straw Suggestion: Classic red-and-white paper straw.

    London Fog Latte

    This drink popped up in the Pacific Northwest in the past decade but has since gained popularity nationwide. It’s a simple yet satisfying concoction of three ingredients: tea, milk and vanilla. Garvey says this is a perfect treat for clients who are tea enthusiasts but trying to limit sweet drinks. 

    Traditionally made with Earl Grey Tea, the recipe also works well with Community® Porch Breeze® Green Tea, a delicately flavored variety made from a special blend of steamed tea leaves. While the tea is brewing, heat some milk — cow’s milk, almond milk and coconut milk all work well — in a small saucepan on medium. Whisk the milk for a few minutes, getting it hot and frothy without letting it boil. Add about half a cup of the milk to the tea, along with a dash of vanilla extract or vanilla syrup for a bit of sweetness.

    “It tastes like you’re drinking a marshmallow without adding a bunch of sugar,” Garvey says.

    Straw Suggestion: Hot-beverage silicon straw.

  • How to Host a Delightful, Stress-Free Holiday Party

    by Amy Cimo | Dec 04, 2017

    The holiday season should be a time of celebration among close friends and family — and few events represent that spirit of thankfulness and revelry better than a holiday party.

    For the party host, however, a year-end celebration is not always a purely joyful time. With guest lists, menus and decorations to coordinate, hosting a holiday party can quickly get overwhelming, sending stress levels into unfestive territory.

    Fortunately, all it takes is a little planning and preparation to actually enjoy your holiday party just as much as your guests. Here are a few tips from event-planning veterans to help make it happen.

    Start Planning Early

    Chef Bobby Breaux of Chef Bobby & Dot Catering in Kaplan, Louisiana, says the most common mistake party hosts make is waiting too long to start planning for a holiday event. This is especially problematic if you plan to order any of your food from an outside source like a caterer or restaurant.

    Breaux says his business spikes during the holiday season, which means his team typically needs several weeks’ notice to make sure they can schedule cooking time for every party’s food. Breaux’s kitchen, for example, cooked 110 briskets last holiday season, along with enough rice dressing for 800 people every three days. That means last-minute requests are likely going to be a problem.

    “I’d probably start planning almost a month ahead,” he says. “If they wait until the last minute, most caterers and restaurants are busy and may even stop taking orders.”

    Heather Sewell Day, owner of The Red Cake, a Baton Rouge-based event-planning company, says to start with the basics when planning your party: Choose a guest list, determine a budget and select where you’re going to host the event — such as your home, a restaurant or another venue. Once you determine those basics, you can move on to the items like food and drink.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Little Help

    Breaux says he finds holiday party hosts are less likely to attempt to prepare every dish on their own these days, opting instead to focus on their favorites. Caterers can pre-make some of the most difficult holiday dishes for parties so that they can be heated up on the day of the event. If you place them in a nice dish, nobody has to know where they came from.

    “A lot of people don’t cook everything on their own anymore,” Breaux says. “More and more people do the dish that they like to do and the rest they pass on to somebody else.”

    If You’re Doing the Cooking, Keep It Simple

    Chef/owner Karen Ferries-Yoon of The Cocktail Party Chef in New York City specializes in stylish versions of savory and sweet hors d'oeuvres. While some of her party creations are quite intricate, she suggests home party hosts focus on dishes with as few ingredients as possible that still pack a punch of flavor. “Most important, it has to look beautiful,” she says.

    She says one of the simplest and consistently successful recipes for home cooks is baked parmesan crisps, a two-ingredient dish that can be made quickly in batches of 15-20 per baking sheet. First, pour a heaping tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese onto a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Cook for roughly 10 minutes at 350 degrees until they form a flat, cracker-like consistency.

    “As they come out of the oven, just sprinkle some black pepper and you’re done,” she says. “People love these. It’s a great bar snack.” You can add a little parsley or basil for a splash of color, she says.

    For a simple and sweet party treat, Ferries-Yoon recommends melting some chocolate, adding some pomegranate seeds and pumpkins seeds, then spreading it out on a cooking sheet. Let it set in a freezer or refrigerator for an easy-yet-complex dessert that is perfect for the holiday season.

    When venturing into more complex recipes, she says, party hosts should try to focus on their strengths and dishes they know will be successful. “If you have things in your repertoire that you know how to do, then make them,” she says. “This is not the time to try something new.”

    When Decorating, Turn to What You Already Have

    Creating a festive aesthetic is vital for setting the mood at your gathering, but you don’t have to make a huge investment to make things look nice, particularly around the holidays. Day suggests appropriating some holiday decorations from around your house for your table spread.

    “You don’t have to spend a lot of money on flowers and things like that, especially during the holidays,” she says. “You can cut some limbs off your Christmas tree to use around your platters. You can bring in some Christmas ornaments and tuck them inside the limbs of the trees, rather than spending a lot of money on flowers.”

    Don’t Forget the Hot Beverages

    If your holiday gathering comes with cooler weather, be sure to offer your guests some warm-beverage options — such as hot chocolate and coffee — to close the festivities out properly.

    Community® Private Reserve® Founder’s Blend, a premium coffee that blends flavors from four distinct South American and African growing regions, is the perfect beverage to close out an occasion as special as a holiday party.

  • Creating Lifetime Readers: The Church Academy

    by Amy Cimo | Nov 26, 2017

    On average, Americans spend two hours each day watching TV and only seven minutes reading. This is a shocking statistic, especially since the ability to read and write is the basis for all other education. Without literacy skills - the abilities to read, to write, to do math, to solve problems, and to access and use technology - today's adults will struggle to take part in the world around them and fail to reach their full potential as community members and employees. Currently, more than 20% of adults read at a level that is too low to earn a living wage.

    However, educators at The Church Academy are working to combat these statistics by placing a riveting novel in the hands of each child at their school. The Church Academy’s educators know that illiteracy and low-literacy rates are completely preventable; that’s why they decided to use their hard earned Community Cash for Schools® funds to enhance their library’s book offerings by buying new books for their students.

    The Outsiders, Holes and Stargirl are just a few of the novels middle schoolers are reaching for. New, fresh books that students really want to jump into is the key. Teachers are hoping to start a reading obsession with their students that will help to prepare them for the rest of the academic career and future.

    The funds earned from the proof of purchase redemption program are the reality of support from parents, teachers and the local church. Every Sunday the Church serves Community® coffee at each of their three church services. They then collect and donated the labels to The Church Academy. Students need help to thrive, and this partnership of business, community and the school helps to build a support system that creates lifetime readers.

  • 5 Tips to Create a Thanksgiving Table That Will Wow

    by Amy Cimo | Nov 13, 2017

    Food, family and friends are always the foundations of a memorable Thanksgiving gathering, and creating an unforgettable experience starts with designing a warm and inviting space to enjoy the meal.

    “To sit down at a beautiful table setting makes the anticipation for the meal that much more exciting and special,” says Heather Sewell Day, owner of The Red Cake, a Baton Rouge-based event-planning company. “Guests feel that they were thought of and that their presence at your table was deliberate. And if you start the night with a fabulous-looking table, the food tastes even better. It's the little details that people remember and talk about at the next gathering.”

    Here are a few tips from experts on how to create a table that makes a lasting impression for one of the most important meals of the year.

    Personalize Your Place Settings

    Julia Usher, a pastry chef, food writer and author, says she creates custom, crafty place cards with the names of her guests for special-occasion meals, often incorporating objects such as small glass perfume bottles into the setting. She suggests affixing small name cards to the bottles with some colorful string to create a keepsake of the event that guests can take home.

    “It just makes them feel special, because it’s clear you’ve tuned in to them and you’re thinking of them,” she says. “Just the very act of writing their name and making that setting unique says you care. I think that’s really important.”

    To take the settings to the next level, she suggests adding a function to the bottles by filling them with salad dressing.

    If bottles aren’t practical for you, don’t worry. For a one-of-a-kind look, Usher suggests starting with vintage menus or postcards that you can scan and update on a computer to incorporate guest names and information about the special day.

    Don’t Be Afraid of Heights

    Day suggests thinking vertically when constructing your Thanksgiving table design. Easy ways to add an element of height to your table include flowers and candles, but even your food offers an opportunity to stretch your tablescape upward.

    “It’s always nice to not put everything in chafing dishes,” she says. “Stack things on cake platters and use height on your table to give yourself a really interesting tablescape.”

    The technique works best with cold foods, so Day suggests incorporating more of those options into your Thanksgiving meal.

    Mix and Match

    If you’re having a large gathering for Thanksgiving and are worried that you don’t have enough of the same place settings for all of your guests, Usher suggests using the circumstance to your advantage.

    “If you find you don’t have a full set of china, to me that’s not a big deal,” Usher says. “It’s actually a nice opportunity to pull out what you have and see what works together. As long as you stick to a reasonably tepid color palette, you can get away with lots of different patterns and textures in the settings, even if you’re mixing and matching.”

    Usher says she likes to layer her table with richness and a diversity of styles, adding layers of detail that together make a unique impression. To achieve this, she says, she relies on a combination of vintage salvage and handmade items to create one-of-a-kind place settings.

    For example, she says, she might create a charger for the place-setting out of a vintage tin roof tile, or take cheap plastic chargers and decoupage them with paper or fabric that matches the overall theme of the gathering.

    Embrace Bold Colors

    Fall and Thanksgiving are known for earthy tones, but adding an unexpected color like blue or even purple to your table will update your look and give it an unexpected twist, says Chris Nease, editor and stylist with Celebrations At Home.

    “For example, blue pairs well with golden yellow, burnt orange or beige/brown,” she says. “Purple adds dimension to a mix of gold, orange and green. Incorporate the color through card stock place cards, napkins, glassware or flowers, and transform your traditional setting into something unique.”

    Don’t Forget About the Coffee

    One tried-and-true way to impress your guests is to offer them a special coffee after the meal. Community® Private Reserve® coffees, a collection of specialty-grade blends and single-origin coffees representing generations of coffee expertise, are a perfect finish to a Thanksgiving meal.

    Try the Private Reserve® Founders Blend, skillfully created by our fourth-generation owner Matt Saurage in honor of his great-grandfather and Community founder Cap Saurage. This coffee blends flavors from four distinct South American and African growing regions, creating a deliciously complex cup.

    Another crowd-pleasing option is Private Reserve® Evangeline Blend™, with 100 percent specialty-grade Arabica coffee beans roasted to create a deep, semisweet flavor to honor the Acadian culture that is important to Community.

    These premium coffees are an excellent complement to a Thanksgiving meal designed to create warm feelings and a lasting impression.

    by Amy Cimo | Nov 06, 2017

    If you’re looking to tackle one of the biggest retail sales days of the year, you’re definitely not alone. Millions of people turn up at all hours of the day, night and early morning in hopes of getting the best bargains on the hottest items. Preparing ahead of time with some tips and tricks can help you make the day successful, and hopefully, fun.

    Step 1: Make A List! And check it twice. Plan your purchases. Jot down who you’re shopping for and some gift ideas for each. This way you’ll be able to shop more efficiently by targeting the areas of the store you need to hit and avoiding impulse buys. By the way, coffee is always a great gift. Also a good idea – set a budget.

    Step 2: Do Your Research! Most retailers release their deals ahead of Black Friday. Take some time to research the ads and find out who has the best deals for the items on your (already made) list. You may also find great deals on items you hadn’t yet considered. Sites such as RetailMeNot and Offers.com can jumpstart your savings plan. After choosing your target locations, map out your route. Likewise, some retailers may actually start their Black Friday deals days or weeks in advance. Take advantage of the less busy times and get your shopping done even earlier!

    Step 3: Fuel Properly! Regardless of the hour you actually start shopping, it’s bound to be a long day of hustling. Start with a good protein-packed breakfast to help keep you full and energized. Make these Mocha Banana Pecan Overnight Oats ahead to save time. Pack snack bars or almonds for any cravings throughout the day. And don’t forget the coffee. Use a durable travel tumbler to bring your coffee with you. If you want an extra kick of caffeine, try Community® Cold Brew Coffee – brew it up ahead of time and doctor it to your taste preference. With a smoother taste and more caffeine than traditional hot brewed coffee, it’s perfect to keep you moving throughout the day.

    Step 4: Take Advantage of Convenience Shopping! You may be able to find your favorite in-store deals on the store’s retail website as well. Find out if the bargain you’re hunting is available online and shop from the comfort of your own home. Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday) has also become one of the largest shopping days of the year…and the easiest way to shop in your pajamas. Retailers target online consumers with huge savings that are equivalent to – or even better than – Black Friday deals. Community® coffee fans can expect to find some great savings and free shipping offers on Cyber Monday. (Hint, hint!)

    Step 5: Reward Yourself! OK, so you did your research…you found the deals…you braved the crowds…and, most importantly, you survived. Treat yo’ self! After grabbing gifts for friends and family, you deserve something special, too. Enjoy some “me” time and a relaxing day at home with a cup of Community® limited-time offering Dark Chocolate Peppermint coffee. Or go out for your favorite activity and grab a gift for yourself.

  • Halloween Tricks & Treats

    by Amy Cimo | Oct 23, 2017

    Fall is just around the corner, and before you know it there will be little vampires, princesses, and ghosts knocking on your front door in search of candy. This Halloween impress your guests, young or old, with spooky DIY decorations and delectable, goulash treats.  

    The spookiest way to light up your front porch is with candles. This quick DIY puts an adorable twist on a classic Halloween character. Add a festive, fall flare to your house with these easy mummy mason jar candles.

    If candy apples are your favorite sweet treat, this recipe was made for you. These marble candy apples are perfect for any Halloween party, and are actually fairly easy to make, as long as you have a candy thermometer. No matter what the theme of your Halloween party is, these candy apples are sure to dazzle your guests.

    Looking for something festive to do with those leftover Pumpkin Praline Single-Serve Pods this fall? We’ve got the perfect DIY for you. For less than $1 these recycled K-Cup Halloween lights will surely impress coffee lovers and kids alike.

    For those picky partygoers try these vegan, gluten-free bloody cups. This simply sweet treat replaces the peanut butter in a peanut butter cup with raspberry sauce. The dark red filling makes them perfect for Halloween. This 20 minute task requires only 3 ingredients, so it’s the ideal last minute party recipe.

    There are two things that everyone loves, a good party and a cute favor. Surprise your guests with these tissue paper pumpkin favors. Start by wrapping up your favorite treats and then open up the pumpkin to get the candy inside. Every guest young or old will be impressed with these adorable, delicious party favors.

    After your party concludes with nothing more than success and smiles it’s finally time to relax. If you’re still hungry for the taste of fall these mummy pumpkin cookies are delicious, flaky, and packed with fall flavor. Make this festive treat even better by enjoying it with a hot cup of Pumpkin Praline Community® coffee.
  • STEM Takes Root and Grows at Dutchtown Primary

    by Amy Cimo | Oct 12, 2017

    According to the United States Department of Commerce, the growth of STEM-related jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) over the last 10 years was three times that of non-STEM fields. And while employment offers great motivation, it’s not the only reason STEM programs and curricula make sense for students. Putting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics together, rather than as separate instruction has major benefits as it engages students in problem solving and finding solutions.

    9-18-17_CFS-Dutchtown-Primary2_1000x667STEM creates learning environments that allow students to be more active. Whenever that happens, students are engaged in their own learning, which is just what Dutchtown Primary is accomplishing. The Dutchtown Primary students collaborate by working in the school’s new garden together, and by creating simple machines and engineering robotic products. The school believes the STEM program will better prepare students for their future careers.

    A member of the national science foundation states that “To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” At Dutchtown Primary, the STEM program allows teachers to provide an interdisciplinary and applied approach across the subjects which promotes integrated learning and enhances retention.

    As society continues to evolve and become more technology based, the demand for9-18-17_CFS-Dutchtown-Primary_1000x667 more advanced learning tools in schools continues to grow, such as the robotics program Dutchtown Primary has implemented.

    STEM may seem scary and complicated to younger students, but it is truly an engaging program that helps students turn their rudimentary, creative ideas into innovative creations. The tools to accomplish this program were purchased with the funds from the Community Cash for Schools® program

  • Community Coffee Fundraiser Supports Accelerated Reading Program at Mermentau Elementary

    by Amy Cimo | Oct 02, 2017

    What does a water slide have to do with a love of reading? Quite a lot for students at Mermentau Elementary School, who are turning their dedication for books into a water-filled play day each year.

    9-5-17_CFS-Mermentau-Elementary_1000x777Students at the Acadia Parish school read books throughout the year and track their progress through the educational software Accelerated Reader, which awards points based on the difficulty level of each book. Those points translate into play time on a water slide set up on campus toward the end of each school year. The more points, the more fun.

    “We have some kids that read so much they have all day on the water slide,” first-grade teacher Bonnie Credeur says. “They love that. It’s a tangible goal for the students and it has been a big success.”

    The water slide day is part of a range of incentives and prizes the school offers students for excelling in the Accelerated Reader program. Those prizes are funded in part through the Community Cash For Schools® program. Mermentau Elementary is among the top fundraisers in Louisiana, earning $3,000 this year through the program.

    Funds raised through the Community Cash for Schools® program also support the9-5-17_CFS-Mermentau-Elementary_1000x667 purchase of classroom materials and playground equipment, such as volleyball nets, sports balls and other equipment, at Mermentau Elementary.

    The school has participated in the fundraiser program for more than a decade, but found a new level of success four years ago when it implemented incentives for students who turn in labels from Community® coffee products.

    “We count them and we give the students little prizes and awards — extra recesses and things like that — to encourage their families to bring in the labels,” Credeur says. “We get a lot of community support from local businesses, even out-of-state sometimes, because the families reach out to them.”

    The funds raised through the Community Cash for Schools® program each year help Mermentau Elementary further its mission of preparing its young students for their academic futures by developing all-important reading skills. “We know the correlation between reading and success,” Credeur says.

  • Celebrate Coffee On National Coffee Day

    by Amy Cimo | Sep 28, 2017

    Coffee is so great, it gets special recognition each year with its own day - National Coffee Day on September 29.  No matter how you enjoy your brew, there’s plenty of ways to celebrate.  Here’s 6 ways to help fuel your love of java on coffee’s biggest day of the year.

    1. Try a coffee-inspired dish! What’s a celebration without food? We’ve got plenty of coffee-loving recipes. Whether you’re craving sweet and spicy chicken wings, game-day snacks, or a delectable dessert – we’ve got you covered. Check out some Tailgate Traditions recipes here. Also, head over to our blog, The Genuine Source, for more ideas.
    2. Sign up for a coffee subscription. Community Coffee’s Auto-Delivery program allows you the convenience of your favorite blend delivered straight to your door at the frequency you choose. Don’t forget to add our featured Coffee of the Month option to your order also, so you can try a different, unique blend every month!
    3. Check out some cool (or hot) offers brewing in your local stores. There may be some coffee house specials to take advantage of or some sweet deals online. Be sure to check out CommunityCoffee.com on September 29 for a special one-day offer!
    4. Try a new brew! Typically drink black coffee? Maybe try a latte. Normally drink cappuccinos? Mix it up with a cold brew! Add some flavored syrups or spices, like cinnamon, for a hint of sweetness. There’s plenty of ways to switch up your routine. And if you’re really looking to shake it up, try this Thai iced coffee recipe.
    5. Celebrate coffee culture! Call up an old friend and chat over a cup of coffee. Have some quality time with the family over a fresh pot of your favorite blend. Set up meetings with your colleagues at a local coffee house and enjoy the brewing atmosphere and time out of the office.
    6. Try a coffee DIY project. There are several ways to recycle your used coffee grounds. From cleaning uses to body scrubs, we’ve got you covered. Check out Coffee Grounds: One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure.

  • Community Coffee Program Supports Plans for Pre-K Facility at St. George School

    by Amy Cimo | Sep 20, 2017

    The Community Cash for Schools® program is helping Baton Rouge’s St. George Catholic School equip its first-ever pre-kindergarten facility with smartboards, tablets and other technologies designed to help young learners prepare for elementary school.

    The fundraising effort is spearheaded by the St. George Home and School Association, which coordinates activities with volunteers, hosts and organizes receptions, and promotes fundraising efforts throughout the school year. The organization is a key aspect of the school’s commitment to building a spirit of cooperation among parents, students, faculty and staff.

    The HSA encourages families and students to collect Community Coffee proofs of purchase, and the school administration has in turn offered free dress days twice each school year for students who turn in a certain amount of labels. Families and students have responded to the challenge enthusiastically, raising $1,103.50 this year through Community Cash for Schools.

    “It’s kind of an easy way to make money for your school because so many people drink Community Coffee,” says Home and School President Kelly Vaughan. “All they have to do is turn the label in and we get money.”

    St. George has for years offered a quality educational environment for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, but the school is planning to offer pre-K for the first time in 2018. The addition was made possible by the construction of a new church facility, which opened up space at the site of an older church for a pre-K facility that could give the school’s youngest students a smoother launching pad for their academic careers.

    “There’s such a need for pre-K,” Vaughan says. “It’s a much easier transition to kindergarten when you come to a pre-K facility where you will attend kindergarten.”

    Vaughan says the funds raised through the Community Cash for Schools® program will help purchase technology for the pre-K facility, including tablet computers and smartboards that allow teachers to leverage interactive learning tools in the classroom.

    This latest addition will allow St. George to continue and expand its long tradition of providing a top-notch education to the children of Baton Rouge.


    Community Coffee Company supports schools by paying 10 cents for every proof of purchase turned in to teachers. Coffee products, tea products, creamer, sugar and coffee filters contain eligible proofs of purchase. Schools can choose to allocate the money toward new textbooks, computers or events. For more information on the Community Cash for Schools® program, visit CommunityCoffee.com/CashforSchools or call 1-800-525-5583.

  • How to Use a French Press — Tips and Suggestions for the Best Brew

    by Amy Cimo | Sep 14, 2017

    The French press has long been one of the world’s most popular coffee brewing tools, thanks to its ease of use and ability to create a bold and flavorful coffee experience that is richer and more intense than an automatic drip coffee maker.                 

    There are several benefits to using a French press beyond just flavor. For one, there are no paper filters to deal with as waste once the coffee is brewed. Also, you don't need a special gooseneck kettle necessary for many pour-over methods. But perhaps the biggest benefit is the level of control over the brewing process, says John Giuliano, a coffee expert and blogger at Brewing Coffee Manually.

    “It is a full-immersion method of brewing, which means you have complete control of how much contact your coffee has with the water,” Giuliano says. That control allows coffee drinkers to calibrate their brew precisely to their tastes, with a little practice.

    Using a French press is quite simple, but it starts with using high-quality coffee. For each 6-ounce cup of water, put two tablespoons of ground coffee into the glass carafe. Next, pour hot water over the coffee grounds into the carafe, place the plunger on top of the carafe and allow the coffee to steep for about four minutes. After that time, while holding the carafe handle, slowly depress the plunger completely to the bottom of the press, then pour the brewed coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy.

    Although it is a relatively simple method, there are a few guidelines that can help you get the best coffee possible with a French press.

    Use the Right Ratio

    When brewing with a French press, it’s crucial to use the correct mix of water to coffee. Many coffee experts recommend measuring by weight and using one part ground coffee to 16 parts water. If you don’t have a scale, a ratio of one 6-ounce cup of water for every two tablespoons of ground coffee is a good starting point.

    Once your water is boiling, resist the urge to immediately pour it into the glass container — at least for a moment. “I use water that is around 210 degrees — about 30 seconds off of boil,” Giuliano says.

    Mind the Grind

    A coarser grind is generally recommended for French press brewing, as finer grinds can lead to a flavor that’s too bitter for many coffee drinkers. A coarse grind may also help reduce the amount of sediment in the coffee once the brew is complete, although some sediment is inevitable with this method.

    Finer grinds can still work in a French press, but you may have to use a slightly shorter brew time to reduce bitterness.

    Keep It Clean

    Make sure you clean your French press thoroughly after each brew. In particular, be sure to remove the mesh filter and rinse it thoroughly with water. “You don't want old coffee residue and oils to impact the flavors of your next batch,” Giuliano says.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

    Coffees and personal tastes can vary greatly, so don’t be afraid to tweak your brewing formula to get the most out of your French press. Variables like the coarseness of your coffee grind and stirring or not stirring the coffee while it is brewing can impact the final result. The four-minute brewing time is also just a guideline. It’s all about finding the right combination for your personal taste.

    “Remember that you can adjust your brewing time in order to find a brewing profile that agrees with you,” Giuliano says. “Try doing really short or really long brew times just to see how it changes the taste.”

  • Modern Twists for Grandparents Day Gifts

    by Amy Cimo | Sep 08, 2017

    Grandparent’s Day is right around the corner and we have some tips and suggestions to help you with your gift giving. Show how much you love and appreciate the person that fits the grandparent role in your life by giving them a personalized gift.

    One thing grandparents love more than talking is listening. So brew up a pot of Community® Signature Blend, Breakfast Blend or Café Special® coffee and get to talking. In between each sip rest your steaming mug on a personalized coaster displaying a fun family photo.

    Whether your coffee is piping hot or cold brewed with extra ice, this easy, fun, and affordable craft is sure to brighten any grandparent’s day.

    To start the craft you’ll need white tiles, Mod Podge, and, of course, your family photos. First cut your photos to your desired size and adhere them to the tiles with your Mod Podge. Once you attach the picture to the tile don’t forget to apply a second layer of Mod Podge over your coaster to ensure the photo won’t fade. Once the crafts are dry, they’re ready to be wrapped and gifted. For more detailed instructions on how to construct this do-it-yourself craft, visit PopSugar.

    If your grandparents can’t get enough of these heart-warming coasters try adding photos to their mugs as well. Every time they sip their coffee, they’ll be met fond memories of past family gatherings. To get started on this creative craft, check out Simply Kierste Design for some tips.

    Enjoy your Grandparents Day by giving a traditional gift with a modern twist.

  • Science Makeover for St. Aloysius

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 17, 2017

    St. Aloysius Catholic School’s science program got a serious makeover thanks to funds they earned from the Community Cash for Schools® program.

    With just a few extra dollars, St. Aloysius of Baton Rouge was able to reach their national accreditation goal of increasing hands-on learning experiences by using scientific inquiry throughout their curriculum. Whether students are learning about physics through the use of light optic kits or dissecting cow hearts with the help of their brand new science lab coordinator, St. Aloysius ensures that they are constantly empowered and excited to reach their full potential.

    8-17-17_St-Aloysius_900x601Since Community Cash for Schools® began, St. Aloysius has been an avid participant. To give the program even more attention, several years ago St. Aloysius started a school-wide grade-level proof of purchase collection contest to spark higher levels of participation. This proactive mode of collection provoked not only students, but teachers, parents and grandparents to take part in the program.

    As the school year progresses, the competitiveness of students, along with the number of proof of purchase labels collected increases. Because of this school’s effort to harbor healthy competition between grades, they earned their spot as one of the top ten earning schools. Tiffany Meek, St. Aloysius Developmental Director, states, “All are shocked that by simply clipping labels we have earned thousands of dollars over the years to support our goals.”

    Community Coffee is honored to help not only St. Aloysius Catholic School but hundreds more reach their academic goals of fostering high ideals of education and hands-on knowledge to the prosperous youth.

  • Getting Wrapped Up in Mochi: Making Coffee-Infused Treats with the Japanese Sticky Dough

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 10, 2017

    Cold mochi — a sticky, sweet rice cake wrapped around a refreshing ball of ice cream — is a hot treat right now, popping up in grocery stores and restaurants in a slew of fun flavors.

    It’s a complex melding of textures and temps. But it turns out that if you know how to make a biscuit, you can make your own mochi. Here’s what it takes to make your own coffee-flavored cold mochi treat.

    Making Mochi

    Mochi is made with Mochiko, a sweet rice flour ground from short-grain rice. The type of flour is important; the wrong rice flour — and there are many — will leave you with hard mochi or a gluey mess. But like with biscuits, once you have the right ingredients, the process of making mochi dough is simple enough. Just mix the dry ingredients (Mochiko, sugar) with liquid (a cup of strong coffee is perfect), stir and microwave.

    Then comes the hard part. Mochi is incredibly sticky. That’s especially a problem when it’s fresh out of the microwave, but it’s still quite sticky even when cool. Ward off trouble by liberally sprinkling cornstarch on anything that you suspect will touch the mochi — countertops, kitchen implements and especially your hands.

    You’ll want to give just as much attention to the ice cream: Make sure you use a quality ice cream that will freeze hard, and use a cookie scoop to maintain a uniform size. When picking out the ice cream for this homemade coffee mochi, consider how it will pair with your favorite coffee drink. For example, chocolate ice cream goes well with mocha, while vanilla is a good match for a traditional latte.

    There are a couple of techniques for getting the mochi around the ice cream. You can roll out the dough and cut out the mochi wraps using a biscuit cutter or a glass coated with cornstarch. Or you can pinch off dough and, using your cornstarch-covered fingers, work the mochi into a thin circle.

    Either way, work in small batches to keep your ice cream frozen, wrap each ball of ice cream and place them seam-side down on a cold, parchment-lined cookie sheet. Trim extra mochi with a cornstarch-coated knife. Store your new treats in the freezer, but allow them to soften for a few minutes before serving.

    Coffee Mochi Recipe

    Makes about 10 servings. Coffee mochi keeps for about two days in the freezer.


    1. Combine the hot water and instant coffee, then set aside.
    2. Whisk together the Mochiko and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl until well combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones.
    3. Cover the bowl loosely with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about two minutes; stir, then microwave for about 90 seconds more. The mochi should be thick, sticky and the color of a good gumbo roux or a new penny.
    4. Dust a work surface with cornstarch, then pour the mochi out to cool. It will keep for about three days if stored in an airtight container.
    5. When you’re ready to assemble the mochi balls, cover your hands or a rolling pin with cornstarch, then pinch off some mochi dough or roll it out into a thin sheet. If you’re using your hands, work it into a thin round with your fingers.
    6. Cover each ice cream ball with mochi and place seam-side down on a cold, lined cookie sheet. You may have to put the ice cream back in the freezer for a bit if it gets too soft. That’s fine; your mochi dough should stay soft for about a day.
    Cut away any excess mochi dough so that the ball sits evenly on the tray. Store in the freezer, but allow to soften for a few minutes before serving. 

  • How Community Coffee Supports Education in Low-Income Areas Through Partnership with Teach For America

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 24, 2017

    When Mackenzie Jones graduated from George Washington University with a degree in international relations and affairs, she knew she wanted to work in a field that affected the education of young people. That passion led her more than 1,000 miles south to serve as a middle-school teacher in Louisiana’s Pointe Coupee Parish.

    The unusual connection was made through the nonprofit Teach For America (TFA), which recruits college graduates to serve as teachers. TFA’s “corps members" commit to teaching for at least two years in a public or public charter K–12 school in one of 52 low-income communities.

    Jones had volunteered in schools in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., but wasn’t sure what to expect when she began teaching. She says her experience in South Louisiana has had a “profound” impact on her — and she has made a similar impact on her students, garnering awards for her work and boosting test scores.

    “I have learned so much about myself through this experience and been pushed constantly to be a better teacher and person,” she says. “I think my greatest lesson learned is that our youth are incredibly powerful, and forgiving, and we must invest in them because they have the greatness to make our future incredible.”

    TFA’s South Louisiana chapter has made thousands of stories like this possible over the past 26 years. Community Coffee Company has been a strong supporter of TFA’s mission and its positive impacts for nearly two decades, backing the organization through annual grants and welcoming new corps members each year. Community Coffee’s most recent multi-year grant to the group, supports TFA’s mission in greater Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mississippi and Arkansas.

    Community Impact

    More than 42,000 corps members have completed their commitment to the organization since TFA was established in 1990, collectively teaching more than 5 million students in the U.S.

    TFA South Louisiana was among six founding chapters, and it continues to support 70 corps members in schools throughout the region. Another 250 alumni remain in the area.

    “Where Community Coffee is granting Teach for America there is a very high need for high-quality teachers,” says Laura Vinsant, executive director of TFA South Louisiana. “We have found that given who we select and given the training that Teach for America provides, they are able to achieve great results with students who are typically a few grade levels behind.”

    Longstanding Relationship

    Matt Saurage, Community Coffee’s fourth-generation owner, and the Community Coffee family have been strong supporters of TFA since the program’s early days, personally welcoming new teachers to the area and offering other hands-on support.

    Saurage recently visited Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter School in Baton Rouge during its Teach For America Week. He spoke to eighth-graders about supply and demand, providing real-world examples from the coffee industry.

    “More so than a lot of funding partners, Community Coffee is really involved with our teachers,” Vinsant says.

    Community Coffee’s backing for TFA has grown beyond Baton Rouge to support the organization’s work in Arkansas, Mississippi and New Orleans. “Their granting has expanded to make sure those regions are able to recruit, select and then support teachers in low-income communities as well,” Vinsant says. “This money goes directly toward ensuring we have a pipeline of those teachers who initially come with a two-year commitment. We’ve seen them over time actually become a large part of our community.”

    Teacher of the Year

    One of those who has had a clear community impact in recent years is Jones, who has been teaching reading, English/language arts and world history to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary School. Her work earned her the 2016 Middle School District Teacher of the Year award in Pointe Coupee Parish. Last year her students achieved the highest academic growth in the parish, improving more than any class at the school in the past six years. She credits the students.

    “In my first year of teaching students were able to accomplish that for themselves,” Jones says. “I didn’t always have the best lessons or behavior management, but they believed in themselves because they knew I believed in them.”

    Jones says if she had to make the choice again, she would still pick the Baton Rouge area for her teaching assignment.

    “Coming to Baton Rouge has brought me so many new experiences,” she says. “I’ve met so many amazing people working to provide quality opportunities and educations for all people in Baton Rouge. Working to address the inequities that exist for my kids and all kids is one of the best things I could be doing right now.”

  • Community Coffee’s 15-Year Relationship with Coffee Growers in Rwanda Continues to Pay Dividends

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 13, 2017

    Community Coffee Company is proud to support the growing coffee industry in the central African nation of Rwanda through a long-standing relationship with a cooperative of hundreds of farmers in the country’s southern region.

    Coffee has played a pivotal role in the recovery of Rwanda’s economy since the genocide and civil war of 1994 devastated the country and the agricultural industry that much of the population depends on for their livelihoods. The industry has grown at a substantial clip over the past decade, with coffee again becoming one of the country’s leading exports. The government estimates that about 400,000 families are involved in coffee production.

    Community Coffee made the connection with Rwandan producers back in 2002 through the Partnership for Enhancing Agriculture in Rwanda through Linkages (PEARL), a U.S.-backed program created to promote agricultural initiatives in the war-torn nation.

    PEARL, which was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and led by researchers at Michigan State University and Texas A&M University, working with Rwandan organizations, invited several U.S. coffee companies to Rwanda to discuss how farmers could take better advantage of the country’s ideal conditions for coffee production. The program helped jump-start an industry that continues to grow today as consumers become more aware of the region’s high-quality coffee, known for a natural sweet fruity flavor and rich body.

    One of the success stories of the program has been the growth of the Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa cooperative — commonly called the Maraba co-op — which was founded by 300 small farmers in the Maraba region in southern Rwanda and developed the nation’s first specialty coffee. It has since grown into a group of 1,500 producers, most of which are subsistence farmers who rely on the sale of their coffee for 70 percent of their income.

    Mark Howell, general manager for Community Coffee’s Green Coffee and Tea Department, said the quality of the coffee from the area was evident from the early days of the co-op, so Community Coffee decided to pay a premium over market price.

    “It was actually a fantastic coffee and they were doing good processing, so we started that relationship back then of buying the coffee, and we’ve been buying every year from them,” Howell said. “Since that time we started paying a premium for that coffee.”

    Community Coffee purchases about 40,000 pounds a year from the cooperative. While that represents a tiny fraction of its overall coffee purchases, the Rwandan product is a key component in several Private Reserve blends, including the Founder’s Blend, created by fourth-generation owner Matt Saurage in honor of his great-grandfather and Community Coffee founder Cap Saurage.

    After PEARL, coffee again became one of the Rwanda’s major crops, with revenue growing annually at 30 percent per year from 2002 to 2006. The Maraba co-op has helped implement numerous social programs in the region, which is one of the poorest in Rwanda. These include health education sessions for women, health insurance assistance and scholarships for the children of members.

    “It’s a really good program, and Community Coffee believes in long relationships,” Howell said. “If we form a relationship like this, we’re committed to it. It’s a great direct-trade program. They’ve always brought good quality coffee, and we really strongly believe in the co-op."

  • New Research Affirms Safety of Moderate Caffeine Consumption in Healthy Individuals

    by Amy Cimo | Jul 06, 2017

    Caffeine often gets a bad rap in the good-for-you arena. But with the number of peer-reviewed research articles to consider, should it? Well, that’s exactly what researchers set out to determine in a recently-published, systematic review of the potentially-adverse effects of consuming caffeine in four healthy populations.

    What the Study Found

    Researchers systematically analyzed extensive published, peer-reviewed data from 2001 to mid-2015, looking for evidence of adverse effects of caffeine – related to toxicity, cardiovascular health, bones and calcium, behavior, and development and reproduction – in healthy adults, pregnant women, adolescents and children. They found:

    • No evidence of caffeine having negative effects on healthy adults consuming up to 400 mg caffeine daily. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four 8-ounce cups of coffee.
    • For healthy, pregnant women, consumption of up to 300 mg caffeine was not associated with any negative reproductive or developmental effects, though current recommendations advise limiting caffeine to 200 mg daily.
    • And for children and adolescents? Though there is not an abundance of existing data, available evidence points toward 2.5 mg/kg body weight as a safe recommendation. That’s about 113 mg caffeine for a 100-pound teen or 56 mg for a 50-pound child.
    • In the future, research is recommended to shift from looking at healthy individuals to focusing on sensitive and unhealthy populations.

    Consider the Caffeine Source

    Figuring out how to apply research results to daily life is the next step. First, healthy individuals can enjoy moderate amounts of caffeine each day. Also, caffeine comes from different plant sources, including coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, kola nuts – used for “cola” drinks – and guarana, frequently added to energy and weight loss products. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are the main dietary sources of caffeine for adults and children.

    Rich in antioxidants and calorie-free, coffee is a better caffeinated drink choice than, for example, soda or energy drinks. Its moderate consumption (3 to 5 cups daily) has been widely studied for potential health associations, including:

    • Decreased mortality from all causes
    • Reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancers of the liver and endometrium
    • Increased alertness and concentration

    To read more, check out “JAVA ‘n’ Health: Fact vs. Fiction.”

    Caffeine and Hydration

    A common concern with caffeinated beverages is the effect they have on hydration. After all, science says that even mild dehydration may trigger decreased memory, fatigue, headaches, mood change and tension.

    Here’s the good news from expert organizations:

    • The Institute of Medicine said in 2004 that all beverages – including caffeinated – are hydrating.
    • The U.S. Beverage Guidance Panel concluded in 2006 that consuming up to 500 mg of caffeine in a day does not cause dehydration.
    • A 2006 International Life Sciences Institute statement recommended consuming a variety of caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages to meet the body’s fluid requirements.

    For practical ways to meet daily fluid requirements, read “Good Ol’ Summertime Hydration Includes Drinking Coffee.”

    Caffeine does affect individuals differently. It is metabolized at different rates due to genetics, and sensitivity may be affected by the amount of caffeine someone is used to consuming. Listen to your body, and talk to a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist about questions. But if you’re in good health and appreciate the boost a great cup of coffee gives you in your day, enjoy it … guilt-free, of course!


    To read the 2017 “Systematic Review of the Potential Adverse Effects of Caffeine Consumption in Healthy Adults, Pregnant Women, Adolescents, and Children” study,click here.

    Beth Witherspoon, MPH, RDN, has a passion for communicating culinary and nutrition information. She is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who consults with Community Coffee Company to help communicate the flavor and health benefits of coffee.

  • Protecting the Future of Coffee with Science and Outreach

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 29, 2017

    Although it may seem like coffee simply appears on the supermarket shelf or in your local shop without much fanfare, in reality it is a complex global crop produced by a vast network of mostly small farmers — and one that is facing increased peril from changing climate patterns and other factors.

    That’s why the global coffee industry came together in 2010 to form World Coffee Research, a nonprofit organization working to ensure the future of coffee. The organization operates in 27 countries to further its mission to grow, protect and enhance supplies of quality coffee while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it.

    Community Coffee Company has been a strong supporter of World Coffee Research since its inception. Matt Saurage, Community Coffee’s fourth-generation owner, is a founding board member of the group.

    “Coffee faces many threats and an uncertain future. Weather conditions, diseases and other barriers to quality are a real problem for the millions of coffee producers,” Saurage says. “Scientific research takes time and is an investment to generate the know-how and technologies that can provide viable, sustainable farming practices over time.”

    As World Coffee Research works to further its mission of supporting higher quality coffee, more productive coffee farms and more sustainable and dignified livelihoods for coffee farmers, the organization begins by focusing on the coffee plants themselves.

    “We are fundamentally an agricultural research organization,” says Hanna Neuschwander, communications director. “The way we approach our mission is to study the crop, the plant and the coffee.”

    The organization’s work in coffee-growing regions around the world extends beyond simple botany and into initiatives that directly support better technologies and farmer profitability. “You can’t think about the crop or yield as something separate from the people who grow it,” Neuschwander says. “You have to think about them as part of the same symbiotic relationship.”

    Climate Weather Patterns Present a Real Threat

    Changing weather patterns, increased temperatures and higher rates of disease and insects could create a potentially disastrous decline in the supply of coffee in the coming decades.

    In 2012, a massive outbreak of coffee leaf rust — a devastating fungal disease that damages, and ultimately destroys, the coffee tree — severely impacted the industry in Central America, putting an estimated 1.7 million people out of work in the region. Scientists believe the overall rise of temperatures and the associated weather patterns created a more favorable environment for the disease, leading to the widespread outbreak. “It had a tremendous human impact,” Neuschwander says.

    Fighting Back

    World Coffee Research is working to prevent disasters like these through a wide range of research initiatives, including lab work to identify key genes and genetic markers for resistance to drought and disease, as well as field work to develop new varieties of coffee. The goal is to create coffee plants that will allow the industry to thrive around the world even through more challenging conditions.

    The organization is also working with coffee companies, nongovernmental organizations, government agencies and other groups to help farmers gain access to the new varieties of coffee and other technological improvements, as well as education about these vital tools.

    “You can have the best plants in the world, but if they’re stuck in the lab and no farmer can get them in their field it doesn’t really matter,” Neuschwander says. “It’s about being part of a very large global ecosystem that helps get some of this scientific progress out in the field.”

    Supporting Farmers’ Profitability

    In order to produce more and better coffee, coffee farmers must earn sustainable profits. World Coffee Research is spearheading multiple initiatives around the globe to help farmers earn more from their crops — from studies to help producers develop better business strategies to scientific demonstrations of best practices for specific regions.

    A persistent challenge for farmers and the industry as a whole is the lack of scientific data on coffee production in different climates and regions. Neuschwander says small farmers, many of whom operate under the slimmest of margins, often struggle to determine the most effective varieties of coffee to plant in their area.

    To solve this problem World Coffee Research is working to install trial plots of coffee plants in more than 1,000 fields worldwide to gather data on the best-performing varieties in different conditions. Farmers will be able to use that hard data to secure loans for expansion and ultimately to produce more and better coffee.

    “We’re going to be able to see all across all different countries and environments around the world which varieties are doing best for farmers,” Neuschwander says. “It may sound really basic, but [the research] doesn’t exist. We are doing this really essential work that just hasn’t been done before."