• Make Boss’ Day Better

    by Amy Cimo | Oct 16, 2017

    Every upbeat boss can’t imagine starting their day without a cup of coffee, especially those right here at Community Coffee Company. Some need more than one cup to get them through the day, so this Boss’ Day help your supervisor get their fix.

    Not only is coffee a delicious, relaxing way to get to know your fellow co-workers, but it also makes your work days more productive.

    When you’re running from meeting to meeting, you’re bound to get tired. Remember, the caffeine found in coffee helps you maintain focused attention over extended periods of time. Caffeine also increases energy metabolism throughout the brain by improving lung function and oxygen intake. This can help you absorb new information more quickly and effectively. Adding a cup of Community® coffee to your busy work schedule will surely improve your day.

    Getting together with friends and co-workers over a cup of coffee can break through social barriers and form lasting work friendships. Relax in the middle of your work day with the free flowing conversation that coffee can bring about and don’t forget to say Happy Boss’ Day!
  • 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 7 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. Play a coffee-themed game! Looking for a new game night idea? Community Coffee’s Family Game is perfect to help switch up the routine.
    7. 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.

  • Simple Tricks for Making the Best Brew Possible at Home

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 24, 2017

    You’ll likely never rival the brewing handiwork (or the fashion sense) of the barista at your favorite coffee shop, but with a little experimentation and attention to detail it’s possible to make excellent coffee at home 

    Diana Mnatsakanyan, director of coffee at Undercurrent Coffee in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a Specialty Coffee Association-certified barista instructor, says investing in a few tools and paying closer attention to your ingredients can pay off with a much more satisfying coffee experience. “It's about making incremental improvements to the things you’re doing at home,” she says.

    Whether you’re using a bargain percolator or a high-end brewing device, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to maximize your coffee experience at home — even if your latte art will never make it to Instagram. Here are some tips.

    Stick With Quality, Fresh Coffee

    Mark Howell, General Manager of Green Coffee and Tea at Community Coffee Company, says the first step to enjoying a great cup of coffee is to start with a high quality product that is 100 percent Arabica coffee. The coffee should be roasted with care to bring out its unique characteristics and packaged immediately after roasting with high-quality materials and a one-way valve that maintains the coffee’s freshness until you open it.

    Air, moisture, heat and light can all compromise the flavor of your coffee, so it’s important to store your beans in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. The National Coffee Association says coffee’s retail packaging is generally not ideal for long-term storage; it suggests investing in a storage canister with an airtight seal to prolong the fresh-roasted flavor that makes for great coffee.

    Even if you’re taking steps to seal off your coffee, keep in mind that the average shelf life of coffee is only about two to three weeks after roasting, although some lighter roasted coffees can last up to two months.

    “To avoid diminishing the quality of that great coffee you bought, only buy what you would readily use in a week or two and store it correctly,” Howell says.

    Invest in Some Equipment

    For coffee lovers looking to take their brewing game to the next level, there are a few basic tools that can help. A quality coffee grinder, among the most important and least expensive tools for good coffee, offers a great return on your investment.

    Mnatsakanyan suggests avoiding common electric grinders that use metal blades because they pulverize the beans and typically result in an inconsistent grind. When it’s time to brew, the hot water will extract flavor from bigger pieces and tiny specks of coffee in an inconsistent manner. “You can buy the absolute best coffee in the world, but if your grinder is a little blade grinder, it’s pointless,” she says. “You’ll end up with a really uneven and unpleasant flavor.”

    Instead, she recommends picking up a hand grinder, which can be found for under $30, or a more expensive electric burr grinder that breaks down coffee in a more uniform way without using blades.

    Once you’ve mastered the grind, take a cue from bakers and add a small kitchen scale to your coffee-brewing repertoire. Different varieties of coffee have various densities, which means the same size scoop of different varieties may not weigh the same. A scale will help you ensure the ratio of coffee to water is correct no matter what type of bean you’re using.

    That ratio, by the way, is heavily dependent on the brew method you choose to make your coffee. For example, for a pour-over method or a basic filter-based automatic drip percolator, the recommended coffee-to-water ratio is between 1:14 and 1:17, by weight.

    Choose Quality Water

    Even though coffee is 98.9 percent water, many people overlook this vital ingredient and simply use water straight from the tap. The Speciality Coffee Association of America has detailed standards for water used in coffee that specify factors such as the chemical and mineral content.

    If that’s too complicated for your taste, there are still a few basic guidelines to keep in mind. “Water should be odor-free, fluoride-free and chlorine-free,” Mnatsakanyan says. “It should be clear and fresh.”

    Mnatsakanyan says to avoid distilled water because the absence of minerals can cause it to over-extract the coffee, creating a heavily bitter flavor. When brewing coffee, she opts for tap water filtered by a standard charcoal filter or bottled spring water from the supermarket.

    Preheat Your Brewing Vessel

    Last but not least, try preheating the vessel you’re using to brew. A cold French press, for example, could cool your water to below the desired range for extracting flavors from coffee during the brewing process.

    Coffee should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit for brewing. Below that range and the water won’t extract enough flavor from the coffee beans; water above 205 degrees will over-extract. “It doesn't have to be super hot,” Mnatsakanyan says.

  • 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.

    Ingredients:

    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 Company Helps to Support the Salvation Army’s Flood-Relief Efforts

    by Amy Cimo | Aug 04, 2017

    In August 2016, shortly after the devastating and historic flooding that hit the Baton Rouge region, the Salvation Army’s Capt. Brett Meredith and others handed out boxes of food to a long line of cars at a mall. With thousands of homes and businesses still underwater, it quickly became apparent just how critical the assistance was for flood victims that day.

    “I can’t tell you the number of people who would jump up out of their car and just put their arms around me and start crying,” says Meredith, the organization’s Greater Baton Rouge Corps Command Officer. “They were so grateful we were able to be there and provide what was needed.”

    Those boxes of food ended up being a small but vital part of the Salvation Army’s massive disaster relief operation for flood victims in the region, an effort that has continued into 2017. The charity has served 200,000 meals, distributed 23,000 food boxes, handed out 28,000 cleanup kits and helped distribute 177,000 items of clothing in the area. The Salvation Army’s relief efforts have played a critical role in helping residents recover from the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    Community Coffee Company was proud to support these efforts with a $100,000 donation to the Salvation Army.

    “We have a strong relationship with Community Coffee,” Meredith says. “We believe in their commitment to the community and we appreciate the fact that they’ve supported us the way they have. We couldn’t do what we do without companies and organizations like Community Coffee.”

    Filling Gaps

    With 110,000 homes in the Baton Rouge region affected by the flood, private and governmental relief agencies have strained to meet the needs of the victims, many of whom did not have flood insurance. Meredith says that while government entities like the Federal Emergency Management Agency have provided assistance, it has fallen to private charities to fill any gaps.

    “There’s no way there’s funding to help them all, but we’re trying to help as many as we can in a substantial way,” Meredith says.

    One of the areas the Salvation Army decided to focus on was furniture and appliances — critical components for making any house habitable and items that are often not covered by government assistance. The Salvation Army teamed up with Catholic Charities to assist 2,000 families with $500 vouchers to cover the purchase of furniture and appliances. Distribution of the vouchers began in January and is expected to wrap up by May.

    “We felt that furniture and appliances was a substantial way to help people, and Community Coffee helped make that happen,” Meredith says.

    ‘Blessed in Many Ways’

    The Salvation Army’s assistance is a critical hand up for the thousands of victims who lost nearly everything in the floodwaters. Among them is Fran Floyd, whose home in North Baton Rouge took on 18 inches of water.

    Floyd says she evacuated to a hotel and returned to assess the damage to her home as soon as it was safe. She found her walls, cabinets, bedding and many other belongings severely damaged by the floodwaters.

    “Everything was pretty much destroyed,” she says. “When we went in to check it had already started to mold and mildew. The more you cleaned out, the more stuff you found destroyed.”

    A manager at the Salvation Army’s retail store on Airline Highway, Floyd found herself in need of the relief services she normally sees her employer provide to others. The charity helped her secure a hard-to-find dehumidifier and mold-killing agent, as well as cleaning supplies, clothing and monetary assistance.

    Today Floyd is grateful for the charity’s assistance during one of the most trying times of her life. “Mentally and physically they helped me,” she says. “I’m blessed in many ways. I just want to thank my Salvation Army family for being there for me.”

  • 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.


    7-13-17_Rwanda_900x581One 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."

  • Sip on Bubble Coffee for a Sweet Summertime Drink

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 22, 2017

    So you may have tried cold-brew coffee by now, right? You know, the smoother, less acidic cousin of brewed coffee. Well, it’s the perfect ingredient for another refreshing summertime drink – Bubble Coffee!

    The ever-popular bubble or boba tea on many Asian menus or in tea shops is the inspiration for this make-at-home bubble coffee. According to many, bubble tea was born in Taiwan in the 1980s and first received its name after shaking together cold tea and added sweet flavorings, forming bubbles. Soon, tapioca pearl “bubbles” were added to the cold, sweet tea drink, too. After cooking, the sphere-shaped tapioca is chewy and much larger than the tapioca used for making pudding. Black-colored tapioca is the most popular color. It sits on the bottom of your drink glass, and because of the size, it requires an extra-wide-diameter straw to slurp and enjoy.

    This Bubble Coffee recipe simply substitutes cold-brew coffee for brewed tea and includes the same fun, cooked tapioca pearls, along with your favorite milk and touch of sweetener. It’s all served ice cold. The black tapioca pearls and big straws are sold together online and ship for free with several retailers. Make your own Community® Cold Brew coffee – uber easy – or buy it already made. Finally, many purchased bubble teas include powdered flavorings, creamer and flavored sweet syrup, along with a fairly hefty price tag. But in this recipe, just a few ingredients – five – are required for amazing flavor and big summer fun!          
     

    Bubble Coffee

    Follow the simple notes below to prepare ingredients before assembling coffees … 

    2-4 tablespoons cooked black tapioca pearls with added honey or sugar

    Ice

    ½-1 cup Community® Cold Brew coffee, made ahead

    ½ -1 cup favorite milk (2%, almond, coconut, soy, etc.)

    Simple syrup, condensed milk or honey to taste

    Place tapioca pearls in the bottom of a glass; add ice. Pour in coffee, milk and simple syrup or other sweetener to taste (the amount of added sweetener you need depends on personal preference and sweetness of milk used). Stir with large straw to combine.

    Makes 1 Bubble Coffee

    Notes:

    • To cook tapioca pearls:
      • Cook according to package directions. In general, boil 10 cups of water; stir in 1 cup tapioca pearls. (This amount is enough for about 6 Bubble Coffees.)
      • When tapioca pearls float, reduce heat to medium and cover pot; cook 3 minutes. Turn off heat; let sit about 3 minutes until softened but chewy. Drain.
      • Place in medium bowl. Stir in about ¼ cup honey or sugar to sweeten and keep tapioca pearls from turning hard. (Tapioca pearls are best used the day of cooking; they will be noticeably harder the following day but may be covered and refrigerated.)  
    • To make Community® Cold Brew coffee:
      • Open one Cold Brew Pouch. Drop both filter bags into a 2-quart (or larger) pitcher. Add 4 cups of cold, filtered water. Gently push down on filter bags to steep into water.
      • Steep coffee in fridge for 24 hours. For best results, use spoon to gently remove filter bags.
      • Enjoy! Add 3 cups of cold, filtered water to the pitcher.
    • To make simple syrup:
      • Combine equal parts warm water and sugar; stir until completely dissolved. Store in refrigerator.
    • For a blended-ice Bubble Coffee, combine all ingredients except for tapioca pearls in blender. Pour over tapioca pearls in bottom of glass.
    • For making “skinny” bubble tea, choose 1% or 2% milk and just a touch of added sweetener. It’s up to you how decadent to make your drink; condensed milk will add significant amounts of fat (and mouthfeel, too), along with sweetness.

     

    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

  • Taste Summer in this Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 15, 2017

    Imagine the ingredients for springtime dessert perfection all mixed together and baked in a fluted Bundt pan. Sound appealing? Well, here it is!

    This recipe was inspired by a combination of two different cakes: First, my husband’s southern family recipe for sour cream pound cake – so over-the-top good that we selected it as our wedding cake. Plus, the yeast-leavened French savarin cake which is soaked with sweet syrup after baking in a tube pan. Marry the two cakes together and voila! The super-moist, rich, lemony pound cake recipe below was born.

    You’ll taste sunshine in every lemon-spiked bite. First, there is fresh lemon juice and zest added to the sour cream pound cake. Then, after baking and still hot, the cake is bathed in simple lemon syrup, giving it extra lemon flavor and just the right amount of moisture to last for days. Finally, a lemon juice and zest icing crowns the cooled cake. Serve it with fresh berries and whipped cream to add an additional layer of special. 

    My family of tell-it-like-it-is taste testers described this cake as: “just the right amount of lemon”, “fresh”, “perfectly-moist” and “lemony-tangy.” Also, I’ve witnessed it being enjoyed with a cup of coffee both at the beginning and at the end of the same day. Now that’s my kind of endorsement!    

    Sour Cream Lemon Pound Cake

    Cake:

    3 cups all-purpose flour

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon baking soda

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 cup sour cream (light or regular)

    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons total for recipe)

    1 packed tablespoon lemon zest

    3 cups granulated sugar

    1 cup butter, softened

    6 large eggs

    Lemon Syrup:

    ¼ cup water

    ¼ cup granulated sugar

    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

    Icing:

    1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted

    1 tablespoon plus about 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    1 packed teaspoon lemon zest

    Fresh berries, if desired

    Whipped cream, if desired

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 10-inch diameter (12-cup) fluted tube pan with vegetable cooking spray and thoroughly dust with flour.

    Cake

    In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In separate medium bowl, combine sour cream, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. Set aside.

    In large mixing bowl, cream together 3 cups granulated sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream mixture to butter mixture, mixing and scraping down sides of bowl until completely blended.

    Pour into prepared pan and evenly distribute batter. Bake in middle of oven about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in top of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes; carefully run a thin knife around edges. Invert cake onto cooling rack set over a cookie sheet or parchment paper.

    Lemon Syrup

    Meanwhile, in microwave-safe bowl, heat water and ¼ cup granulated sugar until just boiling. Stir in ¼ cup lemon juice. Using a pastry brush, gradually paint sides and top of hot cake with syrup, repeating until syrup is gone. Let cool completely.

    Icing

    In large mixing bowl, beat together powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until completely combined, adding additional lemon juice as needed to make a thick, just-pourable icing. Carefully drizzle over top of cake.

    Makes 1 large cake (about 16 slices)

    Notes:

    • To soften butter in the microwave, heat it on High for 5 seconds; turn. Repeat until butter is soft but not melted.
    • Zest whole lemons with a citrus zester or fine grater before halving them for juicing.  
    • Only zest the very outside of citrus fruit and not the white pith; it is bitter.
    • Have extra lemon juice? Refrigerate it to make “spa water” or freeze in an ice cube tray for future use.
    • If the cake isn’t releasing from the pan when inverted, let it cool an extra 5 minutes and run a thin knife around the edges again.
    • It takes a bit of patience to brush all of the lemon syrup onto the cake, and some will drip onto the cookie sheet or parchment beneath the cooling rack. Trust me, it’s all worth it!
    • Make the cake a day before serving for a relaxing, stress-free dessert that feeds a crowd and remains moist for many days – if it lasts that long!
    • This cake beautifully pairs with one of the newest additions to the Community Coffee line up, Amber Sunrise™ Blend, or try with Community Breakfast Blend. These lighter roasted coffees pair delicately with the lemony pound cake. 

     

    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

  • It’s Tea Time: Celebrate National Tea Day June 10

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 08, 2017

    Here at Community Coffee Company, we’re definitely fond of our coffee. But we feel pretty good about our tea, too. According to statistics from the International Tea Committee, the U.S. is the third largest importer of tea in the world. On any given day, more than half of the American population is drinking tea. Of course, we want to join our fellow tea lovers in celebration of National Tea Day on June 10.

    Tea Provides Variety

    Similar to coffee, tea is grown in many areas around the world, resulting in a variety of characteristics and flavors. All tea is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. How the tea leaves are processed and their level of contact with oxygen determine what type of tea it becomes. The leaves undergo natural chemical reactions that result in distinct color and taste characteristics.

    Tea is widely consumed, and it can be enjoyed hot or iced and with or without cream, sugar or other taste enhancers, such as lemon. Everyone in the South knows we sure do love our sweet tea! The most common tea across the U.S. is black tea, and tea leaves from different regions are mixed to create special blends.

    It’s Good For You!

    For the increasingly popular health trend, tea is great because it’s all natural and provides many health and wellness benefits. It’s virtually calorie-free and contains no sodium, fat or sugar (unless added.) Tea contains antioxidants, and research suggests that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Drinking it without added calories can also help with weight management.

    Enjoy The Breeze

    Community Coffee Company recently enhanced the packaging for its tea products to emphasize the quality. The updated contemporary look gives an exciting new premium feel to the offerings. While nothing about the ingredients or processing of the tea has changed, the new naming of the line as Porch Breeze™ offers a fresh take on the popular beverage.

    Among the offerings, Signature Iced Tea still remains a favorite item. The quart-sized tea bags are also available in decaf as well. Other options include the individual black tea bags, as well as individual green tea bags. Both of these include the best way to brew either hot or cold.

    Instructions For Individual Tea Bag Use

    Hot Tea
    Use 1 tea bag for every 6 ounces of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and serve.

    Iced Tea Pitcher
    Use 4 to 6 tea bags for each quart of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and steep 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, chill and serve over ice.

    Quick-Serve Pitcher
    Use 8 to 12 tea bags for each quart of fresh water. Bring water to a boil, pour over tea bags, cover and step for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, add an equal amount of cold water and pour into ice-filled glasses.

  • Community Coffee Teams Up with Junior Achievement to Prepare High-School Students for the Job Market

    by Amy Cimo | Jun 02, 2017

    Port Allen High School students got an up-close look at Community Coffee Company’s manufacturing facility in West Baton Rouge, along with job skills training from company leaders, under an educational program designed to introduce students to career possibilities in business and industry.

    The Get Hired, Stay Hired program is a seven-week work-readiness curriculum coordinated by Junior Achievement of Greater Baton Rouge & Acadiana, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in the global economy. The program culminated in a job-shadowing day that allowed the students to tour Community Coffee’s Port Allen plant and learn more about careers in the coffee industry.

    West Baton Rouge Superintendent Wesley Watts says the school system has put a special emphasis on introducing students to area businesses to give them a more complete understanding of the job opportunities available to them after graduation.

    “As a school system we want to expose our kids to as many occupations as possible,” Watts says. “One of our philosophies is that we need to get kids actually into these businesses to see what they’re all about. We have great industrial and manufacturing businesses here, and a lot of our kids don’t know what they’re really like.”

    Working with Students in the Classroom

    CC-greencoffeeGet Hired, Stay Hired began in the classroom, where employees of Community Coffee spent time working with students in the business and entrepreneurship classes at Port Allen High. Students learned interviewing skills and how to create a resume, while also honing their “soft skills” — positive personal attributes that enable employees to work better with other people in a workplace.

    “The students and teachers learned so much about the employment process, including the importance of the skills needed to get hired, how to work effectively in teams and the importance of good soft skills,” says Jill Edwards, Port Allen High’s BCA/entrepreneurship teacher. “The Community Coffee team members worked well with our students. Our classes looked forward to seeing them each week. We really appreciate the time and attention that Community Coffee gave to our students, and look forward to working with them again in the future.”

    A First-Hand Look at the Workplace

    At the conclusion of the program, the students traveled to Community Coffee’s Port Allen facility to tour the plant and see first-hand how employees in numerous positions do their jobs.

    Watts says these types of visits help demystify industrial workplaces for students whoCC-Tour have few opportunities to encounter such settings in their day-to-day lives. He says some students take notice of the automation and the technology in plants like Community’s and come away with a fresh understanding of what an industrial job entails.

    “I think it really gives them an impetus to focus harder on some other things, like how valuable being tech-savvy is and how much these jobs are really about people,” Watts says.

    During their visit the Port Allen students toured areas where green coffee is processed and prepared for roasting. They also saw each step in the manufacturing process, including roasting and grinding machines. Mark Howell, Community’s general manager for green coffee and tea, offered the students a lesson on the complicated origins of coffee, along with the harvesting and manufacturing of the product.

    “It was really great to be able to share some of our knowledge,” Howell says.

    JA Communications Director Jennifer Scripps says the organization sees a disconnect between students and industry, with many young people in the dark about the possibilities of industrial careers. She says working with business leaders and visiting industrial sites can open up new career possibilities for high-school students.

    “We’re really trying to make that real-life connection,” Scripps says. “It’s really an eye-opening experience for the students.”

  • Community Coffee Co. supports innovative New Orleans community for veterans

    by Amy Cimo | May 26, 2017
     

    When Army veteran Dylan Tête returned from a nearly two-year combat tour in Iraq, he grabbed his young family and headed to New Orleans to begin his civilian life. Three months later Hurricane Katrina hit.

    “It was great timing in some respects, because I knew exactly what to do,” Tête said.

    The West Point graduate withdrew his application for graduate school and turned his focus to helping the city recover from the historic storm, leveraging his project-management experience in Iraq to guide the construction of FEMA trailer parks and, later, projects with the city of New Orleans.

    Today the Louisiana native is focused on a different type of recovery: helping returning soldiers, particularly those with traumatic brain injuries, transition back into civilian life. He has founded Bastion, an innovative community in New Orleans for veterans and families with lifelong rehabilitative needs. Located near Bayou St. John and City Park, the residential neighborhood aims to employ a holistic approach to reintegration and recovery in which every resident gives service, including volunteers who live full time in the community.

    “The model is all about facilitating active engagement that will incubate meaningful relationships that can endure for a lifetime,” Tête said. “With someone with a lifelong rehabilitative need, like a TBI, that is everything.”

    The initiative will focus on post-9/11 veterans and families, as well as surviving family5-25-17_bastion_900x600 members. Bastion’s structure is based on a successful model that has been employed by agencies serving foster children. It invites volunteers, including older veterans, to live in the community and provide service to the residents. Services could range from meal preparation and transportation to budgeting and social support.

    Bastion is also partnering with other community providers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, to avoid any duplication of services. The overriding goal is to serve disabled veterans and families who are at the greatest risk of slipping through gaps in the existing system of care, which is often the case with hard-to-treat and increasingly common traumatic brain injuries.

    Tête says he developed an interest in assisting veterans with traumatic brain injuries after seeing fellow warriors struggle with the devastating effects of the condition after returning from combat. “I had a lot of buddies who came back home pretty banged up,” Tête said. “Really it was a matter of paying attention and trying to learn what was really happening.”

    Tête’s interest eventually took him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C., where he met nationally-renowned neuropsychiatrist Dr. David Williamson, whom he credits with opening his eyes about traumatic brain injuries, the symptoms of which can get worse with age.

    “For someone who is relatively young who has family, if the injury is severe enough, he needs lots of support,” Tête said.

    After four years of planning and development, and convincing enough people the model5-25-17_bastion_900x528 would work, Tête broke ground on Bastion in June 2016. Phase 1, underway now, includes 38 apartments and a wellness center. All of the homes will be situated around a 5.5-acre property with a central green space. Community Coffee Company is a supporter of the project.

    Even though construction continues, the first few residents have already moved in. Among them is Josh Earl, who enlisted in the Army National Guard three months before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 with the 220th Military Police Company, and ended his service in 2006.

    Earl said Bastion isn’t about merely providing housing for returning warriors, but rather a unique and supportive community of veterans for those who are often struggling with transitioning away from military life.

    “One of the hardest things about being a combat veteran specifically is that going back into the civilian world is kind of like living in a foreign country,” Earl said. “You don’t fit in anywhere. No matter how much you try, you're always kind of an outsider. Bastion is going to help these veterans come together and help them become more integrated back into society while also having that safety, that security, that camaraderie we had in the military. So that if we do ever leave here we have a much stronger base and a sense of purpose."