The Caffeinated Mustard Seed

CoffeeTasting_topMembers of The Mustard Seed were really energized a couple weeks ago.  Why?  Well, it was the caffeine buzz from our first ever Local Coffee Tasting Party!

It used to be hard to find locally roasted coffees in Hamilton, but in the last few years the options for locally roasted and Fair Trade coffee have exploded; there are now about ten roasters or direct-traders. With each roaster preparing multiple blends, how do you know which coffees you like best?  The Mustard Seed Co-op is here to help do the research, so we decided to bring together local rosters and direct-trade merchants and try out their top blends first-hand. This will help us supply our members with the coffees they love from roasters we can know.

Here are the different producers who participated in our first event on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at the Hamilton Central Library.

Cafe Feminino is a women’s co-operative in Peru that grows amazing coffee – here’s a 2-min trailer to the film about them.

Julia Serna imports coffee directly from her family in Columbia. You will recognize Julia from her booth at the Hamilton Farmers Market.

Rio Olancho is a direct-trade coffee from Honduras. The Rio Olancho Direct Trade Coffee Project is a partnership between the growers of El Carrizal, Olancho, Honduras and The Carpenteros and Friends, a Christian volunteer group based in Southern Ontario. After partnering with the residents of El Carrizal on several community development projects, the Carpenteros were introduced to the excellent coffee being grown by that community. Now, the Rio Olancho ‘Direct Trade’ Coffee is shipped as green beans to Burlington, roasted and packaged locally, then sold through The Carpenteros and Friends. All proceeds from coffee sales flow back to the producers through premium prices, additional training and tools, and community development projects for some of the poorest communities in Honduras.

Detour Coffee Roasters roast in Burlington. We tasted two of their blends at the event: Yirgacheffe (Ethiopia) & Bottleneck (Bolivia). From their website “We feel that the best coffees deserve the same respect as fine wines.  We often use the analogy of taking wines from all the wine producers in Niagara and mixing them together;  Is this the best thing for Niagara wine producers and the local economy?  Or is best to let individual producers distinguish themselves and dictate price instead? …In the end, we feel that through quality as a guiding principle we can make an impact in the lives of producers and treat them with the level of respect they deserve.

Birds and Beans Coffee is a bird-friendly coffee roasted in Toronto. We tasted their dark roast, a blend of coffees from Latin America. Read more about what “bird-friendly” means and why it matters here:

Red Hill Coffee Trade imports and roasts the finest Fair Trade and organic coffee from a variety of origins. We tasted three of their roasts: Sumatran, Dominican Republic, & Bolivian. The roastery is located on the Hamilton Mountain. They have a market stall at the downtown Farmers Market and are soon opening a cafe on Concession Street.

By the end of the morning, almost 100 people had stopped by to sample local coffees or chat about The Mustard Seed. There was definitely a buzz in the air!  Maybe it was the caffeine, or maybe it was our excitement about the diversity of locally roasted coffees available from around the world.  With a greater knowledge of some of the complexities and opportunities of the coffee trade, everyone came away appreciating the effort that goes into a morning staple.  And with each tester noting their top three choices, we can use these results to inform our Co-op’s first coffee selections.   So once the Co-op opens, you’ll no longer need to run all around the Hamilton to find these coffees – you’ll be able to find them all in one great place!

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