gardenerscardiff.co.uk

For the Best Gardeners in the Cardiff Area

   Oct 30

Your Questions About Gardening

Mark asks…

Where is a good place for the gals to have coffee?

I am a nurse

GardenersCardiff answers:

I would say starbucks, Dunkin’ Doughnuts or:

Bay View Farm
Honaunau, Hawaii

The Big Island’s famed kona is “the only coffee grown (commercially) in the United States,” Davids says, and “this is a good place to taste the best.” The farmers drive here from the higher altitudes where coffee is grown. Bay View processes and roasts it. “They serve only extra fancy and peaberry, and it’s free.” 800-662-5880; bayviewfarmcoffees.com

Caffe Dante and Caffe Reggio
New York

“The Italian-Americans hung out here and played cards,” Davids says of Caffe Reggio, which claims to have made the USA’s first cappuccino. The small room is “authentic and simple,” with a vintage chrome-and-bronze espresso machine. One of those beauties adorns Caffe Dante, too. Both Greenwich Village stalwarts “make a rough, old-fashioned Italian coffee — a robust, sharp, dark roast. You’re experiencing espresso as it was early in the century, before it became a mall drink.” Reggio, 212-475-9557; www.cafereggio.com, 212-982-5275.

Caffe Trieste
San Francisco

Grant Avenue in North Beach “has kept its bohemian, funky atmosphere,” and Trieste patrons such as Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti “held down the fort against pure tourism,” says Davids. “They roast their own coffee … Kind of a rough, robust, ‘take no prisoners’ espresso.” Owned by the Giotta family — “they’re all performers” — it hosts Saturday-night concerts; “there’s always a crowd outside.” 415-982-2605; caffetrieste.com

Peet’s
Berkeley, Calif.

The original store, where Alfred Peet “used to roast coffee in the back,” is a landmark in coffee history: Many industry people “feel it started the specialty coffee movement,” Davids says, because it pioneered small-batch, in-store roasting. “The way they brew, the roast style and the coffees they choose are a … Treasure: strong, heavy-bodied drip coffee.” And the old-time décor retains the “coffee shop, rather than cafe, flavor.” 800-999-2132; peets.com

Zoka
Seattle

Among the best of the new-generation coffeehouses, Zoka boasts two barista (coffee-drink maker) champions: Dismas Smith won the North American Championship in 2002, and Phuong Tran won the 2005 U.S. Contest, Davids notes. Zoka’s espresso is “hearty, but more refined” than that served by older places like Trieste. It’s “full-bodied” without tasting sharp or bitter. Paladino is its signature espresso; Tangletown is the popular drip blend. 206-545-4277; zokacoffee.com

By Gary Firstenberg, News Cafe
News Cafe in Miami Beach: It’s a sidewalk cafe, bar, retail store and newsstand — and it’s open 24 hours. A specialty of the house: the Chocolate Fondue for Two.

News Cafe
Miami Beach

This 24-hour Ocean Drive hot spot surrounded by neon-lit art-deco hotels is “more an outdoor cafe-bar than a coffee place … A people-watching scene any time of day.” You can order a regular cup or a thick, sweet Cuban coffee. He likes the News Cafe “at 10 a.m., when they’re washing down the street” and only a few locals are around. 305-538-6397; newscafe.com

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Portland, Ore.

“This fairly new company’s coffee is superb,” Davids says. “They’re extremely serious: They serve coffee in French presses only.” They buy prize-winning beans and “treat coffee like wine.” Stumptown is representative of “a new wave of young people who entered the business seven to 10 years ago and are now industry leaders.” The roaster is next door to the shop, “so you can smell it in the store.” 503-230-7702; stumptowncoffee.com/cafes/division.html

Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Chicago

As serious about its coffee as Stumptown, this company serves “amazing coffees, some of the world’s finest,” Davids says. He marvels that it “hired a young guy just to go around the world picking out small lots of exceptional coffee.” Its celebrated espresso blend, Black Cat, is “robust. People who like intensity will like it.” Intelligentsia also puts coffees out for sale, rotating among 30 to 40 whole-bean choices hourly. 888-945-9786; intelligentsiacoffee.com

Café Beignet
New Orleans

This “cute, tucked-away place” near the French Quarter’s police station is also “cool for people-watching. It’s real New Orleans,” Davids says, and makes its beignets in-house. “The coffee is produced by Coffee Roasters of New Orleans. … All their coffees are excellent; the chicory is refined, not too overpowering.” 504-524-5530; cafebeignet.com

It all depends on here you live

Sharon asks…

Do you trust coffee certifications (Organic, Fair Trade, Bird Friendly)? Why or Why not?

I am interested in knowing if people drink certified coffee, why they drink it, if they trust the certifications and what other type of information might they be interested in seeing/knowing about coffee growing practices… about social, environmental, quality standards.. and everything else

GardenersCardiff answers:

Coffee, certification, and consumers

For the past several years, coffee countries have been in crisis. Farmers have been facing twenty-year lows in pricing for the past three years, from a high in the early nineties of over $2.255/lb., to the current $.43/lb. This crisis causes farmers to abandon their land and migrate toward urban areas to find menial work, or to illegally immigrate to more financially stable countries. It tempts some farmers to replace their coffee trees with coca, which draws them and their families into servitude to drug cartels, and forces them to destroy the fertility of their land.

For other farmers, the low prices create incentives to opt for industrialized, high-quantity production of low-quality coffee hybrids that grow in full sun and depend on high-chemical inputs and mechanized harvesting. With this agricultural shift has come massive deforestation, and population decline of migratory birds and other key species (see “Shades of Shade,” page 22).

This crisis can also spark uprisings and civil wars in these financially and politically unstable countries, forcing the consumer countries (predominantly the US and the European Union) to use military force to stabilize them.

Fair Trade, shade grown, and certified organic programs were created in part to counteract these effects of the commodities market. The terms have become buzzwords for coffee drinkers around the world.

In the specialty coffee industry today there is much controversy about the virtues of the various forms of certification: the verifiability of organic; the economic viability of shade grown; the ability of Fair Trade to improve the coffee producer’s lot.

To make sense of this discussion the consumer needs to understand these terms as well as the consequences of the low value that is currently placed on intensely handcrafted high-quality coffee.

It’s All in the Details

Shade Grown and Bird Friendly

This designation (see page 22) ensures that multiple species have habitat, and that dwindling tropical rainforests are preserved. But shade grown coffee is not necessarily organic and does not necessarily address socio-economic issues.

Fair Trade

Fair Trade addresses primarily the price points at which coffee is sold and traded on the world commodity market. Coffee, like oil, pork bellies, and frozen concentrated orange juice, is traded on a market based on speculation and futures.

Fair Trade ensures a “floor” price that allows farmers to make minimum profits in low markets. Fair Trade farmers receive a guaranteed minimum of $1.26 for nonorganic coffees and $1.41 for certified organic coffees. Like shade grown and certified organic coffee, Fair Trade is a work in progress and not a panacea for the present crisis.

The Fair Trade program’s limitation is that only cooperatives democratically operated along detailed guidelines laid down by Transfair USA (the certifying agency in the US) can apply. However, many traditional coffee farms are not co-ops. They can be privately owned or run in a tribal or communal setting. Such structures may produce premium coffee using strict environmental guidelines, pay decent wages, and provide humane working conditions for their workers, but they cannot earn the Fair Trade label and premium. Despite claims to the contrary by Transfair USA, its guidelines do not adequately address issues surrounding the environment, biodiversity, species preservation, or whether or not the coffee trees come from genetically modified rootstocks.

Certified Organic

Organic farming is more about relationships than simply “chemical-free” farming. The checks and balances that result from an organic system come from the interaction of a wide variety of life-forms that run the gamut from bacteria and rhizomes below the ground, to pollinators and flowers above the ground, to bears crapping in the woods on the ground.

Organic certification ensures that the coffee is grown without the common pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides used on coffee, many of which are banned in the US. Buyers of certified organic coffees offer a premium to farmers (around 40 cents above the commodities market). Even when world coffee markets are low, as they are now, certified organic farmers are still able to make a profit.

The purchase of certified organic coffee allows small farms to compete against larger coffee interests. In many Third World countries, the division of wealth is unevenly distributed (a few wealthy, many poor, and almost no middle class). Organic certification, similar to the Fair Trade system, helps to close the gap. (In order to be sold internationally as organically certified, the local certifier within the country of origin must be certified by IFOAM, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. This is also true for American products sold abroad as organic.)

The fly in this ointment is that certified organic coffee commands different prices in different geographic locations. For example, an organic farmer in Costa Rica or Sumatra may use the same growing practices and produce the same quality of coffee as organic farmers in Mexico, Peru, or Bolivia. But because the Costa Rican and Sumatran yields are so much smaller, their coffees will generally receive premiums far above the organic Fair Trade floor price. Mexico and Peru are the two largest organic coffee producers in the world, so the size of the yield automatically forces the price down.

Paul asks…

can anyone give me an insight of the Philippine Coffee shop industry…?

im a HRM student and i would like to know something about coffee shops.., if you can give the a website wherein i can answer my question, that would be great., tnx and Godbless

GardenersCardiff answers:

That’s a rather broad topic, so I don’t think there’s one single website that can help you with your question. What exactly about the Philippine coffee shop industry are you interested in? Moreover, what KIND of shops are you interested in, the home-grown coffee shops or the local franchises of international chains?

If you need information on the international chains, I suggest you follow tranquil’s advice and check out the websites he suggested. Aside from Starbucks, other local franchises of international chains are Seattle’s Best Coffee (www.seattlesbest.com), Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (www.coffeebean.com) , and Mocha Blends (www.mochablends.com). These are all US-based companies, except for Mocha Blends which is Australian.

For home-grown coffee shop chains, the best to look up is Figaro (www.figarocoffee.com) which has single-handedly revived the Philippine coffee industry (and advocates reviving traditional and organic methods of coffee farming) and has begun international expansion with shops in China. Another major player is Bo’s Coffee Club, but they don’t have their own website yet.

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