Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Sightglass Coffee’s Hunky Dory

Is that the cutest name or what?

We’re already at the fourth entry in the Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series. That’s more than enough beans to start feeling the differences in quality. What caught my eye with this one (aside from the roaster’s adorable naming conventions) was the promise of a bergamot flavor note. For those that don’t know, that’s the tea leaf that gives Earl Grey its distinctive flavor. My tea cabinet is a pretty impressive creation, so this was something I had to check out for myself.

Does Hunky Dory truly live up to its title? Let’s take a look at this charming little bag and what it has to offer to both coffee lovers and tea fanatics. If you’re new to the series, check out my previous posts on Counter Culture Coffee’s Slow Motion or Partners Coffee Roasters’ Ghost Town.

Without further ado!

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Is Shortening The Coffee Supply Chain The Answer?

Discussions around sustainability in the coffee industry redefine patience.

When we’re not being faced with the reality of dismal farming wages, heads are spinning on aaall the different intermediaries in the coffee supply chain. Producers, importers, exporters, retailers, roasters…and here we were just figuring out the difference between a macchiato and a latte. It’s an average day slicing apart the noise to get meaningful action that changes lives for the better. The convoluted nature of it all starts to feel intentional after a point.

Knowledge is power. I recently checked out this video by Cedro Alto Coffee on the coffee supply chain — Karl goes into great detail concerning the jobs in-between the producers (farmers) and the consumers (us). He takes a patient and critical look at the understandably frustrated conversations on the supply chain and how many want to snip out a few intermediaries. He notes that there are still many administrative and shipping roles that get coffee into stores in the first place, not all of which can just be squished into one job.

I exist as both a link in the chain and an end consumer. My copywriting niche is coffee (as well as tea and alcohol), helping professionals in the industry reach the right people…and I purchase coffee and coffee equipment. My interest is more than just a good cup of joe on my desk: it’s a deep investment of the veritable knot this industry has tied itself into and all the fingers needed to detangle it. I may not be around in the next fifteen to twenty years, but I do know I want coffee to stick it out.

Change is possible. We can see with our own two eyes that what’s happening in the coffee industry just isn’t working. The only question is what, exactly, can be done…and the only surefire wrong answer is to do nothing at all.

Growing Confidence From The Ground Up: Building Trust In The Coffee Industry

Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It can, however, be lost overnight.

The coffee industry has been coming face-to-face with trust issues in the past few months alone. Green Mountain Keurigs, an easily recognizable grocery store coffee brand, has been hit with a customer lawsuit citing dishonest marketing practices. News reports having been honing in on how farmers are left out of coffee buying and distribution conversations. Studies have cropped up finding consumers disillusioned with green labels, despite environmental certifications coming in many varieties and requiring a lot of work to obtain. Starbucks, the titular coffee behemoth, has been cagey concerning details on how much the corporation has been paying farmers.

All this information is overwhelming…and rightfully so. Whether you are a distributor, roaster or cafe owner, you literally cannot afford not to build trust.

Buyers can sniff dishonesty a mile away. Keeping tight lips may seem wise in the short-term, but in the long-term can and will affect everyone up and down the coffee line. There is no quick answer when it comes to building trust, either. Not when you have to cultivate the individuality of the people you work with and the people you hope to buy from your business. There are, however, obvious pitfalls that should be avoided moving forward.

Let’s take a look.

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a photo of the rwandan landscape

How often do you think about where your ethically sourced coffee comes from?

Not what the ‘ethically traded’ label says or the origin claim stated by the company…but where it really comes from. If you’re rubbing the back of your neck or avoiding eye contact with your screen, rest assured this is a common problem.

Not just among consumers, but among companies and businesses that work in direct trade with coffee farmers. In our whirlwind day-to-day, thinking about just where our goods come from and at what cost can feel like a tall order (pardon the pun). You’re just trying to get through the workweek in one piece! When it comes to positive change, however…now is always the best time for it. From grower to roaster to customer, the journey of coffee is a winding one. One we can neglect on our way to get the most convenient cup.

An ‘ethical trade’ label on a box or recycling claim on a lid isn’t enough. Several troubling developments concerning coffee sustainability and ethical trading have cropped up these past few weeks, showing that green sentiments are often only skin deep. One story analyzing coffee culture in Rwanda — or rather, the lack thereof — speaks to the real disconnect the West has with the rest of the world. Farmers are caught in such a chokehold between consistent production rates and high costs they’re not even able to taste their own creations. To the Western ear, this is completely surreal…

…and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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