A trip to Milk Origin – Mill King Market and Creamery Pt. 2

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Small herd, stress free environment, and chemical free are all variables that affect the quality of the milk that goes into our favorite espresso drink. While it sounds like the cows at Craig Miller’s Mill King dairy farm have it easy Craig himself does not. “Me and my mom each put in around 100 hours a week,” he explains as he points out his mom taking a break outside one of the barns. They have a handful of employees and Craig, up to recently, has been doing the selling, marketing, and delivery as well as run the farm and work alongside his employees. “It’s getting better though, because I can get 8 hours a sleep now. Just not in a row,” he adds. “My day starts at 2 in the morning when we load trucks, and then I take a nap, then get back up for the morning meeting with the process crew, then I’ll work with them for a while, and then go take another nap. Then get up and do office work and go take another nap.  It hasn’t been a walk in the park but going into it we knew it would be hard work. But we are workaholics anyway.” Continue reading

Paper Co. Coffee

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Coffee shops have long been favorite meeting places for everyone from revolutionaries,  and politicians, to friends and family. In recent years, with the addition of free wi-fi, coffee shops have become a place to be secluded with your device. Paper Co. Coffee is  one shop that is trying to change that by encouraging their customers to share their stories. “Everybody has a story. We want everybody to hang out and talk and share their story about their lives,” Dave Foong Paper Co.’s coffee shop manager tells me. After sitting down with Dave and their coffee supplier Josely, head roaster for Mueva Coffee, I discovered that there are indeed many stories to tell here. Continue reading

Entre Montañas – A conversation with a Guatemalan coffee farmer

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Just south-east of Guatemala City in the rich volcanic soil of the Fraijanes Plateau coffee region of Guatemala you will find Finca Las Victorias. It is a shade grown coffee farm that has been passed down generation to generation by Carlos Letona’s family for more than 130 years.  “We have been producing coffee as it has been a long time family business since former Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios in the late 1800′s,” he tells me. Barrios had taken steps to make coffee production Guatemala’s key to survival. He distributed a million seedlings to farmers and by 1880 coffee made up 90% of it’s exports. Las Victorias was born and operated unofficially for about 70 years until Carlos’ grandfather legalized the business and began exporting his crops to Belgium until the time of his death in 2001. For a time the farm remained out of operation until 2011 when Carlos (who attended school in Houston and who’s mom works as a teacher in Alief) inherited it and began undertaking the task of getting it up and running again.  Continue reading

A bit more to it than that…

“You know what I like about coffee…it’s simple, you roast it, you grind it, you make it, done.” I think this statement is a pretty good summation of how most people view where their coffee comes from. For some it might even be more simpler than that: you pull up to a window and someone hands you a cup of coffee in exchange for a couple of bucks. Who cares where it comes from.

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Coffee Price Apocaplypse

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In the past week or so I’ve come across a number of articles in the news about coffee prices rising. “Pay UP or Perk Up”, and “Gulp! New coffee prices due to big dry will be hard to swallow” are just a couple of the “creative” shocking headlines I’ve run across. The stories remind me of Houston’s recent “Snowcaplypse” news reports. (I can’t believe we survived it!) Continue reading