Counter Culture Coffee has announced the release of its annual, limited-edition holiday coffee – from Latin America and Eastern Africa with sweet and chocolate dark-fruit notes. Priced at $14.25 and available on Counter Culture’s website, $1 from each pound sold will go to Counter Culture's Burundi partners to support their efforts towards becoming certified organic. Durham creative agency McKinney created the stunning packaging: a recyclable box printed with plant-based inks. The gift-ready box plays on the donation component of the coffee; the box top includes a call-out to convert it to a bank – to collect funds for an additional donation to the consumers' organization of choice.
Forming the basis for their core values and pragmatic model of environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability, Counter Culture works to develop deep partnerships with the farmers and artisans who create their coffees. The company is proud to work with some of the most progressive and environmentally sensitive farms in the coffee trade. Orchestrated by Coffee Buyer & Sustainability manager Kim Elena Bullock Ionescu, Counter Culture's sustainability program is marked by a dedication to organic agriculture. Seventy percent of the coffee that the company purchases is certified organic, and they are constantly working to increase that percentage, with a goal to be 100 percent organic by 2015.
As staunch advocates for sustainable agriculture, Counter Culture encourages all coffee growers to grow coffee organically. The company supports farms and co-ops willing to undertake the process of certification, which requires effort, money, and a full three years of transition time before the coffee can be labeled organic. Thus far, farmers in Burundi have never produced a certified organic coffee, and by directing a portion of proceeds to supporting good agricultural practices in Burundi, Counter Culture is hoping to kick-start an organic sector in a market with ample room to grow.
Since 2009, Counter Culture has developed a strong relationship with a coffee bean washing station in the Burundi community of Buziraguhindwa. The washing station's owners share a passion for quality, and their experiments and improvements have resulted in exceptional washed coffees and jaw-dropping sundried naturals (Burundi's first, as far as we know). Likewise, they have proven committed to the community and environment. A portion of Counter Culture’s holiday coffee proceeds will help to facilitate good agricultural practices and the transition to organic certification for their partners at Buziraguhindwa and Mpemba, two villages in Burundi.
The annual program benefits a different partner every year. Two years ago, a portion of Counter Culture's holiday coffee proceeds helped to fund the expansion of the community's primary school, and, this year, the team has agreed to begin the process required for organic certification of the Buziraguhindwa washing station and surrounding coffee farms. Last year's holiday coffee sponsored a two-day organic composting workshop in Ethiopia – attended by 30 farmers from Haru, Idido, and Biloya.
In addition, a portion of funds raised will support the Global Knowledge Initiative's and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology's research into the potato defect, one of the most frustrating coffee-growing puzzles of the past decade. The coffee industries of Burundi and Rwanda struggle with this mysterious, hard-to-eliminate defect, named for the unpleasant, raw-potato flavor that a single tainted coffee bean imparts to brewed coffee. The fungus seems to exist only in this region of Africa and affects even the most immaculately processed coffees.