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The Latest News from Wheatsville

Bulk News

This section has been a centerpiece of WV since the beginning, so it’s been fun to watch other grocery chains pick up on our lead. But that’s fine by us because the more people who buy bulk the better our community becomes. Here’s why: It reduces wasteful packaging. You can purchase only the amount you need so it’s always fresh and not wasteful. All of these reasons are why it’s less expensive to buy from bulk.  Everyone wins big in bulk.

Next time you are in take a look as the sheer variety of products you can purchase in bulk. There are herbs, teas and spices, organic coffee, laundry detergent, soap, even bodycare products.

Co-op Month Vendor Spotlight: Equal Exchange

What is your origin story? Who started the business and why?

Equal Exchange started with an idea: what if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? Our founders – Rink Dickinson, Jonathan Rosenthal and Michael Rozyne – asked this question as they envisioned a trade model that values each part of the supply chain. So they took a big risk and plunged full-force into changing a broken food system. In 1986, they started with fairly traded coffee from Nicaragua and didn’t look back.

Three decades later (and with several product lines in the mix), we still face vast challenges. Consumers have been overloaded with labels and certifications, while the Fair Trade movement has been watered down in favor of corporate interests. The whole food industry has continued to consolidate into the hands of just a few big players, allowing concentrated power and deception of choice.


Tell us about Fair Trade.

Fair Trade is a voluntary program utilized by coffee importers and food companies to create an alternative market for traditionally disadvantaged producers in developing countries, usually small scale farmers. The components include:

  • Targeted purchasing of coffee through democratically organized farmer co-operatives.
  • Agreed upon commodity floor prices that provide for a dignified livelihood.
  • Direct exports by producers.
  • A promise by importers to make affordable credit available to the farmer cooperatives.
  • A world-wide network of non-profit certifying organizations.
  • A fee paid by importers and wholesalers to cover the cost of certification.
  • A seal that assures consumers that the product was fairly traded.

Your purchase of fairly traded coffee helps build pride, independence and community empowerment for small farmers and their families. A coffee processing plant in El Salvador, community stores in Colombia, the training of doctors in Mexico, new schools in Peru – these are examples of initiatives co-ops have taken in their own communities with the income from Fair Trade.


Is your coffee certified organic?

All of Equal Exchange’s organic coffee is certified by Oregon Tilth. Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) is an internationally recognized symbol of organic integrity. The purpose of organic certification is to ensure that the agreed upon conventions of organic agricultural systems are being practiced not only by growers, but also by all the people who handle and process organic food on its journey to the final consumer. To accomplish this, OTCO provides a system which combines strict production standards, verifiable third party inspections and legally binding affidavits to protect the producers and buyers of organic products.


What steps does Equal Exchange take to ensure top quality coffee?

Our concern for the quality of farmers’ lives is matched by our concern for the quality of our coffee. Through our long-term relationships with the farmers and yearly visits to the co-ops, we maintain an intimate knowledge of the coffee harvest and the quality of the beans.

We have a rigorous system for quality control from bean to cup. Each pre-shipment sample is evaluated to meet our standards. When the approved shipment arrives, it is evaluated again for consistency and preparation. After each coffee is roasted, it is individually “cupped” to ensure consistency in the roast and the flavor profile needed for that particular coffee.


Other than coffee, what other products does Equal Exchange produce and what makes them unique?

Most teas come from large plantations where workers have little say. Our delicious organic, Fair Trade teas are sourced from small-scale farmer co-ops in India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. We are helping to build a different system that values the voice of small farmers, their products, and democracy in trade.

Equal Exchange tea, bag, tag and string are compostable. Or if tea leaves are removed, the bag, string and tag can be recycled. No glue or staples are used in our tea bags.
Our Fair Trade chocolate bars are rich in flavor with a smooth, creamy texture that melts in your mouth. Our organic cacao and sugar are sourced directly from small-scale farmers co-ops in Latin America.


Anything else we should know?

At Equal Exchange we believe that we should expect no less from ourselves and each other than we demand of our farmer partners. For that reason we have organized ourselves as a democratic worker cooperative, now one of the largest in the country.

A worker cooperative is an alternative for-profit structure based upon standard democratic principles. It is not designed to maximize profits, nor returns to investors, but rather to bring to the workplace many of the rights and responsibilities that we hold as citizens in our communities.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Cuvée Coffee

Who started Cuvée Coffee, when and why?

Mike McKim started roasting coffee as a hobby in 1998 and immediately knew
that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.


What makes Cuvée Coffee different from other coffee on the market?

Cuvée Coffee pioneered the specialty coffee movement in Texas and is considered one of the best roasters in the country.

How has your business evolved?

The business has gone from a part time, garage enterprise to a coffee roastery, cold brewery and coffee bar. It has also become a place where passionate coffee people have an opportunity to build a career in the coffee industry.


Anything new being developed?

Cuvée pioneered specialty coffee in Texas, was part of the Direct Trade coffee sourcing movement and introduced the world to nitro cold brew, so it’s safe to say that the company is constantly considering what’s next.


What is your favorite thing about Wheatsville?

That you carry Cuvée Coffee, of course :)

OUR PROCESS SEED TO CUP:


SEEKING OUT EXCELLENCE
Through diligent tasting, communication, and good old fashioned searching, Cuvée has sought out the very best in quality coffees. Beyond just the beans, we’re honored to have surrounded ourselves with grower-partners who see the same in us, and strive to be the very best.


CULTIVATING SUSTAINABILITY
Through open discussion, and mutually fair agreements, we ensure that the people behind our coffees are able to sustain themselves, their families, and grow their businesses. Allowing for their return year  after year, producing your favorite coffees!


BUSINESS THROUGH CONTINUED TRUST
With such amazing partners working alongside Cuvée, and the trust in our continued connection, growers have the confidence and assurance to improve, test, experiment, and evolve themselves to produce  unique coffees, which we proudly share unto you.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Third Coast Coffee

1. How long has Third Coast Coffee been in business?

Joe Lozano began roasting coffee in 1994 and opened Los Armadillos Coffee. Most of his working life had been in restaurants and kitchens so when the opportunity to roast coffee came up, he thought it wouldn’t be so hard to do with the experience he had. That didn’t turn out to be so true, but after much trial and error, he had the opportunity to buy Third Coast Coffee in 2008. We’ve been fine tuning our roasts and expanding every year since. 

2. What practices set you apart from others?

We’re an artisan roaster because roasting coffee is an art. Third Coast only roasts coffee to order so you’re guaranteed a fresh cup of with every bag. We control each roast by hand, eye, and nose. Our roasting machines are lovingly maintained 12 kilo drum roasters and we follow rigorous protocol, including set batch sizes for all roasts that guarantees the results we seek. We are part of the world’s only coffee buying cooperative that has 21 roaster members spread throughout the United States and Canada. Our members are committed to sourcing sustainably grown coffees and partner closely with the farmers who grow it. By importing directly from the farmers, the co-op does business in a way that creates a fairer, more transparent and sustainable system of coffee trade that directly benefits the farmers, and their families and communities. 

3. How do you source your beans and from where?

As a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, Third Coast Coffee directly imports coffee from small farmer cooperatives throughout Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Indonesia. We make year long commitments for our green coffee to ensure reliable and steady supply of the many varieties that we offer. We always want to make sure the farmers are effectively rewarded for their efforts. We also want to respect their hard work by crafting the finest roasts possible, extending that dialogue to include coffee drinker, roaster, and grower. Cooperative Coffees goal is to make coffee growing a sustainable and beneficial endeavor for families and their communities. We understand the basic needs of our trading partners and facilitate access to specific expertise to help small scale farmers improve their production capabilities and meet their basic needs. We measure the impact of our relationships not only economically, but also in terms of overall quality of life for our partners and their communities. 

4. What are some of your favorite things/departments at Wheatsville?

The donuts! We’re (mostly) kidding. I think we can all agree that love that Wheatsville is a co-op. We know how important is for coops to work with other coops and we’re honored to work so closely with you! 

5. Do you have a favorite/cool tips or recipe?

Tip: We always recommend 2 tablespoons of coffee to 6oz of water for any coffee brewer.

For a sweet treat, try
Jes’ Vegan Chocolate Espresso Muffins

3/4 c all purpose flour (or sub oat flour for GF option) 
1/3 c brewed Third Coast Coffee espresso
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c coconut sugar
3 T maple syrup
1 T vinegar
2 T vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil) 
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with liners. 
2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized bowl and whisk until well combined. 
3. In a separate small bowl, mix together espresso, vinegar, maple
    syrup, and oil. 
4. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. 
5. Pour batter into the muffin tin filling them about 2/3 of the way. 
6. Bake for 15 - 18 min. or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
7. Remove from oven, let cool completely. Top with melted vegan
    chocolate mixed with coffee and sliced almonds if desired. 

6. Do you have anything new in the works?

We recently acquired our first micro-lot coffee from Peru. Señor Vasquez owns a 4 hectare farm where he carefully looks after his coffee trees, keeps bees for pollination and tries to harvest the ripe coffee cherries when the moon is full. He oversees the fermentation and initial drying process on his own plot before taking them for final processing. We’re going to be buying more specialty coffees from other micro-lot farms in other countries where we source our beans. 

If there is anything additional that you would like to share...

At the end of October, Joe will be traveling to Honduras for a soil symposium. Producer partners and roaster partners will meet to combat the Roya fungus, which has been slowly killing crops across the coffee plane. Roya is an airborne fungus that essentially stops the photosynthesis process of the trees and cannot be treated without the use of chemicals and pesticides. This trip to Honduras will test different ways of managing soil, experimenting with seedlings, and trying to combat Roya while still remaining organic. Joe makes several origin trips each year and has visited all of our producer partners over time. Last year he traveled to Sumatra and Colombia while Logan, another roaster has been to visit our Mexico and Guatemala partners.

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Local Vendor Spotlight: Casa Brasil

Joel Shuler has been roasting coffee in Austin since 2007. He was happy to share some facts and philosophy about the coffee business.

Why did you decide to directly import coffee?
With the standard business model of grower to broker to exporter to importer to roaster, a lot of quality is lost and growers often do not receive the true value they deserve for their product. Since I lived in Brazil as a kid and knew the culture and language, I decided that I would bypass the middlemen and buy directly from the growers. Over the years we have developed a partnership with some of the best growers in Brazil where we pay set prices for their best coffees and offer fully transparency. In exchange Casa Brasil gets right of first refusal on their best coffees. I love coffee and I love Brazil. It was bound to happen!
 
What is your favorite coffee that you produce?
I love our Bossa Blend and I love exploring the different estate “microlot” coffees. The Bossa is old faithful, smooth and milk chocolate. The microlot estate coffees allow me to have fun by tasting different regions, coffee varieties, and processing methods. 
 
Is there anything new in the works for Casa Brasil coffee?

We have developed a great relationship with Associação dos Produtores do Alto da Serra (APAS), a small Fair Trade association in the hills of southern Minas Gerais. They are a group of around 50 families that are dedicated to producing incredible coffees, and they are located in one of the best regions in Brazil for quality coffee product. Great people producing great coffee that we are proud to bring to Wheatsville. I am headed there this Friday to make our final lot selections from this harvest.

What is different about your coffee from other coffees?
I think what makes us unique is that we buy coffee directly from growers. We taste hundreds of coffee each harvest and pick out the best lots to bring to Austin. Coffee is traditionally based on commodity pricing, which has little to do with a grower’s cost of production or the price that the coffee is price of sale here in the US. Rather than be subject to commodity market oscillations, we pay set prices based on quality that are far above commodity and fair trade prices. This is a win-win for both growers and coffee lovers. The growers are rewarded for producing high quality coffee, and they know year in and year out the price they will receive. Generally this means they are more likely to take extended quality measures since they know they will receive more. From the consumer side, in offering them these prices as well as complete transparency throughout the supply chain, we gain right of first refusal on their coffees. That means that Casa Brasil has first pick on some of the best coffees from Brazil every harvest. 

Here in Austin we roast fresh-to-order in small batches, tasting every single batch of coffee we roast.  We are constantly tweaking our roast curves, chasing the perfect roast for each coffee. Coffee is a seed - an embryo and endosperm - and like any living thing it is constantly reacting to the environment around it. To do coffee well, it takes a lot of attention to detail at all points along the chain.

What are your favorite things about Wheatsville Co-op?
The Frito Pie, definitely, and the huge selection of local products and refills on my Dr. Bronner’s. But most of all the atmosphere. I have been a member for almost 10 years now and the constant has been friendly people that care. When we decided to start our direct trade coffee model, Wheatsville was the very first place that took on our coffee and has supported us ever since. You don’t forget that kind of support.

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Local Vendor Focus: Good Flow Honey

How long have you been in the honey business and what prompted you to start?
We started selling honey in 1975. We only had a few hives, but they produced enough of a surplus for us to be able to sell some honey.

Do you have a favorite variety of honey?
The best honey is the stuff you get to dip into when you are extracting it fresh off the hives.

What is your best selling honey?
Wildflower.

How long have you been selling honey to Wheatsville?
Wheatsville has been carrying our honey since the beginning. We used to take in a drum, turn it on its side and let people bottle out of it. Wheatsville and Woody Hills Co-op were our first customers. And as I recall, our very first customer was a food-buying club started by the same people who started Wheatsville. We used to deliver to them on a street corner.

How often do you get stung?
It depends on what we are doing, but it usually happens in the spring when it is still cold. They don’t like having the roof taken off and if you get someone mad at you there is a good chance you’ll get a lot of stings from that one and friends.

Does it still hurt a lot after all of these years?
No, it is just a minor irritation. Old-timers used to come in for stings to help with rheumatism and arthritis, but if you are allergic you better stay away.

What is the most unusual way that you’ve heard of Good Flow honey being used?
Some people use it in their hair or as a mask on their face. One person who is a pedicurist uses it for his treatment on feet.

What is one thing about honey or bees that most people might not know?
They have an incredible communications system based on the chemicals in their pheromones.

Will Good Flow Juice ever be available again? (Shoppers still ask every few weeks when your juice will return!)
Perseverance furthers as they say. We have been working at it steadily since we were forced to shut down because of new FDA regulations in 2008, and this might even be the year when it happens. We are getting close.

What’s your favorite recipe that features honey?
Bar-b-que sauce!

EZ BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1/4 cup Good Flow honey
1 TBS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions
Mix all ingredients together. Baste onto meat, tofu or tempeh before cooking or use as a dip. Serves 6

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Great for Grilling

Burgers are one of those backyard/park staples that makes it feel like summer. A grilled burger offers a different experience than a pan cooked burger. Flame licked charring adds that hint of crispy carbon. Wheatsville has several ground beef options for your summertime burgers.

  • Ground Round
    Taken from the leanest cuts and is by far our leanest ground beef.

  • Ground Chuck and Sirloin
    This burger grind runs less lean, but has all the great flavor of chuck and sirloin steaks. We grind briskets for our ground beef for the fullest flavor!

  • Premium Burger Blend
    We use Niman Ranch Ribeye, Hanger, and Beef Shortloin (NY Strip and Tenderloin) for an unbeatable flavor, mixed with the leaness of Round for structure, to offer a fantastic ground beef. The best part is that we've LOWERED THE PRICE to  $8.99lb! Yep, you save TWO BUCKS!  to get it out on the grill and in your kitchen. We offer it in patties in our Full Service Quick-to-Fix case as well as in the Self-Service case. This is a special grind that is only available here at Wheatsville.

  • Pair your Burgers with the Hops and Grains the one called Zoe.
    It's crisp and light with a little Hoppy kick. It comes in a can and would go great in the backyard next to the grill.

Sockeye Season is right around the corner. That means fresh Sockeye Salmon from the clean and clear waters of Alaska. The Copper River is the the most challenging river for Salmon to climb and it is believed that this makes these Salmon heartier and gives them a richer flavor. No wonder folks from the Northwest eagerly anticipate Copper River season!

Sustainability FYI: The state of Alaska lets enough Sockeye pass to secure next year’s crop and then lets the fisherman go in. When the state determines that the Copper River is done for the year, the other Sockeye waters are opened up and we can enjoy fresh, beautiful Sockeye until the season ends. Look for these delicious fish to arrive at Wheatsville very soon.

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