Coffee: Cultivating Change
This blog post features an inspiring story of positive change and how communities can come together over coffee.
Coffee has been an essential crop in Rwanda for centuries, but men predominantly governed this business. Traditionally, women managed the household and took care of the children while the men worked the coffee farms and handled business affairs. After the genocide in 1994, one of the darkest periods in their history, Rwanda is rebuilding its economy and its civil society by fostering community through Co-Ops of Women in the coffee industry.
After the genocide, women across the country found themselves in similar positions. Many of the country's men had been killed or imprisoned or had fled, leaving the fields untended, and coffee farms languished. The women left behind took on new duties and responsibilities, learning to grow and sell coffee to support their families.
When the women came together, they realized they could sell their coffee at higher rates collectively rather than individually. The women involved in these co-ops increase their earnings four-fold, and some have set up emergency funds accessible to co-op members in need.
These Co-Ops have helped empower women to take up a new place in society. These newly minted businesswomen are coming together, healing, and finding support after facing so much loss. One co-op named Hingakawa, which translates to "Let's Grow Coffee," consists of both Hutu and Tutsi, who have made "poverty their mutual enemy rather than each other" and aim to heal through leadership.
Chances are that if you've had a cup of coffee today, no matter where in the world it comes from, it was planted, picked, delivered, and/or harvested by a woman. Rwanda’s new women coffee farmers and business people have embraced equality and community in a time of need to rebuild their society and unite them when they needed it most. May they be an inspiration to all of us!
Coffee Drinks 101
In our last blog, we discussed the differences between coffee bean species and the variety of flavors. Now, let's look into the realm of coffee drinks and the different beverages created with coffee. Knowing the differences in how these drinks are prepared can help you explore and find your favorite coffee experience.
Espresso is a concentrated coffee usually served in shots; it is bittersweet and originated in Italy. These shots are enjoyed on their own or within other favorite coffee drinks.
Cortado is an equal mix of espresso and steamed milk. This blend creates a yin-yang effect and cuts down on the espresso's acidity.
Latte is a shot of espresso with steamed milk then topped with a touch of foam. This coffee drink is the most popular and can be served with a flavor shot to create custom blends. Think Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Cappuccino is similar to a Latte; only it has more foam than steamed milk. It is commonly sprinkled with cinnamon or cocoa powder and can also be made with cream, and have shots of flavor blended in.
Americano is an attractive choice for those who enjoy a more robust flavor similar to black coffee. Here an espresso shot is diluted by adding hot water.
Red Eye, named after midnight flights, is sure to help wake you up. This drink is created by adding a shot of espresso to a hot cup of coffee.
Cafe Au Lait is French and directly translates to "Coffee with Milk." This coffee drink is a classic and is an excellent option for coffee minimalist.
Affogato, a unique Italian treat, is served by pouring shots of espresso over ice cream.
For adults only, Irish coffee consists of black coffee, whiskey, sugar, and topped whipped cream—an excellent option for an after-dinner drink for guests.
Whether you prefer cream and sugar or a more traditional robust coffee drink, there is always room to explore different flavors and blends. As always, we are here to help and welcome you to find your perfect cup with Lola Savannah!
Types of Coffee
Coffee plays an undeniable role in our lives. Whether you’re an avid coffee connoisseur or you enjoy just the occasional cup, coffee has been widely appreciated since the 15th century and isn't going anywhere soon. So, where does this plant grow, and what makes it so unique? Today we’re sharing the basic breakdown of different species of coffee and where they are cultivated around the world.
Coffee is a shrub native to sub-Saharan Africa—now widely grown worldwide, primarily around the tropic belt that surrounds the equator. Referred to as the "Coffee Belt," these mountainous regions extend 30 degrees north and south of the equator and produce the world's most extraordinary coffees. In addition, high elevations provide the most ideal growing conditions for coffee trees. Lush volcanic soil and elevations over 1200m prolong bean development and enhance acidity and flowering. Africa, Indonesia, and Latin American benefit from these microclimates and represent the bulk of coffee growing regions.
There are several different coffee beans types, the four most popular being Arabica, Robusta, Liberia, and Excelsa. The beans most commonly roasted for consumption in the United States are Arabica and Robusta, the latter being more popular in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Here are a few keynote differences when it comes to these coffee beans.
Arabica has a sweeter, more delicate flavor and tends to be less acidic. These beans come from high elevations above sea level, with lots of rainfall. Brazil, known for its lush rainforests, is the foremost exporter of Arabica beans and represents 60-70% of the coffee produced globally.
Robusta is known for its robust flavor profile. Robusta coffees have higher levels of caffeine, which help this species grow because caffeine acts as a natural insect repellent. These trees are also very tolerant of being grown in many different altitudes and climates. Robusta coffee beans have a reputation for tasting burnt or rubbery. It is a popular choice where strong coffee is a cultural norm.
Liberica coffee beans are rarer, grown in such particular climates that production is too scarce to reach a global market. These beans are said to have an aroma that resembles fruit and flowers and has a "woody" taste.
Excelsa, a member of the Liberica family, is a very distinct variety. It is grown in Southeast Asia and represents the smallest fraction of the world's coffee production. This coffee bean has a tart, fruity flavor with a unique profile that has attributes of both light and dark coffees.
When it comes to finding your perfect blend, consider how you like to consume your coffee. Arabica is excellent for those who prefer a light coffee without having to add cream or sugar. If you prefer iced coffees or adding your favorite flavorings, Robusta's strong profile may be a better choice.
Explore the different options, and you will see for yourself that there's something for everyone in the coffee world! And if you have any questions, we’re here to help!
Tips for the perfect cup of coffee:
Find yourself making more coffee at home these days? There’s more than one way to brew a great cup of coffee. Whether you prefer to use the drip method, a pour-over contraption, or a French press, we want you to get the most out of your favorite blends. Here are some pro tips to help you brew your best cup of joe at home!
- Store coffee in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to preserve fresh coffee beans/grinds.
- Use fresh filtered water. Tap water can contain minerals, fluoride, and salts that can add unwanted flavors to your coffee.
- Do not use boiling hot water when brewing your coffee. Water boils at 212°F/100 °C, slightly above the recommended 200 °F/93 °C for brewing.
- If you’re using a coffee press, time your extraction. If you don’t brew long enough, your coffee can come out tasting sour; if you wait too long, your coffee can taste bitter and chalky. Four minutes is the recommended brew time for a coffee press.
- Lastly, clean your coffee making tools every day! Oils can build up in your grinder, so make sure to clean your grinder after each use and thoroughly wash your method of extraction (pour-over, drip, press, etc.). No need for soap, just make sure everything is clean of coffee grinds.
Whether you’re making a cup of coffee for yourself in the morning or entertaining with guests, we want to make sure each cup is as good as the last. Cheers!
Looking for fun ways to enjoy your favorite Lola Savannah coffee blends? With the summer heat in full effect we thought we’d share a refreshing coffee treat you can recreate at home.
Granita is a semi-frozen treat made with sugar, water and various flavorings that was first invented in Sicily. This popular Italian treat is simple to create with coffee and can be a tasty remedy for summer fatigue.
- Begin with 3 cups, strong brewed Lola Savannah Coffee and combine with 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract till sugar has dissolved.
- Pour mixture into a 9 X 13 inch pan and place in the freezer. The mixture will begin to look slushy after an hour, “rake” the mixture with a dinner fork to break up the crystals then place back in the freezer. Repeat this process, every 30 minutes until the mixture appears granular in appearance and is completely frozen.
- If you prefer a smoother texture, place the mixture in a bowl and vigorously stir with a fork till you achieve a uniform texture (about 30 seconds) then freeze for another 30 minutes, or until it is firm enough to scoop.
- Serve granita and top with fresh whipped cream or creamer of choice!
The variations are endless with this recipe, customize your own granita with one of our signature flavored blends or add a splash of Coffee Liquor, Irish Cream or Kahlua for a caffeinated adult beverage! Cheers!