Coffee

What's up with this "organic" thing

Basically, "organic" means that any and all production practices contribute to the sustainability of the soil, water and ecosystem with and within which the coffee grows, instead of using chemical solutions to solve natural problems. The development of healthy, stable soil and crops is instead achieved through methods like composting, intercropping, and natural (non-chemical/non-synthetic) pest control. In addition, organic coffee is typically "shade-grown" (one of those crop-health contributors), which preserves forests and yields a more flavorful bean due to shade-grown coffee's longer growing cycle.

Instead of being "Certified Organic," some of the coffees we roast are importer-guaranteed as "sustainably grown." This means that they are sourced from growers who use those same environmentally-friendly methods, but whose coffees are not "certified" as organic due to the farmers' economic circumstances or either party's political/ideological views.

Fair Trade? Direct Trade?

While large farms can afford to sell coffee at lower prices, local farmers are often driven into debt. The only way these farmers can compete in the free market is to lower their product prices to the point where quality of life is unsustainable. In many cases, farmers are victimized by buyers because they lack information on their commodities and access to credit, forcing them to take quick cash from buyers who offer to pay a fraction of what their crop is worth.

Fair Trade helps level the playing field by promoting a system of growers' cooperatives, which equip members with the information, training, and support systems they need to receive fair prices for their products.

Direct trade refers to direct sourcing from and communication with farmers. Some roasters prefer this route to the established Fair Trade certification system because the shorter supply chain allows them to be more involved with their product, gives farmers more of an incentive to increase the quality of their coffees, and allows truly "fair" pricing specific to local needs instead of depending on the accuracy of the Fair Trade minimum pricing.

We know that our customers appreciate quality coffee that comes to them in a socially-conscious way. That's why we buy coffees that meet these standards—to help protect our environment and ensure a higher standard of living and fair treatment for the farmers that grow our beans. As the World Fair Trade Organization says, "We seek positive, long-term change through trade-based relationships by empowering producers to meet their own needs." We wouldn't have it any other way. And as much as it saddens us that almost all chain coffee shops and major brands value profit more than the quality of life for a small farmer, it's all the more reason to be serious about our own values.

you've been served Our Coffees

We currently have seven roasters under our belts that share our passion for amazing organic and fair-trade coffee. They are:

Equal Exchange: The first company to establish fair-trade coffee as an American staple. We serve their full-city roast Love Buzz as our house coffee. Check them out here.

Just Coffee Cooperative: An awesome progressive roasting company out of Madison, WI, which promotes only fair-trade and organic products, education about coffee ethics, supporting great causes, and complete transparency in their dealings with growers. Their Bike Fuel blend became our house blend for Etcetera Squared (by popular demand). Check 'em out here!

Bongo Java: Nashville's finest! Our friends at Bongo provide us with our decaf espresso and our house decaf (Decaf Bongo). Check them out on the web here, and don't forget their three cafés in the Nashville area.

Leopard Forest Coffee Company: Not only does Leopard Forest roast, they actually own their own farm in Zimbabwe, complete with high wages and a farm community with electricity, running water, a hospital, a school, and a soccer team. Based out of Travelers' Rest, SC while in the states, Robert and Helen provide us with our delicious flavors: Maple Walnut, Caramel Nut, Southern Pecan, Cafe Dante (orange, brandy, dark chocolate), English Toffee, Jamaican Me Crazy, and Snow Leopard (white chocolate, caramel, macadamia nut). Flavors change often, or check more out on the web, here.

Peace Coffee Company: Based out of Minneapolis, MN, this roasting company was started by some of the founders of TransFair USA, which oversees fair-trade certification and legislation for North America. They provide us with our fantastic espresso, Roots Blend, and you'll also find their coffees in our monthly medium roasts (like Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Blue Ox Blend, and more), and on the web here.

Higher Grounds Trading Company: A little something we learned about at our favorite co-op in Carbondale. This fine company is in our monthly rotation, with famed Mexican Maya Vinic, Ethiopian Oromia, and more. Java for Justice!

Something you like?

If there's a coffee you've tasted and loved, we want to know about it! We get our best ideas from our customers, and since our tastebuds can't be everywhere, we need your help. If you drink anything you'd like us to serve, drop us a line and let us know so we can go sample some.

Love at All Levels

Etcetera has deep roots in Paducah, and we're a "family business" not only in the traditional sense but also in the way we interact as a staff. Our goal was, and will always will be, to build a business where employees have a sense of ownership and feel valued and supported at all levels, and we try to achieve that through complete financial transparency, group decision making for all important issues, a profit-sharing plan, and flexible policies and procedures. We don't call the owner Mama Johanna for nothin'. When we first opened in 2006, we outlined our ideas for our business and how it should interact with our customers, our employees, and our community. It's called the Etcetera Manifesto, and you can read it here.