Local Organic farming of coffee and other agricultural products isn’t just a boutique industry riding the wave of current trends, it is the best answer to the environmental sustainability challenges facing our food production system. But while eating local produce, dairy, and meat can be fairly attainable for most Californians, the ability to drink locally sourced coffee hasn’t always been there.
At Cafe Altura part of our mission is to promote and support agricultural business practices that align with our core values. We were founded with the belief that people want and deserve a better connection to what they eat and drink, and that they want it produce in a way that respects our planet. When farms are working sustainably and providing value to communities, we look to incorporate them into our own supply chain or help to share them with others.
It should come as no surprise that oil dependence has worked its way into just about every facet of modern society. Its influence is pervasive in the production and transportation of items throughout our homes and lives, with food being no exception. Our built-in dependence of agriculture on oil runs deep–from fertilizers to machinery and transportation of those goods from where they’re grown to where they’re consumed.
Here at Café Altura, we value sustainability, and our background in biodynamics is a big part of that. Pioneered by Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century, biodynamics is a holistic form of agriculture which treats a farm as an interconnected entity. What follows is an interview with Christian in which he describes his background, the play, his thoughts on the enduring relevance of Steiner, and even a little about his coffee preferences.
The coffee cultures of Europe, Italy in particular, and the artisanally crafted latte and cappuccino cups of the U.S. owe a debt to one key building block–the espresso. Forged by a process of forcing highly pressurized water through a tightly tamped down portafilter of finely ground particles, the espresso’s history in commercial and home consumption has been inextricably tied to the technological advancements that made it possible.
Cold brew is the ideal afternoon pick-me-up or ready-to-go option for busy mornings, and making it can be an easy and fun activity to do at home. Cold brew may actually be one of the simplest ways of producing coffee at home. All you need is a container to combine ground coffee and cool water in, a filter to separate them, and a second container for storage.
Fun fact: coffee beans aren’t actually beans at all, they’re seeds. The world’s most beloved “bean”, consumed by over two and a half billion times a day, is the seed of a cherry-like fruit that grows best in very specific regions throughout the tropics. And, until recently, the fruit itself was widely considered to be a by-product destined for little more than being turned into fertilizer.
Enter the paper filter in 1908. Invented by a German housewife, Melitta Bentz, this new method of filtration would soon become the most popular method of all. Bentz thought up the idea as a solution to bitter taste produced by boiling coffee and using the linen filters of the day. The paper drip filtration system avoided earlier issues of over extraction and the material naturally removed diterpenes present in the coffee, making for a cleaner and less oily taste.
For many people, coffee is a tasty caffeine tonic which makes facing the day a little easier. However, a little further up the supply chain, coffee lives an entirely different existence; that of a commodity oft-traded on international stock exchanges whose global export value is in excess of $20 billion USD. In this blog post, we explore this global commercial life of coffee.
Almost since the origins of agriculture, farmers have sought to improve the efficiency and resilience of their crops. In years with less rain, or in areas with poor soil quality, a resilient seed and plant could make the difference between a decent harvestand a non-existent one.