How to Make Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is a gift on a hot summer day, cool and delicious. And really, there’s no need to buy it at a coffee shop. Making your own means you’re taking a positive step for environmental sustainability — and your wallet. Plus, when you make your own iced coffee, you can customize the brew to suit your tastes.

 

Iced coffee the fastest way possible

The quickest way to make iced coffee is to brew it hot and then bring down the temperature with ice. First, prepare a strong cup of regular ol’ joe using your favorite method — a French Press, a pour-over dripper, your office’s single serve pod machine. It’s important to brew the coffee strong because the next step will cause some dilution. Pour the hot coffee into a glass of ice to cool it. The ice will melt – you may need to add more to your iced coffee before you sip.

That’s it! Voila! You’re done.

Get our general brewing tips for a better cup.

Refrigerated iced coffee: Almost as fast, but less diluted

Is your iced coffee turning out too watery? Allowing time for it to cool in the fridge means less melted ice – and a less watery cup. For this method, brew a cup of coffee, or a whole pot. Next, let your coffee rest in the refrigerator — or even in the freezer — until its temperature drops. The cooler the coffee gets, the less it will melt the ice.

Once you feel coffee is cool, pour it over ice and get sipping.

Two glasses of iced coffee next to a bag of organic coffee

 

Iced coffee 2.0: Slow and delicious cold brew

Cold brewed iced coffee may seem like just a trend, but we’re pretty sure this delicious method is here to stay. Instead of using heat to extract flavor from the beans, the cold brew process utilizes time. That means you’ll need to plan ahead a bit.

The good news is, you can make this iced coffee at home without any special equipment. Cold brew is ridiculously easy! Just take coarse-ground coffee, add cold or room-temperature water and stir. Then allow the mixture to steep for at least six hours, or overnight. Finally, strain with cheesecloth or a filter. Ta da!

The magic ratio is 1:4 – four cups water for every cup ground coffee.  The finished cold brew concentrate will be double-strength, so make sure to add equal parts water before you sip.

Learn to make cold brew from a barista!

 

Iced coffee bonus points

• Use good quality coffee! To us, that means organic coffee sourced from small-scale farmers who are paid fairly for their work.

• What specific kind of coffee makes the best iced coffee? Anything you like hot will probably taste good cold. (French Roast fan? Try an iced French Roast. Prefer decaf? Make iced decaf.) That said, our coffee experts enjoy the fruity notes of natural process African coffees like Equal Exchange’s Organic Ethiopian and our special Cold Brew blend.

Read more about natural process coffee.

• Always use fresh filtered water, and make sure the beans you’re using are freshly ground. Your iced coffee will taste better!

• Like it sweet? If you’re using a hot-brewing method, try adding sugar before the coffee is cool. It will dissolve more quickly. If you’re doing cold brew, try adding simple syrup.

• Did you know you can coffee in an ice cube tray to create ice cubes that won’t dilute iced coffee? Genius!

• Utilize the power of science to cool your iced coffee quicker. Use a large container like a pan to create more surface area before putting it in the fridge. Or try a metal vessel to cool your iced coffee – metal conducts heat most efficiently.

 

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Episode 8: The Afterlife of Food

This month, we took The Stories Behind Our Food on the road. Danielle and Kate interviewed Igor Kharitonenkov of Bootstrap Compost at his home in Boston, where we checked out his garden and learned about all things compost!

 

Fast facts about Bootstrap’s impact since 2011

Waste diverted from landfills: 4.5 million pounds

Compost created:  2.2 million pounds 

Greenhouse gases offset: 3.2 million pounds 

That’s the equivalent of 24,366 trees or 1,734 acres of forest land. Looking at the offset another way, it represents 1.6 million pounds of coal or 165,800 gallons of gasoline that were not burned!

 


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or wherever you enjoy online audio!


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Episode Transcript:

Intro: (00:01)
everyday grocery store items like bananas, chocolate, coffee. These are global commodities. They pass through a lot of people’s hands on their way from the fields to your grocery cart. This is the stories behind our food podcast, the podcast where expert guests share insider knowledge about every step along the process. I’m Danielle Robidoux — and I’m Kate Chess — and we’re your hosts. All right.

Kate: (00:29)
Hello. The stories behind our food is on the road this week. Danielle and Gary, our producer are being hosted right now by Igor Kharitonenkov of Bootstrap Compost. He’s the Co founder and chief operating officer. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Igor: (00:45)
Thank you for having me.

Kate: (00:46)
Thanks for hosting us and giving us pomegranate juice. Pretty awesome. I want to start out by asking you about your mission. Basically, I think composting isn’t super mainstream in the US. Why do you think that is?

Igor: (01:02)
Well, it takes a lot of time and effort to compost. You have to be genuinely interested in it to actually create a good nutrient rich soil. A lot of people try to compost in their backyard and what they do is they basically are just creating a mini landfill, because they’re just throwing food scraps, one on top of the other. you need a, you know, mix the compost, you need to water it. Occasionally you need to make sure it has access to sunlight so that all those microbes and macro and micro decomposers can have an environment where they thrive.

Kate: (01:35)
Yeah. I think you’re getting into this already, but if you can explain basically from a scientific perspective how composting works and how it’s different from a landfill.

Igor: (01:44)
Sure. Well, first of all, composting is a much better use of resources then than landfills are. according to the EPA, 14% of waste is compostable, but only 2.9% of that is actually composted. So we’re on average every day producing enough food waste to fill a stadium the size of Gillette, where the Patriots play full of food waste and that’s mostly going to the landfill. composting is good for a variety of reasons. first of all, of course you’re creating a, a soil out of it that can be used. It’s a nutrient rich soil amendment that can be used to grow and help grow and help create a really, a really positive sort of ecosystem for plants to thrive in. I put compost on my garden, you know, I have really beautiful Kale growing back there and tomatoes and it really helps create the proper kind of environment with the right kind of nutrients that a plant is supposed to have. But the other reason composting is so good is because of the fact that it actually offsets, greenhouse gases. So in a landfill, you are creating methane gas, methane gas. It’s, you know, we always say landfills are where food scraps go to die and methane gas is the byproduct of that. Methane gas is 14 to 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Kate: (03:17)
Where does it come from? It’s just being like, it’s coming out of the piles of an uncompensated scraps?

Igor: (03:25)
You know, I’m not a chemist, but I do know that food scraps and other stuff that’s just sitting there and rotting creates methane gas.

Kate: (03:33)
Gotcha.

Igor: (03:34)
But with composting, you’re flipping that, that food waste, you’re adding water, you’re adding naturally heat as added through that process. And I believe it’s a combustion reaction, but essentially you’re taking methane gas and you’re converting it to carbon dioxide, which again is 14 times less potent in the environments you’re actually offseting greenhouse gases by, by composting. Take this, for example, every pound of food waste that you can post, you’re actually offsetting around 0.9 pounds of, of greenhouse, of greenhouse gases. to put that into terms, every mile you drive, you pump out one pound of carbon dioxide. So essentially, you could offset your whole footprint. You know, by composting, say, you know, I mean you’d have to compost a lot of food and maybe change your lifestyle a little bit, but you could really have a zero waste kind of neutral greenhouse gas lifestyle with the help of composting. So…

Kate: (04:38)
That’s pretty compelling. I think a lot of people don’t see what they can do as individuals, but this, especially when you’re doing it on large scale as your businesses and we’ll get into that. It’s got, it gives me a lot of hope. That’s neat.

Igor: (04:51)
And I think going back to why don’t more people compost? Well it does take a lot of work. People are busy here in Boston. People don’t have the space to do it. oftentimes they don’t have the time to do it themselves. So services like ours, really help. I just read a statistic that said that of non– 72% of people don’t compost. But of those 72%, 67% say they would compost if it was, if there was a convenient way to do it. Now convenient is a relative term to some people, convenient might mean buying a tumbler and putting it in their backyard instead of having a pile. A tumbler is a device that you essentially spin and rotate. And over time, those food scraps, you know, you add your carbon sources, your, your nitrogen sources, your, your browns and your greens essentially for a healthy compost pile, you need both a lot of leaves and carbon sources, even cardboard or you know, paper materials like that. And then you also need your, your food scraps, your banana peels, your leftovers. So that might be, that’s easy for someone, for other people, that means actually having a service like Bootstrap. So recently I was in New York City for the community composting, conference. And there are businesses starting up all over the country. We were one of the original community composting operations in America. and we’re one of the biggest ones now. People really look up to us and we frequently, frequently get inquiries from places in Florida or Alabama or California, Oregon. Across the board. There are, you know, hundreds of companies starting now that are looking up to us and looking up and seeing that people are starting to become more conscious with their food waste. So many years ago we became sort of conscious about how we eat. More and more people are buying organic. More and more people are buying local. I think more people are into even gardening. and now that same kind of clientele that is shopping at Whole Foods and is really buying into kind of the values that what they stand for, what they put in their body. They also want to put back into the planet via composting. So we started serving Jamaica Plain. That was our initial neighborhood. We had a few dozen clients and now we’re, you know, out in the Back Bay with, you know, what I would consider a higher end clientele. You know, the people that can afford, you know, the lattes and you know, the Yoga studio classes and, and now they have a composting bin too. So that’s a really cool revolution that I’ve seen over the, over the time of this business is that we’re not just reaching kind of this niche audience of, you know, I don’t want to put a label on it, but people that are just really, into the environment. Now we have people that are into a lot of things, but they also are into the environment as well.

Kate: (07:52)
Yeah. Make compost. Cool. Make compost mainstream. Yeah, that’s right. Can you explain — I’m seeing the obstacles here. People want to do this, they already want to do this more and more, but they don’t necessarily know how to do it and they don’t have the space. So how do you make it convenient for city dwellers here in Boston?

Danielle: (08:07)
Yeah. Admittedly I was one of those people that you were talking about earlier who by accidentally was making a mini landfill in my back yard. So I’d love to hear what, how it works for an individual

Igor: (08:18)
About starting your own compost pile or about signing up with Bootstrap?

Danielle: (08:21)
Signing up with Bootstrap. Didn’t work for me. Right?

Igor: (08:26)
So if you are interested in composting, and again, if you don’t have the space or time to do it or maybe you’re not creating the kind of soil that you wanted to, you can sign up with us. And what we do is we deliver a five gallon bucket to your house. if you’re, if you’re a resident, we also provide commercial services as well. but if you’re a resident, you can sign up and we give you that bucket. You can fill it with …basically anything that grows goes. So we accept produce, we accept meat products, you know, and then we, and then we come by and based on your needs, we can come by once a week or once every two weeks and pick up that bucket, swap it out, give you a fresh, clean bucket. We sanitize, we clean and sanitize every single bucket. We put a nice little compostable liner around it, so it’s really smell free, it’s hassle free. And on the day of your pickup, you just place it outside on your front porch. We swap it out and you get to start again.

Kate: (09:32)
Do you have to do a lot of educating? Do people know what they can compost and what they can’t? Or has that been a problem for you?

Igor: (09:40)
\It hasn’t been a problem, but it’s sometimes a little bit of an issue with our commercial accounts. So we serve a lot of, a lot of offices for example. And that’s another movement where I’ve seen, you know, it used to be just Nature Conservancy or Series and now we have Puma and Uber and Lyft and just these big brand names that are now part of, you know, having composting services at their office. I visit them frequently. Toast Boston for example, is a huge growing company and they have so many compost bins and they fill them all up. it’s, it’s pretty amazing to see and it’s a huge impact because at an office you are potentially reaching thousands of people and educating them about composting. But sometimes things can go wrong because not everybody understands what to put in the compost Bin and what not to put. Or maybe they’re in a hurry and they’re just kind of like, you know, throwing it wherever and the first empty bin. With our residential subscribers, it’s not a problem. Again, it’s a volunteer kind of service. You don’t have to sign up for it. You can if you want.

Kate: (10:49)
They’re highly motivated already. They already want to do it. So they probably know more.

Igor: (10:53)
Exactly. Yeah. So they already know how to do it. Plus we send them, you know, like a little leaflet little flyer that says what you can and can’t compost. We, there’s plenty of Info online about, so, so people are, you know, if they’re, if they’re buying into it, they’re usually gonna follow the rules. Yeah. That being said, we have had, you know, a bucket full of diapers delivered to us once. Staying on the theme of poop, we once had a lady that was throwing her dog poop in the compost bin. So we’ve had a few weird incidents along the way, but 99% of those buckets are really just good food waste.

Danielle: (11:32)
Yeah. So what is your personal area of expertise? I know you talked kind of being that bleeding heart environmentalist. What, what is your background and what gave you this idea and wanting to get into this?

Igor: (11:51)
That’s something I think about a lot. my background is actually in psychology and I moved to Boston to pursue a phd in neuropharmacology, which lasted all of eight months. I did not decided I did not want to, pursue on that career path and kind of be stuck in a lab and the academic environment just didn’t suit me. I think by nature I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and a businessman, you know, I was that kid, you know, going around the neighborhood, mowing lawns for people, making a little money, shoveling snow, you know, any opportunity I could make a dollar, you know, like I tried. then after Grad school I kind of floated around. I did some media work for a little bit, I did some communications work, but my heart was always in, in the environment and how do we help the environment. So I, initially saw a flyer for Bootstrap Compost and I thought, hm, that’s a cool service. I want to, I want to be a part of that. And I profiled Andy in a video.

Kate: (13:03)
This is your cofounder, right?

Igor: (13:05)
Andy is, yeah, my co founder, and I, this was back when he had like, you know, 40, 50, 60 clients in Jamaica Plain. And after that video, he really liked the work that I did. I think the video had got a lot of views. so I did some more stuff for him for free and then he decided to, you know, take me on for a few hours a week just doing part time marketing. He needed help. He was doing all aspects of the business. and somewhere along the way I just kind of developed a business acumen for efficiency, for operations, for hiring, all these things that it takes to grow and scale a business. We now have 26 people working on our staff. we serve over 3000 clients. and all that took a bit of risk taking and a lot of management. And I guess over the years I’ve just realized that those are some skills that I have.

Kate: (14:03)
Bootstrap describes itself on its website as a social enterprise. What does that mean to you?

Igor: (14:09)
It means a lot of things. I have a whole hour talk about social enterprise and what it means to be a social enterprise. I’ve done talks at UMass and Tufts to a variety of students. I’m talking about social entrepreneurship. what it means to me is you’ve heard of the bottom, the triple bottom line. I mean, probably it’s the good for people, good for planet, good for profits. So I think that’s kind of like the basis of it. you know, for example, in house we invest in our workforce, so we give people above livable wages, we have health insurance, we’re now starting to unroll 401k plans. and we give bonuses and we always pay people and we put them on flexible schedules. We have several people who work remotely with us and they’re getting their job done and it’s treating each other with respect and treating each other with kindness, in house. So that’s what we do in house. outside of that we are big in the community. So we do a lot of education. We have a community outreach team that, is spearheaded by one of our employees who, together. Her and I designed a very robust K-6 sort of curriculum about composting a an hour long presentation essentially to that we can shop around and go to schools with and teach kids about, you know, the importance of composting, talking about soil health, talking about plant health, talking about some of these issues like the landfill stuff I was bringing about bringing, talking about, and methane and all that other stuff. And it really ties in a lot of like science, technology, math kind of stuff. We bring the worm bin too occasionally. The young kids really love the worms. They love to look into, you know, that compost bin. And we asked them to like find a, a warm egg or find a big worm finally. So we do a lot of that with kids. the service in itself is a social enterprise, I feel like because as I mentioned that offices, you’re reaching a lot of people and teaching them about, behaviors that are more favorable for the earth. the buckets out on the curb out on this front step make people wonder, Oh, what does bootstrap compost? They look it up to like, oh, composting made easy. Hmm. What’s that?

Kate: (16:41)
Yeah. If you look at their Instagram, you can see a lot of the buckets, but we’re talking about a branded bucket that has the name of the service on it. So people who see it will know right away. This isn’t just a random bucket. There’s a purpose for it.

Igor: (16:53)
Yeah, exactly. we hire, we hire folks with disabilities and they come into our warehouse through Triangle and they work with us four days a week. that’s something I’m extremely proud of that partnership and we’ve been able to keep it going now for I think coming up on three years. and it gives folks with disabilities a sense of purpose and meaning and an income, for a population that has historically been disenfranchised or misunderstood. And we love those guys. They come in and they just, they just, they just crush it. and then we have a community outreach team, which, goes back to the compost donations. We give out a lot of compost to community gardens. We just gave one a to a community garden that’s starting up in Chinatown. We delivered 20 buckets to another community garden. I can’t think of the name right now. but there’s a lot of compost that’s being given out. We have a budget. you know, we try to do 1% or more of our revenue goes back into causes we believe in. So not only do we donate compost, but we also do financial donations. So we’ve donated to the ACLU, the Hyde Square task force, among many other organizations that we believe in, that uphold the spirit of, you know, liberty and, and and, and doing something right.

Kate: (18:26)
It’s awfully efficient that you can advertise your own service and simultaneously be teaching people about good behaviors that are good for the earth. Even if they’re not, they don’t choose to go with Bootstrap, like, you can without feeling like it’s just an ad. You can talk about what you do and get new supporters. But also have people like really learn something useful that’s, that’s good for the world.

Igor: (18:48)
Yeah. It’s a win win. And we don’t try to be salesy. People come to us. We’ve grown tremendously this past year, especially in the commercial sector. And there’s just a little signup form or a little information form that people fill out and we get five inquiries a day, 10 inquiries a day of commercial clients who want to sign up with our service. So we’re just clearly getting out.

Kate: (19:09)
Can you talk about, we haven’t actually gotten to this yet. What happens to the food you pickup? What happens to the compost you make?

Igor: (19:15)
Yeah, so we work primarily with one farm where it gets turned into compost. They have, an in-vessel, system where they take the food waste and they put it into this giant sort of screener that is also, powered by I believe, diesel. and it runs for like a, I don’t know what the capacity is, but it’s massive. It’s the size of like a semi semi truck, like an 18 wheeler. and food waste gets put into that and they spin it around and they heat it. And within 24 hours, you have 90% finished compost. Actually 24 hours. Yeah. And the screener, the screen is actually able to separate, it’ll keep the like bad stuff in and the compost, it gets screened out. Then they take that compost and they put it into these large mountain sized piles. They’re not actually the size of mountains, but they’re pretty big. They’re probably the size of this house. so, and then that, that sits there and they come by with a tractor and turn it, you know, every, every couple of days. And, and we’ve tested their compost and it tests really, really well. in terms of testing low for heavy metals testing high for nutrients, we always test the compost before we, do our, you know, giveaways. so that’s one thing that happens. We work with another farm, which is much more agrarian if you want to put it that way. They just have a basic three, three, like it’s not a three bin system, but it’s like three areas.

Kate: (20:54)
Piles.

Igor: (20:55)
Yeah. Three piles essentially. Yeah. And so they have one pile that’s like the act of pile where we would dump food scraps that gets turned in. The middle pile is when you’re no longer dumping, but it’s not fully finished than the last pilot’s to fully finished compost. So they have that kind of system would go there once a week. So they get maybe about, you know, a thousand pounds a week less than that.

Kate: (21:15)
And these farms are using the finished compost — other than what you donate, like you mentioned earlier that the compost — they’re using it for their food production?

Igor: (21:24)
So the first farm, they’re a commercial composting site. They sell the compost or they give compost back to us. And with our partnership they give us as much compost as we want, as, as much as we need to be able to do our donations to be able to, give back to our residents and even to do some sales. we mixed their compost actually with some of our own worm castings, which are, you know, the most potent kind of compost. So even just a little teaspoon of worm castings is enough for one plant. whereas with compost you’d want like a handful of compost for one plant. So we mix it in and we kind of branded as our own Bootstrap compost that we sell or give away or donate. But the other farm, they actually do use their compost on their crops.

Kate: (22:11)
Yeah. Cool. I’m seeing a lot of packaging, like food packaging recently that’s marketed as compostable anyway. Is that something that you can handle and do you have thoughts on that movement toward packaging food in compostable … I don’t know what it is. Bioplastic or something?

Igor: (22:27)
We can handle a limited amount. we’re fortunate enough that most of that stuff we, we don’t get a lot of that stuff. So most of our, I’d say 95 to 98% is food scraps. So we don’t have a lot of, compostable packaging that comes our way. My personal viewpoints on it are mixed. While it’s probably better than plastic. I still think it’s kind of contributes to a culture of a throw away culture, and a culture of waste. And, I’m not sure what even like what the ratios are for the amount of resources that you need to create, a compostable cup versus a plastic cup versus, so I probably need to do a little more research on that. But I do think generally speaking that it would be better if offices used, you know, people used water bottles or or plates like real plates and real forks and knives. But then again, I understand, I’ve been to some of these offices that have, you know, thousand employees running around with literally a cup of coffee in one hand, a laptop and the other. So convenience is a factor and it’s just something we’re dealing with. And I guess it’s better to have compostable plastics then than to not have them. But on the flip side, too many of those and farms can’t process them. And, and they have to go to digesters. And, and I know for a fact that that digester in Charlestown doesn’t accept, you can put them in, but it’ll grind them up and it won’t go into the slurry. It’ll just be thrown away with the stuff that’s, you know, that’s the byproduct. So it’s really hard to compost that stuff.

Kate: (24:19)
Ironic. But good to know.

Danielle: (24:23)
Yeah, it is ironic.

Kate: (24:24)
Yeah.

Danielle: (24:26)
I think another thing to think about, especially for a lot of our listeners is the individual behavior that we have and how that impacts what companies do. We have a lot of those compostable packaging now because it’s been demanded. You want the convenience, but you want, you know, the quote unquote environmentally friendly that turns out it’s not so environmentally friendly. And I think what I want to stress to our listeners and to individuals is to really own your individual behavior and how that impacts what companies do and that it’s important to buy whole foods. It’s important to buy bulk and your food and your grocery store. And when you buy packaged goods and you continue to buy packaged goods, that’s going to change the behavior of where you’re buying that. So, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on kind of how folks’ individual behavior kind of impacts maybe the way you do business and you know, the other folks you’re doing business with as well.

Igor: (25:25)
Well, it’s interesting you bring that up because 40% of our food is wasted across the board, whether it’s a restaurant, whether it’s a household. And that’s really sad because if food waste was a country, I believe it would be the second largest producer of energy and like the third largest use user of energy and the third largest user of water.

Danielle: (25:53)
Wow.

Igor: (25:54)
And that’s globally speaking, that’s not just the US but in the US it’s 40%. And you’re right. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s like, you know, don’t go to Costco and buy six heads of lettuce because it’s gonna cost you $3 less, you’re going to end up wasting three of those heads of lettuce. Yeah. If you’re buying it for your family, you know, I go to Costco, I’ve completely stopped buying the produce there because I realized that it’s just half of it just goes bad. And I’m, I’m part of the problem when that happens. So, you know, with produce, just be very careful and mindful of what you buy and how much you buy. sSo that does come down to individual decisions, individual behaviors, eat your leftovers, you know, if you’re at a restaurant, take it home, eat it for lunch the next day. Try to be creative about your cooking. Try to not order out so much and you know, eat, eat, eat healthy and eat well. Try to do some gardening if you’ve, you know, got the interest and start to really appreciate food more than what it takes to grow it because it’s not easy. And as far as the industry goes, I think we’re coming up with more sophisticated ways of food packaging. There’s a company out in California called Apeel and they’re coming up with an organic sort of, by organic, I mean plant based, plant based coating that you can put on produce, which increases the shelf life from say, you know, a banana that would go bad in three days to like seven or eight days. And it’s that those are little technologies that are going to go a long way in the future, that are going to help us reduce food waste because it’s not just that, it’s also grocery stores. It’s also, you know, in the transportation of the food. It’s also at the farms. So I’m talking about big, big systemic issues that we have with food waste. And we at Bootstrap always say like, we sometimes open up a bucket and we see like a perfectly fine potato in there. We always wonder like, why didn’t you just eat that? Like, or it might have like a little smudge on it that you could just cut off. So like people have this idea that they’re, and as much as I love Whole Foods, I think Whole Foods has contributed, the company, to like this idea of like shiny, happy food. Yeah. their produce is very high quality, but it’s also like, you don’t need the perfect apple all the time. Yeah. You don’t need to have the perfect tomato. okay.

Kate: (28:31)
Food can be ugly and still be good and tasty and nutritious. It’s interesting to hear somebody who’s in the compost biz say that actually it’s better to not have too much food than it is to compost the extra. Reducing the amount of food that you buy and eating what you, what you buy rather than buying too much and putting it in the compost. It’s not actually a zero emission solution. Anything that you want to cover that we haven’t touched on?

Igor: (28:57)
Yeah, I mean, one thing that I talked about, was, well, one thing that we didn’t really cover was the impact that Bootstrap’s had. And that’s something that I, you know, I’m really proud of. So since 2011, we’ve kept four and a half million pounds of food waste out of landfills. We’ve created 2.2 million pounds of compost through the process of composting. We’ve offset 3 million, 3.2 million pounds of greenhouse gases, which, that number is not just fictitious. You can go online. EPA has a calculator. you can go in and plug your numbers, how much you drive and you know, how much our vehicles are on the road versus how much we collect. That’s the number we have 3.2 and that 3.2 million of greenhouse gases offset is the equivalence of planting 24,366 trees. Or creating 1,734 acres of forest land. To put that in perspective, that’s slightly larger than if you were to combine the Back Bay, the South End and the Fenway neighborhood and turn it all into a forest. We’ve kept 1.6 million pounds of coal from being burned. Again, that’s an equivalency. or if you look at gasoline, we’ve, we’ve prevented 165,800 gallons of gasoline from being burned and that is the equivalent of taking close to 1700 trips from Boston to LA and a car hundred trip and a 30 mile per gallon car.

Kate: (30:38)
Wow. Yeah. I’m going to, for people who don’t process numbers when they hear them, I’m going to put these numbers on our blog as well so you can look at them. I think that’s really impressive and really speaks to the good work Bootstrap’s doing. Thank you so much for joining us, Igor. I’ve definitely learned a lot and I know our listeners will as well. And if you are in the Boston area, I hope you’ll, you’ll give Bootstrap a thought for your composting needs.

Igor: (31:01)
Thank you for your time. I loved having you guys here.

Danielle: (31:05)
Thank you.

Outro: (31:08)
Thanks for listening to The Stories Behind Our Food, a podcast by Equal Exchange, inc a worker-owned cooperative. Love this episode? Please subscribe, rate and leave a review. Be sure to visit equalexchange.coop to join the conversation, purchase products and learn more about small scale farmers and the global supply chain. This episode was produced by Equal Exchange with hosts, Kate chess and Danielle Robidoux and sound engineering provided by Gary Goodman. Join us next time for another edition of the Stories Behind Our Food.

Peach Rooibos Iced Tea

This iced tea recipe makes enough naturally caffeine-free summer ambrosia for a crowd!

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Peach Rooibos Iced Tea

Organic rooibos makes for a mellow herbal iced tea, set off by sweet peaches and mint.

Course Drinks
Keyword Iced Tea, Peach
Servings 16

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Slice peaches into a large pitcher or thermos
  2. Add mint leaves
  3. Remove tags from tea and add those, too
  4. Bring 1/2 gallon water to a boil and pour into the container
  5. Allow mixture to steep in the refrigerator overnight
  6. On the next day, remove tea bags and add 1/2 gallon of fresh cold water to the container
  7. Pour over ice and drink as is or with honey for added sweetness

 

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Earl Grey Iced Tea with Clouds of Cream

Have you ever tried our fair trade Organic Earl Grey cold? Bergamot oil lends citrus notes to this elegant black tea. Serve it over ice with cream that’s whipped just enough to swirl with the tea in lazy curls. Nothing could be cooler.

Earl grey iced tea with cream
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Earl Grey Iced Tea with Clouds

One lump or two? If you take your tea with sugar, make sure to add it while the tea is hot for the best dissolve.
Course Drinks
Cuisine English
Keyword Cream, Iced Tea
Servings 1

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Brew tea at double strength for 3-5 minutes. Make sure to remove tea bags promptly!
  2. Add sugar or sweetener if desired.
  3. Allow tea to cool in the refrigerator.

  4. Using a whisk or a hand-mixer, beat the cream until it just begins to froth and thicken – before peaks begin to form. Stop!
  5. Pour cooled tea over ice in a tall glass, leaving room at the top.
  6. Spoon in the cream.
  7. Watch in amazement, post on Instagram, etc.
  8. Sip away!

 

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Building Community Through Shared Space

2019 Equal Exchange Summit

Equal Exchange has always been about building authentic relationships. We want people to reconnect to where food comes from, to engage around each product supply chain, to understand that there are people and ecosystems behind our tea, chocolate and coffee. Equal Exchange also believes in alternatives. We seek to share our cooperative business model- to resist against business as usual and that people can be put before profit.   

In 2017 we launched an organizing effort to build an Equal Exchange community. This has been our attempt at building an autonomous network of supporters, activists, consumers, teachers and advocates to have deep involvement within the Equal Exchange’s model. Who are the people supporting our farmers and our business model?

In our early days of launching; we often tasked our audience with the idea that we want to build this community together. One of the biggest ways we have built and sustained community is by hosting an annual summit. Each year, these summits have grown, more people are showing up, and more work has been done to make a positive impact on our food system.

In 2017, our summit was a rite of passage, our first take at bringing together citizen-consumers, worker-owners and farmer partners. We hosted around 100 people at Stonehill College, brought together friends, allies and convened over shared meals and breakout sessions. We had our first vote as a community, it was a vote of direction.To endorse a climate change campaign seeking to address the challenges many of our farmer partners face-or to choose to invest in building up our community through events, shared platforms and capacity building. The vote was a pivotal point in exercising our group’s ability to help us build a direction, together. In 2018, we experimented with reaching more people, by hosting two summits in two different locations. One summit was held in Easton, MA and one was held in Chicago, Illinois. We learned the pros and cons of two locations; how it offered ease of travel for some, but a slit in energy at both.

This year we held our summit in Norton, MA about twenty minutes from our West Bridgewater HQ and roastery. 2019 was a significant landmark in the development of our shared community. We maxed out our venue, put forth a governance path, held engaging workshop sessions, and launched two solidarity campaigns, Behind the Barcodes and the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019.

On Friday June 21, we opened up the day with keynote speaker, Santiago Paz, the export manager of Norandino Cooperative located in Piura region of Peru. Santiago helped to set the stage for Norandino’s long standing relationship with Equal Exchange, their growth as a cooperative and what it means to be in true partnership. We then broke out into various sessions including the plight of US farmers, our alternative trade network and allies, a deep dive on our coffee supply chain, and a look into our family dairy farm cheese partnership. The afternoon was spent digging into our solidarity campaigns, Behind the Barcodes with OXFAM and  the Food and Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019with the Organization for Competitive Markets(OCM). Attendees were challenged to grapple with action in the context of our community and two very different strategies. 

Saturday we opened the morning with a keynote from Rink Dickinson, one of Equal Exchange’s three founders on building an Alternative Trade Organization for the future. Joined by Rob Everts, Equal Exchange’s co-director, Rink and Rob spoke of our challenges and successes and what it will take for Equal Exchange to survive going forward for the many challenges ahead.

We opened up the mid-morning with continued learning about the food system, a panel highlighting the challenging landscape for food cooperatives, a deeper look into small farmer coffee cooperatives in Peru, building cooperatives in immigrant communities in New York City, and how to engage more deeply in our interfaith program at Equal Exchange.

In the afternoon, we put forth a new model for this community, exploring the possibility of a citizen-consumer seat on Equal Exchange’s board of directors. In anticipation of hopefully amending our bylaws to embrace this role, we had a competitive election with 10 citizen consumers who ran and were nominated. The candidates ranged from committed buyers, local activists, fair trade academics, and a leader of a small independent spice company. The process felt like another landmark for this community as the group did indeed elect a prospective member to our board.

Democracy takes effort, commitment, collective responsibility and dedication to an often slower and messier path. We believe that in an attempt to build a democratic food system that is truly transformative, it is not enough to focus on the buying and selling of a product. Likewise, for true change to occur, involvement cannot begin and end with a purchase. Voting with your dollar is not enough, and this is what we hope to foster throughout our Citizen-Consumer community for years to come.

Interested in attending next year? Visit: equalexchange.coop/summit

Freekeh Porridge with Dates, Coconut, and Almonds

Gram for gram, freekeh has more protein and fiber than steel cut oatmeal, with an earthy and nutty flavor that works in both sweet and savory preparations. While Palestinians generally add freekeh to their soups and chicken dishes, freekeh makes an excellent and hearty breakfast porridge. This recipe calls for cooking the freekeh in plant milk, and soaking the freekeh in advance quickens the cooking time. If the freekeh dries out while cooking, feel free to add more liquid, and stir occasionally to prevent from sticking the way you would cook a risotto. The dates and almonds from the farmers’ box add more sweetness, chewiness and crunch that pairs well with the freekeh. This recipe makes four servings, which you can cook and store to eat throughout the week.

Bowls of freekeh porridge with nuts
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Freekeh Porridge with Dates, Coconut, and Almonds

Course Breakfast
Keyword Palestinian Products
Servings 4 bowls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Equal Exchange Freekeh
  • cups plant milk almond, cashew, or any kind of plant milk
  • ¼ cup coconut
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup, date syrup, or honey
  • 4 Equal Exchange Dates chopped
  • 4 tbsp almonds chopped

Instructions

  1. Soak the freekeh in water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Drain, then place in a saucepan with the plant milk, salt, and cinnamon. Boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the coconut and either maple syrup, date syrup, or honey.
  4. Serve in 4 bowls, top with the dates and almonds and serve.

Recipe Notes

Recipe & photo courtesy of Blanche, feastinthemiddleeast.com

Cucumber Peppermint Iced Tea

Time to chill out! Cool down our already-cool Organic Peppermint Tea by infusing it with fresh mint and cucumber and serve it over ice!

 

A jug of tea with a cup and some cucumbers
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Mint and Cucumber Infused Peppermint Iced Tea

Extra minty and cool as a cucumber -- and naturally caffeine-free! Infused tea can remain in the refrigerator for several days.
Course Drinks
Keyword Cucumber, Iced Tea, Mint
Servings 5

Ingredients

Instructions

Preparation:

  1. Bring water to a boil and pour it into a pitcher
  2. Tie the strings of the tea bags together and add to the water
  3. Let it steep until the water cools to room temperature, then put it in the refrigerator to cool fully.
  4. 2-3 hours before serving, add half of the sliced cucumber and a few sprigs of mint to the tea in the pitcher.

To serve:

  1. Add ice to the pitcher (tea bags can remain or be removed)
  2. Pour into glasses
  3. Garnish each glass with a fresh cucumber slice or two and fresh mint.

 
 

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Organic Cacao: Bean to Bar

Do you know where chocolate comes from? Have you ever seen a cacao bean or a cacao pod? Most people have only experienced the end result, like a chocolate bar or a cup of hot cocoa. These divinely delicious products can be magical – inspiring our palates, bringing back fond memories, and simply making us happy.

The manufacturing of chocolate is a precise and scientific process, and yet, it still holds some of this magic and inspiration. From the cacao farms that can feel like enchanted forests, to the manufacturing plant, each step impacts the final quality of the chocolate and each step is a combination of science and art. Due to the great care and pride that our producers put into their work, these beans can be transformed into chocolate that will wow the senses and put a smile on your face.

So, sit back, bite into a delicious piece of Equal Exchange chocolate, and read about how it was crafted – from bean to bar.

Growing

Rows of cacao seedlings

Cacao or cocoa comes from the cacao tree or Theobroma cacao. Theobroma is a Greek word that means “food of the gods.” The cacao tree is an evergreen found in over 50 tropical countries, and estimated to be grown by 2 million to 2.5 million producers, 90% of whom are small-scale farmers with 12 acres or less.

The tree can grow up to 30 feet but is often pruned to make harvesting easier for the farmers. Once a tree is planted, it can take up to five years before it produces cacao pods, and it can continue to produce pods year round until it is 25 or 30 years old. Every year, cacao trees grow thousands of flowers on their trunks and branches. Only a small percentage (as low as 1%) of these flowers will actually produce a cacao pod or masorca. This pod, which is the fruit from the tree, can be similar to the size and shape of a football and grows out of the trunk and branches of the tree. Pods can be found in a range of colors from dark brown to orange, red, yellow, and green. A cacao pod will begin to ripen 5-6 months after it flowers. Each pod contains beans, the seeds of the fruit that are shaped like a flat almond, surrounded by a sweet pulp. There are roughly 30-50 beans in a typical pod. These beans are what ultimately get transformed into cocoa powder or chocolate.

 

Harvesting Cacao Pods

A smiling man cuts a cacao pod from the trunk of a tree

Once the pods are ripe, they are cut down from the trees, typically with machetes or, for the higher pods, using long poles with a cutting edge. They are cut with care so that the stalks are not damaged and can produce fruit the following year. Though pods can be harvested year round there are two major harvest times: the main harvest and the mid-harvest, which falls about six months after the main harvest.

 

Removing Beans

A group of people sit on the ground with piles of cacao pods. A man cuts into one.

Once on the ground, the pods are graded for quality and placed into piles. The pods are then opened with a machete or a wooden club by cracking the pod so that it can be split in half. The beans, still surrounded by the sweet pulp, are removed and piled on top of large leaves, often from banana trees.

 

Fermenting

Cacao beans ferment in cement bins, stirred with a giant wooden paddle.

Once the cacao beans have been removed from the pods, they are fermented to remove the mucilage, stop the bean from germinating, and to begin flavor development. Many farmers traditionally ferment the beans in a large pile on the ground in between banana leaves or sacks. Some producer groups, such as our producer partners in the Dominican Republic, the farmers of CONACADO Co-op, bring the beans to a central fermentation area where they are fermented in wooden boxes for a period up to six days. Fermentation is essential to the development of a high quality cacao bean that will be transformed into gourmet chocolate.

 

Drying

Caaco beans dry on beds inside a tent

After fermentation, the beans are dried, bringing the humidity of the beans down to between 6-8% for storage and export. Cacao beans are often dried in the sun, which can happen on tarps, mats, or patios. They are continually raked so that they will dry more evenly. The drying process can take up to a week. However, if the beans are dried too long, they will become brittle. If they are not dried long enough, they run the risk of becoming moldy. Some producers also have access to automatic driers, which are used when the weather is rainy or cloudy and they are unable to sun-dry the beans. Once dried, cacao beans can be stored for four to five years.

 

Roasting, Winnowing and Grinding

A stainless steel funnel and a machine with a lot of tubes in a chocolate processing facility

When the dried cacao beans arrive at the processing plant they are first cleaned to remove any debris. Next, the beans are roasted to darken the color and to further bring out the flavor characteristics of the cacao. The beans can be roasted at different temperatures and for different lengths of time, depending on different variables such as humidity, size of the beans, and the desired flavor.

After roasting, the beans are “winnowed” to remove the shells from around the bean, leaving only the roasted cocoa nib, which is the key ingredient for making chocolate.

Next, the cocoa nibs are ground into a paste called chocolate liquor, also sometimes called cocoa mass. Despite the name, chocolate liquor has absolutely no alcoholic content. Chocolate liquor can either be used directly in the production of chocolate bars or further processed to separate the fat, known as cocoa butter, from the cocoa solid, leaving cocoa presscake. Cocoa butter is used in chocolate bars and beauty products. Cocoa presscake is milled into cocoa powder to be used for baking cocoa and hot cocoa.

 

Conching

Chocolate is agitated within a conching machine

Once the beans are processed into chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, the manufacturing of finished products can begin. To make chocolate bars, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter are blended with other ingredients such as sugar, vanilla, and milk (for milk chocolate). These ingredients are then refined. For Equal Exchange chocolate bars, this means the particle size of the ingredients is refined to such a small size that they cannot be felt by the human tongue, giving the chocolate much of its smooth texture. This mixture is then “conched,” or mixed and aerated at high temperatures. This process thoroughly blends the ingredients, taking out some of the acidity of the cacao and further developing the flavors that will appear in the final bar.

Traditionally, conching has been an extended process of mixing the ingredients for long periods of time, often for days. It is now common for companies to use soy lecithin, an emulsifier, to help blend the ingredients, allowing them to drastically cut down on conching time and costs. We are proud to say that Equal Exchange does not use soy lecithin in any of our products. Instead, our bars are crafted using extended conching for a period of 24-72 hours depending on the bar. It is our belief that this method creates a superior chocolate that is both incredibly smooth and full of well-balanced flavors. Read more about soy-free chocolate.

 

Tempering and Molding

Finished chocolate bars roll out of a machine in their molds

After the conching is complete, the chocolate is then “tempered” through a slow, stepped decrease in temperature. During this process, the chocolate is cooled and then warmed, then cooled further and warmed once again, and so on until it reaches the correct temperature, creating an even crystallization of the ingredients throughout the chocolate. If done well, tempering is what gives the chocolate its smooth texture and snap when broken in two. After the chocolate is properly tempered, it is ready for additional ingredient inclusions such as almonds, coffee beans, or sea salt. The chocolate is then poured into molds, which form the shape of the bar. The chocolate cools until it becomes solid and is then removed from the molds as chocolate bars. Once the bars are cooled, they are wrapped in their inner wrapper to keep the chocolate fresh for 12-24 months. They are then labeled, packed in cases and stacked on pallets ready to be shipped to and eaten!

 

Quality Analysis

A man buries his face in a bowl to take in the aroma of a chocolate sample

We want to make sure every chocolate and cocoa product that leaves our warehouse is of the highest quality. Our Chocolate Tasting Panel meets weekly (and sometimes more) for intense product evaluation. Tasting Panel is a hand-picked group of the best mouths at Equal Exchange, from various departments. The members have undergone extensive sensory training and calibration as a group, honing their skills and continually developing their palates. Panel often compares a new shipment of chocolate to a previous shipment, to ensure consistency. Another task is to write a descriptive analysis of a product’s aromas, flavors, aftertaste, mouthfeel, and so on, using a special “intensity” scoring system.
Ready to try fair trade chocolate?

 

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Organic Sugar: Cane to Table

The sugar we use in our chocolate and cocoa comes from fair trade and organic sugarcane! Our co-operative partners work hard to provide a quality product. From the farmers who plant the cane to the mill workers who package the sugar, the transformation from cane to table takes an incredible journey. So, mix up a cup of our hot cocoa, take a sip, and while you allow its subtle caramel sweetness to cover your senses, read about how this sugar was formed – from cane to table.

Growing

an illustration of organic sugarcane growing

Sugarcane is most commonly planted from using cuttings of the cane as seed. Each cutting segment contains a bud that will sprout the new cane. It takes about one year for the cane to reach maturity.

Harvesting

An illustration of harvesting organic sugarcane with oxen

As harvest season approaches, co-operative extensionists will test the sucrose level of the sugarcane. Once levels are high enough, the farmer is authorized to begin harvesting. Most of our farmer partners harvest their sugarcane by hand with machete, and gather the sugarcane into bundles. From the bundles, it is transported, often by ox teams, to a co-operative collection center. There, the bundles are weighed out, tagged with the farmer’s code, and the farmers are given a receipt which they can cash in at the co-op on a weekly basis. From the collection center, farmer members split the cost of transporting their cane collectively to the mill.

Milling

an illustration of organic sugarcane on a conveyer belt being milled

At the mill, the bundles are recorded by their tags, opened, and sent first through a chopper and shredder. From there, the sugarcane is passed through a series of 3-6 mills, often in the shape of rollers in order to squeeze out as much cane juice as possible.

Clarifying

An illustration of organic sugarcane being clarified in a tank

Cane juice is acidic which creates favorable conditions for the rapid decay of sucrose. In order to prevent this decay, limewater is added into the cane juice. Next, the juice is heated causing any dirt and sediments to chemically bond to the limewater and separate from the juice for easy extraction.

Evaporating

The clean cane juice is heated to evaporate excess water until it reaches the consistency of syrup.

Crystallizing

Once the sugarcane reaches the right syrup consistency, a “seed” is introduced in the boiler. The “seed” is an established sugar crystal that begins the rapid growth of other sugar crystals until the whole boiler is full of sugar crystals.

Drying

The sugar crystals are then passed through a centrifuge which draws all of the liquids away from the sugar crystals. The liquids left over are a cane syrup called a “mother liquor.” This liquor typically is passed through a boiler two or three more times until all of its sucrose is extracted in the form of sugar crystals, and the syrup leftover is sold as molasses. After the centrifuge, the sugar crystals are passed through a dryer that lowers the temperature and humidity of the crystals.

Packing

The dry sugar crystals pass through several magnets to detect for further impurities before being packaged. Our partners package the majority of their sugar in bulk quantities from superpacks (one ton bags) to 50lb brown paper bags.

 

Quality Analysis

We test each incoming sugar shipment to ensure that it is of utmost quality. Our Chocolate Tasting Panel meets weekly (and sometimes more) for intense product evaluation. The members have undergone extensive sensory training and calibration as a group, honing their skills and continually developing their palates. Panel will compare an incoming shipment of sugar to a previous shipment to make certain that there are not any off flavors or problems with the new sugar.

 

And that’s how it’s done! Ready to taste the results?

 

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Mint Blackberry Green Iced Tea

Dress up a cup of Organic Mint Green Tea with extra mint, plus juicy blackberries. This vibrant iced tea has a fresh, summery flavor!

A mug of iced tea on a table with fruit
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Mint Blackberry Iced Green Tea

For a stronger fruit flavor or a cleaner-looking glass,  skip step 3. and use a blender to juice the berries and strain the liquid into your tea instead.

Course Drinks
Keyword Blackberries, Iced Tea, Mint
Servings 1

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Brew a double-strength cup of tea, using two tea bags but otherwise following the instructions on the box.
  2. Allow tea to cool, or continue on if you're in a hurry - the ice at the end will cool things down.
  3. Add a handful of blackberries and muddle them to release flavor.
  4. Add honey or agave to taste.
  5. Add ice and allow to cool.
  6. Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy!

 

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