Friday, 21 April 2017

Come Be Part Of The Saturday Market

Ometepe Coffee Gulf Islands has existed as a volunteer organization for  28 years. And as happens with any organization things morph and change. Recently a number of key, long time volunteers have retired.  Ometepe Coffee is now actively welcoming new volunteers into the fold.  It's an opportunity to contribute both to the local community and the global community. We buy certified organic, shade grown coffee beans from a coop on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua for better than fair trade prices. We then roast and sell the beans locally and serve coffee at Salt Spring's famous Saturday market and other events. The profits from these sales then return to Nicaragua and Guatemala to support projects such as potable water, Onile wood burning stoves, loans to Ometepe Island women who are starting businesses, education funds, and primary medical care.  So think of Ometepe as double fair trade! All monies are returned to projects in Central America.

This weekend will mark the second week of Ometepe's market presence where we serve appreciative coffee lovers their favourite drink. There are lots of reasons to become part of Ometepe Coffee. It is a lot of fun to be part of the market. If you love to chat and people watch, it couldn't be a more perfect venue. People from around the world (and island :) stop by for a cup of our beautiful brew. Market vendors are always in need of a little refreshment.  It makes for a lovely morning or afternoon to volunteer at one of the two market shifts of the day. It's an incredibly positive and stimulating social experience whether you spend the rest of your time working in a solitary environment or just love social interaction. Simply arrive, brew and sell coffee. It couldn't be easier. Set up and take down are handled by someone else.  You can enjoy the treats and wears of the market while you are there and know you are supporting a global initiative while you do that.

Please chat with someone at our market booth or contact us via our facebook page if you'd like to join our volunteer team or are curious about learning more.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

It's Market Time!

It's market time again! While the market has been going since April these hot days somehow seem quintessentially market time! There is a holiday feel in the air as people wander the market stands finding tasty bites of this and that to go with their coffee or pop in their shopping bags to take home for later.  There are the French pastries from The Rendezvous Patisserie, bread and treats from Salt Spring Bread, just to name a few.  A summer bounty of zucchini, peas, lettuce, cherries and raspberries beckon from the farm market tables like Hope Hill Farms. And the many crafts of island artisans tempt visitors.  Malas from Purely Om and upcycled bags from Salt Spring Tweeds, beautiful woven shawls and scarves by Christine Johnston of Jaya Weaving and jewelry from Bohemian Arts.

Lots of visitors and locals alike stop by for a cup of Ometepe coffee as they wander and shop.  The hot weather doesn't seem to deter the interest in coffee. The lovely brew, dark  hot and delicious, perhaps with a little cream or milk and a bit of organic cane sugar if you need sweetening :)

It's always fun to chat with the people who stop by: the women from China who don't understand what decaf is.  How do you explain that?  The fellow from Sidney who roasts his own green Ometepe beans in a small drum roaster on his bbq. The visitors from North Carolina and Nevada and the friendly local faces of vendors who need their morning cup of joe to start the market day.

It's a fun way to watch the morning (or afternoon) fly by.  If you love coffee and would like to be part of the good cause of supporting coffee farmers in Nicaragua and other good works there, come join this lovely group of volunteers.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Summer Coffee

The hot summer weather has returned and we are savouring it's short, sweet visit to our part of the world.  And as we bask in the full throes of summer we may not always want a "hot" cup of coffee.  Now is the perfect time to try some different ways to enjoy our Ometepe brew.  Iced coffee is a simple option.  Simply chill some coffee and/or add ice cubes.  You can even make coffee ice cubes if you don't want to water down your delicious Ometepe brew.  Add a little cream, milk or sugar to make it even more delicious.  Remember to add your sugar prior to cooling the coffee so it dissolves easily.

A coffee granita is a refreshing treat on a hot day.  I made mine by simply freezing some leftover coffee in a shallow pan and then giving it a spin in a food processor.  Perfect ice shavings!  The proper way is to make some espresso, sweeten it, and freeze, continually scraping at the freezing mixture to create ice granules.  Here's a recipe:  Mine was the quick and easy kind but it worked.  Next time I think Iwill add a little sweetener. I also added a little cooled coffee for more of a "drink" than a desert.


Another favourite summer coffee treat is an affogatto.  Affogatto means "drowned" in Italian, not normally a good thing but in this case something quite delicious. All you need is a little ice cream and some espresso (brewed coffee works too if you don't have an espresso maker). Pour your espresso in a cup, add a scoop of ice cream and you're ready to sit on the deck and relax with a good book.  Traditionally an affogatto is made with vanilla ice cream but we tried 2 different versions; one with chocolate goat milk gelato from Salt Spring Cheese  and the second with hazelnut gelato from Salt Spring Gelato.  Both were delicious.

Affogato with hazelnut gelato
And if you're feeling really experimental you can try making some cold brewed coffee where you use cool water and let the coffee steep overnight.  This brew can be decanted and stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, ready for your cool weather drinking pleasure.  Here's the how to's of cold brew:

Happy summer coffee drinking! And don't forget to come visit our volunteers at the Saturday market where you can grab a cup of coffee to enjoy in the park or pick up some beans to take home for your coffee treats.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Journey To Your Cup

How does your Ometepe coffee get into your cup?  Yes, you pour it in, all bleary eyed in the morning and then emerge your cheerful self after a few sips, but before that I mean?  How does that delicious Ometepe java make it's way from the coffee bushes on Ometepe Island to you?  When you think about it there's a lot of hands helping you get that aromatic brew into your cup.

Ometepe coffee is grown on the side of  an extinct volcanic mountain in rich, volcanic soil. The Arabica beans begin as small red "cherries" that ripen intermittently.   Because the coffee fruit does not ripen all at once it must be picked several times during the season, which lasts from November to mid January.  The cherries are hand picked and carried down the mountain side to the processing plant.  The outer pulp is fermented off  and the inner beans spread on concrete slabs in the sun to dry.  The pulp is composted and returned as fertilizer to help next season's harvest.

The beans  are then carefully picked over by hand, graded for size and uniformity and bagged in 70 kilo units.  Ometepe beans and those for BOSIA (Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands Association) are gathered together and picked up by a shipping company and put into a container. The container makes its way to a port  and is shipped to either Seattle or Vancouver.  There the bags are inspected by customs and  moved to a coffee warehouse in Richmond where they are put on pallets (10 bags to a pallet) shrink wrapped and shipped to our roaster/storage facilities at Serious Coffee in Duncan.  They remain there until we order a roast.  To create the coffee that you have come to know and love we have carefully chosen our roasting temperature - usually 475 deg F for dark roast, and 455 for medium.  Seventy-six  pounds are roasted at a time, taking about 12 - 15 minutes.

Because the beans have been so carefully picked over and sized they contain no debris and don't require cleaning.  The result is a  very uniform  and predictable roasting. Volunteers from the Salt Spring Ometepe Group do the rest.  They pick up the coffee from the roaster, bag it, deliver it to the stores that carry it, and sell both brewed and bagged coffee at the Saturday market.  And so next time you look at your bag of beans or take a sip of that fragrant brew you can imagine the journey that your coffee has taken to get to your cup.

(with thanks to Brian Finnemore for the details!)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter Weekend Brings Coffee To The Saturday Market

March 30, 2013 Ometepe's First Market Day Of The Year
It's that time again. Finally.  Spring is in the air (most of the time) and the Easter Bunny is hopping in our general direction.  And did I mention that Ometepe Coffee will raise the market tent and fill the coffee urns for the first time on Saturday, April 19th.  As you can see from last year, the first market day was sunny and warm enough for some to sport shorts. Should we dare to hope for another one of those?

Last year was the first year that The Salt Spring Water Company provided us with water to brew our market coffee and the verdict is in: it made our market blend taste even more delicious.  Many thanks to The Salt Spring Water Company for their continuing generous contribution to Ometepe.

So drop by on Saturday, say hello, pick up a cup of your favourite organic, fair trade java and a bag of beans to take home and enjoy.  Ometepe coffee is one of those feel good purchases; it brings a wonderful taste and aroma to your home while supporting coffee growers on Ometepe Island and their community.

Enjoy your holiday weekend with coffee or without.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Ometepe Coffee in Victora

If you love Ometepe coffee and live in Victoria your beans are not far away!  You can find our dark, medium and decaf organic beans at The Global Village Store at 527 Pandora Ave, on the north side of Market Square.  I know it's fun to come over to Salt Spring and find Ometepe at the Saturday market but we're not there in winter and I'm guessing you didn't buy enough beans to get you through 'til the market reopens in April.

And while you're there picking up your beans in this lovely little shop, you might just find some other fair trade goodies from around the world that strike your fancy.  Global Village is run completely by volunteers and stocks crafts from over 35 producers around the world.  Most of these are craft cooperatives, 90% of them women who have organized to sell traditional crafts.  In addition to our delicious coffee you will find greeting cards, scarves, hats, jewelry, decorative masks, toys and more.

Global Village is a great match for Ometepe Coffee as, just like Ometepe, it directly supports artisans and workers by paying fair trade prices for the goods you find in the shop.  Just like Ometepe, Global Village is run by volunteers.  It's a fun place to stop, have a chat with a volunteer and pick up the beans for your next cup of java.  We visited with a volunteer from Columbia and chatted about roasting coffee from her own plants in Columbia an mixing it with sugar scraped off a block and mixed with hot milk.  We hear that there are quite a few Ometepe fans that stop in for their beans on a regular basis. Why not become one of them.

Global Village is open 10-5 pm Monday - Saturday.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Coffee For Santa (And Others)

Santa must surely tire of all that milk set out for him with his cookies. And with the long hours of Christmas eve deliveries, what could be better than a nice cup of rich, dark coffee?

And so you will need to know where best to find those bags of delicious beans to brew the perfect cup for Santa (and your other Christmas guests).  So here's a little list.  You can check it twice before you leave the house, just to make sure that you stop in at one of the following locations to pick up you Ometepe beans on Salt Spring.

If you are on Salt Spring's south end, it's easy to  pop into the Mercantile in Fulford Village for your bean fix. They have so many goodies there you might just leave with more than beans. Careful that you don't develop an addiction to their giant gluten free peanut butter cookies!

Ometepe Coffee At The Mercantile
If you are in Ganges and looking for your Ometepe beans, you have a couple of choices.  You can find both bulk beans and bagged beans at Nature Works.  You might even like to get creative and mix your own blend of medium and dark beans or make a half caff, as a friend of mine does.  And there's no shortage of treats lining the Nature Works shelves to go with that coffee, just in case.

Bulk Beans At Nature Works In Ganges
And the latest addition to the places you can find Ometepe beans is Country Grocer.  If you happen to be on a grocery run, what could be easier than to just buzz down the coffee isle in Country Grocer and toss a bag of your favourite beans into your basket.  Dark, medium and decaf are lined up tidily on the shelf.

Ometepe Beans Now Available At Country Grocer
In Victoria you can find your beans at Global Village in Market Square.  We recently had a lovely note from a faithful Ometepe customer in Victoria that read as follows:

"I have been drinking Ometepe Dark as espresso for over 15 years now. It is still the best coffee I have ever had. As far as I know the Global Village Store here in Victoria is the only local retail outlet. In fact I ended up volunteering at the Global Village Store (a Fair Trade store) for 10 years because of Ometepe."

If you've got your own Ometepe coffee story, we'd love to hear it!  Stop by our facebook page and share it with us.  Wishing you all a happy, coffee flavoured holiday and new year from the volunteers at Ometepe.