Grow Ahead

Social and ethical issues have always been Apecaform Collage 1at the forefront of what we do here at DOMA.  We are running a business so profits do matter, but the ethical and fair treatment of our producing partners has never taken a back seat to profit in our 13 year history.  We have accomplished this in the past through membership in the Fair Trade Federation which is focused on the nine principles of Fair Trade, transparency through the use of and by being a member of Cooperative Coffees, a green-bean buying coop that is focused on Fairly Traded, Organic coffee with an emphasis on social justice.

This past August, our very own Rebecca and Jim traveled to Minneapolis for our Annual General Meeting for Cooperative Coffees.   On that trip they met Joe Newhouse who works with an organization called Grow Ahead.  They came back and Rebecca could hardly contain her excitement and a partnership was born.


:: The Problem ::

Most of the world’s coffee is grown by farmers on small plots of land.  The average farmer produces very little coffee; around 1,000-3,000 lbs. of exportable, unroasted coffee.  While this seems like a very small-scale operation, coffee is traded globally in huge shipping containers that contain hundreds of bags.  Many of these small farmers have banded together and formed fair trade cooperatives, where their coffee gets grouped together and exported in those large shipping containers.  One of the biggest struggles for small farmers is the acquisition of financing for their crop, year to year. These expensive conventional loans can decimate the small profit margins and in turn, force farmers to choose between feeding their families and investing profits in farm improvements.

:: The Solution ::

There is a definite trend in consumers being more aware of the products they buy, and a desire to be an active part of the supply chain.  Grow Ahead allows the consumer to become an active part in the chain that puts food on their table and coffee in their mugs.  Just like the coffee that is grown buy a myriad of small-scale producers, Grow Ahead collects small loans from coffee drinkers.  This provides a way for coffee drinkers and farmers to do business together and it has helped provide a more sustainable financial model for farmers.  Whether you make a small or large loan, Grow Ahead will aggregate your funds towards a container of coffee from a small farmer organization.  Right now, the co-op that Grow Ahead is working with is APECAFORM in Guatemala.  This will be the third container that Grow Ahead has funded.

:: How It Works ::

The whole process starts when you sign up and lend some money.  The money that you lend will be used to pre-finance a container of coffee from APECAFORM.  Your money will be transferred to APECAFORM, which will allow them to purchase coffee from the farmers  who are members of their Co-op.  To help cover operating expenses, Grow Ahead will charge APECAFORM a fee for the money loaned.  This fee is different for every producer, and is negotiated every lending cycle.  The reason why these fees are charged is to create a sustainable financial model: not only do they help with Grow Ahead’s operating expenses, but they prevent Grow Ahead’s loans from being unfairly competitive and disrupting local financial markets.

Once you have created an account and lent money, you can log in anytime to see your personalized timeline page.  Updates on the status of your loans will appear on this page and once the container has been purchased from farmers, quality controlled, and shipped; you will see that GrowAhead has been repaid for the funds loaned.  Once this has happened you will be presented with a number of options.  You can withdraw your money, re-lend it to finance another container of coffee or donate it to support development projects for farmers.  These loans do not earn interest, and the amount that you will be refunded will be equal to the funds that you have loaned minus any possible transaction expenses.

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Here at DOMA we are really excited about this partnership with Grow Ahead.  The minimum loan amount is $25.  If you have the ability to make a loan, and would like to be more involved at the farm level of your daily cup of coffee, you can create an account and make a loan here.

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La Roya – Coop Coffee’s Response to Coffee Leaf Rust


Coffee leaf rust, better known as La Roya, has always been an issue in the coffee industry to some degree.  La Roya is a fungus that attacks the leaves of the coffee tree.  When the fungus attacks the plant, the leaves lose their effectiveness, they lose cherries and the farmers lose up to 80% of their crop.

Currently, La Roya is an issue that is decimating the crops of small producers.  Historically, Roya has affected lower quality, low elevation coffees.  These coffees are known as commodity coffee.  Coffees that are Specialty grade (80+ point coffees) are grown at higher elevations in lower temperatures which provides a difficult environment for the fungus to thrive.  This has kept the Roya at lower elevations, out of specialty coffee and coincidentally out of the limelight of the press.

The increasing temperatures in equatorial countries due to climate change have brought Roya to regions and farms that had been previously unaffected by the fungus.  Our producing partners in Central and South America have been heavily affected by Roya during the past few seasons, and there is no end in sight for these small-holder farms.

An article by PRI was published yesterday on La Roya and what is being done to combat the effects of this agricultural epidemic.  Through a collaboration with Root Capital (a developing world agricultural investment firm) and the 22 roaster members of Cooperative Coffees (including DOMA Coffee Roasting Co.), there has been headway to help combat Roya and help farmers provide food for their families.  At Cooperative Coffees, we have agreed to pay an extra 5 cents per pound for the Central American coffee we are purchasing.  These extra funds are being given to our producer partners to be used on re-planting, organic fertilizers, organic training programs, food security gardens and other projects to create  more family income.  The money is also being used to help treat the plants to combat Roya.  Farmers are using Magnesium Sulfate, Copper Sulfate and Zinc Sulfate to treat their plants.  These sprays are incredibly expensive for farmers.  A recent proposal from APECAFORM, one of our producing partners in Guatemala, budgeted over $21,000 for sprays to combat Roya.

Cooperative Coffees and Root Capital are also bringing representatives from all of our producing partners who are experiencing issues with Roya together in early January.  Coop Coffees will be hosting a summit and workshop event in Honduras for farmers to discuss and learn best organic practices from one another to combat rust.  This will hopefully be an opportunity for farmers to come together in solidarity and discuss real solutions and action plans to safeguard their crop from the fungal epidemic.

Here at DOMA, we don’t view the projects and our participation with Cooperative Coffees as a charity or something that we should brag about.  We care about our producing partners because we have been working with them for years and years.  These are not just transactional relationships, these are not just the people that we buy our coffee from.  These are people that we have built and fostered transformational, long-term relationships with.  We care about our success, because when our producing partners are succeeding in creating high quality coffee, they get paid more, and we get to roast higher quality coffee.

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Santa’s Little Helper – Where to Buy Santa’s

We have had a lot of phone calls and emails at DOMA HQ from people who asking where they can buy this year’s iteration of Santa’s Little Helper.  Below you will find an exhaustive list, by region, of where you can find this coffee.  Be aware, this coffee has been selling fast, so if you want a bag of punky punkyholiday cheer this season, you will want to get your hands on it sooner, rather than later!  Remember, you can always come in and buy it at the roastery, or online here.

Spokane, WA

Kitchen Engine

Main Market Coop

The Rocket Market


INDABA Coffee Bar

Jack & The Bean Shop

Revel 77

Eastern Washington and Oregon



Café Moro

Fonk’s Coffeehouse

Coffee Xpress

Green Zebra Grocery

Coeur d’Alene, North Idaho & Montana

Beardmore Bistro

Pilgrim’s Market

Moscow Coop

Winter Ridge

Big Blue Coffee Company – Kootenai Medical Center

Big Blue Coffee Company – Medical Office Building

Vertical Earth

Blue Lantern Coffee House

Le Petit Outre

Good Food Store

Southern Idaho, Wyoming and Utah

Boise Coop

Salt – A Modern Public House

Coffee & Cream

Big City Coffee

Aspen’s Market

Fitzgerald’s Bicycles

Jackson Whole Grocer

Whole Foods Cottonwood

Whole Foods Sugar House

Whole Foods Trolley Square

Love Muffin Café

Brooklyn, NY

De Luxe Coffee

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Ethiopia Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU)

Launch Date: Current Offering
Sourced Through: Coop Coffees
Country: Ethiopia
Region: Sidama, Southwest Ethiopia
Farm: 87,000 Farmers; 45 Co-ops (30 are FLO certified) Variety: Ethiopian Heirloom

Altitude: 1750-1900 MASL
Processing: Natural Process – Screen and Patio Dried

About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee. It was first discovered in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia and then through human intervention, the coffee spread to different regions such as Oromia, Yirgacheffe, and Sidama. The coffee industry in Ethiopia is so vast that it makes up approximately 50% of the country’s exports every year, and employs 25% of the workforce; either directly or indirectly.

Ninety-five percent of Ethiopia’s coffee production is done by small-holder farms. Last year, Ethiopia produced 735,000 tons of coffee; half of which is used for domestic consumption. The United States imports, on average 173,000 tons of Ethiopian coffee per year. Last year, the US imported 1.36 million tons of coffee, giving Ethiopian coffee approximately 13% of the US coffee marketshare.

About SCFCU and our current lot

It is almost impossible to put our finger on where exactly this coffee came from. SCFCU is one of the largest Co-op unions the world. There are 87,000 farmers that make up 45 Co-ops. Fair trade certifications are important to SCFCU which boasts 30 FLO certified Co-ops.

This coffee has very stereotypical Ethiopian and natural processed characteristics. There are notes of raspberry, blueberry, chocolate and lemon peel. This coffee does well as a brewed coffee, but it also shines as a Single Origin Espresso. This is a very approachable specialty coffee, a lot of times, Natural Ethiopia’s provide new people to coffee their first opportunity to accurately detect taste notes.

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Slow Food Guatemala Huehuetenango Highland Coffee Presidium

About the Coffee

Launch Date: November 1, 2013

Harvest Season: October to April

Country: Guatemala

Region: La Libertad & Todos Santos, Huehuetenango

Producer: Slow Food Highland Coffee Presidium

Variety:  Bourbon, Caturra, Typica and Pacas

Altitude: 1500-2000 MASL

Processing:  Fully washed and sun dried

Cupping Notes:  Stone Fruit, Red Apple, Cocoa

Yes, it is true, the Guat is back.  This has been a great coffee to spend time with in the lab.  It is so complex and has the ability to shine in whatever brew method you decide to use.

952_DSC_0100 As an espresso this coffee really shines with taste notes of Green Apple, Caramel and Stone Fruit.  This coffee does great in milk as well.  When it comes to manual brew methods, this coffee does very well as a Chemex where it shows off those cupping notes of Stone Fruit, Red Apple and Cocoa.

About Slow Food


Slow Food USA has 170 local chapters and 40 campus chapters that coordinate local activities, projects and events.  Working together with members and supporters from across the world.  Slow Food preserves and shares local foods and cultures.  They defend and advocate public policy that provides alternatives to the industrial system.  Through tastings, workshops and social opportunities, Slow Food explores and celebrates the ‘Slow Life.’

Abroad, Slow Food is a network of over 150,000 members in more than 150 countries.  Through a vast volunteer network of local chapters, youth and food communities, they link the pleasures of the table with a commitment to protect the community, culture, knowledge and the environment that will help make this pleasure possible.

Good | Clean | Fair | For All

About the Highland Coffee Presidium

The Huehuetenango Highland Coffee Presidium was created with the help of Slow Food.  The Slow Food movement aims to support small-scale producers who preserve crop varieties, agricultural practices, and food traditions.  A Presidium is a local project with a goal to find a viable future for small-scale producers of regional, artisanal food.  Today, this Presidium represents 4 cooperatives and consists of approximately 150 small growers in two different communities; La Libertad and Todos Santos.

IMG_0574Members of the Presidium must have farms over 1500 meters and be committed to the principles of Slow Food.  The Presidium works to protect both the health of the local environment and the well-being of the producers and their families.  In addition, the Presidium provides educational workshops and technical training to producers in order to improve the quality of the coffee.

The Slow Food program puts emphasis on quality and traceability.  Every individual lot gets cupped and classified by quality and can be traced back to each individual producer.  The lot gets blended into a full container and cupped prior to going afloat to ensure quality levels.

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Sumatra Permata Gayo

Launch Date: Current Offering

Sourced Through: Cooperative Coffees

Country: Indonesia

Region: Bener Meriah, Sumatra

Producer:  Permata Gayo Coop

Number of Members: 3,000

Harvest Season:  October to June

Altitude: 1200-1650 MASL


Cupping Notes:  Earth, Tobacco, Cedar

Espresso Notes:  Tobacco, Plum, Dark Chocolate

About Sumatra and Processing


Indonesia is the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world.  Last year, they produced 420,000 metric tons of coffee.  Of that, only 105,000 metric tons are of the species Coffea arabica; the balance of the coffee grown in Indonesia is Coffea canephora

The processing method that Permata Gayo uses is called wet hulling.  Using this form of processing, the producers remove the skin from the cherries mechanically u

sing a de-pulping machine.  The coffee is still coated with mucilage; next the coffee will be fermented for one day.  Following the fermentation, the mucilage will be washed off, just like a normal washed coffee.  The coffee is then partially dried for sale.  Next the coffee is then hulled in a semi-wet state, this gives the coffee a distinctive bluish-green appearance.  This form of processing reduces acidity and increases body and mouth-feel.


About Permata Gayo

This coffee is one that is sourced through the green bean buying co-op that we are a member of.  Cooperative Coffees has been involved with Permata Gayo since 2008.  This is a perfect example of the long term relationships that we, and Cooperative Coffees take pride in.  


Here at DOMA, we are passionate about providing a sustainable lifestyle to our producing partners, and this is a perfect example of how we, and Coop Coffees, continue to accomplish this goal. This Coop was formed in 2006 and is made up of approximately 3,000 farmers.  The process of wet hulling coffee is one that is very specific to this region and Permata Gayo uses this process for all of their coffee.  This is what brings you that very woody and earthy flavor that is nuanced by subtle, but not very bright fruit notes. This coffee is a great option for drip, but it also makes a  great espresso, especially when paired with milk.

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Fall Signature Cocktail – The Grand Cru

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.46.28 AMIMG_1330-682x1024One of the best parts of my job is getting to go out into the field and visit accounts.  Casper Fry, a restaurant account located in Spokane’s up and coming Perry District, has a killer coffee program, as well as a highly touted bar menu.  Our Fall signature drink, The Grand Cru, is a creation of Curtis Day, Head Bartender at Casper Fry.  This is an award winning drink, which took home 1st place at the Tito’s Vodka Cocktail Competition last year.  My favorite part about this cocktail is how balanced it is.  Most coffee cocktails or correttos are very coffee dominant; the Grand Cru gives you just a hint of coffee on the finish at the back of the palate.


2 oz of Tito’s Vodka

1/8 oz of St. Germain

1/8 oz of Drambuie

2 dashes of Lavender Bitters

1 Bar Spoon of Honey

12-18 Whole DOMA coffee beans

Lemon Rind


Add Honey and lemon rind; gently press it with a muddler (do not muddle, just press to release oils).  Add Tito’s Vodka and DOMA Coffee beans to glass; let steep for a few minutes.  Lastly, add St. Germain, Drambuie and Lavender Bitters.  Top with ice and stir. Strain and serve in a Coupé with a lemon twist or sprig of lavender.286518_294125784033843_1885137333_o

Casper Fry is located in Spokane’s South Perry District at 928 S. Perry Street Spokane, WA 99201. The restaurant is the brain child of mother-son team, Deb Green and Benjamin Poffenroth.  Deb is also the owner of the Downtown Spokane staple, Madeline’s Café and Patisserie.

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