“We are committed to knowing our customers individually and interacting with them on a regular basis in order to assure that we are meeting their needs to the best of our abilities.” This quote is from the Hood River Coffee Co. website. It’s a very simple statement, but one that really means so much to us since we have a similar commitment to our own customers. And this is a very true statement about how Mark and Peggy Hudon, owners of Hood River Coffee Co., do business. Mark and Peggy provide the kind of genuinely nice and personalized service that makes us really want to do business with them, not to mention the quality coffee they produce. Mark and Peggy started Hood River Coffee Co. in 1990. They were living in San Francisco when they first decided they wanted to start a business producing gourmet coffees. Hood River became the logical choice given the rising tourism market as well their own passion for the outdoors. Their mission with Hood River Coffee Co. is and has always been to provide the freshest and most flavorful coffee at a reasonable price. They roast coffee only as needed on a daily basis for delivery around the Gorge and to a few accounts in Portland and outside of Oregon. Their coffee can be found in restaurants, drive thru espresso businesses, business offices and grocery stores, as well as retail sales through the internet. Mark takes the roasting process very seriously, making daily adjustments for weather variations like air pressure, density and humidity, which affect the consistency of the roast. They use only the highest quality Arabica beans from around the world and additional adjustments are made for each batch of beans based on moisture content, size and age of the beans prior to roasting. He keeps careful records of the roasting time and temperature of every roast to obtain consistent results for each client’s coffee. Not only do Mark and Peggy take their responsibility to their local community very seriously, but they are committed to giving back to the countries that produce coffee for export and they have established some special connections to Honduras. Two years ago Peggy traveled to Honduras to teach classes on coffee roasting and cupping to local entrepreneurs and also was able to share her experiences starting Hood River Coffee Company with Mark 13 years ago. While there, she met a group of women called Las Mujeres Cooperativa from the small, remote village of La Cañada. These women were buying coffee beans from the wholesalers and drying, hulling and roasting them to sell at market, using none of the fancy equipment used by coffee producers in the U.S. Check out this video showing the methods used by the women. Peggy’s experience with these women sparked a desire to help them improve their knowledge base and help them in their quest to establish a sustainable livelihood. The result – these incredibly cool messenger bags made from re-purposed burlap coffee bags. All proceeds from the bags are going directly to the Las Mujeres Cooperativa. Upcycling at it’s best! Not only did the messenger bags win “The People’s Choice Award” at the 2012 Specialty Coffee Association Convention, but last December Peggy returned to Honduras with $1500 in revenue earned for the women generated through bag sales. The money was used to purchase a piece of equipment used to mill the dried coffee beans to remove the hull prior to roasting. Previously the women had been using what was essentially a large mortar and pestle to remove the hulls (seriously, watch the video!). What we love about this is Hood River Coffee Co.’s desire to find a way of giving back, however small of a contribution it may seem to be when you look at the worldwide coffee industry. To these women from a small village in Honduras, the contribution is huge. We have great respect for their efforts and that makes us feel even better about serving their products to you, our customers.
We recently took a road trip up to check out the cider scene on the Olympic peninsula. Specifically, we wanted to check out Finnriver, a 33 acre organic farm and artisan cidery located in Chimicum, WA, near Port Townsend on the eastern tip of the peninsula. We’ve been offering a selection of cider from Finnriver for about a year now and in that time have become huge fans. If you are a cider drinker you’ve probably tried either the Sparkling Pear, Dry-Hopped or Black Current offerings from Finnriver. We have – and we love them all. We were curious to check out where these tasty ciders come from. We were drawn to Finnriver products not just because of their ciders, but also because of their commitment to sustainablility. They are committed to sustainable land stewardship through organic production, conservation easements, renewable energy, salmon safe certification, habitat restoration, and community partnerships. At the tasting room we got to taste through the whole line-up as well as seasonal offerings. We particularly enjoyed the Fire Barrel Cider; cider aged in fire charred Kentucky bourbon barrels (you’ll have to visit the tasting room for that one. Limited production means limited distribution). In addition to the handcrafted hard ciders, Finnriver also produces spirited fruit wines, including a very tasty port-style apple wine. Check out their website for a listing of all their offerings. Everyone at Finnriver was incredibly friendly. One of the owners, Crystie Kisler met us with so much enthusiasm and took the time to show us around their bottling facility, where there happened to be a crew bottling that day. We also walked around the farm (would love to see it in the spring and summer months!) visited with the pigs and checked out the crates of apples waiting to be converted into tasty goodness. We had a really great visit. Finnriver is a collaborative effort by family and friends working together for a common goal – living off the land, with responsibility to the land, it’s wildlife and their community. We are proud to offer their ciders at Sixth Street Bistro. Please come by and try some of their cider and if you are ever visiting the Olympic Peninsula, make sure you take the time to stop at the Finnriver tasting room!
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