Questions we're asked frequently .....
Do you sell fair trade coffee?
Yes, but our fair trade offerings may change from time to time. Check the Price List page to see what is and isn't fair trade in the current offerings. Normally our Sumatra is fair trade but from time to time it may not be fair trade because of availability issues. The Colombia Mesa de los Santos (or Don Telmo) is not fair trade because it's a single estate and not part of cooperative. Besides, Oswaldo gets much more than the fair trade base price anyway. We do not have an agreement with TransFairUSA who own the well known fair trade logo and Fair Trade Certified ™ mark, so we cannot label our products with them. We strongly support the principle that the farmers who grow the coffee should be paid a fair price for it, both on humanitarian grounds as well as economic ones. If the farmer isn't receiving an adequate return on his investment and labor, one day he won't be there growing the coffee. In an ideal world, farmers who grow the best coffee would be able to sell it to roasters at the highest prices. In the meantime, fair trade does help the farmers. There are also efforts underway to organize auctions of particular origins to generate higher prices for the better coffees.
Is your coffee shade grown?
Most of it is. Certainly coffees from Sumatra and Ethiopia are, as well as most organics. Central/South Americans may or may not be but our Colombia Mesa is. The general move back to shade-grown varieties (away from more recently developed ones that can tolerate full sun) should in the long term be beneficial to the quality of the coffee as well as to migratory bird populations that might use these trees. Unfortunately, some political-correctness seems to have crept in. There is no accepted standard for what "shade-grown" means, and there is disagreement on whether some "bird-friendly" plantations actually help any of the birds. There are, however, groups such as the Smithsonian and Rain Forest Alliance who are doing valuable work in these areas; check our Links page for these and other organizations.
Do you take credit cards?
We now accept credit cards through PayPal. You can use their shopping cart and check out system, and pay with your credit card or your PayPal account, though it isn't necessary to have a PayPal account. You also can still simply email your order and we'll invoice you with your coffee shipment as before.
Where do you get your coffee?
From green coffee brokers. These are companies that are in the business of importing green coffee into the US from the countries of origin -- though they are actually resellers, not brokers. They visit the producing countries, meet the farmers, go to the auctions, make the deals. Coffee they buy is shipped in container lots to the US, mostly through the ports of New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Most specialty roasters large and small work through brokers.
Should I store my coffee in the refrigerator?
No. The main culprit in the staling of coffee is oxygen in the air. For up to a week, it's fine to leave coffee at room temp, but it should be tightly sealed to keep out air. For longer periods, put it in the freezer, again sealed airtight. Loosely sealed coffee does make a great deodorizer for your refrigerator.
I'm in town/coming to Asheville today, can I pick up some coffee at the Arcade?
It depends. We roast everything to order, so if you haven't ordered it, we haven't roasted it. Coffee is perishable after roasting, so we don't roast coffee to put on the shelf.
Is your decaf water processed?
Yes, but it's NOT Swiss Water™. It is a natural process without all those harsh chemicals. I have to admit I'm still a fan of CO2, but with Royal Coffee's Select decaf, they select the green beans for processing, and that means the decaf starts out as a coffee of top quality which comes through in the final decafed cup.
Do you decaffeinate the coffee yourself?
No. Roasting can be done on almost any scale, but decaffeination is done only in large industrial plants.
I'm opening a coffee shop, but I don't know anything about coffee. Where should I start?
Join the Specialty Coffee Association (SCAA) and go to the next conference. You'll find every imaginable resource available to you, from suppliers to training to equipment, as well as kindred souls with the same questions and problems.
I'm opening a coffee shop, what kind of equipment should I get?
It depends on how big the shop will be, how many kinds of coffee you'll serve, how you'll serve it, and many other things. Remember that the cost of your coffee brewing equipment will be a small fraction of the cost of starting a business, and that it will produce the product by which your customers will judge you. It's not the place to skimp.
If I buy coffee from you, will you give me the equipment for free?
No. And neither will anyone else. The price of "free" equipment is built into the cost of the coffee. You'll pay a higher price for the coffee, or you'll get a lower quality coffee to serve your customers, or you'll get inferior equipment, or some combination of those. Restaurants please take note. And look at this article by Tim Castle for why "Most coffee served in restaurants is absolute dreck.".
Do you lease espresso machines?
No. Leasing companies lease equipment, and unless you're leasing an awful lot of stuff, almost any other method of financing is cheaper.
My espresso machine doesn't work, can you fix it?
We'll try; we're very slow, but we'll attempt to get you back in business as soon as possible. We stock a few parts for FETCO brewers, but there are too many different brands and models to stock parts for them all considering we're not in the service business. Parts for most major brands are, however, usually available with lead times of a couple of days to a week. The key is proper maintenance so you'll have fewer unexpected breakdowns.