Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Power To The People

By Sharon Festinger


Bringing high quality selections to the general public at reasonable prices was one of the wine industry’s biggest achievements in the 20th century.
Now, coffee lovers can get in on the action too with Citizen Bean, a $20 a month artisanal coffee club based in San Francisco that offers quality brew with character…and conscience. Club members receive a monthly pound of sustainable, artisan-roasted U.S. coffee that’s fair trade, shade grown or organic, if not all three. The socially responsible little bundle is also accompanied by hand-wrapped goodies and unique finds, like complementary food samples to pair with the Joe or coffee accessories to help make it (think organic chocolate or French sugar, brew timers or coffee spoons).

But blasé beanophiles need not apply: the company takes the product seriously, educating members on a different bean varieties and their unique nuances and complexities, and working with small-batch roasters whose priorities are quality and freshness without sacrificing the environment. CB’s roasters go beyond the minimum certification requirement so the growers get at least their due. (you might call this fairer trade.) To add to this mix, beans are shipped within two days of roasting, which means they haven’t been going stale while waiting their fate in the grinder. For information, go to

- Sharon Festinger
(Originally published March 2008)