The Four Keys to The Perfect Cup of Coffee (Giveaway Closed)


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but in case you’ve forgotten: Coffee is My Religion. I say that only slightly kidding. Working for a decade in the specialty coffee industry in a number of different roles can do that to a person. I’ve experimented with giving it up completely, but ultimately decided that there will always be space in my life for coffee. It’s just too good to give up! The end.

One of the things you learn early on when you work in coffee for so long are the 4 Steps to The Perfect Cup of Coffee:

*Proportion — No cup of coffee will taste good if you don’t have the right proportion of grinds to water. There are lots of opinions on what is the perfect amount (2TBS per cup is my preference) but if you have ever tasted watered down mud that someone has called coffee, then you understand how important proportion is. I like my cup to be able to double as rocket fuel. 🙂

*Water — Did you know that 80% of your coffee’s flavor comes from the water you use? Don’t believe me? Use a metallic tasting water. BLECH!!!! And then scrub your tongue raw because, um…NASTY! The quality of your water is important when you are trying to brew a good cup. I’m not talking Holy Water here, but something that doesn’t have a flavor — so the natural flavor of the beans can shine through.

*Grind — The way your coffee should be ground depends on how you are going to brew it. There is no one-size-fits-all grind. (If you take ANYTHING from this post, please take that!) The grind affects how fast or slow the water moves through the extraction process. With a quick/pressurized extraction (like say an espresso machine) you need a finer grind, but if you were going to brew in something more relaxed like a french press where the coffee and water get to marinate together for a few minutes, then a coarser grind will do. But let’s talk about the most important, shall we:

*Freshness/Bean Quality— Freshness is obvious — please don’t drink that coffee that has been ground up and sitting on the shelf at Home Goods for the last year, ok? But I want to talk a little bit more about quality because all coffee beans are not created equal. Something that A LOT of us Paleo folk talk about when discussing what we eat is buying the best quality food we can; food that is humanely raised. Grass fed beef, pastured chicken, sustainable seafood — you know that drill. But I think it’s also an important conversation to have when you think about the coffee you are drinking. Where did it come from? Who is buying it? How was it harvested?


This October, Green Mountain Coffee® is celebrating Fair Trade Month through the “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade” campaign. I was asked if I wanted to participate in it, and I happily, HAPPILY accepted the opportunity to talk about this topic because I think it is a label that you hear often, but might not really know what it means.

Here is some scoop:

Q: What is Fair Trade? A: Fair Trade is a global movement to help improve the lives of farmers and their families. It provides a fair price to coffee farmers, resulting in a great cup of coffee and a better quality of life in coffee-farming communities.

Q. How does Fair Trade Certified coffee benefit coffee farmers? A: Most family coffee farmers live in remote locations and lack access to credit, so they are vulnerable to middlemen who offer cash for their coffee at a fraction of its value. Fair Trade assures coffee farmers a fair price for unroasted, green coffee. Fair Trade also links farmers directly with coffee companies like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (“GMCR”), creating long-term sustainability.

Q: What makes Fair Trade Certified coffee high quality coffee? A: Through Fair Trade, farmers earn better incomes, allowing them to hold onto their land and invest in quality. This results in great coffee for consumers.

Q. Why is Green Mountain Coffee committed to Fair Trade? A: Fair Trade is one critical way that Green Mountain Coffee provides consumers high quality coffee while helping to ensure a better quality of life for coffee farmers and their communities.


photo For part of that campaign I am hosting a fun giveaway that any coffee lovers among you will be interested in. Obviously, by purchasing Fair Trade Certified Green Mountain Coffee, you help coffee farmers receive a fair price for their beans, which means a great cup of coffee and a better quality of life in coffee-farming communities — and to bring more attention to the issue, this fall, award-winning musician Kelly Clarkson is teaming up with Green Mountain Coffee to share her experience visiting a coffee farm in Peru and the importance of Fair Trade. You can follow along with her adventures here .

In celebration of Fair Trade Month, Green Mountain Coffee is introducing Fair Trade Certified™ Three Continent Blend, which combines the flavors and aromas of three continents in one harmonious Extra Bold blend. You can enter below to win a Keurig® Brewing System and a Green Mountain Coffee® gift basket! If you are interested in entering, leave a comment letting me know: Are you a coffee drinker, and if so, would you consider buying fair trade coffee? 

*For more info on Fair Trade and Green Mountain Coffee go to


Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 09/18/13-10/31/13.

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132 Responses to The Four Keys to The Perfect Cup of Coffee (Giveaway Closed)

  1. Scot Herrick says:

    I drink coffee and what I have drank has evolved. I moved to Seattle about ten years ago and stayed for six. During that time, because of Starbucks pervasive presence, I finally learned that different coffees had different tastes. And was exposed to fair trade coffee as well.

    Now living in Wisconsin, a state rich in farm-to-table food along with organics, we have the opportunity to buy from local coffee roasters, many who do only fair trade coffees. I just ordered 2.2 kilos of fair trade Costa Rican coffee and another decaf bag for my wife as well.

    The price is more. We don’t waste any coffee so it evens out. And the taste is much much better than the normal production run coffees.

  2. I moved in with a coffee snob in July, and since then my whole coffee repertoire has grown! I already buy mostly fair trade coffee but would be interested in trying this Green Mountain blend. My college’s dining hall used Green Mountain but I think that brew quality could be way better at home than in those big carafes!

  3. I’ve given up coffee before as well, but I just get so much joy from drinking it that I’ve decided it’s not worth abstaining. It also makes me happy to know that I’m supporting coffee farmers when I’m purchasing fair trade coffee. So in addition to the delicious caffeine buzz I get every morning, I also have the warm fuzzies from being so responsible and stuff. It’s a win/win. 😉

  4. Mindy says:

    I am a coffee drinker. I love it. I gave it up several years ago and it was such a sad time. But I have been back to drinking it since 2008 and I hope I never have to give it up again. I do buy fair trade coffee, so yes I would consider it. 😉

  5. Ally says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I definitely would (and do!) buy fair trade!

  6. Shannon says:

    I LOVE and LIVE OFF of coffee, especially as an EMT who works 13 hour shifts and is a nursing student! I was also an International Development major in college which meant lots of documentaries to make you feel bad about things you were blissfully unaware of in the world. “Black Gold” was one of them–if you’re not buying fair trade now, you will after watching this film.


  7. Chelsea W says:

    I drink coffee (almost) every day–it’s pretty much a requirement for a college student. Since I get some of my coffee at noon from my campus, they offer fair trade, so that’s a deal!

  8. Stephanie Cowart says:

    I absolutely drink coffee and I already buy fair trade. It’s important to me and worth the extra $$.

  9. Rhi says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I always, always buy fair trade coffee.

  10. Liz says:

    definitely a coffee, drinker, and I do buy fair trade coffee! I decided a while back to buy only fair trade coffee, chocolate, and spices – all things that I use a lot, and love! I’m not a stickler for it all the time (at restaurants, friends houses, and cafes), but I ‘m slowly asking more and more often.

  11. Saly says:

    I am a coffee drinker AND I do buy fair trade coffee. It’s good stuff.

  12. Amy B says:

    I cannot survive without my coffee, and it’s always fair trade. 🙂

  13. LKG says:

    I only buy fair trade coffee!

  14. steph says:

    Last semester I did a HUGE project on Fair Trade programs in Latin America. And what the research indicated is that Fair Trade doesn’t actually increase worker’s rights. I was SOOOO bummed by this! This doesn’t mean that I’ve written off FT products. But I do have some thoughts on how they can revamp their programming to increase the implementation of democratic principles and human rights. 😉

  15. Katie says:

    I am definitely a coffee (addict) and drink it every morning. I’ve never really tried fair trade, but it’s always been on my to-do list for the ethical reasons. This would be an awesome place to start! Thanks!

  16. dl says:

    My husband does lots of work with South America so he is able to bring me some high quality coffee from time to time(score!). We only buy fair trade!

  17. R says:

    I don’t drink coffee but I buy it for the household and do buy Fair Trade when it’s available.

  18. lauren says:

    If I can’t buy local, I buy fair trade. We have some fabulous local coffee in the Central Virginia area!

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I absolutely believe in buying fair trade coffee. Cool giveaway holly!

  20. Stacey says:

    I am obsessed with coffee too… I thank God for his most amazing creationg every morning (and often the afternoon). I also die a little inside when my husband passes up the freshly pressed fair trade coffee I make every morning for instant coffee (he is from Ireland, and that’s what he drank forever). Maybe if we win, I can win him over too!

  21. Emily T. says:

    I am DEFINITELY a coffee drinker! It’s comforting, and I love the taste (I drink my coffee black). I do try to purchase and drink Fair Trade Coffee when possible, so I would definitely be interested in trying the Green Mountain coffee.

  22. Dez says:

    In my younger days, I was never a coffee drinker. I just didn’t “need” it per se. I even worked at a local Starbucks, so I definitely have coffee knowledge. But in my old age (27 lol), and now having a state job… I have come to have a genuine relationship with the coffee God. The only place I actually consume coffee is my work and since I spend more hours here than anywhere else… that makes absolute sense. BUT in saying that, I am usually not the first one here. So the coffee is usually always made, and it is usually Bleh! Coffee grounds SHOULD NOT be in your coffee cup. LOL So we have recently discussed purchasing a Keurig, to make all of our lives more pleasant… SO I hope I win! LOL

  23. Carmel says:

    I always buy Fair Trade and organic coffee when possible. I also read that South American/single origin is the best in terms of low mold and toxins- do you think there’s truth to that? The best coffee I’ve ever had was a fair trade Ethiopian blend bought at a farmer’s market in Boston.

  24. Susan Hoover says:

    I am absolutely a coffee drinker, love the taste, the smell, the mugs, everything. I would also be very interested in fair trade coffee – and will look for it on my Keurig choices now.
    One question – I am about to embark on a Whole 30, what do you suggest in place of sweetener and creamer??

  25. Christy says:

    I am more certainly not a coffee drinker, I hate the stuff, even the smell turns me off. But my husband LOVES coffee. We try and buy fair trade coffee when we can.

  26. Cami Sebern says:

    Holly, we have a wonderful Fair Trade coffe shop here in Estes, called Kind Coffee. Come visit again when the flood waters have settled down and enjoy a cup with Cathy and I.

  27. Stacy says:

    I love coffee and already buy fair trade!

  28. Elena says:

    I love coffee and would love to buy fair trade coffee

  29. Laura says:

    I can’t survive without my morning coffee! I always look for fair trade; I’ve had Green Mountain and loved it.

  30. Olivia says:

    I am a coffee drinker…it’s how I survive nights with a newborn! I JUST had a cup of Green Mountain coffee, so yes I would drink fair trade coffee! 🙂

  31. Jenny says:

    I adore my coffee! I am a total believer in fair trade coffee and of course would and do drink it! 🙂

  32. Julianne says:

    Yes, I cannot start my day without a cup of coffee! I usually buy fair trade when I can.

  33. becky says:

    I love coffee and I would buy fair trade coffee.

  34. savychacha says:

    We have a Keurig at work and only have Green Mountain K-Cups stocked at all times! I look forward to my morning cup of coffee every day. It’s such a small thing but it makes me so happy. I think Fair Trade Coffee is important and will continue to support it!

  35. Natasha says:

    My husband and I are huge coffee drinkers! I love the idea of purchasing fair trade!

  36. Erica says:

    Coffee, yes, definitely yes. Yessssssssss. And I usually buy fair trade although I should try to be more conscious of it.

  37. Madeline says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I’ve bought fair trade coffee in the past. I don’t buy it exclusively but I feel like I’m helping others when I do buy it!

  38. Melissa h says:

    My husband totally wants a keurig and I’m too cheap so this would be awesome! We just buy our coffee beans at trader joes not even the fair trade options 🙁

  39. San says:

    I love, love, love coffee and I’d definitely consider buying fair trade… in fact, I sometimes do, just not consistently. I definitely agree about the 4 keys to coffee brewing. I came to my love of coffee pretty late (mid-twenties) and feel like I’ve been a bit of a coffee snob, because I’ll only drink it, if it’s GOOD coffee.

    Since my coffeemaker is just about to give out, this giveaway comes at a perfect time… a Keurig? Who wouldn’t want one of those! 🙂

  40. Gretchen says:

    I love coffee and made it a few weeks during a whole 30 before deciding coffee should stay in my life always. I usually buy fair trade.

  41. Sarah S says:

    I discovered my love for coffee while working shift work. Thank goodness I had a coffee snob boss who introduced me to what goes into a good cup of java! I’m now expecting my first child and attempted to quit cold turkey. That lasted about 5 months (made sure baby was developing ok!). Now I savor that one cup per day! We don’t own a keurig and I imagine it’ll get lots of use after baby arrives (expecting 3 Oct!). Thanks for promoting fair trade for our coffee farmers!

  42. Lisa Kerr says:

    My entire family loves and drinks all kinds of coffee! We love the idea of Fair Trade coffee and cant wait to try it!!

  43. Kate says:

    I am a huge coffee drinker- especially when school is in session. I haven’t been buying fair trade, but it’s been something I’ve felt like I should look into maybe now is the time!

  44. Laura Uschyk says:

    I have the occasional cup and would consider buying fair trade.

  45. Dee says:

    I am a coffee drink and would definitely consider buying free-trade. Not sure if Starbucks has it but I will definitely check out Green Mountain 🙂

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  47. Margaret Smith says:

    Yes, both my husband and I love our coffee and yes, we’d buy Fair Trade.
    Thanks so much.

  48. Teri says:

    I am definitely a coffee drinker and I would consider buying fair trade coffee!

  49. Chelsie says:

    I am a coffee LOVER and I only buy fair trade – green mountain if I’m getting k-cups but I try to buy local coffee at our farmer’s markets for fresh ground!

  50. Jessie C. says:

    I am a coffee drinker and would definitely consider buying fair trade coffee.
    tcarolinep at gmail dot com

  51. Jessie C. says:


  52. Amy Tong says:

    Great information and tips. yes, I’m a coffee drinker, and lover. 🙂 I would definitely buy fair trade coffee, thanks to your information.

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  53. Jennifer M says:

    I LOVE my coffee. Whenever I have access to Fair Trade coffee I try to choose this.

  54. Jennifer M says:

    I tweeted.

    Enter to win a Keurig system and Green Mountain gift pack. #SweepstakesEntry— Jennifer Monette (@MonetteJennifer) September 26, 2013

  55. Becky S says:

    I love coffee and I would consider buying fair trade as long as it wasn’t too expensive.

  56. Janice Cooper says:

    I’m not a coffee drinker. I’m more of a hot tea or hot cocoa person. I would love to win this for my mother-in-law. She loves coffee and would consider buying fair trade.

  57. Debra Lee says:

    Green Mountain is my coffee of choice!

  58. linh says:

    I do like coffee, mostly so I can drink something hot and sweet. I would buy fair trade coffee if it wasn’t too expensive.

  59. Tina M says:

    I love coffee and I would buy fair trade coffee if they taste good?!

  60. Nicole Larsen says:

    Yes, I am a coffee-a-holic! I look forward to my coffee every morning! I would definitely try Fair Trade Coffee 🙂

  61. tara pittman says:

    Mmm coffee and fair trade is good

  62. Debbie B says:

    my family loves coffee and we would definitely buy fair trade!

  63. KC says:

    I am a coffee lover and I buy fair trade for the most part, but i admit to getting lured over to non-fair trade coffee due to the flavors.

  64. Rebecca Graham says:

    Very much a coffee drinker and I would buy fair trade coffee.

  65. Ellie W says:

    I’m not a coffee drinker, but I love tea. My husband loves both, though. I would definitely consider buying Fair Trade.

  66. katherine newton says:

    I drink coffee every day and buy fair trade when I can!

  67. Giant Sis says:

    I’m a tea person, but I live with a husband who loves coffee! I’ll have to tell him to buy fair trade kinds when he chooses his coffee!

  68. Tabathia B says:

    Yes I drink coffee a few times a week and would try out fair trade

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

  69. Christine says:

    drink coffee everyday and I do buy fair trade coffee

  70. Jacob LaFountaine says:

    I’m not a big coffee drinker but I would drink fair trade if it tasted the best

  71. Angela M says:

    I am a coffee drinker. I LOVE coffee! I would definitely consider buying fair trade coffee.

    thisisme79 @ gmail dot com

  72. Joanna Allison says:

    I’m a coffee drinker and I buy fair trade coffee.

  73. Lisa V. says:

    I am a coffee drinker and would consider buying fair trade.

  74. Will R says:

    I’ve had fair trade and wasn’t disappointed. Love coffee.

  75. theodore esteghamat says:

    My mother is the coffee drinker and we would consider buying fair trade coffee.

  76. tina reynolds says:

    Yes I would buy fair trade and am very much a coffee drinker

  77. Kenia says:

    Yes, I’m a coffee drinker, every single day and I will consider buying fair trade coffee.

  78. Sarah Marshall says:

    I drink coffee, mostly iced. would be happy to buy Green Mountain or any Fair Trade certified brand. It’s a great way to support those whose livelihoods depend on a fair price for their coffee bean harvest.

  79. Tamar says:

    I’m not a serious coffee drinker but I absolutely am cognizant of fair trade coffee and I think it is a very important consideration.

  80. Cathy Truman says:

    Yes I love my coffee and yes I would buy Fair Trade

  81. Felicia says:

    I love coffee and I would pay extra for coffee, knowing it was evening playing fields

  82. Kayla says:

    I drink a lot of coffee and I’d definitely buy fair trade.

  83. Carolyn Daley says:

    I drink coffee on occasion and I would love to try Fair Trade Coffee because they provide fair prices to coffee farmers.

  84. Andrina G says:

    I would buy fair trade. I drink coffee.

  85. AmyBond says:

    All coffee drinkers in this house! We would consider buying fair trade

  86. Betty C says:

    I drink a lot of coffee and to be honest, I’m not terribly discriminating. That being said, my daughter found a new place that has the most amazing coffee I’ve ever had. I don’t know if it is fair trade (which I would always consider) but it is truly marvelous.

  87. joni says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I am fair game for Fair Trades!

  88. susan smoaks says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I do consider buying fair trade.

  89. deana c says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I do drink fair trade coffee already!

  90. Karen Drake says:

    I am a big coffee drinker and would consider buying Fair Trade coffee is the price is reasonable.

  91. kathy pease says:

    The first thing I do in the morning is start up the coffee maker.I love coffee and I would consider buying fair trade 🙂

  92. Pam OLeary says:

    I love coffee and I would most definitely buy fair trade.

  93. Kim Ripley says:

    I am a coffee drinker (3 cups a day) and I occasionally buy fair-trade.

  94. Sharon says:

    Yes, I love coffee, can’t imagine life without it. My coffee experience has evolved over the years and I am definitely open to fair trade.

  95. Tricia Andrews says:

    We only drink fair trade coffee in our house!

  96. Scott Martin says:

    I am not a coffee drinker but I drink Tea.

  97. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    I am a coffee drinker and I would definitely buy fair trade!

    pokergrl8 at

  98. Carol Mclemore says:

    I drink coffee, and yes, I would buy fair trade coffee

  99. Emily Morelli says:

    I am not much of a coffee drinker but I buy fair trade items when I can.

  100. Regina M says:

    Yes, and of course.

  101. Gianna says:

    Yes to both.

  102. Paige Chandler says:

    Yes I am and yes I would.

  103. HilLesha says:

    Fair trade is the only type of coffee that I buy. 🙂

  104. melissa Resnick says:

    i am a coffee drinkers and would def consider buying it

  105. i am a coffee drinker,and i would consider buying fair trade coffee.

  106. Carolyn G says:

    I drink coffee and I do buy fair trade

  107. Tracy L Davis says:

    I am a coffee drinker and would love to try fair trade coffee