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What makes Spirit Mountain so special?
Spirit Mountain is a sustainable agro-forestry project, with eco-tourism, forestry, environmental and university research components whose profits directly benefit cutting edge educational initiatives in the Dominican Republic.

Why a certification is important?
Certifications are important because they promote a certain level of accountability and a standardization of expectations. Certifying organizations, their auditors and field technicians do not however guarantee that the farmer or coop is actually abiding by all the rules. That is why it is so important to develop “direct trade” relationships with the farmers. Certifications can be very expensive and many small farmers can not afford the additional expenses incurred by the certifying process...though they may be following the “spirit” of the certification.

What is so special about the Smithsonian “Bird Friendly” certification?
As tropical forests are cut down and cleared to make way for rapidly expanding urban development and farming, migratory birds loose their their winter habitat, endangering their future survival. Coffee plantations managed organically, under diverse shade canopies are quickly becoming favorite winter stopping off points for a host of migratory species. The Smithsonian Institute created the Bird Friendly certification to help promote and celebrate the value of shade grown coffee for the preservations of migratory birds some of which migrate from as far away as Alaska.

What does it mean that Spirit Mountain is an “Ecological Reserve”?
There are more than 200 tree species found within the 135 hectare reserve, many of which are endemic to the island of Hispañola. 21 migratory birds call Spirit Mountain home for the winter. Hispañola has the highest level of endemism in the Caribbean, and 25 endemic species of birds can be observed at Spirit Mountain. In addition to these 46 species of endemic and migratory birds, 26 other resident birds find solace at Spirit Mountain. In terms of bio-diversity, Spirit Mountain is a treasure, that must be managed with great care, especially considering the fact that the plantation is also an experiment in agro-forestry and research site for students from elementary schools to post graduate university programs.

What is so important about Spirit Mountain coffee being grown organically? Organic refers to the manner in which something is grown, specifically without the use of chemical fertilizers. Arabic coffee is generally grown on the sides of relatively steep tropical mountains, receiving large amounts of rain. In the past, coffee was traditionally grown under the multi storied shade canopies of native forests. Once we discovered that we could cut the forests down, and apply chemical/mineral fertilizers to the coffee plants, production would increase by more than 100%. Additionally, insects and weeds could also be managed efficiently with chemical pesticides and herbicides. What we didn’t realize at first was that the rain quickly washed a large percentage of the chemicals into the streams, poisoning aquatic wildlife habitat and rendering potable water supplies undrinkable. Without the continuing introduction of decaying organic material found on forests floors, soils eventually became all but useless. These “conventionally” (non – organic) managed plantations also become inhospitable for insects and thus birds no longer foraged for food and were rarely seen. Organically managed coffee plantations cultivated under divers shade canopies are good news for the environment, guarantee clean potable water supplies, provide ample food for birds, maintain rich fertile soils and promise a sustainable future for generations to come.

What is the difference between “Estate Grown” and non estate grown coffee?
Estate grown coffee specifically refers to coffee grown within the geographic confines of a plantation. When you purchase Spirit Mountain Estate Grown coffee, you are guaranteed that the coffee was grown and harvested at Spirit Mountain.

What is the difference between the various varieties of Arabic coffee beans?
Different coffee beans have different flavors. The two main varieties of coffee are divided into Arabic and Robusta, Arabica providing the more popular, flavorful and smooth cup. Robusta are traditionally grown closer to sea level, Arabica being grown at higher elevations. Within the Arabica family of coffee, there are a multitude of different strains and much opinions as to which provides the best flavor. Caturra makes up the majority of the Spirit Mountain’s Arabica plants, though Tipica can be found throughout the upper regions of the plantation. In 2012, Bourbon plants were introduced, in an effort to improve the cup.

Why is so special about coffee grown at higher elevations?
The slower a coffee bean ripens, the more complex and interesting the coffee will taste. Slowness in the ripening process is a product of geographic location, the quality of the shade canopy, and elevation. The higher the elevation, the slower a coffee bean will ripen. Because Spirit Mountain is located on an island, enjoying more consistent temperatures and rain fall all year long, and because the plantation is located high in the mountains, the coffee develops a smooth, rich flavor.

What is so special about coffee grown under shade?
Farmers committed to growing coffee under a divers, multi-level canopy of tropical hardwoods are few and far between. Today, the vast majority of coffee is still grown in the “conventional” manner, under full sun, utilizing chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, poisoning streams and toxifying the environment. Growing coffee organically, under shade, using only organic products, ultimately results in a much lower yield, and less profit per acre. As pressure to produce more agricultural products per acre due to population explosions and growing middle classes around the globe, the need to protect the environment and grow food organically becomes even more important...and expensive. Coffee is a plant that naturally thrives under shade and though a coffee plant will produce less coffee per annually, it will live far longer and be more healthy. It is up to the consumer to demand that agricultural products are grown in sustainable ways, and be willing to pay a premium, in order to provide much needed incentives to farmers who are committed to these practices.

Why “Direct Trade” is the best way to do business?
Direct Trade is the best guarantee and method of accountability that what the farmer says he is doing is actually what he is doing. This relationship also maximizes that more of the price paid for the coffee actually gets to the farmer. Coffee farmers tend to be among the poorest farmers on the globe, and with coffee being the top food commodity traded and most widely enjoyed beverage around the globe, there is no justifiable reason that these farmers live in abject poverty, with little to no access to education and basic health care. When a roaster or coffee shop engages a farmer directly, this benefits everyone, and offers a direct link between the consumer and those growing the beans. Long term relationships with the farmers ultimately translates to change for the better.

What is so special about Spirit Mountain’s Rain Forest Alliance certification?
Spirit Mountain was the first coffee plantation in the Caribbean to become certified with the Rain Forest Alliance. This is a testimony, not only to our commitment to the environment and sustainable agricultural practices, but also to how we take care of our employees and the community where Spirit Mountain is located. Providing potable drinking water to the many families that live in La Angostura de Manabao and our commitment to educational reform both in Manabao and Jarabacoa are both reasons why Spirit Mountain is an exemplary member of the Rain Forest Alliance family. For more information about the Rain Forest Alliance, please check them out on the web.

Why is it important that Spirit Mountain is a founding member of the National Network for Private Protected Areas of the Dominican Republic?
As Spirit Mountain leads the Dominican Republic in practicing sustainable Agro-Forestry and balancing the production of an agricultural product within an environmentally sensitive area with incredible biodiversity. We must help to establish progressive environmental policy and lead others in changing their farming practices within similar areas.

What else is grown at Spirit Mountain?
Spirit Mountain is not just a coffee plantation. Though coffee is the primary agricultural product grown at Spirit Mountain, Avocado, macadamia and all varieties of citrus are also cultivated. “Exotic” varieties such as grapes, black berries raspberries, blueberries, pears, peaches, apples and plumbs are also under experimental cultivation.

How do I arrange a visit to Spirit Mountain?
We love visitors!! Just fill out the Estancia Natura at Spirit Mountain reservation page or contact us if your interested in visiting the plantation.

How can I work at Spirit Mountain?
Spirit Mountain is a working coffee plantation as well as an eco-tourism site called Estancia Natura. If you speak some Spanish or are willing to learn, as working volunteer stay at Spirit Mountain can be both rewarding and educational. Come during the harvest months (December – March) and you can participate in the harvest, picking coffee with the locals. If you would like to work during the “off season”, you will most probably be involved with planting coffee or trees. If your interests are more geared to tourism, you can help develop hiking and mountain biking trails. For the more skilled folks, you an help us build tree houses, bridges and elevated paths.

How do I study at Spirit Mountain? Students from the following universities have completed master’s thesis work or university level internships at Spirit Mountain. Texas A&M university, United states; Technical University of Munich, Germany; University Hamburg, Germany; University of Toronto, Canada If your interested in using Spirit Mountain as your locating for doing a master’s thesis or would like to do an internship, please contact us!

How can I get a sample of Spirit Mountain green beans?
If your a roaster, coffee shop...or simply an individual interested in obtaining green beans, just contact us! We’ll get a sample in the mail to you ASAP! If you would like to order in bulk, we send our coffee out in 50 pound burlap sacks. We can either drop ship smaller shipments via mail from one of our partners, or we can ship directly to you from the DR.

What is the process for importing Spirit Mountain green beans to the US?
Direct Trade is by far the best way to do business, and with the availability of fast communication and more open trade between the Americas, there is no reason why everyone isn’t doing business directly with the farmers and coops. If your interested in buying coffee directly from Spirit Mountain, the following is a brief explanation of the process. Contact Spirit Mountain with inquiry about current pricing and availability.
Once quantity and price are agreed upon, we will begin to prepare your order. It usually takes about month to get the order to you from the time the order is officially placed if we are shipping via air.

We can ship lots of 1,000 pounds or more. This is our minimum order, due to the cost of preparing the order. If you would like less coffee, we can have a local partner send you a couple sacks of green beans.

For smaller shipments, less than 15,000 pounds, air shipping is recommended.
If your interested in shipping amounts in excess of 15,000 pounds, the cost for shipping via container may prove to be cost effective.
Shipping via air will cost about US$.70 per pound, and will go to the nearest international airport.

Will I need a broker to import Coffee?
For shipments into the United States with a value of more than US$2,000 you will need a broker. A broker will generally charge approximately US$580 per import and is divided in the following manner If you need a broker, we can put you in contact with a broker that can manage your coffee shipment the following fees are generalizations and may differ slightly..
                      Duty fee of about      US$50.00
                      Service handling fee US$150.00
                      Custom Bonds 3 X Value (FDA) = approximately US$300.00
                      Forms and messenger fees = US$80.00

What will I need in terms of documentation to import Coffee?
We will send you all the documents you will need to retrieve the coffee.
FDA Prior Notice form
Commercial Invoice from Spirit Mountain
Phytosanitary Certificate from the ministry of Agriculture in the DR
Airway Bill for the Shipper – Continental Airlines
Inspection Certificate from CODOCAFE

What should I do in preparation to receive the coffee on the US side prior to shipping?
Be sure to coordinate with a broker and familiarize yourself with the process prior to us shipping the coffee. If for what ever reason the coffee is delayed in customs at the airport, the fees for storing the coffee can be very high, in the range of more than US$100 per day.

How much do Spirit Mountain green beans cost?
Our 2013 price is US$3.30 per pound FOB. Spirit Mountain coffee stands among the best tasting specialty coffees in the world. In addition to our environmental focus and Organic and Rain Forest Alliance Certifications, we also invest heavily in educational reform by supporting the Doulos Discovery School and other educational initiatives in the region. Spirit Mountain coffee prices are not in any way tied to the NYSE commodities pricing for this reason. Our partners pay a premium for Spirit mountain coffee, because they believe in the same things we do, and pass these ideals on to their customers. We are committed to not raise our prices more than 10% a year, in hopes to ensure price stability for our customers. Our pending 2014 price is US$3.65 FOB.

How do I order roasted coffee from Spirit Mountain?
Visit any one of our partners shops or you can order online. See our partner’s page for their websites.

Why should I purchase coffee directly from a coffee farmer?
In the past, the majority of the profits within the coffee industry went to the middle men, or the brokers. Coffee farmers are historically among the poorest farmers in the world. Purchasing straight from the farmer, you can pass on the profits that generally went to the brokers straight tot he farmers. Do not make the mistake of assuming that Direct Trade is a way of saving money. Look at it as a way to ensure that the farmer gets most of the value. Direct Trade also opens doors to get directly involved in the communities where the farmers live, helping with healthcare and educational initiatives. Visiting the farms where your coffee is grown, and participating in the lives of your partner farmers is both enriching and very educational.

How many coffee beans are in a cup of coffee? --> 50 beans.

How many standard 12onz cups of coffee are there in a pound of coffee?
There are approximately 2,500 beans in a pound of coffee, thus a pound of whole beans yields about 50 cups of joe.

How much does a coffee farmer get from a typical $2 cup of coffee?
A typical coffee farmer receives less than a nickel ($0.05) per cup of coffee.

What is the difference between a light Roast and a dark roast?
Look at coffee the same way you might look at beef. You would never consider cooking a prime cut of aged beef well done. It goes the same with coffee. The better quality the coffee bean, the lighter you can roast it, thus taking full advantage of all the aroma and taste of the coffee. For those companies that advertise and promote Dark Roast, what your purchasing is the roast, not the quality of the bean. The darker the roast, the more burned the coffee. Many truly love the darker roasts, just as some people prefer a well done steak. For those who are really into their coffee, a lightly roasted, organically grown high mountain bean is the best.

Why should I buy whole bean coffee instead of ground coffee?
Because whole bean coffee holds the aromatic compounds that make the difference between fresh and stale coffee. Once the bean is ground, most of the aroma escapes ~15 minutes. If the best beans (lightly roasted and fresh of course) are ground just prior to brewing and are ground to match your preferred brewing method, the result is the most flavorful taste you can find!

Why should I buy my coffee often?
Once coffee is roasted, the shelf life is about a month, with the best window being between day 3 and 2 weeks. If your in the habit of storing your coffee for months on end, your not enjoying the best that coffee has to offer. Don’t assume that because it is vacuumed packed that it compares to freshly roasted coffee. Locate a local coffee shop or roaster that can guarantee that tour purchasing freshly roasted coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

Myths & FAQ's

What makes Spirit Mountain so special?

Why a certification is important?

What is so special about the Smithsonian “Bird Friendly” certification?

What does it mean that Spirit Mountain is an “Ecological Reserve”?

What is so important about Spirit Mountain coffee being grown organically?

What is the difference between “Estate Grown” and non estate grown coffee?
What is the difference between the various varieties of Arabic coffee beans?
Why is so special about coffee grown at higher elevations?
What is so special about coffee grown under shade?
Why “Direct Trade” is the best way to do business?
What is so special about Spirit Mountain’s Rain Forest Alliance certification?
Why is it important that Spirit Mountain is a founding member of the National Network for Private Protected Areas of the Dominican Republic?
What else is grown at Spirit Mountain?
How do I arrange a visit to Spirit Mountain?
How can I work at Spirit Mountain?
How do I study at Spirit Mountain?
How can I get a sample of Spirit Mountain green beans?
What is the process for importing Spirit Mountain green beans to the US?
Will I need a broker to import Coffee?
What will I need in terms of documentation to import Coffee?
What should I do in preparation to receive the coffee on the US side prior to shipping?
How much do Spirit Mountain green beans cost?
How do I order roasted coffee from Spirit Mountain?
Why should I purchase coffee directly from a coffee farmer?
How many coffee beans are in a cup of coffee?
How many standard 12onz cups of coffee are there in a pound of coffee?
How much does a coffee farmer get from a typical $2 cup of coffee?
What is the difference between a light Roast and a dark roast?
Why should I buy whole bean coffee instead of ground coffee?
Why should I buy my coffee often?

 

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