We Fairway folk know coffee. And we ought to since we have been buying, roasting and selling the stuff for 80 years. It is a crucial segment of what Fairway is and what we do, so it matters to us where and who it comes from, how it is harvested and how it affects the environment. The result? Farm-to-table coffee. From the grower, to Fairway, to your cup. Or mug. We like a mug.
Everyone and their madre and padre has one of those new-fangled, single-serve Keuring® machines. WELL, NOT QUITE. Neither I, nor my Mom, Dad, Benny, Steve, Hannah, Richie, Ryan or Armie would ever have entertained the notion of owning one of those infernal devices — too wasteful, too fast-and-loose with the environment, not enough regard for the farmers and workers…too many unaddressed issues.
Unfortunately, we know too much to be snookered by the sheer convenience and anti-social behavior that is the preparation of a single, self-serving cuppa-Joe-fer-one. With noses held high we would routinely debate amongst ourselves about the optimum blend, the proper grind, brewing method, water temperature. . .each of which is crucial: We obviously have a deep passion for our coffee.
I myself am a Fairway to Heaven devotee, my work-a-day-world French Press or good-old reliable Drip. But my Saturday and Sunday mornings belong to Chemex. Those cups of coffee are the sweet reward that epitomizes weekend. The Chemex requires patience, promotes lingering, and however you measure it, increases my enjoyment. Benny Lanfranco, the master of Fairway Market’s Coffee Department, counseled me long ago about letting the coffee simply do its thing naturally.
On September 16th, 2012, a remarkable thing happened. The patent on the K-Cup® expired. It was our opportunity to try to do the single-serve coffee thing our way so that we could feel noble as well as proud of something we chose to put our name on. Our team dug in with Benny. We identified and defined all the factors that would be important to us and to our customers. We chose to work only with the actual coffee growers.
“Boots on the ground” as Benny would often say. “You can’t understand coffee unless you understand the land and its people. That is all there is to it.” Easy for Benny to say. Now came the hard part: making his wish list a reality. Well, let me tell you — we did — and then some.
After months of research, countless emails, phone calls, meetings and a million-and-one cups of OneCup coffee samples we met our equal — a hands-on partner with a new methodology for production: using a mesh basket through a recycled plastic ring (made of a vegetable-based solid) giving us–cue the drumroll please–a single-serve coffee pod that is 97.33% bio-degradable. Land-fill, begone!
Our team set off for parts unknown in Panama. Armando Gonzales, our diffident, yet charming Creative Director, joined Benny for this life-altering journey. For Armando the trip was riveting. He remembers the experience every time he holds a mug of coffee. The terrain is rugged and dauntingly steep, and “the sheer manual, painstaking labor that is required to make one single cup of coffee transformed my mindset about it forever. Perhaps I took for granted the arduousness of farming as well as the hidden brutal routine of those people whose entire existence is defined by the effort to cultivate and harvest coffee.”
Benny and Armando managed to visit not just a single farm here, but several. They spent the best part of the week in these remote, steep and hidden groves, picking coffee beans with the locals, breaking bread with their families, and trying to ingenuously acquaint themselves with our new partners.
Unlike neighboring farms they visited, these estancias were equipped with proper quality living conditions – good housing with nice bathrooms and kitchens. There are schools for the children, and medical care is provided for the families. Wages are fair, and are paid directly to the farmers, rather than simply funneled into the coffers of an organization that mistakenly lists the price paid for a pound of coffee. This is what makes our coffee ‘Fair and Directly Traded’. Heretofore it has been virtually impossible to guarantee that that a “fair” per-pound price really does trickle down to the actual farmer. But judging by what Armando and Benny saw and subsequently reported, it sure doesn’t seem that way. It appears we have found and are supporting an endeavor that makes all the difference in our mind.
“This experience really offered pause and reflection.” Armando relates. “As a Filipino I felt ashamed having come from a world of the same such poverty. I realize now how rapidly I became accustomed to the access and instant gratification that is life in New York City.
Benny had finally sourced a product that he felt worthy of the Fairway Market brand. These were robust flavors from beans picked at their syzygy, and that were then roasted with the scrutiny of a masterly and practiced eye until every batch and every bean achieved its maximum value and purpose. The Fairway One Cups are the highest quality at the lowest price possible. We are immensely proud to present our 100% Arabica, Kosher-certified, One Cup Single-Serve Coffee Pods in the following flavors: Organic Original Blend, Organic Decaf Blend, Organic Dark Roast, Supreme Blend, Italian Roast and Hazelnut.
Needless to say, all kidding aside, we now have a Keurig® machine in our office. Every single one of us previously described as pooh-poohing, dismissive nay-sayers, has been converted. We have all but ceased running across the parking lot to the Harlem Fairway for our hot coffee. We now avidly anticipate the Fairway One Cup.
Although I remain loyal to my Fairway To Heaven on the home front (grind #9, in case you really do care) my days are now filled with the flavor and variety that our Fairway Market One Cups offer — rich, delicious and foolproof each and every time. Save money, save time, save the environment and make a difference. Choose Fairway Market One Cups and join Armando in reflecting upon the commitment that went into your morning mug. “For me the ceremony of brewing a single-serve cup is a reminder that life is good, and I should appreciate it. With each sip I reflect.”