Food Service & Agriculture, Retail, and Sustainability

Madcap Coffee ranks as finalist for Good Food Award

December 21, 2012
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Madcap Coffee ranks as finalist for Good Food Award
Madcap Coffee’s Las Aguas Altas, which means “the high waters,” is purchased from a farm located in San Pedro Necta, Guatemala. Courtesy Madcap Coffee

Madcap Coffee’s Las Aguas Altas from Guatemala is a finalist for the annual Good Food Award in the coffee category.

In its third year, the Good Food Awards acknowledge tasty, authentic and responsibly produced food and drink items in nine categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, pickles, preserves and spirits.

Four Michigan companies were chosen as 2013 Good Food Award finalists.

  • American Spoon, preserves category, six Michigan store locations
  • Journeyman Distillery, spirits category, Three Oaks
  • Madcap Coffee, coffee category, Grand Rapids
  • Mindo Chocolate Makers, chocolate category, Dexter

This year’s 182 finalists were selected from 1,366 products submitted from 49 states. Finalists are chosen through a blind tasting and based on industry-specific criteria of environmental and social responsibility.

Entries must meet three criteria.

  • Traceable back to the producer (or producers) at the farm or cooperative level.
  • Sourced in such a way that there is price transparency throughout the supply chain, farm-gate prices meet or exceed Fair Trade minimums and the rights of farm workers are respected.
  • Sourced from a farm where there is an emphasis on pursuing sustainable agriculture practices, including water conservation, and minimizing the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.

“Finalists attested to responsible production by detailing their efforts to eliminate or reduce pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, source ingredients locally where possible, implement water and energy conservation, ensure traceability to the farm level, practice good animal husbandry and exercise fair and transparent treatment of workers and suppliers,” according to the Good Food Awards.

Madcap’s Las Aguas Altas, which means “the high waters,” is purchased from a farm located in San Pedro Necta, Guatemala, and owned by Gabino Mendez.

“Up until 2011, the Mendez family, nor the prior three generations, had ever sold coffee directly to the roaster,” said Ryan Knapp, head of Madcap’s roasting operations. “So prior to this, the family received a lower than sustainable market price for the coffee they farmed without having any idea of the quality they were producing. So (in) 2011, we began paying the Mendez family a full $1 more per pound than what they had been receiving for their coffee, breaking a four-generation cycle of how they sold their coffee.”

Knapp said that though most of Madcap’s coffees meet the requirements for the Good Food Awards, Las Aguas Altas was picked, in part, because of its story, but also because of its flavor.

“This is a competition where some of the most-experienced tasters in the world come together and score coffee blind,” Knapp said. “Meaning, this is a competition that is truly scoring the coffee and nothing else. Brand, service, etc. are all set aside and the coffees are being scored purely on taste. So to be part of a list of 25 coffees out of over 200 that were submitted is a pretty great honor. It's also exciting to show the rest of the country that there is great coffee in Michigan.”

Eighteen of the 26 coffees selected as finalists were from either Kenya or Ethiopia, and Las Aguas Altas was the only Guatemalan coffee selected.

This is not the first year that Madcap has been acknowledged for its coffee; it won a Good Food Award in 2011 for Los Lobos coffee from Costa Rica.

The 100 winners will be announced at a 400 person black-tie ceremony at the San Francisco Ferry Building on Jan. 18, followed by a 15,000 person Good Food Awards Marketplace on Jan. 19. Winners will sample and sell their winning products at the public marketplace, which takes place alongside the renowned CUESA Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

Winning products also receive the Good Food Awards Seal, which indicates to customers that “they have found something exceptionally delicious that also supports sustainability and social good.” There is also a Good Food Awards Gold Seal, which distinguishes a product that has also obtained certified organic status.

The Good Food Awards is part of Seedling Projects, which is an organization focused on the sustainable food movement.

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