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Frequently Asked Questions

 What’s your return policy?

--If your mug is not happy with our coffee, please let us know. We’ll work something out to your satisfaction.

 

What is “responsible” coffee?

--It means a lot of things. We ONLY buy and sell responsible coffee. When you support mass market coffee you are quite likely supporting the following: pesticides on your coffee, growing practices which hurt birds and other wildlife, starving farmers who are treated like slaves with all the profit going to the greedy foreign landowners.Responsible coffee means that the farm is friendly to the earth, the farmers are treated well, and only natural (if any) pesticides are used.

 

What kind of roaster do you have?

--An American made steel drum roaster custom built by the fine folks at US Roaster Corporation in Oklahoma City. She roasts up to 12 pounds at a time and weighs about 900 pounds herself.

 

Where do you roast?

--Our shop is in Edinboro, PA  a small town south of Erie, just off I-79. You’re welcome to come visit and learn about coffee, but if you come by surprise, there might not be anyone to give you a tour, so please give a head’s up/appointment to avoid disappointment.

 

When do you roast?

--Typically right before coffee is ready to be delivered or mailed. Coffee is at its peak freshness for the first month, and we don’t want the clock to start ticking until it has to. Sometimes we roast in the evenings or overnight when the air is cooler and there are no distractions.Then it is ready for delivery the next morning.

 

What’s the best way to store coffee?

--Why are you storing coffee? It’s best fresh. But okay, the best way is to store it away from light, away from air, and whole bean. If you aren’t going to drink the coffee in the next 30 days, go ahead and freeze it, but only in an airtight container, and only thaw it once.

 

Why do you discourage people from buying preground coffee?

--The single best way to improve your coffee is to grind it yourself.Ground coffee is exposed to air 100 times more than whole bean coffee, and air is coffee’s worst enemy.

 

What’s the best way to brew coffee?

--You should brew it the way you like it! But there are two keys to remember.

1) GOOD WATER. Coffee is 98% water, so if your water has off-tastes, so will your coffee. In addition, if your water has minerals and lime in it, it will damage your coffeepot over time.

2) Enough Coffee. A good starting point is “1 ½ Tablespoons of coffee for every “cup” of water. And a “cup” of water equals 5-6 ounces for most coffeepots.If you really want to taste every nuance in the coffee, using 2TBSP per cup is recommended, although this will seem strong to most people.

 

What kind of filter should I use?

--The best way to pull out the hidden flavors of coffee is by using a metal filter. A french press, percolator, and espresso maker all have metal filters and offer deep complex undertones. However, consuming the oils from coffee has been linked to higher cholesterol. A paper filter does the best job of removing these oils, but the oils contain some of the flavor! We would suggest using a non-bleached (brown) paper filter for everyday, and pulling out the french press on weekends for particularly special coffees.There are many other great options, like the Hario dripper and the Aeropress, but these are more for coffee geeks, and less practical for the average person who just wants a mug of coffee.

 

How can I roast coffee at home?

--There are a variety of clever methods you can learn about on the internet. Everything from an iron skillet to a popcorn popper to a rotisserie over your grill to actual coffee roasting machines. No matter how you do it, you’ll get the freshest coffee possible by roasting it yourself. But if you really want to learn the craft of roasting coffee, I recommend the Hottop roaster. It’s a miniature drum roaster that roasts ½ a pound at a time and gives you control over the roast, just like a $20,000 commercial roaster would.

 

Why is your green coffee so cheap?

--Don’t be fooled by the cheap prices. We keep our overhead very low and do everything possible to keep prices affordable for our customers.  But we only sell the top 3% of coffee in the world and won’t offer it if it isn’t that good. In many cases it's the top 1% of any given origin. We sample, sample, sample; ask way too many questions, and eventually find the lots that are great values.  On the open market, more expensive coffees do not equal better tasting coffees - it's really a game of hide and seek and having good relationships and connections.  

We also don’t believe that we should be getting more of your money than the farmers who grew it. Did you know the price of really good coffee hovers in the one to two-dollar range paid to the farmer? Add freight, USA import fees, and a profit for the broker, and you’ve doubled the price. But then, our competitors double or triple that price yet again when they sell it to you (and they try to tell you that your money is helping a farmer!) Don’t worry about our low prices. It’s the best coffee money can buy, and you’re neither supporting greed nor unsustainable farming when you buy it through us.

 

Why is your roasted coffee so much more expensive than your unroasted coffee?

--We’re still quite a bit cheaper than most micro-roasters, but roasting coffee is an expensive process. First of all, when you roast coffee, it loses up to 20% of its weight. Add the equipment expense, maintenance, gas and electric to run the roaster, general business expenses, and the labor spent roasting and packaging it. Add the cost of packaging, labels, delivery, and marketing. Add a touch more for quality control (it can take several batches of bad coffee before you find the perfect roast level) and a touch of profit, and it all adds up.

 

Where do you buy unroasted coffee?

--Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “local” raw coffee. The only places in North America capable of growing coffee are Hawaii and Puerto Rico. When possible, we buy directly from farmers who warehouse their crops in the US and ship it to roasters on request. Sometimes we buy it from large roasteries who have purchased entire crops from a farmer and have more than they need. The rest of the time, we buy it from brokerages who can handle the customs paperwork, currency conversions, and language barriers involved. No matter what the source, coffee comes in burlap sacks, with 132 to 150 pounds of green coffee inside.

 

Which coffee has the most caffeine?

--Caffeine content varies greatly from bean to bean, even on the same plant. No one coffee origin is predictably higher in caffeine than any other. And while dark roasts do have slightly less caffeine by volume, they have slightly more caffeine by weight (dark roasts weigh less, so depending on whether you use a scale or a scoop depends on whether you get more or less caffeine in a dark roast). Robusta coffee varietals have about double the caffeine of Arabica. Robusta coffee is not considered a specialty coffee and has an aroma reminiscent of rubber and a rather empty taste. However, if caffeine is what you crave, let us know, and we can blend you a robusta-arabica brew that tastes okay (reasonably good if you add cream) and doubles your caffeine per cup.We can also add caffeine extract to any coffee for a small fee.

 

How is coffee decaffeinated?

--Coffee can be decaffeinated through chemical reaction (MC) or by a complex “water process” The chemical reaction is inexpensive and retains the majority of the coffee’s flavors. Since the chemical has a “flash point” of 102 degrees, and the bean is roasted to 400 degrees, there is no trace of chemical is left. Water process is more expensive, but completely natural. The Swiss Water Process (SWP) plant in Canada has been around a long time, but the newly built Mountain Water Process (MWP) plant in Mexico is swaying decaf drinkers with the flavor it retains in its decaf beans. Happy Mug carries MC coffees at a lower price point for budget-minded customers, and the more pricey MWP coffees for the purists.

 

Is there really a coffee that is picked out of the excretion of animals?

--Yes, there are several versions.The idea is that the animal eats the coffee bean, processes it through its system, and is then gathered, washed, and roasted, and then sold as a gourmet delicacy coffee.The Kopi-Luwak from Indonesia is the most famous, and is collected from the droppings of a possum-like marsupial called a Luwak.But there are elephants in Africa and birds in Brazil in on the action as well.The practice is highly surrounded by fraud, and unless you are right in the country, there is no way to know that your coffee really is authentic (it sells for $100 a pound and higher).Furthermore, the animals quite often are eating Robusta beans, and the coffee quality is very poor.Aside from the novelty of it, you’re really not missing out, but the question comes up frequently, so that’s the scoop on that!