Blue Smoke Coffee - Coffee With A Soul

Journey of the Monarch

100 Million Fly South

Monarchs are the only butterflies that migrate between a summer and winter habitat. Scientists believe the changes in daylight and temperature at the end of summer signal to monarchs that it is time to begin their migration.  100 million monarchs begin their journey to their winter habitats starting in September through November.

Gliding & Rest Stops, You Can Help Them On Their Journey

Along the way, they seek out thermal columns of warm air, that give them a lift and help them glide using less energy. They stop frequently to feed on nectar and to drink water.  You can help them along their journey by planting your garden with flowers they feed on. Monarchs drink nectar from milkweed, goldenrod, clover, thistle, purple coneflower, sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, and my personal favorite Pineapple Sage.

So, Where Are They Going?

Many people don't realize that even though of the exact same species, western and eastern monarchs over-winter in completely different areas.

Monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to California to spend the winter, where they take shelter in eucalyptus, pine, and cypress trees.  While monarchs east of the Rockies have a much further journey - these monarchs fly over 2,000 miles to get to their winter habitat in Michoacán, Mexico, where they take shelter in oyamel firs and cypress trees. 

A single tree will shelter thousands of butterflies on it.  These sites are under threat as they are being deforested at an alarming rate, putting the future of the monarch in jeopardy.

Staying Alive During The Winter - Harder Than You Think

During the winter the main job of the monarchs is to stay alive.  Which isn't as easy as you might think, especially for the eastern monarchs. Considering they fly so far south, you'd think they'd be enjoying balmy, sunny winters.  However, the spot they choose in Michoacán, Mexico happens to get pretty chilly at night (below freezing at night).  The monarchs huddle together in thousands for protection from the weather.  The cool temperatures slow down the monarchs’ body processes and help them use less water and energy.  They live off the fat and water stored in their abdomens.

Plant a Monarch Garden - Get a Free Packet of Seeds

The number of Monarchs has declined sharply in the last 30 years due loss of habitat.  Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch's lay their eggs on (although adult butterflies feed on the nectar from a variety of plants).  However, Milkweed is crucial to reproduction.  The amount of Milkweed in the United States is in decline due too pesticides and herbicides used on corn & soybean fields.  Scientist are encouraging people to plant Monarch gardens to help support the monarch and reduce their decline.  You can get a FREE packet of seeds that support Monarchs via this link:

Excellent Video on the Monarch's Migration:
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The Long Journey Home
Donald G. McNeil Jr. visits a monarch butterfly tagging operation in Kansas and describes the creatures' impressive migratory habits.

Coffee Is Good For Your Brain

Coffee might help protect against Alzheimer’s disease—as long as it’s the caffeine-loaded kind. When researchers at the University of South Florida gave mice that were bred to imitate Alzheimer’s disease either caffeinated coffee, decaf, or straight caffeine, they found that the regular coffee increased the levels of a brain-boosting hormone—which reduced symptoms of the disease. This hormone, granulocyte colony stimulating factor, spurs the production of new neurons and creates connections between existing ones, says Gary Arendash, Ph.D., professor at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, and co-author of the study. Alzheimer’s patients are known to have low levels of the hormone.

Decaf won’t cut it. “The link was only found in caffeinated coffee, not in decaf,” says Arendash. “There seems to be a mystery component of coffee that mixes with the caffeine to protect against Alzheimer’s, but we haven’t figured out the details,” he adds. Researchers believe that drinking caffeinated coffee daily can help protect against the disease, or at least delay its onset.

Four Cups A Day - Arendash says the key is the amount of coffee you take in, and recommends four cups of drip coffee each day—spread out until about 4 p.m. to avoid a caffeine crash. He cautions that only drip coffee was studied and that another form like instant might lead to different results—even taking away the benefits altogether.  But remember, everyone reacts differently to caffeine, so listen to how your body reacts and drink less if you need to. “If it causes heart palpitations, muscle tremors, or sleep problems, then you should cut back,” says Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiology research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health.plain ol’ black - Coffee on its own has almost no calories.  But drinking regular coffee with just one packet of sugar or a splash of milk (even whole milk or cream) still isn’t bad.

We Can't Expect Poor Coffee Farmers in the Developing World to Subsidize A Healthier Planet For Us

10% of organic coffee farmers in Latin America, where 70% of the world's organic coffee is grown, have given up and returned to growing coffee with cancer causing chemicals. Why? Because despite increasing demand for organic coffee, the price the consumer is willing to pay for organic versus conventional is not enough to cover the added cost of organic production.  

Conventionally grown coffee requires 300 pounds of chemical pesticides per acre and another 250 pounds of chemical fertilizer per acre and this poison is cheap. Many of these chemicals have been banned in America because they've been proven to cause cancer and are detrimental for the environment.  Yet you're getting a dose of these cancer causing chemicals every time you drink a cup of conventional coffee.

Not only are organic farming methods more expensive, but organically grown coffee plants yield fewer beans (more flavorful & higher quality, but fewer beans per plant). It's a much more time & expense intensive farming method and if we're truly committed to organics, we must to be willing to pay the premium or prices will go up even more as farmers abandon organic coffee farming and the supply shrinks. We can't expect poor coffee farmers in the developing world to subsidize a healthier world for us.

Blue Smoke Coffee roasts ONLY organic, fair trade, & shade grown beans. My green beans cost twice as much as the beans of my peers, who roast all/mostly conventional beans. But I could roast nothing else for my customers with a clear conscience, because I know the chemicals used in conventional coffee farming are extremely dangerous to humans & the environment. 

Organic coffee roasting is also much less profitable than conventional roasting, that is why there are very few 100% organic roasters like Blue Smoke in the industry. If I was motivated purely by money, I wouldn't be roasting organic coffee. Because most of my peers are conventional roasters, I must price Blue Smoke at a similar price as the conventional stuff, or just slightly higher - however in some cases, like in Chattanooga, Blue Smoke is actually cheaper than the conventional coffee offered by the largest roaster in Chattanooga.

So please choose organic coffee, but not just the cheapest organic coffee you can find, like what you may find on the shelves at WalMart - because this 'cheap' organic coffee is offered by large roasters who are a major part of the problem in driving down the price organic farmers are being paid, which is driving them out of organic farming.  It's a down-ward spiral you are supporting when you shop based purely on price.

Blue Smoke is still 100% committed to organic, fair trade & shade grown coffee & hope y'all are as well because I want to see more coffee farmers getting into organic farming, not less. 

Now, go pour yourself another cup of organic Blue Smoke Coffee & feel great that you've made a decision to buy a product not based on price alone, but based on the value organic coffee has on your health and the health of our planet.  Oh and organic, shade grown coffee, like Blue Smoke, also tastes better because shade grown plants are heirloom plants that produce richer, more flavorful tasting beans.

Thank you for very much for reading this and thank you for supporting organic coffee, 

Kevin - Owner/Roaster
Blue Smoke Coffee 
Coffee With A Soul

Trees - Detrimental or Beneficial During Tornadoes?

After last months outbreak of tornadoes across the south - the largest number of tornadoes in a single outbreak in US history -- 304 according to NOAA -- many folks are talking about not replacing downed trees and/or cutting down the surviving trees as they see them as a danger. However, according to research, that would be a big mistake as it would actually give tornadoes a huge advantage and put human life at even greater risk.

Similar to wetlands' beneficial quality of absorbing a hurricanes energy and reducing it's impact on areas further inland, forests have a similar affect on absorbing the energy of tornadoes.  

Also, an urban forest creates evaporative cooling which reduces the urban heat island affect - energy that feeds a supercell.  

And if the increase & severity of tornadoes has anything to do with climate change, then forests ability to store carbon are beneficial from that perspective as well.  A win, win, win.  

A tornado is literally just the tail-end of a huge supercell, swirling monster of a storm that soars up to 50,000 feet into the sky -- what we see on the ground is the tip of the iceberg.  

When a funnel cloud on the ground encounters a densely forested area, the energy of the funnel cloud is often actually dissipated by the forests, enough to break up the funnel.  

Humans have an amazing ability to manipulate the environment to our benefit, however sometimes what we think is a good thing - in this case, cutting down 'dangerous' trees, we are actually creating an environment that feeds supercells storms even more energy, via increased urban heat islands -- and eliminating a natural wall of defense against the energy of tornadoes.

Therefore, we must not only be replacing the trees downed by the recent storms but we must also build up dense forests within and surrounding our communities to help blunt the energy impact of tornado outbreaks on us and on future generations.  

So get out this weekend and plant some trees, and support the great organizations around the nation and region that work hard to buildup our forest canopy - National Arbor Day Foundation, American Forests, and Trees Atlanta & for a list of other non-profit tree planting organizations around the country, click here.

Blue Smoke Coffee donates to American Forests to offset our carbon footprint -- American Forests plants a tree for every dollar donated.  To date, an estimated 500 trees have been planted as a result of Blue Smoke's donations. 

And in when purchased in Atlanta, Blue Smoke's Canopy blend benefits Trees Atlanta, which has been working for 25 years to protect & restore Atlanta's forest Canopy -- Blue Smoke can be purchased in Atlanta at these fine, locally owned stores: Candler Park Market, Savi Urban Market, & Return to Eden. Features Blue Smoke Tea as Top of 10 best Fair Trade Tea Brands