Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'd Rather Be BLUE Over You (Than Happy with Somebody Else)

Ok, I have the GREATEST discovery to share with you, dear readers! No, scratch that. Credit must go to my beloved friend, Mike, for this one. When he was here visiting at the end of March, I ran out of coffee, and so we picked some up at one of my favorite specialty shops at the Atwater Market in Montreal, Les Douceurs Du Marché. As I was waiting for my coffee to be ground (as I knew we'd be going through it quickly with my friends in town), Mike started sharing with me about this company that he had been ordering his coffee from of late called Blue Smoke Coffee Roasting Company out of Gatlinburg, TN. (Are you hearing Ronnie Milsap in your head now? Thought so.) Mike spoke highly of their personal customer service and environmentally-conscious policies, and of course, about their delicious coffee blends. I filed this information somewhere deep in my messy little brain, but did not get around to ordering from Blue Smoke until Mike was discussing a coffee drink recipe last week on Facebook, and Kevin Price, the owner/roaster at Blue Smoke, posted a reply. That reminded me that I had been meaning to try some Blue Smoke for myself.

I went onto their website, and I ordered one pound each (whole bean) of two of their most popular blends, Appalachia (medium roast) and Canopy (dark roast). The transaction was easy, completed through PayPal, and I almost immediately got a personal shout-out from Kevin on Facebook, thanking me for my order. The next day, I had an email thanking me again for "the opportunity" to roast my coffee, and also informing me that he would like to throw in an extra half pound for free, recommending one of their newest blends called LeConte. Sure, I said! Whatever the master roaster recommends, I'll drink! I promptly received a confirmation of my order, and by the same evening, I had another email to let me know that Kevin had just finished custom-roasting my coffee, and that it was on its way! People, this was less than 24 hours after I hit "enter" on my order! Is that INCREDIBLE, or what? What is even more amazing to me was receiving another email from Kevin on Saturday saying that, when he checked the tracking information, it said that my package had been cleared through Albany, so he hoped that it had made it onto a northbound postal truck in time for me to enjoy some Blue Smoke over the weekend. Sadly, it did not. (Not his fault that I live WAY UP HERE in the middle of nowhere!) I was haunting the mailbox in my jammies on Saturday morning, and though a Fed Ex truck did a cruelly disappointing u-turn in my driveway, there was no shipment for me. Boo hiss. Still, I was so impressed by his concern and follow-through on the order!

I was sure that the package would arrive Monday morning, and I was looking forward to brewing myself some Blue Smoke to jump start finals week. Again, though I kept an eagle eye on the mailbox, nuthin. When I left for my final late in the afternoon, I did one more check of the mailbox, and lo and behold, the mail carrier must have slipped past me, but left my aromatic package at long last! The box itself was charming, decorated with custom Blue Smoke labels, but that's all I could ascertain at that time, as I was running late to my final (as is my way). When I got home that night, I opened the box, and was immediately enchanted by the delectable aromas within and, it must be said, by the GORGEOUS blue packaging! The coffee had been packed beautifully and with care. When I first opened the box, I was greeted with a Blue Smoke postcard, and under that, a hand-written Post-It Note from Kevin, thanking me once again for giving him the "honor of roasting my coffee." (Um, anybody had personalized customer service like that recently? Like since the 1950's? Didn't think so.)

Pulling back the lovely blue tissue paper, I revealed three stunning (blue, of course) bags of coffee and a pamphlet about their company. By the bye, I could go on all day about Blue Smoke's environmentally-conscious practices. They only buy fair trade, shade-grown, organic beans, supporting indigenous peoples and communities from Latin America (closer to us than Africa, thus further reducing their carbon footprint, though they are already a carbon-neutral company). They also support environmental efforts near home by donating a percentage of sales from certain special blends to local non-profits, including Appalachian Voices, Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Riverlink, a group supporting the revitalization of the French Broad River that runs through North Carolina and Tennessee. Finally, Blue Smoke is a member of 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses who donate at least 1% of their annual profits to environmental projects. I am a passionate locavore, as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, but we also know that none of us can source our coffee locally. So it makes me feel a lot better about purchasing coffee from a company like Blue Smoke that is clearly making great efforts to reduce further harms to our planet.
This morning, I got up early to grade papers, and as I was letting the dogs out, I brewed my first pot of the medium-roast LeConte Blend. Oh, friends! It was just lovely stuff! The beans were plump and glossy, the aroma emanating from the bag was heavenly, and the taste was ultra-smooth--bright and sweet, even somewhat fruity. It was the perfect complement to a sunny but brisk spring morning here in the North Country. Well done, Blue Smoke Roasting Company, well done! I can't wait to try the Appalachia* and what I have a sneaking suspicion will be my favorite, the darker Canopy Blend**. I will report back, of course.

In the meantime, I implore you coffee lovers out there to put down the Starbucks, back away from it at once and head directly to your computer to order yourself some Blue Smoke ASAP! Besides being such an environmentally-conscious company run by really cool people offering the most AMAZING customer service, I have neglected to mention that their prices are quite reasonable, It costs more than grocery store coffee (blech!), but they are certainly competitive with Starbucks and the like. I believe that the Appalachia was $12.95/lb. and the Canopy was $11.95/lb. The shipping was about five or six bucks, but as they threw in a free half pound of coffee, I'd say that about evens out! And I would like to remind you once again that they micro-roast your individual order as soon as you place it! Even if you can't afford a butler or chauffeur, you can have your own personal coffee roaster just by ordering from Blue Smoke! (Check out the picture below--how cute, huh?! And such attention to detail!) So competitive prices plus uncommonly personal service? I think it's a heck of a deal! Once you taste Blue Smoke Coffee, I bet you'll agree.

*This commercial for Blue Smoke Coffee has been brought to you by me, and has not been approved by anyone other than me. I hold no stock in the company, and I paid for my own order, thank you very much. I DID get an extra half pound of coffee for free, but you will, too, if you order two pounds at once. I just think they're a fantastic company making a terrific product, and I wanted to share the recommendation with my readers--especially the coffee fiends among you! ;-)

*Mmmmm....had the Appalachia this morning (5/13). It's richer than the LeConte, but maintains a nice amount of acidity. It's a little smoky and a little spicy. Delish!
**(5/14) Oh, Canopy....you had me at "hello." Dark but not the least bit bitter, smooth like Barry White, and dare I say it, more than a bit chocolatey? This is the one.


jsgrant said...

Wow Gina, that sounds like some fabulous coffee. It makes me want to make some coffee right now, but I don't have their coffee, I'll have to shop and THEN have coffee. Maybe I should plant a coffee tree in the back yard, then the dogs could have coffee as well as guavas and avocados. But no, I'll just pull out my credit card and order some.

Randi said...

wow, I dont even drink coffee and now I want to try it. I might just have to place an order for Robin. She lurves her coffee( and hates Tim Horton's which everyone here is sadly addicted to)

Lisa said...

Hello! Found your post on Blue Smoke (I'm a Blue Smoker myself) thanks to Kevin's newsletter that he just sent out. I had to send you a shout since I live down here close to Kevin now, but used to live up your way in Ticonderoga. How small is the world? Neat to think that Blue Smoke is being loved and enjoyed by a North Country person such as yourself. Its the best isn't it?

JoyBugaloo said...

Scott, I hope you got around to ordering yourself some Blue Smoke? You won't be sorry!

Randi, I hope you finally got down to Ann Arbor to retrieve yours! And if so, have you tried it? What do you think??

Lisa, thanks for your nice note. It IS a small world! Any further north (six miles, to be exact), and Blue Smoke would be going international! LOVE Kevin's work, especially the beloved Canopy! :-)