HB Joins Forecastle Foundation and The Nature Conservancy on Canoe Float down Green River

In Blog, Community, Sustainability // on September 18th, 2015 // by // No comment

Through our partnership with the Forecastle Foundation, we’re able to do some really cool things. Recently two of our managers went on a canoe float on the Green River with the Forecastle Foundation and the Nature Conservancy. $5 of every bag of Kentucky Dream sold at Heine Brothers’ and Whole Foods Louisville goes to the Forecastle Foundation for their work preserving the world’s natural awesome – specifically for two projects here in Kentucky – The Green River and Pine Mountain.

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From HB-Roastery Operations Manager Nathan Veneman:

I recently had the opportunity to go canoeing on the Green River with the Nature Conservancy of Kentucky as well as some of the members of the Forecastle Foundation. Sitting just north of Mammoth Cave in Central Kentucky, the Green River is one of the most biologically diverse tributaries of the Ohio River.

After a presentation from The Nature Conservancy at the Davis Bend Nature Preserve, we started down the river. The colors were vibrant, the scenery was gorgeous and the sky provided a spectacular backdrop. We had the chance to stop at the well known 300 Springs falls where many of us got out and explored. We were encouraged to either be “baptized by the springs or paddle back upstream”.

The trip provided an excellent vantage point to see first-hand how Heine Brothers works directly in the community to make a difference. The proceeds from KY Dream have and will continue to contribute to the wonderful landscape of our state with foundations like Forecastle and KFTC fighting the good fight.

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From HB-Gardiner Lane Shop Manager Stephanie Harvey:

Today was one for the books – a beautiful river, flourishing wildlife, and the amazing people who put their heart and souls into keeping it so.

I was asked to represent Heine Brothers’ Coffee and join members of the Nature Conservancy and the Forecastle Foundation in a canoe float down the Green River. The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit committed to protecting lands and rivers, purchased a section of the Green River for conservation efforts. This is where our float began, specifically, the Davis Belt and 300 Springs area. It’s the part of the Green River immediately above Mammoth Cave National Park.

We were greeted with a presentation from TNC regarding their conservation efforts in the area. I was surprised to hear the many things they have accomplished and the goals they are still striving to achieve. For example, they’re in the process of getting the okay to remove dams that are no longer used for their intended purpose in order to restore river habitat for miles. They’ve also committed to working with farmers to attain sustainable agriculture. These are just a few examples of the great work they are doing in this area. The Forecastle Foundation has done so much good already since selecting TNC as one of their beneficiaries earlier this year.

The canoe float was calming and peaceful, and we were in good company. The waterfall was definitely the highlight of the day. The Nature Conservancy is a really great organization, and I am proud to work for a company who donates $5 for every bag of KY Dream sold to the Forecastle Foundation for their efforts to rebuild the world’s “natural awesome”.

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Get $1 off any mug for Earth Day!

In Blog, Sustainability // on April 19th, 2015 // by // No comment


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Producer Visit: Cooperative Coffees’ Roya Summit – Honduras 2014

In Fair Trade, Sustainability, Travel // on February 18th, 2014 // by // 2 Comments

In January 2014, I traveled to Marcala, Honduras to attend a meeting hosted by Cooperative Coffees, our green coffee buying cooperative (Heine Brothers’ Coffee is a founding member of Cooperative Coffees).  We invited (and covered the expenses for) representatives from our coffee farmer partners from all over Central and South America to join us for several days of meetings focused on the problem of leaf rust, or Roya as it’s called in Spanish.  Roya is devastating coffee plants all over this part of the world. Roya is a naturally occurring fungus in coffee fields that found the perfect climatic conditions during the 2012-2013 growing season to reproduce in epidemic proportions.  Roya attacks the leaves of the coffee plant, it’s primary source of photosynthesis.  This not only affects the ripening of the current-season cherries, but can also cause the flowers of the following season to drop.  Depending on the intensity of the infestation, Roya can kill a branch or the entire tree.

Mike Mays, Heine Bros' Coffee, Louisville, KY; Joe Lazano, third Coast Coffee, Austin, TX; Bill Harris, Cafe Campesino, Americus, GA, and Nery Gonzales, Technico for COMSA Cooperative in the mountains above Marcala, Honduras.

Nery Gonzales, Technico for COMSA Cooperative; Bill Harris, Cafe Campesino, Americus, GA; Joe Lazano, Third Coast Coffee, Austin, TX; and Mike Mays, Heine Bros’ Coffee, Louisville, KY in the mountains above Marcala, Honduras.

As Cooperative Coffees, we deal directly with the coffee farmers from whom we buy.  We have been hearing for some time now that Roya was devastating coffee plants and causing a severe drop in the annual yield for many of these farmers.  We decided that one way Cooperative Coffees could help would be to convene a meeting where where we would invite farmers from many different regions to share their experiences and, hopefully, successes in dealing with Roya.

We held our “Roya Summit” meeting at the headquarters of Cafe Organico Marcala (COMSA), a small-scale, farmer-owned cooperative in Honduras, who is having great success combating Roya using organic farming practices.  COMSA is proving that, despite the claims of many coffee industry influencers, research institutes and government agencies who advocate aggressive use of chemical fertilizer solutions, organic farming practices can be used to combat Roya and produce bumper crops of prime quality organic coffee.

Children of Farmer Members of COMSA Cooperative lead a discussion on making a probiotic additive for their Community Biodyanamic farm's compost.

Children of Farmer Members of COMSA Cooperative lead a discussion on making a probiotic additive for their Community Biodyanamic farm’s compost.


While in Honduras, our group of 65 people – coffee-farmer representatives and coffee roasters from Cooperative Coffees – toured the coffee farms of several COMSA members, visited COMSA’s impressive biodynamic farm, toured COMSA’s coffee processing facility and shared many outstanding meals prepared by our friends at COMSA.

I was highly impressed by COMSA’s commitment to their organic practices.  COMSA’s organic promoter, Victor Contreras,  spoke to our group about how important they believe it is to “create a model of agriculture that is in harmony with the laws of nature to feed and nurture the life energy in the soil.”  And COMSA’s organic practices are proving highly successful in resisting and/or recovering from the current Roya crisis.  The coffee plants I saw at COMSA were as healthy as any I have seen anywhere in the world.  While there was some evidence of Roya, it was very minimal.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to spend 3 days in Honduras with such a committed group of coffee farmers and coffee roasters.  We were able to unite and share information around the Roya crisis and recovery while also sharing ideas on coffee production, coffee quality and coffee price.  The spirit of generosity and cooperation was strong.  While we did not solve the Roya problem for any of these farmers, I know that many left encouraged by what they had heard and learned.

I came home from Honduras with a deeper understanding of the impact Roya is having on many coffee farmers and was reminded how hard these farmers work to make a living.  And I came away with hope that the success the farmers at COMSA are having with their intense commitment to organics will have an impact on farmers in other parts of Central and South America.  I also came away as proud as ever that Heine Brothers’ Coffee is a member of Cooperative Coffees.  At the end of our meeting in Honduras, several farmers made a point of noting how unique it was that Cooperative Coffees had stepped up and done something to help them by hosting and financing this “Roya Summit” (when what they feel like they typically get is little or no help and/or empty promises).

Mike Mays of Heine Bros' Coffee and other Cooperative Coffees members with Farmer Representatives from Peru Coffee  Cooperatives at the Roya Summit.

Mike Mays of Heine Bros’ Coffee and other Cooperative Coffees members with Farmer Representatives from Peru Coffee Cooperatives at the Roya Summit.

This trip to Honduras also affirmed a few things that I have learned in 20 years in the coffee business.  The difficulties that coffee farmers face are significant.  Our commitment to buying their coffee directly from them at Fair Trade prices is not solving all of their problems or making all of their dreams come true.  However, I can say with confidence that the relationships we’ve formed with many of these coffee farmers (some of whom we’ve been buying from for 13+ years) and the fact that we continue to be there year after year to deal directly with them on a Fair Trade basis is having a meaningful impact on their lives.

Mike Mays
February 2014



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City of Louisville provides Business Curbside Recycling!

In Louisville, Sustainability // on September 26th, 2011 // by // 4 Comments

by Peter Clark – Equipment & Facilities Manager

Ever since Heine Bros Coffee opened in 1994, our commitment to changing the world one cup at a time has remained at the forefront of what we try to deliver to the community every day. Everyone who works here strives to remember that we are a part of the world and that our actions, for good or bad, have an impact. With this in mind, all nine of our stores proudly recycle everything possible and we are continually finding ways to lessen our carbon footprint (look for our new compostable paper cups coming soon.) Of course, over the years, this has added more work for us. Many, many vanloads have been taken to the recycling dumpsters that are often too full to use. This is where the City of Louisville comes in with a helping hand.

This past April, the Metro Council began offering large, orange recycling carts to businesses in specific districts that are picked up along with the regular recycling service. Obviously, we jumped on this chance to support the city’s new effort and also to let the city support our ongoing one. It delights us to see the city make recycling easier for other local businesses and to help us save some money in gas.

Unfortunately, this service is not citywide just yet. As you know, this past year we have expanded into Germantown and on the other side of the Watterson Expressway and these areas are still waiting to be included in the Metro Council’s new recycling push. As of now, our Longest Ave, Douglas Loop, Eastern Pkwy, and Frankfort Ave stores use those flashy orange carts and their experience has been very positive. We are hopeful that the area of service will expand and all of our stores can take advantage of the Metro Council’s forward thinking.

In closing, we remain so thankful that we live in a city that recognizes the environmental impact of local businesses. It doesn’t only help our company’s personal cause, but smoothes the transition to globally conscious operating for many other storefronts. At the end of the day, providing our expanding community with delicious, fair trade, and organic coffee and tea just became a little easier. And that, is good news for everyone.

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Louisville Loves Mountains Festival 2011

In Louisville, News, Sustainability // on June 16th, 2011 // by // No comment

On May 20, we teamed up with Carmichaels’ Bookstore and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth for our 3rd annual Louisville Loves Mountains Street Party.  Our goal at this street party is to help raise $$ and awareness in Louisville about the horrible problem of mountaintop removal mining and to highlight the work KFTC is doing to try to stop this form of mining.  The weather cooperated with a beautiful spring evening and we had 1000+ folks turn out to enjoy some live, local music, local food and local beer!  Our featured speaker was Wendell Berry who eloquently reminded us of the importance of nurturing our local economies and of protecting our local, natural landscapes – never have 1000 people been so quiet and attentive just off of Bardstown Road!  The Louisvillians who turned out showed enthusiastic support for KFTC”s work to stop mountaintop removal mining – we raised over $6000 and local writer Sally Campbell and her pateners threw in another $5000 from the process of their book, Saving Kentucky.  It was a fantastic night of community building in Longest Avenue!

Special thanks to the following who donated their time and talents:

  • Local Bands: Beady; River City Drum Corps; Reel World String Band; Relic; Appalatin; Slow Charleston; Justin Lewis.
  • Local Food Vendors: Morel’s Vegan Food Truck and Boombozz Taphouse
  • Local Breweries: BBC and NABC
  • Local Writers: Wendell Berry; Sally Campbell; Bianca Spriggs

Learn more about KFTC’s work to stop mtr mining at:

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