Coffee that you can trust.





(Have a question about Green Bus or coffee?  Email me and I will try to reply with something semi-reasonable.  - Felix)

Why should I buy your coffee?

Are coffee beans taxable in Ontario?

What is the best way to store roasted coffee?

Explain this toxic ingredient called BS, please.

Why are you called Green Bus?

What is the best way to brew coffee?

What does Organic mean?

What does Fair Trade mean?


Why should I buy your coffee?

Every dollar you spend is a vote for something. 

If you spend a dollar to pay for a coffee that is grown dependent on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, that is harvested by the underpaid and the dispossessed, that is roasted in a factory in a city far away, that is served to you by a multi-national corporation that specializes in homogenized fast-food, then what you are saying with your dollar is, "I support all of these things." 

In this day, many of us feel helpless to change the problems we see in the world around us, and we forget that we can vote on a daily basis for the things we believe in, using our hard-earned money.  It is your dollar.  Use it to support the things you value.

Green Bus sells fair-trade, organic coffee.  We do our business here in Windsor, which is where we live.  We work hard to offer good coffee at a fair price.  We are a small business, working out of our home.  If those are things that you support, then we hope to see you soon!


Are coffee beans taxable in Ontario?

No they are not.  They are considered  a "basic grocery" and are zero-rated under harmonized sales tax (HST) rules.  The following is from Canada Revenue Agency's memoranda on zero-rated supplies:

"Examples of foods and beverages that are zero-rated as basic groceries under section 1 of Part III of Schedule VI include fresh, frozen, canned and vacuum sealed fruits and vegetables, breakfast cereals, most milk products, fresh meat, poultry and fish, eggs and coffee beans."
What is the best way to store roasted coffee?
Coffee should be stored in an air-tight container.  The re-sealable bags that Green Bus sells its coffee in work well.  A glass jar with a tight lid is fine.
If you have a grinder, it is better to buy whole beans.  Ground coffee loses its flavour more quickly.  Ideally, grind the correct amount of coffee beans just before you brew.
Don't store your coffee for too long, if you have a choice.  Buying large amounts of coffee is often a false economy.  You might save a few bucks, but you might be drinking some stale coffee before your "bargain" is finished.  Ideally, you should purchase only as much coffee as you will consume within a few weeks.
If you must purchase a large amount, it can be stored in a well-sealed bag or container in the freezer.  Once you remove remove coffee from the freezer and thaw it, don't refreeze it.  Rather, remove the amount you need for the short-term, and leave the bulk frozen.
There is no need to store coffee in the refrigerator.  A refrigerator is not cold enough to extend the storage life of the coffee, and the warm-cold cycle of putting the beans in and out of the fridge can cause moisture which is harmful.  Simply store the coffee in a cool, dark cupboard in your kitchen.

Explain this toxic ingredient called BS.

You know what I'm talkin' about.

The world contains many lethally toxic substances - things like dioxin, mercury, lead, ethylene glycol, etc.  It could be argued that BS is more deadly than any of them.  Consider, for instance, that  Hitler expelled a fair amount of BS at Nuremberg, or that Jim Jones used it to talk his followers into drinking poisoned grape-ade.

BS masquerades under many names, some quite innocent sounding:  propoganda, advertising, white lies, infomercials, campaign speeches, just plain shootin' the breeze...

Bullshit.  Please excuse the profanity - I'll use it just this once.

Many of us have careers that bring us under its dangerous influence:  spin-doctors, lawyers, teachers, sales representatives, politicians, telephone support workers, talk-show hosts.

BS surrounds us and makes us ill.  It has the insidious power to permeate us, to change us, zombie-like, so that we too begin to spout BS like unwitting fountains.

Sadly, the coffee industry, like so many commercial endeavours, is not free of BS.  Well-meaning coffee-folk talk about the power of coffee to transform the lives those who work in its chain of production, as if coffee will somehow succeed where Ghandi failed.   The skilled people who work the big roasters now call themselves Master Roasters, and assume the mantles of wizards.  On a thousand websites, subtleties of flavour are described in terms that would make a poet weep.  Our very enthusiasm can be our un-doing, carrying us into a land of half-truth.

It is not enough to be able to make a decent cup of coffee - one must train to become a barista, a sort of ultra-cool intermediary between the divine and the unwashed.

And so it goes.  The truth becomes shaded with self-interest.  A coffee priesthood surrounds its sacred turf with barriers of jargon, myth and the trappings of professionalism.

Of course, none of us is entirely innocent.  As the good Dr. House of television fame said, "Everybody lies."  Having said that, however, it still falls on each of us to put up stiff resistance against toxic BS.

My mother did not tolerate BS in the kitchen.  It was her sanctuary, and she brought comfort to many with her endless pots of slightly watery, steeped coffee.  She called it  slootwater, the dutch for "ditch water".  She loved her coffee, but the act of sharing it was more important to her than the quality of the brew, and she often spoke of the war years, when spent coffee grounds were saved, dried, and re-used.  Perhaps it was best that she died before she encountered her first barista.  She certainly had little truck with BS.

At Green Bus we can only make a simple pledge:  we will do our damndest to keep the BS out of your coffee.  We think it is possible to supply a coffee that is both honest and tasty - good coffee in the truest sense.

You know what I'm talkin' about.

 parked in Kaladar.JPG

Why are you called Green Bus?

Our entire business - kitchen, roaster and office - is located in a converted  school bus that is painted green and parked in our driveway.  This seems like a simple, low-cost idea, but it is fraught with hidden gremlins.  Had we known the difficulties of starting a small business that is "outside the box" in Ontario, our courage might have failed.   Bureaucracy is not in favour of innovation. 

The bus has been our shelter, friend, mascot and inspiration for some years now.  It has served food along the highway, served the masses at a music fest, nourished actors on a film set, and it roasts some fine coffee too.


What is the best way to brew coffee?

"There are lots of ways to brew coffee, and if you use some proper care, they are all good."

In this age of the hyper-caffeinated Baristocracy, the above statement is heretical, so it requires some BS-free explanation.

Cindy and I have made good coffee with a  french-press, with an automatic drip machine, with a commercial restaurant drip machine, with a cone-shaped "Melitta" style filter drip ("ahem," said the barista, "would you be referring to a pour-over?"), with a percolator, with a moka-pot, with a sauce-pan, and with a tin can over a fire.  Before our trail is finished, we expect to discover a few more.   If you have respect for what coffee is, show some humility towards the laws of physics, and refuse to be flim-flammed by current coffee consumer-fashion, you will find that a good cup of coffee can lurk in the most surprising places.

I am not a barista, and I never will be, so take my advice for what it is: the experience of a long-time coffee drinker who has not always had the luxury of an expensive Italian expresso machine or a stack of fresh Chemex filters.  These are some things I have learned about making coffee:

- fresh beans taste better than old ones.

- clean water makes better coffee than contaminated water.

- grinding just before brewing helps

- boiling - or overheating -  coffee for too long tends to mess with the flavour in a negative way

- clean your coffee equipment once in awhile, or a stale, oily flavour will invade your brew

- some grinds better suit some methods of brewing.  A perc likes a coarser grind, as does a french press or a tin can.  Filter methods prefer a finer grind, and Turkish coffee requires a still finer grind. If you are serious about your espresso, you had best use trial and error and grind your own.

- solid, honest experiment is preferable to slavish devotion to hearsay. (experience beats BS)

- very expensive equipment is no guarantee of good coffee.  I once made a pretty good cup using a claw-hammer as a grinder, and a cast-iron frying pan as coffee pot.

Ultimately, good coffee is not a sacred knowledge controlled by a theocracy, but rather a common property available to anyone willing to try a little hands-on science.


What does Organic mean?

Organic coffee is grown without the use of artificial fertilizers or synthetic pesticides.  The land has to be free of these substances for three years before certification.  Coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world - next to oil.  The cultivation of coffee has an enormous impact on the ecology.  Organic cultivation of coffee is a good thing for the planet, and it reduces the amount of potentially harmful substances in your cup.


What does Fair Trade mean?

Coffee is grown and harvested in warm countries that are typically low-wage areas.  Small farmers and workers often live in poverty.   Producers and exporters of Fair Trade products pay - and charge - a higher price for their products, a percentage of which then goes toward better wages and improved social and environmental conditions and practices.

It is hardly a perfect system, and administrative overhead and corruption mean that not all the money goes toward those who need it most.   Even taking these problems into account, some of the money that you, as a consumer, pay for fair-trade coffee goes toward the workers and small farmers in poor countries.

More importantly, perhaps, the fair trade movement pushes large corporations to adopt more ethical practices.  Again, vote with your dollar for the things you value.