Life Happened.

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It seems like ages ago we were teaching, exploring & experiencing Thailand. Everything, at that point, was so fresh that it almost felt like we were born again.

Once we committed to starting Kao Jai, the gypsy lifestyle came to an end and a plan was set into place: return to America and share the farmer's story. I must admit, our intentions erred on the side of idealistic, but no matter how inexperienced & under-financed we were, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to create change.

Then life happened: new apartment, new city, new job....new life. The tastes, smells & stories slowly faded as new memories formed and took the place of the old.

But despite all external factors, we clung to the reasons behind the founding: to create opportunity and inspire global action.

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Meg, the heart and soul of Kao Jai, has been a continuous remind of why we started and why we will never finish. Just as the farmers fight to support their families and create opportunities, so will we.

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You, our global supporters, have been the lifeblood of our mission and a continuous reminder of why Kao Jai came into existence 14 months ago. As we grow and begin expanding to reach a larger audience, we bow and proudly say Khap Khun Mak Krap (thank you very much) for bringing us back to the "why."

Stay tune, stay connect & most importantly...stay inspired as we push through and continue pursuing the reasons behind the founding.

-Kyle

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Happy Birthday, Kao Jai - Reflecting After 365 Days of Understanding

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Kao Jai Coffee
Kao Jai Coffee
Kao Jai Coffee

Happy Birthday, Kao Jai.

Whether it was fate or pure luck, Kao Jai's birthday happened to land on Small Business Saturday, which celebrates the impact that small business owners have in communities throughout the country. Exactly 1 year ago, at approximately 7am, we met our now partner Doon at her coffee shop in downtown Chiang Rai, hopped in the back of a pickup truck & made the 2 hour journey into the mountaneous jungles of Northern Thailand.

When we finalized our partnership with Doon and 6 families, we honestly did not know what was in store for us, our business & our partners in Thailand. What we did know was that we had passion for the product itself, the natural process & the people behind the cup. These passions, which have grown over time, have been the "why" behind what we do. We know that all of work is creating value and impacting coffee producers & coffee drinkers around the globe.

Seeing What Sticks

At the start of everything, we were bright eyed and bushy tailed overcome with excitement about endless opportunities of creating a social venture. Like many other starting entrepreneurs, we envisioned the businesses immediate future filled with publicity and recognition of the unique story that Thai coffee has to offer. Needless to say, the road thus far has been similar to the roads throughout the farming region in Thailand - full of bumps, ups and downs & the occasional mud pit.

We've been forced to pivot and adapt our strategy over time, which has resulted in a more developed and synergistic approach to building a name for Thai coffee and consistent demand for the farmers. We're a very long way from the finish line, but we've been blessed with building a business around a purpose that continuously ignites our passions and curiosity of creating value and change through entrepreneurship.

2014 Highlights

Since November 29, 2013, we've definitely had many struggles, but we are grateful for the wins in our business no matter how large or small. Looking back on the year, we can gratefully share that we've been a part of:

  • Purchasing approximately 7,000 pounds of Thai coffee directly from farmers at a "Farmer Satisfied Price"
  • Packaging & distributing Thai coffee to customers and retailers in 33 states throughout the US
  • Connecting and fostering relationships between US coffee roasters and Thai farmers
  • Designing packaging that highlights the unique and amazing region where our coffee is harvested
  • Most importantly: forming relationships with our partners in Thailand.

To Infinity & Beyond

As we look back and process the past year, we're grateful for both the ups and downs for equipping us with the tools necessary to create change and promote sustainability in communities around the globe. We thank our supporters for their love of our Taste of Change, and we look forward to serving you over the next 365 days and beyond.

Meg & Kyle

Join us in our celebrations with 20% off using the code SHOPSMALL. Shop Now


Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

A Nashvillian Update

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After spending the last 3 weeks visiting friends & family throughout the Northeast, we've once again packed our cars and made our final drive to our new home in Nashville, TN. Almost every person we talk to asks "why Nashville?" Most of the time, my first instinct is to say "why not?" but the most thorough answer would be because of the city's focus on sustainable sourcing, buying local, entrepreneurial community, love for coffee & somewhat selfishly...the endless opportunities to kick back, relax & listen to good music while enjoying a local craft brew.

We arrived late Sunday evening and were warmly welcomed within the first few days with meetings with local businesses to pitch our product, introduce ourselves & jump right into making a name for ourselves within this coffee loving community. Luckily, the timing was right and Meg was able to pitch our coffee to a local subscription based biz that focuses on local, artisanal goods, which ultimately provides opportunities for exposure and sampling within the middle TN area.

Burning the candle at both ends over the last 6 months while living in East TN was taking its toll on us as we continuously sought traction, but within 3 days of being in Music City we've been gaining the traction, recognition & praise for our coffee & business that the farmers in Thailand have been waiting for.

As the Holidays approach, we're excited to be announcing more stores & coffee roasteries where our product will be featured as well as a new product that will be launching for pre-sale on Nov 17th. Make sure to check back in, see what we're up to & just like always drop us a line below to let us know how you're doing. Thanks for reading, and we'll catch you on the flip side!

Kyle & Meg

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: Glen K. - Physical Educator, Coach & Weightlifter

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Glen Kalbaugh - Physical Educator, Coach & Weightlifter (Akron, OH)

What's a quote that inspires you?

"Do something you love, and you'll never go to work a day in your life" - Zed Kalbaugh aka my dad. (Also probably someone before him)

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job? 

I currently teach PE and Health at a small school in North Eastern Ohio. I do my best to instill in the kids that I work with a passion for movement and sports that has meant so much to me, I hope to make lifetime movers. My true passion is in coaching and competing I love to compete as an athlete in any endeavor and the path that I have chosen to wholeheartedly pursue is on a 16' x 16' platform with a barbell in my hands. I coach people in order to help them be the best athletes and people they can be, to be a part of a young person's journey through sports and/or life is such an honor and a blessing.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

People sometimes seem to think that all PE teachers do is roll out some basketballs and watch the kids play while they sit around. I enjoy having my kids play all sorts of different sports and teaching them the proper way to play everything so they can find something they love and pursue it. Also most days you'll find me playing with the kids rather than standing on the sideline.

What's your favorite part of your job?

The best part of my job is being able to make something click for somebody. When someone just doesn't understand what's going on or how a certain movement needs to be performed and you can give them a light bulb moment by explaining it a different way or showing them a different drill to do. The pure joy of someone finally "getting it" is awesome.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

It can be frustrating when people won't take your coaching or take certain things personally and get defensive because all you are trying to do is help them.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

Figure out what it is that you want to coach then pursue that field. If you want to coach football, play football a lot, if you want to coach swimming, swim a lot, if you want to coach fencing, fence a lot. Living out your own career in the sport you love goes a long way towards being able to coach it and along the way surround yourself with good coaches to learn from. Learn everything you can and be open minded, learn about all disciplines of athletics and apply principles from different things to your specific avenue.

What's your definition of success?

My definition of success in a material sense would be to do enough to provide for my family. My definition of success within my field would be to make an impact on the lives of the students and athletes that I work with. I want to be a part of their journey, through athletics, faith, and life in general. If I can pass on what I know and make a lasting impact in the lives of people that I work with and coach I would consider that a success.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

Email is the best: GlenKalbaugh@gmail.com, or find me on facebook if you search my name I'm fairly certain I'm the only GlenKalbaugh alive.

Leave us with one parting piece of advice

Be yourself and do what you love. Find something that you love and pursue it with everything you have no matter what anyone tells you about the practicality of it, in laymen's terms chase your dreams and make your own path.

Understand: Helen M. - Branding Account Manager

Kao Jai Thai Coffee Helen Maloney

Helen Maloney - Branding Account Manager (Baltimore, MD)

What's a quote that inspires you?

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I help brands maneuver through their digital channels: whether it be a behemoth website build or a microscopic Facebook post. No matter the size, it is all significant. I work internally with a brilliant team of resources and I work externally with a large array of clients. Both are exhilarating.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

That all we do is write blogs and twitter posts, which I do but, there is much more to it than that.

What's your favorite part of your job?: Learning about different personalities and how they impact a team dynamic. Having Thirsty Third Thursday and pinball machines in the office helps, too.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

When I'm just waiting for resources to complete work. I feel useless. Luckily it's temporary and there is always work to be done.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

If you thrive in high stressful situations and you love organization, then this is the path for you. Patience and adaptation are key and embrace criticism. It takes a strong person to look at themselves and point out flaws. Everyday I strive to be better and I thank my peers for that.

What's your definition of success?

My definition of success is happiness. When I complete items off my to-do list or a site has been launched, that feeling of accomplishment is rewarding.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

Email: Helen@Maloney.com

Leave us with one parting piece of advice:

When I stress about something, I take a step back and ask myself "on a scale of 1-10 of life, how big of a deal is this really"? Best advice I ever received. Thanks, Mom.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: "Jane" - Criminal Investigator

"Jane" - Criminal Investigator (Pennsylvania)

What's a quote that inspires you?

"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I conduct criminal and administrative investigations for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections which encompasses 26 State Correctional Institutions and 1 Boot Camp. The scope of my investigations range from policy and procedure violations (i.e. fraternization) to criminal conduct committed by staff members on state property (i.e. sexual offenses, drug trafficking, contraband, thefts and white collar crimes).

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

A common misconception about my profession as an investigator is that my investigations are solely completed to the point of criminal prosecution. Conversely, a large majority of my investigations clear staff from false allegations lodged against them.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to network and work with various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In addition, I have the opportunity to interact and work with a wide-range of people within the Department of Corrections who come from various backgrounds.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is dealing with victims of crimes that I am unable to relate to the type of victimization that they have experienced.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

Dedicate yourself to your profession and network as much as possible; you never know who you might meet that could inspire or assist with your professional growth.

What's your definition of success?

My definition of success is having a career that you enjoy, balancing your personal life and inspiring others to do the same.

Leave us with one parting piece of advice:

Professional and personal life can be challenging at times but never back down, remember to take time for yourself and jump when you experience hurdles.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: Kelly R. - Grade 4 Teacher

Kelly Ransier - Teacher (Columbia, MD)

What's a quote that inspires you?: 

"Tell me and I'll forget. Teach me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll learn."

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?: 

As a grade 4 teacher in Silver Spring, MD, I plan and teach engaging lessons to a group of culturally diverse students. I inspire my students to love learning by creating learning experiences that meet the needs and interests of every student in my class. My students continue to inspire me to continue my teaching passion as they surprise and astound me with their level of thinking and engagement each and every day. Being a teacher, I have been given the gift to positively impact the lives of our children.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?:

People often believe that teachers have summers off. This is technically true, however, many teachers are taking courses, tutoring or working on professional development tasks during the summer months, including not getting paid.

What's your favorite part of your job?:

I love the smiles I see on my student's faces when they make a connection to learning and I can see the excitement they have towards learning and school.

What's your least favorite part of your job?:

My least favorite part of my job is bringing home work to grade, lessons to prepare, among other things practically every night of the week. My job does not end at 4:00. There is just not enough time in the day.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?:

It's not going to be easy but it will be very worth it!

What's your definition of success?: 

Accomplishing a short or long-term goal and feeling satisfied and excited about your accomplishment.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?: 

kelly.ransier@gmail.com

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: Megan S. - Graduate Student

Megan Schmeisser - Graduate Student (Akron, OH)

What's a quote that inspires you?: 

"You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop." -Rumi

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I am a full time graduate student at the University of Akron. I am seeking a Master's in Marriage & Family Therapy, and Professional Counseling, as well as a certificate in Women's Studies. I also hold a position as a graduate assistant for the university, and am neck deep into wedding planning (which is arguably a full time job on some days). For my own mental health and stability, I write for Thought Catalog on the side.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

Therapists are perceived as being always "on" and analyzing the person they are eating dinner with, meeting on the street...you get the picture. I'm used to this apprehension (for my undergrad I was a Family Studies major at Miami University), but I assure you, therapists need downtime too. So unless you're a client, I promise you absolutely no theories or treatment plans have even crossed my mind; I want to be entirely mentally there with the person I am around.

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of being a student is being surrounded by people who are all going after the same thing, even though many different paths brought us here (which can sometimes require a little extra understanding and patience). I have been lucky to meet many incredible new friends so far, and I look forward to where these next couple years of learning and self reflection will take me. I love the fact that in graduate courses there are no general education requirements, so each class is geared toward sending us out into the world as effective therapists.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

My least favorite part of being a graduate student is the length of class time. In undergrad, none of my other classes went beyond an hour and fifteen minutes. In my current semester of graduate coursework, I go to school three days a week, for about three hours each time (plus commuting), and the length of time spent sitting down really gets to me. I am an activist at heart, fueled by tactile learning and interaction, so settling in for a couple hours of notetaking is difficult for me.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

Take care of yourself. A counselor spends hours a day pouring into others, helping others, planning for others, and you have to take the time for yourself. I know it can seem selfish, but it's necessary to figure out what your method of self care is and stick to it like a paying job. I love taking pictures (of a purely amateur status), reading books, and exploring new nature trails with my fiancee. Keeping these activities regular, intentional, and meaningful helps keep your batteries charged.

What's your definition of success?

I know saying "do what you love" is overly simplistic, but it rings true for me again and again. I started my undergraduate education with a totally different major that had the promise of making everyone in the world of the grandiose "American Dream" happy: high starting salary, job security, the list goes on. However, after getting a low grade in a entry class for my major (twice!), and a come to Jesus with my academic advisor where she asked me what was the point if I wasn't happy, I made the switch. 

And it was the most emotionally stressful point in my life, where I made a massive choice, and had to prove the naysayers (who were few but quite loud) wrong. I fell out of touch with people who didn't understand my choices, it felt like canoeing without oars for a little bit.

I loved every second of my academic switch to Family Studies program. My mentors were strong women who stood tall, my new classmates showed me endless ways to get involved with the community, and I gained (a start of) the insight into myself and others that I had been yearning for.

Life is simply too short to do something safe, or because someone told you so. I truly believe that's a waste of the breath God gave us. So success to me means holding to your beliefs and being comfortable not giving in to the societal pressures, following your heart to where it takes you and learning along the way.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

You can contact me via Twitter (@schmeizzy), of view more of my offbeat musings on life that way. My Thought Catalog profile also links to articles I have written, and my email address (http://thoughtcatalog.com/megan-schmeisser/).

Leave us with one parting piece of advice.

Love each other fully, because we are all we have.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Words Are Cheap.

We got hooked after putting on a pair of rubber boots, bamboo basket & selectively choosing coffee cherries on a hot & humid Thai morning last October. Experiencing led us to understanding, which inspired us to share, inform & sell northern Thailand's brown gold.

The love and support from coffee drinkers from the Pacific to Atlantic have given us the encouragement and ability to continue on the journey of sharing the process of Thai coffee from the crop to your cup. Every cup consumed over the last few months has directly invested in us and our farmers as we pursue increased opportunities within the village in Thailand and encourage surrounding farmers to join our cause.

Our first imported batch has been embraced with open arms and empty cups by our supporters, and because it has been flying off our shelves we're able to import our next batch later this fall. Our passionate coffee loving partner and friend in Thailand has been sharing updates of the processing and rather than explaining these updates, we want to  show you the hard work and dedication that goes into every cup. So without further adieu, I present the Kao Jai Coffee farmers of the Doi Chang Valley:

*Click Any Image to Enlarge*

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: Laura L. - Dietitian & Food Blogger

Laura Ligos - Dietitian & Food Blogger (Albany, NY)

What's a quote that inspires you?

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ~Hippocrates 

A little cliché but if I didn’t believe in that I probably would be on another career path!

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I am a “Real Food Dietitian in a Fast Food World" and I believe that food is medicine. I focus on teaching my clients how to keep their diet and lifestyle simple yet sustainable. I meet with clients one on one, conduct lectures and seminars on a Real Food diet/lifestyle and am currently running my blog and podcast where I will soon be releasing a newsletter, cookbook and so much more!

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

I am not the food police...I am not here to count calories....and I do not believe that the Food Pyramid was a good idea :)

What's your favorite part of your job?

All of it! Ok but for real....the success stories! They keep me motivated to keep teaching others about living a real food lifestyle, it will literally put a smile on my face for days when I get a message from someone saying they've never felt better. I also LOVE creating recipes galore that are simple, healthy and delicious (and have bacon)!

What's your least favorite part of your job?

Not having enough time in the day to do everything I want to do for my blog and business.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

Be yourself, work hard, and question everything....well I guess that's three things :) There is a role for unconventional dietitians and we need more of us who believe in a real food and clean eating approach.

What's your definition of success?

Albert Einstein said it for me: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. “

I want to go to sleep every night knowing that I provided value to someone else's life. I also think success is happiness. I have a loving and caring husband and family and a job I love. I wake up daily with a smile and know that those around me and my job make me happy. and that to me is success.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

 Email: laura.t.ligos@gmail.com

Website: www.thesassydietitian.com (soon to be www.teamnutritiongenius.com)

Leave us with one parting piece of advice.

Just eat real food.

 

Understand: Steve Ogden - Artist/Designer

 
Kao Jai Coffee Steve Ogden
 

Steve Ogden - Artist & Designer (Baltimore, MD)

In 5 sentences or less what do you do?

I bring dreams to life. Clients come to me with an idea, and through pencil, ink, color, words, design and/or animation, I help create the thing they thought of.

Is there a common misconception or myth about what you do?

That artistic skill is something you were either born with or not, and can't be trained. Also - probably because of that misconception - that Art isn't a Real Job.

What is your favorite part about your occupation?

Making people happy.

What is your least favorite part about your occupation?

Sitting inside all the time. I'm a runner, and I love to go outside and play!

What is one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

We have all been sold a Talent Myth, that the Special, Talented Few get to be artists and the rest of us should forget about it. I have to tell you after 3 decades as a working artist, hard work beats talent every single time. Being a solid, employable artist isn't about how talented you are. It's about how hard you'll work. It's also about being lucky. To a degree, you can improve your odds, because to a degree we make our own luck, by working hard, staying focused, developing the right contacts and maintaining a healthy business network. Also, by maintaining a positive outlook. For one thing, negativity can't help but affect your art, but also, no one wants to work with a sad sack. But to a degree, some of luck falls outside of your control. There, too, you can improve your odds by being able to recognize your blessings and being prepared to capitalize on them. Luck favors the prepared!

What is your definition of success?

Keeping a roof over my head, feeding my family and putting my kids through college while working in my chosen field is one measure. Having a portfolio of work that thrilled my clients is probably the greater measure.


What is your favorite quote that keeps you going?

"Somewhere out there, someone is working harder than you... when you meet on the field of battle, you're gonna lose."

Thanks for letting me play!

-Og

Learn more about Steve's work here.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Understand: Ben Pratscher - Fly Fishing Guide

Ben Prastcher Kao JAi blog

Ben Pratscher - Fly Fishing Guide (Madison, WI)

What's a quote that inspires you?

"Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after"
~ Henry David Thoreau

In 5 sentences or less, what do you do in your current job?

I am a fly fishing guide and commercial fly tyer in Southeastern, WI. I take clients on wade trips in Lake Michigan tributaries in search of migratory salmon and trout, I also tie flies that I sell online to help people catch these beautiful fish. When off the river, I spend countless hours tying flies and researching for the next opportunity I have to wade in these peaceful rivers.

What's a common misconception or myth about what you do?

Being the best fisherman is not the most important part of guiding. The most important aspect of guiding is customer service. Since you can not control the conditions of the river or the bite, knowing how to provide clients with a great day even if you are not catching fish becomes very important.

What's your favorite part of your job?

 Preparing for the next trip. I love everything from tying the files to the drive to the river.

What's your least favorite part of your job?

Not having enough hours in the day to fish.

What's one thing you would say to someone looking to take the same career path as you?

If you have a passion for fishing and teaching, GO FOR IT!

What's your definition of success?

Doing the best you can do while being the best person you can be. I feel that it is very hard to define success, whether it is in life or a day on the water. For example, you could have a successful day out on the water without catching a single fish, but you could also have a successful day with catching fish. As long as you are always putting your best foot forward, that is what I think success is.

If someone wanted to get in contact with you, what's the best way to do so?

www.justbencatchin.com orjustbencatchin@gmail.com

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Be the Change

A taste of change for the farmers and Akha hill tribe families.

Purchasing Kao Jai Coffee at a “farmer satisfied price” allows the farmers to do what they love year-round. Poverty in the mountains of Chiang Rai is similar to the poverty we see in the United States, specifically in the mountains of Appalachia. There is a lack of healthcare, transportation, job opportunities and adequate housing. During the non-harvest season, families are being forced to split up to seek opportunities elsewhere to support their families. Our passion for directly sourcing at a Farmer Satisfied Price helps keep families together year-round and allowing them to farm organically, improve processes and focus on what they love: coffee.

A taste of change for the coffee industry.

We want the coffee industry to taste the change, and by that we mean the new wave of specialty Thai coffee. Many roasters have told us that “no good coffee comes from Thailand” or, “sorry, but we do not think Thailand grows Arabica beans.” Well, the proof is in the brew. Our coffee is 100% Arabica coffee, and we've received rave reviews from roasters and supporters ranging from Honolulu to Boston.

A taste of change for our supporters.

We want you to know where your coffee comes from and every step from crop to cup. Everyday millions of Americans wake up and half consciously get their pot of coffee going. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that (especially if it’s Kao Jai Coffee!), but I am saying that we can take more time to understand where our food and other items we interact with each day comes form. We want to help people  understand their daily rituals in hopes of inspiring a curiosity to understand other interactions during the day. Whether it's the clothes that we wear, people we interact with or coffee we drink, everything has a story. We challenge you to not only research and ask what those stories are, but to share yours with others too! 

A taste of change for volunteers.

Part of our mission at Kao Jai Coffee is to help to fund service trips and service projects because we understand the change that happens during these experiences. While volunteering and working with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP), both Kyle and I have witnessed the restoration of hope in the families being served and we have witnessed the change that happens within hundreds of volunteers that came to serve with ASP. We quickly realized that the experience is so powerful for everyone involved because of the transformation of each and every person. Spending time living, loving and working alongside a complete stranger while listening to their stories and sharing your own allows you to understand each other's stories.

Be bold: embrace change.

Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but it is also the only constant there is. We want you to “Taste the Change” and be bold, confident and excited for what is to come and how you can help to bring a positive change to the world each day!

And just remember, “if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.”

Kao Jai Coffee Club

Overview

Every morning I wake up, go for a run (well, usually), and make a pot of coffee in my Chemex before heading to work. I thoroughly enjoy the ritual of grinding freshly roasted coffee, boiling my water, and slowly pouring over the water into my Chemex making the freshest cup of Joe possible.

What I dislike, though, is finishing my run and reaching for a bag of coffee but there are none in sight because someone finished the last bag. Luckily, starting this coffee company has given me an endless supply of freshly roasted coffee, but we want to make sure that this problem never happens to you. Whether or not you're a morning person, not having to worry about a simple thing like if there's coffee in the cupboard makes the morning much more enjoyable.

We've created the Coffee Club to do just that: to make your mornings, afternoons, and nights filled with an abundance of good coffee. Let us focus on the coffee and keep you caffeinated, so that you can focus on your essential daily tasks.

The "Thai-et"

In addition to freshly roasted coffee, we also want to share another not-so-hidden treasure of Thailand: food. After living in Thailand for only 2 months, I lost 50 pounds from eating only delicious Thai food (and the occasional slice of Pizza), and my Thai co-workers began joking that when I return home my family & friends will think that they didn't take care of me during my 6 month stay in Thailand. I assured them that I was eating (actually more than usual), but due to the fresh ingredients and spice level of the food, the pounds were falling off in the same rate as sweat fell off after eating a spicy Thai dish like Som Tam (Papaya Salad).

What You Get

We're offering different tiers of membership from the Coffee Fan to Lover to Connoisseur. Each tier represents a varying amount of coffee received each month, but every tier receives:

  • Freshly roasted specialty Thai coffee
  • Healthy authentic Thai recipe part of the "Thai-et," which is only accessible by password
  • Free shipping

Join Now

Join us as we redefine monthly coffee subscriptions and spice up your life. To learn more or join the Coffee Club now, fill out the form below or read more: here.

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Direct Trade - A Model For Success

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Buzz words, like Fair Trade and Organic, are just a few examples of words most recently being used to promote and help consumers understand a business' practice from crop to cup. Whether it is coffee or any other product found at a Whole Foods, Earth Fare, or Fresh Market, these labels are used as a way to build trust between the business and consumer.

Whether it was because of our passion to adopt a different model or fear of fees and never ending paperwork to become Fair Trade, we decided to take a path most recently being taken by specialty coffee companies in America: the Direct Trade path.

We've chosen to focus on Direct Trade above all else for these reasons:

  • Significant focus on direct communication between us and our farmers in Thailand. We talk almost daily with our partners in Thailand discussing progress in America, future plans, and how we can continuously improve in quality.
  • Individual farms cannot become Fair Trade certified. For our first batch of coffee, we worked directly with only 10 families living in a small village on Doi Chang (Elephant Mountain) who are all part of the Akha Hill Tribe.
  • In-person visits to the farm strengthen bonds between ourselves and farmers. We love getting to know our farmers, harvesting coffee alongside them, and looking for ways to improve the process.
  • Increased quality incentive for farmers - All prices paid for coffee are significantly higher than "Fair Trade" price and are based on the quality of coffee produced.
  • Focus on efficiency and decreasing middlemen within the supply chain from crop to cup.

All of the reasons listed above foster growth and sustainability within the farming community in Thailand and coffee community in America. Higher wages, increased quality, and sustainable supply chain result in the most responsibly produced, high quality cup of coffee. Despite higher costs and increased time spent focusing on quality, we are proud to call ourselves Direct Trade and will continue to do so no matter the quantity of coffee imported into America.

We're itching to get back to the farm in the Fall/Winter and see the farmers, harvest coffee, and continuously look for ways to improve our process as we decrease our negative impact on the environment. If you, or anyone you know, have any questions about our practices, price payed for coffee, or our farmers, please reach out to us directly, and we would love to get in touch.

Kyle Ducharme

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

One Small Step

Someone: “How was your summer?”

Me: “It was amazing, life-changing.”

Someone: “…what did you do?”

Me: “…”

It’s hard to describe exactly what I've done the past seven summers, but what I can attempt to describe is what the summers have done to me.

Understanding Through Experiencing.

Spending summers working with the Appalachia Service Project (ASP) puts you face to face with the poverty so prevalent throughout the Central Appalachian region. While week long trips are one way to learn about the area and the situations families face on a daily basis, spending an entire summer forces you to truly understand, or kao jai  ("understand” in Thai). To take it a bit further, the “jai” in kao jai translates to “heart,” so literally translated kao jai is, “to enter one’s heart,” which is exactly what my experience with ASP has allowed me to do.

I have spent countless hours on the couches of family members listening to their stories of heartache, but also hope. I have walked around their homes as they set aside their pride to show me how their homes had started to deteriorate around them. I have played with children who’s only “nutrients” are contained in the food packs that schools provide for the kids to eat on weekends. I have witnessed the volunteers feed those same children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches alleviating the unbearable worry of where their next meal will come from because school is not in session.

After you are able to enter someone’s heart, you are able to, in a small way, feel what that person is feeling. That is what is means to understand.

Turning Passion into Action.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Reverend Glen “Tex” Evans saw a need and had the will to make a difference. He started with just a few volunteers, donated materials and a contagious passion and enthusiasm for the people of Appalachia. Today, ASP hosts about 15,000 volunteers in 32 different communities each summer repairing 500 homes.

Working as a summer staffer and essentially running a small non-profit in the mountains of Appalachia with three others made me come alive. Appalachia Service Project set my sights on big things. Transforming the lives of 18 families and 500 volunteers is no small task, but we did it.

While teaching in Thailand, my fiancé (also a former ASP staffer), Kyle, and I were looking for an adventure when we decided to ask the owner of the coffee shop we frequently visited if we could tag along with her to the mountain to meet the farmers. When we arrived to the mountain, we were given an extra pair of worn out gloves, rubber boots and a handmade basket to collect bright red coffee cherries.

The "Aha" Moment.

Harvesting coffee cherries in the Golden Triangle of Northern Thailand was by far one of the coolest things I have done in my life so far. While Kyle and I took in the surreal countryside views and lush green colors following rainy season, we had to do much of our listening with our eyes because we could not understand the Thai/Akha language being exchanged between the farmers.

As we picked a few cherries and took some pictures, we listened to the environment. Our hearts were listening more than our eyes at this point. We saw older grandparents picking alongside their grandchildren. The grandparents’ fingers were frail and stiff from picking for so many years. The children wore old hand-me-down t-shirts and jeans while they joked with each other. We quickly realized that the poverty that existed in the mountains was partially due to the nonexistent market for the farmer’s coffee. Family members including the young and the old had to harvest as much as possible just to simply live.

One Small Step.

Kyle and I could have left the mountain that day accepting the way of life that we witnessed on the mountain. But, instead with a lot of thought, and inspiration from our past experiences in the mountains in Appalachia, we, like Tex, decided that this was something we wanted to change.

We are starting small, but the buzz about the Thai coffee the farmers care so deeply about is starting to grow with every passing day. Working for ASP has shown me that anything is possible. It has allowed me to identify a need and understand the steps to take to meet that need. Creating and fostering growth and sustainability within a village in the Golden Triangle is a large fete, but with each bag of coffee we sell, it matters.

Sharing the Love.

I am so excited to take the pictures and the reviews from our customers back to Thailand some day to show the farmers that their hard work is making so many people so happy. As Mr. Rogers once said, “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile,” and I can’t wait to help foster that feeling within the farming community.

Thank You, Tex for teaching me the ultimate lesson that has led me to where I am today: Where there is a will, there is a way.  

Megan Armstrong: Co-Founder

The Road to Organically Grown

18 months from now, our coffee will officially be organic. It's a long ways away, but there is so much value in waiting. Earlier this month the Thai Department of Agriculture accepted our letter with the help of the Chiang Rai Agriculture Official Kaset Noi and his team, and I want to say thank you so much for your great advice. 

It's great for our coffee farmers to compete strictly on quality and nothing else. We want to become Certified Organic but don't solely want this label for business strategy, yet we want to show you the good we do on our farm. We are a small group of people who want to make good coffee for friends. We do not have enough money to pay for the popular international organic certification (USDA Organic), but we just want to stand for a group of people who really do good. 

We do not need the support of any person dominating international business because we only need trust from our supporters. That's enough for our small group of coffee farmers.

It's my passion to do harvest good coffee for friends. Aroma and flavor are important, but I want you to know that every drop of my coffee from farm to your cup is harvested with love, care, and safety during every step.

We want to stay in your kitchen like one of your family members forever, so please let us in. Haha. Miss you all, my coffee friends. Have a nice day!

-Doon

(Post edited with Doon's approval)

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Gourmet Kao Jai Mocha & Cream Ice Pops

Introducing Becca.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but mocha popsicles are one of my favorite summer desserts. It all started five years ago when I met Brad Davis. He loved Popsicles (the name brand ones with jokes on the stick), so I got him ice pop molds and a recipe book for his birthday. We enjoyed making the frozen gourmet treats so much that we sold them at our local farmers market that summer. Our mocha & cream popsicles were a huge hit! Our secret? Use the best, freshest ingredients you can find!

Fast forward five years. Brad and I will be celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary in August and we have an adorable ten month old son named Avery. We had mango chile popsicles at our wedding and last year we revealed the gender of our baby with key lime pie ice pops and blackberry yogurt pops.

Becca and Avery (isn't he cute?)

When I got my bag of Kao Jai coffee, I knew I had to make mocha ice pops! They are too good not to share, so when they were ready, we packed them up in a cooler and took them to the staff at Appalachia Service Project. The caffeine in the chocolate and coffee provides a double jolt - perfect for an afternoon treat at the office.

To make them the way we do, it’s a long process that requires a lot of ingredients. If this sounds too daunting, try our easy version (below). Both use extra strength coffee. That’s because flavors are dulled when frozen. Ice pop molds can be purchased for just a couple of dollars this time of year (find them at dollar stores, grocery stores, Target, etc.). Dixie cups work well, too. Gourmet Koa Jai Mocha & Cream Ice Pops makes about sixteen 3 oz. pops

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of Kao Jai coffee - double strength
  • 3 cups whole milk (organic is best)
  • 1 cup 100% real maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Detailed Directions

  1. Brew a french press of Kao Jai coffee (ideally with freshly ground beans), using twice as much coffee as you normally do.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, maple syrup, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.
  3. Combine the coffee with the chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature, and then chill in the refrigerator.
  4. Dissolve sugar into the cream. Pour a thin layer of sweet cream at the bottom of the molds and add some chocolate chips.
  5. Freeze for 45 to 60 minutes.
  6. Pour a layer of mocha and freeze for 60 to 75 minutes.
  7. Pour another thin layer of sweet cream and add more chocolate chips.
  8. Freeze for 45 to 60 minutes.
  9. Pour the final layer of mocha and add the sticks.
  10. Freeze for 5 or 6 hours.
  11. Enjoy!

Easy Directions

  1. Mix Kao Jai coffee - brewed extra strong - with an equal amount of hot chocolate (made from a powdered mix or from milk mixed with chocolate syrup).
  2. Cool it, pour it into molds, add sticks and freeze for about 6 hours.
  3. Enjoy

To learn more about Becca, her amazing popsicle recipes, or her passion for photography, check out her website here.

A huge thanks goes out to Becca for creatively using Kao Jai Coffee to cool off on a hot summer day. Have an unique idea how to use our coffee? Shoot us a message here and be featured in a future blog post!

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Little Fish in a Big Pond - The Thai Coffee Story

Coffee Belt

The Bean Belt

Nestled between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn lies the Coffee Belt, which is home to all of the farms that harvest the coffee beans consumed around the globe. Whether you're drinking a fresh cup of Kao Jai or a latte at your favorite coffee shop, you can bet your bottom dollar that the beans you're enjoying originated within these lines.

The Coffee Belt, or Bean Belt, boasts the perfect growing conditions with moderate sunshine and rain, steady temperatures, and rich soil. These conditions not only yield coffee, but it also provides a source of income for over 25 million farmers and coffee works in these 50 coffee producing countries around the world.

There are two main coffee trees that are found around the world: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica accounts for about 70% of all coffee produced and is of much higher quality than its' caffeine infused, low-quality rival Robusta. Robusta has about 83% more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee and is typically used in instant coffees or caffeine is extracted to be used in energy drinks.

Perception of Thai Coffee (100% Robusta)

Perception of Thai Coffee (100% Robusta)

Thai Coffee Story

When Thailand became an official coffee exporter back in 1976, it kicked off their debut by selling 850 tons of Robusta coffee to different countries around the world, which began establishing their reputation as a major Robusta exporter within the Bean Belt. 

As the years progressed and the movement towards specialty coffee began spreading across the world, Thailand remained stuck with the same reputation as a producer of the lower-quality coffee and still does to this day. When we first arrived in Thailand last October, we were as green as an unroasted bean not understanding the ins-and-outs of the industry that facilitates the trade of the second most traded commodity in the world. We were blown away by our first taste of Thai coffee and were surprised that it didn't have a larger presence within the American market.

Fast forward 10 months to this day:  we are sending e-mails, making cold calls, and walking into coffee shops, roasters, restaurants, and retailers trying to eradicate the perception of low-quality coffee and replacing it with the citrusy and clean finishing Arabica coffee produced in the North of Thailand.

Spread the Word

As we live within this David & Goliath story, there are simple ways to help us debunk the myth of low-quality Thai coffee and build a solid foundation for the future of specialty Thai coffee:

  1. As Elf puts it: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud for all to hear." The same basic principle applies to spreading by sharing your thoughts on the orchestra of flavors experienced after your first sip of Thai coffee on Facebook with the 830 million users. It's simple...just click here and select the corresponding number of stars that adequately describes your taste of change.
  2. Walk into your local coffee shop and passionately share how Thai coffee has changed your life (well, that might be a bit dramatic). Let local shops or roasters know that we would love to send them a sample and talk about partnership opportunities. If you have any ideas of local shops that we should reach out to, message us here (we'd love to hear from you).
  3. Share with a friend. In our eyes, coffee is best when shared with others because some of the greatest conversation happens over a cup of coffee. Use our coffee as a bridge to connect with long lost friends and then slyly mention how unique the coffee happens to be that you're enjoying (just kidding about the second part).

In all seriousness, our supporters are what has helped us get to this point and will continue to help us get to the next level and build a reputation for Thai coffee. We thank you for your wholehearted acceptance of our mission and for supporting us from the start. Help us debunk this myth and continue to directly support farmers in Thailand so that we can create opportunities for the farmers that we know and love.

Kyle Ducharme

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.

Perfect Brew - Chemex Style

One thing I love most about coffee is how much the origin's elevation, soil, water, plant varietal, and processing play a role in creating the unique characteristics of the different coffees that we know and love. Pretty much everything that will determine the taste of the coffee has happened before you brew, but there are different brewing methods that are better suited for different coffees resulting in the perfect cup.

From French Press to traditional drip to espresso, we've tried our coffee in almost every way possible, and we want to share our thoughts on how to make the perfect brew - Chemex style.

The Chemex is an hourglass shaped vessel that was created back in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm that produces a delicious cup of coffee without any bitterness or sediment. 

What You'll Need

1. Chemex Coffeemaker (we use a 6 cup)

2. Chemex Pre-Folded Filters

3. Kettle

4. Coffee Grinder (preferably a Burr grinder)

5. Tablespoon

6. Kao Jai Coffee (Duh)

7. Coffee Mug

Step 1 - Boil The Water.

Boil almost double the amount of water that you'll need (About 25 ounces if making 3 cups and 50 ounces if making 6 cups).

Step 2 - Grind Those Beans.

While the water is heating up, put one rounded scoop of coffee for every 5 oz of water into your grinder and set it to the medium coarse setting. If you prefer a stronger brew, feel free to add extra coffee. (I tend to brew 1.5 scoops for every 5 oz water).

The ground coffee should be similar to coffee used in a French Press but slightly finer. It should look like this:

Step 3 - Insert & Pre-Rinse The Filter.

Open up the filter and place it in the Chemex so that the side with three layers covers the pouring spout. Dampen the filter with the recently boiled water to preheat the brewer and create a seal between the filter and the brewer. Once completed, drain the water.

Step 4 - Add The Ground Coffee & Let It Bloom

Once the water has been removed from the stove and has stopped boiling, gently pour a small amount of water over the grounds to wet them allowing them to "bloom." Let this sit for about 30 seconds. This part of the process releases some of the most amazing elements from the grounds. Yum.

Step 5 - Pour Away

Slowly pour the rest of the water over the grounds in a circular motion ensuring that grounds are evenly soaking. Make sure to keep the water level below the top of the Chemex.

Step 6 - Remove The Filter

Once the coffee is finished brewing, remove the filter and throw it away.

Step 7 - Blissfully Pour & Enjoy

Pour, enjoy & repeat.

Kyle Ducharme

Kyle Ducharme

I'm passionate about making a difference in the lives of those around me regardless of where I am in the world. Whether I am on the busy streets of Boston, building homes in Central Appalachia, or harvesting coffee abroad, I'm always looking for innovative ways to improve our lives and connect with those around us.