Local coffee, considered one of the best in the state, sources beans from specially selected farms and gives back with a wholesome, sustainable mission.
By: Danielle Kearns
Oh. My. Coffee. Never have I ever done a formal coffee tasting. I am pretty basic when it comes to my morning cup. I'll take it light and sweet, flavored and sugary, or even topped with whipped cream or a caramel drizzle. Sure, I like the taste of coffee, but I would pretty much need to be in a bind to take it black. However, I fully realize that the only way to truly know what makes each bean and style unique is to try it straight up! And it doesn't hurt to know the story behind the bean. I have a new found appreciation for coffee.
Did you know that a coffee bean actually derives from a cherry? There are multiple layers that make up the science of the coffee plant's lifespan, but it blew my mind to learn everything that goes into just harvesting the bean itself under all those layers.
I owe all this new found knowledge to Jeff Brooks, who has dedicated the past 8 years of his life to the free and fair coffee trade business. In 2011, he started this project, along with his wife Emily, and started giv coffee, craft roastery + cafe.
Mission: Giv Coffee is a coffee roasting initiative that seeks to utilize coffee's global influence to bring about positive change in international coffee communities, coffee consumers, and the lives of those in need.
If you don't know, giv actually provides wholesale coffee beans to many of your favorite coffee shops around the state. Giv sources their beans from farmers who will benefit from this relationship. Farms are chosen with excellence and standard in mind -- as well as the farmer himself. Giv only seeks fairly traded beans and have worked out fair prices for crops, giving back a portion of sales back to the farms themselves for continual growth and success. What a rockstar mission!
Beans are delivered "green" and batch roasted in house. They are then dispersed across the state to other coffee shops and served in their Canton location. So how does it taste?
Jeff offered us a tasting to try each of their currently offered styles. There are currently around 8 styles, each named after the farmer from which the bean derived. Tasting by "cupping" allows you to taste and try the coffee in its purest form without all the extras. You are experiencing something that's been brewed to the perfect rate and standard. I took home a bag of Leonardo Rosero. YUM!
Giv also has a cafe of their own right in Canton. Check them out for a cup of cold brew, a luxurious latte, or a fresh brew at
194 Albany Turnpike, Canton, CT.
For continued reading, check out their list of the top coffee spots in Connecticut, published this past week on Sprudge. Did your favorite make the list? Comment below with your favorite coffee spots in the state.
The Claypen's mission is to remain focused on sustainability and make purposeful business decisions to be more green-friendly and leave less of an impact on our Earth.
By: Danielle Kearns
Sustainability matters. We are all a part of this great big world, that is crazy and irresponsible at times, but it is our responsibility to be a part of the movement for a better future. We hold this as one of our main intentions as a small business and try and promote that amongst our customers whenever possible. Here are some of the little ways we do our part:
reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose
It's the slogan we grew up with, just kicked up a notch. We get a ton of boxes delivered to our space on a pretty regular basis. We hit all the R's when it comes to our big shipments. We make sure to use these boxes for all sorts of things. We wrap our parties in them. We organize inventory in them. We use them as splatter guards with art projects. And we even give them away! That's right.
We started an initiative about 2 months ago where local community neighbors can call us up and pick up our large packing boxes for their own at-home needs. We have helped a few dozen residents in this mission, most of whom needed boxes and packing material for a future move. And we gave them out for free. Our little way of helping the community. Any of the boxes we can't get use out of get fully collapsed and recycled in our cardboard specific dumpster. Those are boxes that are less sturdy, possibly ripped, or have run their course.
We are a BYOB PYOP studio, which often means people bring DRINKS. We always encourage our customers to leave their cups, bottles, and cans right at the table for us to take care of clean up. We rinse and recycle ALL of these items. From Solo cups, to Starbucks cups, and even straws. (You might even find a staff member or two cutting these straws up to avoid their impact on our water system and aquatic friends.) We completely wash out and recycle all of our our paint bottles as well.
We receive shipments from distributors around the country. We make use of everything they use in their deliveries to the best of our abilities. We donate a lot of our bubble wrap and packing peanuts to locals in the area who need it for personal needs. We reuse a good amount for our own shipments since we offer delivery of completed pottery for non-locals. When we have an overflow of these materials, we actually physically return them -- by the garbage bag full -- to FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
People will often ask us if we have water bottles for purchase in our studio. Nearly 90% of our staff use reusable water bottles from their own home which can be cleaned and refilled as needed straight from the tap.
In our efforts to keep people hydrated while still staying green, we have partnered with Hosmer Mountain Beverages, which will soon be carried in our studio. Their sustainability mission is something to be admired and replicated. They have stuck with glass bottle production for over 100 years. All of their bottles can be returned to one of their centers (or picked up if you sign up for their delivery service) for sanitation and then reused for future use. You can read more about Hosmer in our previous blog.
Water conservation also comes in the form of washing dishes. Art can be a messy medium. We go through many palettes and brushes a day that all need to be washed to maintain their longevity, integrity, and continual use. We have basins filled with water to allow brushes to soak before washing and lay our palettes across the sink floor so every hand wash prior will begin the cleaning process for us and reduce our use of water later.
The pottery itself is a means for sustainability. If you're going through one paper cup a day for your coffee (or, ugh, maybe even styrofoam), you can make travel tumbler for your every day needs. Our mugs, cups, bowls, and plates are microwaveable, washable... and thus, SUSTAINABLE!
We are no experts on this cause, but we are hoping to help encourage you to think twice about your recycling decisions. Leave a comment below about how we can best move forward in our recycling efforts or what's worked for you!
a local authority on taste, community, + sustainability
By: Danielle Kearns
I hope you've enjoyed some Hosmer Mountain Soda in your time, but if you haven't, allow me to make it your next obsession. They are my personal favorite seltzer and soda and are only made better since they're LOCAL and they have a phenomenal sustainability plan, which is one of my obsessions.
Originally established in 1912, Hosmer set the precedent for home-delivery service for the state with original drinks and recipes with "in-house blends" unique to them. They have stayed a consistent asset, making their way into restaurants, cafes, breweries, movie theaters, and now... our studio! In the coming months, we will be launching our partnership with Hosmer, which we're so excited about as we're seltzer kind of people. Look out for posts and update on social media. We are really excited about this one.
All of Hosmer's bottles can be returned directly to either of their locations, completely sterilized, and then reused. I go every 2 months to pick out my flavor, fill my crates, and swap out my old bottles. The process is quick, easy, and the best alternative to traditional recycling, which makes it even better for the environment. The seltzers are the perfect bubbly companion for all your summer cocktails. (My favorite is the lemon-lime.) The soda is phenomenal on its own. (You've got to try the black cherry immediately!)
Until then, visit Hosmer at one of their locations to stock up for all your summer needs:
15 Spencer Street
Manchester, CT 06040
217 Mountain Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
By: Danielle Kearns
It only takes 3 consecutive days in the mid-50s with sunshine for the whole population to declare IT'S SPRING! We are delighted to be able to open up the doors and let the fresh air and Vitamin D wash away our winter blues. We're also excited because warmer weather means it's time for your local farmers' markets to set up shop and supply you with all the summer feels... well, soon enough at least. It's only the first week of April and we're not completely done with snow just yet, evidently. But we are looking ahead and gearing up because it is April and we. are. ready.
If you're local to the West Hartford/Hartford area, I certainly hope you've had the chance to stop by the West End Farmers' Market, also affectionately known as WEFM, located right on Farmington Avenue. But if you haven't had the chance, please make the effort. You will not be disappointed.
A farmers' market is one of the best ways you can support a local business, but more importantly, a local farmer. I had the opportunity to attend Farm Aid this year at The Meadows and hear their committee (as well as a lot of super famous musicians) speak about the importance of sustainability, property + zoning issues, food culture, climate change, family owned and operated farms, and the general atmosphere around farms in America. Visiting a farmers' market and buying just one bunch of produce can be the difference for that farmer and their livelihood and future. We, as a country, need to make this more of a priority.
As a member of the West End of Hartford, I've been going to the WEFM for years. It is so exciting to see it regain new life and popularity with its new fearless leader - Joseph Abad - who took over last Spring.
The WEFM is one of those unique experiences that also lends itself to fun and entertainment for all ages. Aside from locally sourced veggies to stock your kitchen, you can grab a quick dinner from one of the local food trucks, get your face painted, maybe treat yourself to a massage, or even learn about composting at home. It's also a wonderful way just to meet other members of your community and keep connected to your city and town. The West End is particularly proud of its history and loves to promote community. (You can read more about the West End Civic Association and all it's doing in the neighborhood here.) But did you know that the WEFM served over 9,000 shoppers just last season? That's a lot of food. And because WEFM cares, they make it a priority to accept EBT/SNAP benefits to allow and incentivize residents to shop for fresh and local market goods.
For more information on all of this and more, check out the WEFM website, Facebook, + Instagram.
The market is open on Tuesdays at 385 Farmington Avenue:
Not local? Here's a list of all of the Farmers' Markets around the state of CT. This list is from 2018, so do note, there may be even more locations near you this summer.
The claypen recently hosted the WEFM's first fundraiser of the season. If you couldn't make it, you can still donate to the WEFM to keep "Connect Grown" alive.
For any questions or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications for vendors + guidelines can be found at www.WEFM.org.
2019 Special Events Calendar for WEFM:
Danielle is a CT native, She started at the claypen in 2018 as a Studio Associate and quickly became a Team Lead and our resident blogger on staff. Her previous experience includes teaching, writing, and photography. You can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn or reach out with questions via email.