Menu JTA Search

Jewish brew offers `Shofar’ to fill your morning coffee cup

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 (JTA) — Used to be that a Jew raised a glass of slivovitz to toast a joy or drown a sorrow. These days, it’s more likely to be a double-decaf-mocha-latte-with-cinnamon from the neighborhood coffee bar. Banking on the libation of the moment, the proprietor of Garden Planet Organic Coffee decided to add a twist to her wares — a Jewish twist. Emma Missouri’s mail-order coffee business brochure promises “Eden in Your Cup” and touts eco-kashrut and tikkun olam, repair of the world, as its guiding principles. Inside the pamphlet, while the basic certified organic coffees listed include standard beans from Kenya, Colombia and Nicaragua, she has a blast with the blends and flavors. “Shofar” promises a wake-up call as the company’s breakfast blend, and “Diaspora” is a combination of French-roasted beans from Ethiopia and Kenya. “Shabbat” promises a rich, aromatic experience and Costa Rican French Roast — dubbed “Klezmer Kraze” — should make you want to dance, Missouri said in a telephone interview. The “Golem” blend “is dark, yet mellow,” she said, and the “Yetzer Harah,” named for Judaism’s “evil inclination,” is a smooth roast of Sumatran Gayo Mountain coffee that provides an unexpected kick. The “Yetzer Hatov” blend, named for the “positive inclination,” is decaf, of course. Missouri said she got into the organic coffee-roasting business a couple of years ago, after two decades as an actress. She is based in West Hurley, N.Y., a cow patty’s throw from Woodstock. She changed her name — from what, she wouldn’t say, except that it was “a typical Jewish mouthful” — in homage to the state of her birth. A few years back she got into the Jewish Renewal and Reconstructionist movements, and became a follower of the eco- kashrut principles, which direct consumers of food to consider issues of economic injustice as well as the method of slaughter or quality of rabbinic supervision when deciding what is kosher. Her main business is as a wholesale roaster of organic coffees, under the name Catskill Mountain Coffee, which she sells to gourmet supermarkets and health food stores in New York City and counties to its north. The Jewish java has been just an experiment. She changed the names into Hebraic patois for a sample mailing to 1,600 names she bought from Elat Chayyim, the progressive Jewish retreat center not far from where she is based. The experiment has been a success. Just days after mailing the brochure, she said she has already gotten more than a 1 percent order rate — phenomenal for such a small mailing, she said. Missouri is planning mailings for just before Passover and Rosh Hashanah, and is working to get her coffees certified kosher for Passover. And if you order the “L’Chayyim” blend, she donates 25 cents per pound to Eva Brown, an Amherst, Mass. therapist who works with people who survived the Holocaust as children. Order the “Shalom” blend, and the money goes to the New Israel Fund. And if you order “Tikkun Olam,” a donation goes to The Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life. To order your own Jewish joe, call Missouri at: 1-888-SAY- JAVA.