A Story in Every Cup: A Review of Gerhart's Coffee

Updated on July 28, 2017
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Luke works as a middle school English, ELD, social justice, and mindfulness teacher in the sanctuary city, San Jose, CA.

Running Pump Roasting Company

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They say that a good cup of coffee brings people together. It changes perspectives, brightens days, and promotes a positive outlook. It's been around since at least the 15th century, moving steadily northbound from Africa to Europe. Since then, many cultures have adopted it as their own. Drinking coffee has become a regular morning routine for millions of people around the world. It facilitates storytelling and promotes bonding between strangers. In a nutshell, coffee rocks!

"A Story in Every Cup." I thought it was just a slogan until I bought a bag. It was only then that I realized the truth.

Gerhart Coffee Company

Gerhart Coffee Company is proud partners with Grocery Outlet, bargain market. They sell certified, fair trade, organic coffee beans at a very reasonable price. The label boasts “A Story in Every Cup.” I thought it was just a slogan until I bought a bag. It was only then that I realized the truth.

The label goes on to say, “Fresh-Roasted, Caringly Crafted Coffees can open our eyes to new worlds of flavor and culture. Each bean comes with its own personality, and sharing that perfect cup with friends sparks conversation and stories that can last a lifetime.” Of course, by the time I’d read this, I was already onto my second cup of delicious, morning brew.

Peru 'Collyur' Blend

I began feeling very alert and highly connected to my surroundings, almost like the first waves of enlightenment. Feeling weightless and filled with light, I laughed because I hadn’t felt that good since the summer before. It was strong coffee, like the kind you find at high altitudes. I grabbed the bag and started reading the label. Peru ‘Collyur’ Blend. I knew it, I thought. Just like the summer before.

The Gerhart Coffee Company

Honeymoon in Peru

The previous summer I’d gotten married to my beautiful bride, Brittany. We had a perfect wedding with all our family and friends gathered together. For our honeymoon, we went on a month long adventure throughout Peru. You can watch it here. Our first week was at the Tree House Lodge, in Iquitos. It was a secret Shangri-La, hidden deep in the Amazon Rainforest.

As the earthy coffee aromas wafted up from my fresh cup, I was reminded of the sacred moments in the forest. Wildflowers and butterflies were everywhere, filling the sky with a brilliant array and display of myriad colors. Brittany and I were riding around the Amazon River in a little fishing boat, looking for big-eyed monkeys in the hollows of trees, and having a really good time.

Our guide, Edgar, was an expert navigator. He grew up in the Cucama tribe, nearby. He was a good guy, working hard to survive in Peru’s tough economy. In fact, he recently started an Amazon Rainforest Survival Program for people who want to learn how to survive in the jungle and learn more about the medicinal plants of he rainforest. If you'd like, you can read my review of his services and expertise as a jungle guide here.

Edgar eventually became a close friend and an open doorway for the rest of our adventure. He told us about the magic of the rainforest, and ultimately brought our honeymoon full circle; connecting us to shaman, Fernando.

Shaman Fernando was a master medicine man. He spoke to the plants and ancestors of the forest, and they told him what to do. He was trained as a shaman from the age of eight, by his grandfather. His life consisted of two worlds. In one, people paid him as an alchemical healing doctor. The other surpassed the veils of ordinary consciousness, allowing him to commune and interact with other dimensions of reality.

Machu Picchu

Folk Tale: The Frog and the Condor

I took another sip of my coffee and continued reading the package. “The ‘Morning Star’ of Peruvian coffees, taking its name from an ancient Folk Tale.” The story speaks of a misshapen and self-conscious frog that lived high in the Andes Mountains. One of the frog’s legs was a lot longer than the other, and she was made fun of for it by her family. She felt very ashamed of her appearance.

Near the frog, in a dark cave, lived a monstrous, black condor that stole a girl from her home and forced her to prepare him meals. The girl’s name was Collyur, which meant Morning Star to her people. One day, she begged that she might wash her clothes near a river. The condor hesitated, but Collyur promised to make noise so that he knew she wasn’t running away.

Near the river, Collyur encountered the frog. The frog claimed she knew magic and that she wanted to help the girl escape. The frog would shape-shift her body to look like Collyur’s. Then, Collyur could run away while the frog tricked the condor. Collyur agreed, kissed the frog goodbye, and quickly fled down the mountainside.

Later, the condor came for the girl, angry at her for taking so long. But “Collyur” jumped in the water and vanished, leaving only a frog behind. The condor looked for Collyur, but never found her for the rest of the story.

Swimming home, the frog braced herself for another night of judgment and humiliation. However, it never came. Instead, her family gathered around in awe. Illuminating the frog’s forehead, where Collyer had kissed her, was a bright jewel.

“You are beautiful!” her sister exclaimed. “You’re like the Morning Star,” her brother added. Catching a glimpse of herself in the water, the frog held her head high with pride.

The Best Coffee?

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Coffees Can Open Our Eyes to New Worlds

The story of the frog was completely new to me, and it came out of nowhere. It flashed across my mind like a photograph, and I understood it instantly. Likewise, I started seeing the stories of all the things around me. Each object was rich with history. I felt like each had it’s own Wikipedia tab opened, and I was viewing all the information at once.

What kind of coffee is this, I wondered? I looked down and realized that my drink was the same color as Shaman Fernando's brew. For a moment, I thought I heard the perpetual sounds of the jungle. I thought I heard Shaman Fernando singing. I felt my mind being transported back in time to that special and sacred place in the jungle. It was as if the experience was happening again in full force. As the mysteries of the mundane began falling away, I took one last sip before reality turned upside down.

The image of the Morning Star’s light in the center of the frog’s forehead burned in my brain. I felt myself getting sweaty and gasping slightly for air. The room started to spin, and I slowly sank to the floor. On my way down, I dropped the bag of coffee, scattering tiny, brown beans all across my kitchen floor. Lying there, I thought they were perfectly placed; pretty as a picture.

I felt my body melting away. I had experienced this sensation before, but I couldn’t remember how to make it stop and come back to a sense of normalcy. All around me, objects started coming alive. They weren’t walking around, but I could sense their beingness. Each had its own essence and was very special. Everything was an integral and necessary part of life, no more and no less than myself. They were part of me, and I was part them.

I started hearing a buzzing sound. It filled my body with vibrations and shook the ground around me. Whispering voices filled my ears, and I lay helpless alongside the unground coffee. Each bean was unique and special. On some level, it and I were the same. At certain points, this was too overwhelming of a realization for me to handle. I felt myself slipping from the floor.

I turned my head to the side in case I got sick. When I did, I saw the coffee bag staring at me, as if from a distant fog. It begged me to understand. It said, “…coffees can open our eyes to new worlds…each bean comes with its own personality…stories that can last a lifetime…” The truth had been there all along. I had just been too small-minded to see or understand it before.

Peru 'Collyur' Blend

A Fresh Perspective

It felt like I’d woken up out of a hypnosis. I saw how careless I had been, and how inhumanely I had acted only minutes before. I recalled ripping the coffee beans from their comfortably sealed resting positions. I’d sliced open their home with a sharp knife, and blinded them with relentless sun exposure. Without hesitation, I stole a group of beans away from their family and poured them into the coffee grinder. Savagely, they were whisked to dust with the press of a button, never to be seen by their loved ones again.

Next, as is the custom of my people, I'd poured scolding hot water over their ashes in an attempt to extract their lifeblood and consume it as my own. All the while, I did this groggily and unconsciously. Their lives were an unappreciated sacrifice to my morning ritual. I was like a negligent god who failed to realize his own power and influence over creation. How often does this happen, I wondered?

A barrage of questions flooded my senses. Who was I really? How much of the world was under my influence and control? Why had I been so blind before? Why was I given the power to see now? And what came next?

Running Pump Roasting Company

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A Story in Every Cup

Terrified, I called out to Shaman Fernando for help. Immediately, his rattle branches and soft icaro chants worked to dissipate the whispers and chaos in my mind. The world around me grew less intense and immersive, and the fog started to fade away from my senses. I started seeing contrasts again. The differences between the wall and floor, up and down, and self and other were a refuge in and of themselves.

Eventually, I felt completely better. In fact, I felt better than I had in a long time, but I couldn't remember why. The entire experience was quickly fading like a dream. I shook my head and grabbed a broom to sweep up my mess. As I cleaned up my kitchen, I struggled to remember what had just happened. I recalled a feeling of euphoria and a sensation of being back in the jungle. I looked at some of the remaining coffee beans still spilled out onto floor. There was something different about them, something special, but I couldn't figure out what.

I glanced at the package and stared hard at the label. There was something important about it; a deeper meaning begging for realization. It read, "..Caringly Crafted Coffees can open our eyes to new worlds..." This seems oddly relevant, I thought. I continued reading, "Each bean comes with its own personality..." I felt like it was trying to tell me something. Then I thought back to my first sip and suddenly the entire experience came crashing back into my consciousness.

"Holy $#^%!" I burst out laughing. "What an understatement!" I wondered if every cup was that exciting, so I went to boil some water for another pot of coffee. As I was putting the bag back in the freezer, I took one last glance at the Running Pump Roasting label. It read, “A Story in Every Cup.”

"Ya," I said. "I could write a story about this," and wondered how it would begin.

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The Gerhart Coffee Company

Born in 1880, the Gerhart Coffee Company's heritage as Central Pennsylvania's first coffee roaster is all about giving people a taste of nostalgia and comfort. Pioneer Paul Gerhart believed that local, fresh coffee should be served with the highest quality and standards. For a long time, Gerhart owned the only company around, and worked hard to supply local merchants with 35-pound drums to sell in their stores. Now, his company continues to work hard to provide the best and most affordable coffee on the market.

For the last 137 years, the Gerhart Coffee Co. has produced fair trade, organic coffees for any and all who want to experience its rich flavors and earthy aromas. While their attention is primarily focused on roasting for restaurants and coffee houses, they also sell a consumer brand of their coffee called Running Pump Roasting. Working with coffee shops and businesses around the world, Gerhart Coffee is able to maintain high standards for their product.

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An Honest Review

I wasn't kidding when I said this coffee was strong and delicious. Originally, I bought it because of its low price. Running Pump Roasting is in affiliation with Grocery Outlet, bargain market, which is a grocery store much like Aldi, where they sell discounted products to those who can't afford other, more expensive, grocery stores. Since buying my first bag, I've bought several others and am hooked on the taste.

Currently, I am drinking Running Pump Roasting's Peru 'Collyur' Blend, which really does taste like high altitude coffee. The coffee tastes smooth and earthy, and has subtle floral aromas that wake up other senses as well. It's the kind of coffee that leaves a really good aftertaste in your mouth. The flavor starts on the back of your tongue and works its way up to the tip, allowing you to savor the exquisite morning blend of medium roasted coffee beans.

In any case, I have no doubt this will be my drink of choice for awhile. It's price, flavor, and aftertaste are all something I look for in my morning brew. I highly suggest you try their broad range of fair trade, organic coffees. You can buy them wholesale on Gerhart Coffee Company's website, or visit your local Grocery Outlet for a variety of low cost whole beans sold in Running Pump Roasting packages. Enjoy!

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© 2017 Luke Holm

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