The first staff-person I spoke with this month was Autum Aslett, who has been working at the Co-op as a Barista for the past two and a half months. For her staff pick this month Autum chose the Blackberry Sage Tea blend made by Republic of Tea. Since it is Autum’s job to make almost every drink known to humankind for Co-op customers, she says she has tried quite a few of them, and knows her favorites at this point. She says the Blackberry Sage Tea is excellent hot or cold. She tends to drink it plain over ice or with steamed milk (a Blackberry Fog). Autum thinks the fruitiness of the blackberry is well complemented by the sage and overall a great choice.
The Republic of Tea is a socially and environmentally responsible company based in California that was founded in 1992 by the former owners of the company Banana Republic. The vision behind the Republic of Tea was to make high quality teas in interesting blends available globally, and to emphasize and celebrate the slow savoring of a cup of tea. In 1994, the company was sold to current owner Ron Rubin, who has utilized his background in the wine and beverage industry to grow the company into a nationally recognized brand that packages its tea in iconic cylindrical tins that are specially designed to preserve the freshness of the tea, according to an article about the company on Wikipedia.
According to their website, the Republic of Tea is dedicated to the responsible sourcing of their teas and other ingredients, as well as to sharing their prosperity with worthy organizations such as Action Against Hunger and the Whole Planet Foundation. They currently offer more than 300 premium teas, including the Blackberry Sage blend recommended by Autum, a black tea blend that is available at the Co-op in bulk, in canisters of individually packaged tea bags, and made to order in the Deli.
The second staff-person I spoke with this month was Dominic Durdan, who at that point had been working at the Co-op as a Grocery Stocker for only two days. I think this might be my record for finding the newest staff person ever to interview, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dominic was all ready to go with a recommendation. For his pick this month Dominic chose the Celebration Loaf made by Field Roast. Dominic told me that while he enjoys eating meat, his significant other is a vegetarian who likes to test out meat alternatives on him. Dominic recommends the Celebration Loaf because he really enjoyed the flavor, and in fact couldn’t even really tell that he wasn’t eating meat.
According to their website, the Original Field Roast Grain Meat Company was founded in Seattle in 1997, a year after Seattle Chef David Lee developed a great-tasting meat alternative product by experimenting with a combination of European charcuterie sausage making and the Asian Mien Ching tradition of crafting meat alternatives from grains.
The company started small, just distributing their products to the Puget Consumers Co-op store in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. By 2006, however, they had not only increased their product line, but had managed to gain nationwide distribution. They attribute much of this success to the “Celebration Roast,” which is an alternative to turkey and widely considered to be one of the best holiday meat alternatives—and not just by Dominic. Field Roast also differs from many of the other alternative meat companies in that the company does not aim to try and replicate the texture of animal meat, but rather to embrace the unique qualities of the grains and vegetables that make up their products.