By Gaige Davila
In a quiet citrus grove between Los Fresnos and Laguna Vista, some of the most sought after coffees in the world are being roasted, with hundreds of pounds a week being sold to connoisseurs across the globe.
Janet Goings and her husband, Jeff, are the minds and hands behind Tree Frog Coffees, starting the micro roastery in a suburb outside of Houston, Texas fourteen years ago, after Janet left her job teaching English at a junior high school. Needing to replace the lost income, she started studying coffee, finding the difference between commercially grown coffee and shade-grown, fair trade, organic specialty coffee to be stark, opting to roast and sell the latter.
Three years ago, the Goings moved Tree Frog Coffees to South Texas, continuing their coffee roasting into a full-time, steady operation for shade-grown coffee beans that taste smoother and sweeter than those grown in the sun. When shelter-in-place orders were issued across the country, Tree Frog Coffees’ orders tripled, as more people made coffee at home, Janet said. Regulars started doubling up their orders, and new customers are continuing to buy.
“We have not stopped,” Janet Going said. “We’ve been very fortunate through (the pandemic), we’re one of the odd ones. I guess that it’s actually helped us.”
Tree Frog Coffees’ name comes from a natural phenomena observed in coffee farms: healthy environments have frog populations. If frogs sense disturbances within the environment, such as pesticides, they will leave. Tree Frog Coffees only buys organic, shade-grown, fair trade and Rainforest Alliance certified coffee beans. The beans must be grown in sustainable farms, too, Janet Goings said, advocating for the health and safety of farmers from pesticides.
Tree Frog Coffees uses only the top 2% of handpicked beans from their growers across the world, including Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Guatemala, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Sumatra. Also, Tree Frog Roasters is one of three roasters in the U.S. who gets coffee beans from the Galapagos Islands, receiving 12 out of the allotted 5,000 bags for worldwide exportation each year, according to Galapagos law.
The Goings are shipping coffees across the world, including Australia, Germany, Japan, England, Russia and the Micronesian islands, along with making a monthly drive to Houston to deliver to coffee shops and grocery stores.
All beans are roasted to order, Janet Goins said, with their coffees shipping and arriving at customers’ homes within three or four days. Batches are made inside a 7 kilogram roaster, with Janet handling the roasting.
Regular customers buy Tree Frog Coffee’ monthly coffee specials in bulk, regardless what flavor or origin is on sale.
“They’ve been with me for so long, they like all the coffees, and they trust everything’s going to be good,” Janet Goings said.
The Goings seem to get as much “good” as possible out of their coffees, even through the roasting. Tree Frog Coffees roast their beans medium to medium dark but never dark. Roasting the beans to medium levels retains more of the coffee’s subtle flavor notes.
What is perhaps most unique about Tree Frog Coffees is, ironically, their decaf blends. They order from a Canadian company which uses the Swiss Water Process to decaffeinate their coffee beans. Using heat, water and time, the caffeine is dissolved out of the coffee beans in an organic, chemical free process. These decaffeinated beans taste just like their caffeinated counterparts, and they have an “enormous” following among Tree Frog Coffees’ customers.
Though Janet Goings isn’t teaching anymore, she’s continued to educate her customers, whether at markets or through her thoroughly detailed website.
“When I do talk to people about (coffee), I hope to educate them about the environment and how we’re also protecting farmers,” she said. “We are truly helping people and the environment at the same time. We don’t want people to stick with the coffee that’s literally tearing up the land and causing problems.”
For more information or to purchase Tree Frog Coffees, visit www.treefrogcoffees.com, call (956) 233-3764 or email email@example.com.