Samantha Enos, Kachina Tea & Coffee marketing assistant, talks about how you can buy the coffee and how it will benefit the Navajo Zoo, July 9, 2013. (Geri Hongeva, Division of Natural Resources)

Caffeine High: Navajo Zoo Partners To Sell Gourmet Coffee Blends


Over the past year, a joint venture has been brewing between the Navajo Nation Zoo and Kachina Tea & Coffee Company. On July 9, the parties unveiled four unique coffee blends they will sell, each hand-packaged in seven-ounce bags featuring one of four Navajo Zoo animals selected to represent the character of the coffee. 

The companies signed a Memorandum of Agreement, billed in a press release as a “culturally lateral collaboration,” which was approved February 23 by the Navajo Nation Council and the Tribal offices of the president and vice-president.  

Keith Duquitto, owner of Kachina Tea & Coffee, shares his passion for helping the Navajo Nation Zoo and using the best ingredients at his store. (Geri Hongeva, Division of Natural Resources)Under the terms, net proceeds will be divided equally between the Navajo Nation Zoo and Kachina Tea & Coffee Company. The Navajo Zoo will invest the money in caring for the animals and the future development of the Zoo. Kachina Tea & Coffee Company will direct its profits toward a proposed facility for the roasting and production of the coffee in or near Window Rock—along with a number of complimentary, healthy culinary items. Details of the planned headquarters are included in the Memorandum, which identifies the project as not only “community supportive” but as “community inclusive.”

The Navajo Nation Zoo—home to injured and orphaned animals—is the only Native-owned and -operated zoo in the country. Formed in July 4, 1977, in Window Rock, Arizona, the Zoo cares for animals unable to live in the wild, describing itself as “A Sanctuary for Nature and the Spirit.” Most of the creatures housed at the Navajo Nation Zoo are native to the Four Corners region and significant to the traditions, legends and stories of the Dine People.

Kachina Tea & Coffee Company was conceived in Malibu Canyon, California in the early 2000s. The company’s original concept was to create a line of natural botanical tea blends in an effort to lend nutritional and psychosocial support to friends and family experiencing certain types of functional inconveniences or those simply pursuing a healthy lifestyle from the inside out. Founder Keith Duquitto has garnered more than 25 years of clinical practice as a respiratory therapist and has cultivated a diverse collection of healthcare professionals as colleagues.

David Mikesic, zoologist at the Navajo Zoo, introduces each coffee blend as he describes the character of each animal at the tribally sanctioned zoo. (Geri Hongeva, Division of Natural Resources)
For the Navajo Zoo and Kachina Tea & Coffee Company, choosing the coffee blends was a meticulous and creative process, and they then astutely matched each blend with a package design featuring one of four representative animals from the Navajo Zoo.
The coffee blends and animal pairings include:   
1) Espresso Italiano—a medium-strong espresso roast featuring the orphaned Kay-bah, the Navajo Zoo’s rugged lioness (cougar);
2) An Elegant Kona Blend—a simple and elegant roast blended with Hawaiian Kona beans with notes of tropical flowers and ripe persimmon featuring the orphaned Naabahi—one of the Navajo Zoo’s endearing male bobcats;
3) Chuska Chai’s Hazelnut—a fruity, smooth coffee with a hint of natural flavoring from Oregon-grown hazelnuts featuring the Navajo Zoo’s native tassel-eared squirrel; and
4) A Regal Decaf—a rich, deeply dimensioned and sweet decaffeinated blend aptly represented by the Navajo Zoo’s male Ringtail.
Presently, a Northern California-based seasoned coffee importer and roaster packages the beans, which are then shipped to a Las Vegas-based young master coffee roaster and good friend of the Navajo Zoo, who is artfully blending the coffees.
Each coffee blend will be offered in seven-ounce quantities—intended as an ideal sample size for discovering one’s favorite coffee, or as a Zoo supportive gift for family and friends.

Coffees will be available for sale at the Kachina Tea Company store in Las Vegas, and on the company’s website in the near future. In Window Rock, the coffee will be sold at the Navajo Nation Zoo, The Navajo Nation Museum, and other locations in the near future.

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Ktea1's picture
Submitted by Ktea1 on
Just a Note on Coffee and where we are today. Over the course of the past year the Navajo Nation Zoo and Kachina Tea Company have worked with a number of premiere socially conscious coffee importers and genuine artisan roasting houses. Today we work with the two we’ve deemed the most appropriately community supportive and understanding of our culturally lateral objective in an effort to bring to you the finest coffees available with a cost as comfortable as practicality will allow. Great coffee is grown in the mountains between 3,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level. It is estimated that 85% of all coffee is grown on small subsistence family farms. In Nicaragua a small family farm might be between five and ten acres that barely supports four to eight family members. In Rwanda the average family farm is one half an acre and supports eight to ten family members. It is usually a very trying existence. Cooperatives are the traditional way these coffee farmers even the playing field. Farmers sell their production to their cooperative, which then has enough volume to enter the export market. But that is not all cooperatives do. Something happens when people elect their leaders, one vote per member. The process of forming a cooperative, no less operating it, is one that is amazing especially for people with so few resources. The economic benefits have a significant effect. The socioeconomic cooperation has an effect. The security of having a secure market for their coffee has an effect. The kids in school have an effect. The village changes. It becomes stronger, more self-directed and confident. Because the community is far away from the urban centers, money coming into the community is spent in the community. Local economic development increases as local money is available for local community supportive economic development. NavajoZoo Coffee comes through carefully researched fair trade cooperatives, carries Organic and/or Kosher designation and is blended then roasted by one of the most renown artisan roasters in the country. During the upcoming year it is our intention to move our primary base of operation to a location in closer proximity to the Zoo which will include our own roasting facility, packaging, wholesale and retail sales and a hopefully a tasting room. We have been offered the extraordinary opportunity of sending one of our employees to be trained in the Art of Roasting our NavajoZoo Coffee under the mentorship of one of the most seasoned and well known Roast Masters in the industry today, under the provision this individual is selected from a Native American Community. As our developmental process continues and we reach the point of seeking out a candidate for our roaster position we will post a message on The Indian Country Page, Kachina Tea on Google+, and other information sharing avenues as well, so please keep an eye out if such an opportunity may be of interest to you. A Special Thank You to Indian Country Today Media for sharing their original article about our NavajoZoo Coffee venture and all of their support. Sincerely, NavajoZoo Coffee Kachina Tea Company