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Caffeine High: Navajo Zoo Partners To Sell Gourmet Coffee Blends

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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.

Geri Hongeva, Division of Natural Resources

Keith Duquitto, owner of Kachina Tea & Coffee, shares his passion for helping the Navajo Nation Zoo and using the best ingredients at his store.

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.”

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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.

Geri Hongeva, Division of Natural Resources

David Mikesic, zoologist at the Navajo Zoo, introduces each coffee blend as he describes the character of each animal at the tribally sanctioned zoo.

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.