Vermont – Days 4-5: Factories and Tours and Samples Oh My!

Brittany Swanson   October 1, 2015   Comments Off on Vermont – Days 4-5: Factories and Tours and Samples Oh My!

For my second day in a row of touring factories and seeking out free samples I started with the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center and Cafe. The Visitor Center was another interactive place, so I really enjoyed it. There was this cool part where you could lean into this fake bag of coffee beans with your knees bent and then stand up to feel how heavy the bags were. It was neat. They also had cool cylindrical displays that you could turn to read more about a topic. What I liked most about the Visitor Center though was the company's transparency.

I walked all the way around the building, because I missed this sign... Green Mountain Coffee, Waterbury, VT.

I walked all the way around the building, because I missed this sign... Green Mountain Coffee, Waterbury, VT.

Green Mountain Coffee is one of those awesome places where people get paid to go do volunteer work on company time. I love those places! I love that they encourage their employees to give back to their communities and that they're willing to pay them to do it! Green Mountain Coffee is also conscious of the environment and have implemented policies and practices that neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, they give back to their employees and partners financially through scholarships and matching charity donations. They even have a Mindfulness Center where employees can go meditate or do yoga. How cool is that?! On top of all this, everything they make is Fair Trade and Organic. The Visitor Center really made me want to work for Green Mountain Coffee because of all the good things they do/care about.

Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coffee, even if it did keep me up all night...

Delicious Pumpkin Spice Coffee, even if it did keep me up all night...

I sampled the Pumpkin Spice coffee in the Green Mountain Coffee Cafe. It was delicious. If you couldn't tell, I'm really into fall flavors. The Pumpkin Spice blend had a nice aroma to it and tasted just how it sounds. It was a little shot sized cup, but even the minimal amount managed to keep me up all the next night. No more coffee for me.

Down the road was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Cold Hollow Cider Mill, like Lake Champlain Chocolates, also had a window where you could watch what was happening in the factory. It was pretty cool. They poured the chunks of apples onto a cloth on a palette and then folded the cloth over the chunks and set another palette on top of that until they had a stack about twelve palettes high. Then they moved the palettes to the press where all the juice was squeezed out of the apples. Like I said, it was pretty cool.

Factory worker pouring apple chunks onto the press pile. Cold Hollow Cider Mill Factory, Waterbury, VT.

Factory worker pouring apple chunks onto the press pile. Cold Hollow Cider Mill Factory, Waterbury, VT.

In addition to cider, they had lots of other things to sample at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. First up on my taste testing tour of the mill gift shop was:

Horseradish Jam: I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I'm pretty sure I didn't know what horseradish was. Needless to say, I was unpleasantly surprised by the kick and promptly ate three more crackers to get the taste out of my mouth.

Apple Butter: Not my favorite. Not terrible though.

Pumpkin Butter: Delicious! But then, I'm usually game for anything that tastes this much like fall...

Honey Mustard: Also good, and I usually don't like mustard at all.

There were a few more, but I didn't write them down, apparently they were nothing special.

Then there was the Cider itself: Pretty decent spices. It was served cold, and I'd bet my new socks that it would've been way better warm.

I also bought a Cider Donut for 50¢. It was a disappointment. It wasn't quite cold, but definitely wasn't lukewarm either. The cider flavor was just barely there. I'd wager it, too, would've been better warm. Oh well.

My final stop for the day was the one I'd been looking forward to the most since I'd started 50 States in 50 Weeks...

Ben and Jerrys!

Ben and Jerry's mobile unit outside the factory in Waterbury, VT.

Yep, the Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour! It cost $4, but I knew it'd be worth it - how could it not when you got ice cream as part of the tour?! I showed up just in time for the 1:45 p.m. expedition. Our guide was pretty funny, he had lots of good dairy related jokes. Then again, I really like corny things, so maybe they were only funny to me. Everyone else did groan a lot after his jokes... Our first stop on the tour was a video that gave us a brief history of the company and how Ben and Jerry got started. Then we walked into a viewing area where our guide explained each step in the factory line process. Sadly, we were asked not to take pictures in the factory area. The guide said something about Häagen Dazs spies...

Next we proceeded down to the tasting room. For $4.00 I thought we would get a pint at the end of the tour...not sure why since a pint is like $6 normally. The sample we got was more like a glorified ketchup cup... Though it was a decent scoop, I'll give them that, but I'd been expecting more, so I was a little bummed. We sampled Triple Caramel Chunk® "Caramel Ice Cream with a swirl of caramel and fudge covered caramel chunks". It was Ben & Jerry's, so obviously it was delightful. I savored mine, but it was still gone in a matter of minutes. On the way back to the gift store we passed the quality assurance lab where people actually get paid to taste ice cream... If it wouldn't make me terribly sick I'd quit the trip now and apply for a job there.

In the gift shop I found these cool bracelets showing solidarity for these UN goals. Even though the goals were set for 2015, I still bought them because I liked the idea and wanted to show my support.

Go check out www.shaketheworld.org for more information about these bracelets!

Go check out www.shaketheworld.org for more information about these bracelets!

I really wanted to try Ben & Jerry's pistachio ice cream, because I love pistachio ice cream and didn't even know they made it, but they didn't have any in the scoop shop. I decided to pass on buying any ice cream altogether since I'd already had ice cream on the tour and bought the UN bracelets. My final stop at Ben & Jerry's, meant I had to brave the rain and walk up a hill to the Flavor Graveyard, where good, and not so good flavors go to rest in peace:

"A nutty mix of chocolate & pistachio ice creams with fudge covered almonds and lightly roasted pistachios"?! It is nuts that they would get rid of such a delicious flavor! Flavor Graveyard, Ben & Jerry's, Waterbury, VT.

"A nutty mix of chocolate & pistachio ice creams with fudge covered almonds and lightly roasted pistachios"?! It is nuts that they would get rid of such a delicious flavor! Flavor Graveyard, Ben & Jerry's, Waterbury, VT.

"Vanilla ice cream with strawberries and fudge covered shortbread" I'm bummed my namesake ice cream doesn't exist anymore. Flavor Graveyard, Ben & Jerry's, Waterbury, VT.

"Vanilla ice cream with strawberries and fudge covered shortbread" I'm bummed my namesake ice cream doesn't exist anymore. Flavor Graveyard, Ben & Jerry's, Waterbury, VT.