You are here
Saturday, I headed back to San Ignacio for a meeting with representatives of a program called Pro-Santuario that is working to strengthen conservation projects in the Santuario Nacional de Tabaconas-Namballe (the Santuario of our coffee's name). Their means to achieving these goals include building stable economies for the communities of the region and fulfilling basic gaps in infrastructure, because in the absence of stable economies and basic infrastructure (water) drive people to exploit the protected sanctuary for their survival. We strategized about how quality coffee can help foster healthy soil, plant diversity, and a culture of environmental sustainability. It's fair to say that our grower partners in Peru are pioneers in sustainable agriculture as they strive to grow great coffee in harmony with the natural environment but also commit themselves to conservation on a larger scale as stewards of the Santuario.
I spent the next two days in Alta Ihuamaca, the village that Peter and I visited in September. Sunday afternoon is the time of the week to see and be seen in the village, so after some time among the coffee plants in the morning, we spent the rest of the day between social visits and the weekly cockfight. I shared our photographs, coffee bios, and "Source" bags all over the communities, but in Alta Ihuamaca I had the pleasure of presenting one of our "Source" postcards to the grower who appears in the photo (his name is Silvio). He blushed and smiled, then commented that he wished he had shaved that day! As in the other communities I visited, the farms here look great: healthy, well-fertilized plants with lush, abundant shade. Drying coffee is a challenge in this misty climate, even with the raised bed systems that Cenfro has helped the farmers construct. We will focus some attention on this issue over the next couple of years in order to further overall crop quality.
One of the farms I revisited was that of Zacarías Neyra, one of our three microlot producers from last year. Like Aquino Huachez, Zacarías goes the extra mile to produce quality: varietals, harvesting ripe cherry, attention to detail in processing and constant farm improvement set him apart even in this field of great growers. Zacarías has made himself a leader and set an example for quality among the growers, and I expect that he'll continue to take on more responsibility within the co-operative as well as continuing to improve the quality of his crop. After dinner on Sunday, Zacarías and few other farmers and I stayed up late into the night discussing dream interpretation, witchcraft, and fate by candlelight. As I walked home night under the stars, I couldn't help feeling that this little valley is more than a little bit enchanted.
Leaving Alta Ihuamaca on Monday meant beginning the long, slow trip back to the States. I had one final meeting with Cenfrocafe on Tuesday to talk about project possibilities for the future, and today I'm back at Café Verde in Lima.
I miss you all and I look forward to seeing all of you soon! Until then, que les vaya bien.
Here's some news:
Marysabel Caballero of Finca El Puente is South Korea, where she is serving as a sensory judge for the Ultimate Barista Challenge! She asked for my advice on whether to participate because she was nervous about her ability, but she's an adventurer through and through and an amazing ambassador for growers, so I knew she'd be up to the task.
The 21st de Septiembre is using the post-harvest calm as an opportunity to do visits and training in the communities that make up the co-op in order to strengthen their membership.
- Personal & direct communication with coffee farmers: Counter Culture has visited grower partners on a biennial basis, at minimum.
- Fair & sustainable prices paid to farmers: Counter Culture has paid at least $1.60/lb. for green coffee. This exceeds the Fair Trade Certified floor price by at least 19%, not including quality-based financial incentives paid to growers.
- Exceptional cup quality: Coffees have scored at least 85 on Counter Culture’s blind 100-pt. cupping (cup quality) scale.
- 100% supply chain transparency: Counter Culture maintains direct communication between buyers, sellers, and any intermediaries. All relevant financial information is available to all parties in the supply chain.
Our personal, direct communication with coffee farmers builds trust and lays the groundwork for long-term, mutually supportive relationships that allow us to work side by side with growers to improve quality; encourage ecologically responsible cultivation methods; assess social practices and working conditions; and learn more about the cultures and people who produce great coffee.
Click here to learn more about Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification.