You are here

Seeds is an acronym that stands for Sustaining Environmental and Educational Development at Source. Our Seeds program was created to structure and define Counter Culture's monetary contributions to projects that are not coffee-quality-specific but still benefit our coffee-producing partners and their communities. To date, we have contributed a total of $24,963 to projects in 6 countries. We'd like to catch you up on the projects we have funded over the last couple of years through our Seeds program with an eye toward more regular updates of ongoing projects.
Our Fourth Project: The Social Impact of Microlots
CENFROCAFE Cooperative
San Ignacio, Peru
Hannah Popish (right) with one-time microlot producer Aquino Huachez Huachez on his farm in Peru.
This project was slightly different, as it involved yours truly, a contracted consultant at the time, helping to formalize a study and lead and analyze the research on the social impact of microlots. Together, Cenfrocafe cooperative and Counter Culture Coffee were able to gain greater understanding of the producers' and cooperative's perceptions of microlot production, and their hopes for the future. (Cenfrocafe brings us our Valle del Santuario and La Frontera coffees.)
The hypothesis prior to the study was that microlot coffee production may have both a positive and negative impact on communities. The positive impact on cooperative members could be felt by a sense of ownership of their product and a return on investment, while the negative impact could potentially be feelings of envy or competition that quality coffee production promotes among non-microlot members.
Data was collected through 13 semi-structured, open-ended, qualitative interviews with microlot and non-microlot members, two with promotores who work in these communities, and one facilitated community meeting with about 65 cooperative members. A few common themes emerged from the interviews, especially with regard to improvements that they believe would help more farmers produce microlots more consistently from year to year. Many growers requested greater definition of which coffee varieties to plant for better cup quality, and others noted a need for better coffee-drying infrastructure – namely, raised beds under plastic tarps. In general, producers did not have a sense of envy for their neighbors who received the microlot premium. Rather, the non-microlot recipients were excited for the microlot recipients and simply desired increased knowledge as to how they too could receive the premium.
Counter Culture and Cenfrocafe also agreed that more recognition of top producers – outside of the price premium – would serve an intangible but significant motivational purpose. We will work together on some form of reward or recognition for 2012.
While Counter Culture has had similar conversations with producers before, we now have a whole new lens through which to examine them and develop strategies together. We were especially grateful to Teodomiro Melendres and Sergio Ramirez, the 2 promotores from CENFROCAFE who helped to carry out and analyze the responses from their cooperative members. Overall, producers were excited for the opportunity to share their opinions and shed light on their experiences. The cooperative is in the planning stages of how they will use the report to inform long-term action to encourage and manage microlot coffees among their members.
If you're interested in more details about the project, you can read the full study here. And, Michael Sheridan of the renowned Borderlands project wrote a review of Counter Culture's microlot study here.
'Til next week,
Recent Updates:
Our $3 Holiday Flat Rate Shipping runs through the end of the year. Save a couple of bucks on shipping for the perfect gifts—coffee and coffee accessories—for the coffee lovers in your life. We have something for pretty much everyone in our web store. Our customizable subscriptions let you...
Our roasting and production departments will be closed on Thanksgiving Day—Thursday, November 26—and the day after. Orders placed after midnight Tuesday, November 24, will be held for roasting and shipping on Monday, November 30. Orders in transit may experience a slight delay, as the US...
Sustainability Manager Meredith Taylor visited East Timor last month. It was the first time anyone from Counter Culture has visited the country. Since 2002, coffee has been a major export for East Timor, and Meredith was excited for the opportunity to check out this under-the-radar origin. Read...
I started working in coffee a bit accidentally—happening upon a job as a barista until I "figured out what I really wanted to be." After a few years on the job, my former-boss here at Counter Culture, Kim Ionescu, suggested I apply for the Specialty Coffee Association of America's Sustainability...
As I've said in previous posts, we have some awesome employees here at Counter Culture who think about sustainability not only at work, but in their own lives, as well. One of these sustainably-minded folks is Chelsea Thoumsin, the customer support representative at our Philadelphia Training Center...