You are here

Our Coffee Department visits a lot of growing regions each year, and they keep up with cooperatives and individual farmers throughout the year between visits through a variety of digital communications – from email to video conferencing. It's always great to hear updates along the way to feel connected to the producers of the coffees we love.
 
Coffee Buyer's Agent Hannah Popish got an email this week from Jorge Recinos. Jorge and his twin brother Javier run their family's Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala – from which we've been buying coffee for 10 years and are always happy to welcome back! The photos Jorge sent can be seen in the flickr set included here. And, here's Hannah's translated summary:
 
They started picking on December 14 and feel confident the quality this year will be even higher. We will likely get three containers from them, including Grotto or Gemelos microlots and 2-3 bags of Maragojipe. Leaf rust has definitely hit Guatemala, but, with the help of a lot of hard workers, they feel confident they have it controlled at FNA with organic pesticides. And, they continue to hope for more rain! And, Happy New Year from Finca Nueva Armenia!
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
Traditional coffee with Tena adam (rue) from Tim's stop in Coche in Ethiopia.
Coffee Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill, visited Ethiopia at the end of November and recently posted two sets of photos from his trip. The first part of the trip, Tim spent several days with coffee researchers in and around Jimma, followed by a trip to southern Ethiopia where he spent time at cooperatives under the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union – the group that includes the producers of Haru, Idido, and Beloya.
 
Read Tim's trip report from the research-focused portion of his visit to Ethiopia on Flickr. And, from his visit with some of our producer partners in southern Ethiopia, Tim posted a second Flickr set that includes a fairly comprehensive account of the work that's being done to improve coffees we get from Ethiopia and a detailed list of lots in progress. Enjoy!
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
Quality Relationships in Coffee & Tea
Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ioenscu and Coffee Buyer's Agent Hannah Popish just returned from a week in Northern Peru with Cenfrocafe, our cooperative partners who bring us Valle de Santuario and La Frontera coffees. The visit included the usual community meetings and talks with agronomists and cooperative leadership, but Kim Elena and Hannah were also there to celebrate the cooperative's 13th anniversary!
 
 
Thanks,
Nathan

Hello again!

So, Kim and I just returned from a week in Northern Peru with Cenfrocafe, our cooperative partners who bring us Valle de Santuario and La Frontera coffees. Though this visit included the usual community meetings and talks with agronomists and cooperative leadership, we were also there for a unique reason – celebrating the cooperative's 13th anniversary! So, the end of the week found us inaugurating a new storage center for the cooperative's coffee and dancing to some live cumbia music.

The nerd in me was overjoyed to see a work flow chart (pictured above) on the wall of the community center when we arrived for the meeting earlier in the week.

As you can faintly make out, taped below the plan they also have a printed biography of Valle del Santuario and a letter Kim sent in 2008 telling them what we particularly appreciated about their coffee. The subtitles on the chart read: type of work, what needs to be done, what is the goal, by when, with whom, and how much will it cost?" Topics of interest included maintaining quality coffee, strengthening the primary cooperative, and making home repairs for quality of life improvements.

It appears that it is, at least in part, organization and inspiration like this – naming the needs and making a work plan – that fuels the staying power of the cooperative. We were overjoyed to join in their celebration, and hope you'll enjoy some more notes about this trip.

Abrazos,
Hannah
Good works, good cheer, and great coffee. Our 2012 Holiday Blend!
Each year at holiday time, we create a special, limited-edition coffee dedicated to celebration and good cheer, made especially for holiday mornings and special occasions. We then donate a dollar per pound sold to a special charitable project in the place the coffee was grown, completing the cycle of good works, good cheer, and great coffee. This year, we're using coffees crafted especially for us in Southern Ethiopia and dedicating proceeds to educational projects there.
 
The blend for 2012 honors Ethiopia's coffee history and diversity of flavors, as well as the third year of our relationship with the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmer Cooperative Union (YCFCU) in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, by featuring coffee from multiple member communities from within this large co-op.
 
Donations from our 2012 Holiday Blend will fund a two-day workshop for agronomists, technicians, washing station managers, and growers from YCFCU – and other cooperatives in the region – on organic compost and good agricultural practices, as well as supporting a pilot worm compost project in one of the member communities that can be replicated in others.
 
Saludos,
Kim Elena
Preparing coffee seedlings in Ecuador.
This was Kim's second trip to Ecuador, and my first visit to the cooperative that brings us the coffee El Gavilán. After arriving in balmy, coastal Guayaquil on a Monday, we made the trek to the cool and mountainous Loja in the south. With Loja as our home base, we then visited producer communities in Quilanga and Palanda.
 
On this visit, we had the opportunity to spend time with two farmer cooperatives that our partner Fapecafes (the exporting cooperative) supports – Procafeq and Apecap. I also had the chance to travel for a second time with the incredibly knowledgeable Alejandro Cadena who works for our export partner Virmax. Together we visited farms, attended a cooperative meeting, spent some time in Fapecafes' main cupping lab, and spent a day cupping with Apecap's cuppers to calibrate on 37 coffees for an internal competition celebrating the co-ops farmers.
 
Last year, we offered El Gavilán for the first time, and were pleased with their high yields and high cup quality. This harvest year was a tough one for Fapecafes for multiple reasons. Coffee plants were particularly hard hit by the rust disease, or "roya," that became so prevalent in Colombia in years past. This upset led to reduced yields, impacted cup quality, and decreased prices – all challenging news for farmers.
 
However, after a week with their members we feel confident that, because of their level of organization and initiative, there will be more good years to come. In the photo included above, Elfredín's family in Palanda is preparing bags for coffee seedlings – an apt metaphor for our growing relationship with Fapecafes in Ecuador.
 
We hope you enjoy these photos and stories!
 
Un abrazo,
Hannah
Coffee Buyer's Agent
Back from Rwanda.
Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill recently returned from a trip to Bolivia with the newest member of our Coffee Department, Hannah Popish, whom some of you may recognize from her work as an consultant on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots earlier this year.
 
In Bolivia, Tim and Hannah met with a company called Agritrade and Virmax, our exporting partners from Colombia, to taste coffees and work out the logistics of organizing improved quality Bolivian coffee with more prompt shipment. And, of course, they visited some farms, as well. Read Tim's report and peruse photos curated by Hannah in this flickr set from their trip to Bolivia.
 
Prior to Bolivia, Tim traveled to Rwanda and Burundi, and made his first, very brief visit to the Congo. Check out our Coffee Department trip reports for each of Tim's photosets from his trip to Africa in June with full annotation. And, stay tuned ... Tim head's to Papua New Guinea in just a few weeks.
 
Thanks,
Nathan
Do microlots mater to producers?
Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu and Independent Evaluation Consultant Hannah Popish worked together on an enlightening study of how coffee farmers value microlots.
 
The information presented in "Do Microlots Matter to Producers" derives from a study conducted by Counter Culture Coffee and published in March 2012 titled, "The Social Impacts of Microlots: A Coffee Cooperative Case Study in Ihuamaca, Peru." The study aimed to measure the social impacts of microlot selection on members of the CENFROCAFE cooperative in five Peruvian communities where Counter Culture Coffee has purchased coffee over the last five years.
 
Read more about the microlots study and see the results in the Sustainability section of our website.
 
Thanks,
Nathan

Pages

FAQ