Russ & I had the pleasure of taking some of our staff down to Brazil last month on an educational buying trip. We met farmers committed to more then just quality coffee, but also who were committed to making a difference in the environment and to the lives of people who worked for them on their farms.
We look forward to bringing to Calgary some of these special coffees and the stories of the families who put so much heart into producing them. I want to give a special thanks to Schieder and the good people of Tristao Trading for hosting our Fratello family while in Brazil. It was a fantastic trip!
Bolivian Specialty Coffees
Bolivian coffee is truly a hidden gem of specialty coffee. I was very surprised at the quality of coffee being produced, in these small farms high in the Andes Mountains. Growing conditions reach as high as 2500 meters above sea level. Almost every farm is organic; however, not all are certified. Typically these farms also grow other crops amongst their coffee trees such as orange, banana, and other tropical fruits. Walking through these farms gives you a lot of history as many have been handed down for many generations. Their farms and processes methods are very small as most farms are never more than 10 hectares. The growing conditions and processing methods are very typical of what would be found in Africa. You will find a lot of naturals, and semi-washed coffee on these farms.
Well it was the final day of the 2007 Bolivian Cup of Excellence competition. There was no better way to end off my journey than by seeing all of the hard working farmers and their families cheering each other on in hopes of being one of the 26 finalists.
It was incredible to see their faces filled with joy when their names were called one by one and recognized in front of all the media and their peers for the efforts to improve quality and consistency on their farms. It sure makes it easy for me to want to continue supporting the COE Competition when you get to hear stories of how this motivates them to improve what they do, and hear them tell us how their lives change through the exportation of their coffee to our roasting facilities.
VARGINHA, Brazil — Rafael de Paiva was skeptical at first. If he wanted a “fair trade” certification for his coffee crop, the Brazilian farmer would have to adhere to a long list of rules on pesticides, farming techniques, recycling and other matters. He even had to show that his children were enrolled in school.“I thought, ‘This is difficult,’” recalled the humble farmer. But the 20 percent premium he recently received for his first fair trade harvest made the effort worthwhile, Mr. Paiva said, adding, it “helped us create a decent living.”More farmers are likely to receive such offers, as importers and retailers rush to meet a growing demand from consumers and activists to adhere to stricter environmental and social standards. Mr. Paiva’s beans will be in the store-brand coffee sold by Sam’s Club, the warehouse chain of
Wal-Mart Stores. Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and Starbucks already sell some fair trade coffee.“We see a real momentum now with big companies and institutions switching to fair trade,” said Paul Rice, president and chief executive of TransFair USA, the only independent fair trade certifier in the United States. (more…)