Wait…. coffee now?

Hola Amigos.

We began this trip focused entirely on the cultivation and sale of bananas. Our assignment is to work with the farmers of the Cooperativa Todos Hermanos in Zacapa, Guatemala, who are successfully exporting coffee, but are looking for ways to diversify their family income and provide additional food security throughout the year. Some have begun to grow bananas, but without expertise or training, they are producing less than they might. Our hope is to discover ways in which organizational management, cultivation practices, and the marketing of their products can strengthen the existing co-operative.

Though up to this point, our project has seemed well defined, by the end of the afternoon we had discovered some complicating factors. We spent the day in the office of the Bishop of Zacapa y Chiquimula speaking with various members of the co-op administration including the founder, Monsenor Bofelli, his right-hand-woman, Blanca, and the manager and agricultural specialist, Emilio. Since the co-op’s primary crop is coffee, we spent a lot of time today learning about that part.

Emilio holding a coffee bag from the co-op's first export last year.

Some new terms:

Gold coffee: dried out beans with the husk still on. Smells like hay.

Dry-mill: State of the art German machine used to clean and sort the coffee.

“Unfaithful” competition: The members of the coffee-producing economy that have some illegal side-businesses.

After a long day of interviews and a dinner debrief, we ate some mangoes. The result was… sticky….

"This... is very beautiful." -Anton

One thought on “Wait…. coffee now?

  1. Hello from South Bend! It snowed a bit yesterday … don’t you wish you were here!

    So the inter-term I am doing is called “Sustainability at the Source” and we are looking at different sustainability certificates that are in the market place including Fair Trade certs. I was just curious how the practice of fair trade is affecting the farmers of the Cooperativa Todos Hermanos. Is it making it difficult for them to get their crops into the market? has it made them more or less competitive in the market place? Anyway I am just a curious guy who was wondering if you are studying any of those dimensions

    Keep up the good work!