Tag Archive for: Mexico

by David Eldridge

Direct Trade: Origins

Categories: 2013, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

I’m a lit­tle uneasy but I’m not sure why.  I’ve become obsessed with a drum­beat com­ing from the oppo­site cor­ner of a town square in south­ern Mexico.  It’s a beau­ti­ful Spanish colo­nial town and I’m sit­ting in front of a delicious-looking meal at a side­walk café.  I just flew in from Columbus, Ohio and should be hun­gry but I can’t divert my atten­tion from the sound of the drum.  Now the street per­form­ers have aroused my atten­tion visu­ally and I can’t wait to get out of my chair, aban­don my meal, and explore.  I feel as if pry­ing myself out of this seat would per­mit the ten­sion to sub­side and allow me to enjoy the city of Oaxaca in this, my first trip to origin.

I’m trav­el­ing with a great group of peo­ple from all over the map, and they are busy wip­ing their brows from a long day of travel, eat­ing and toast­ing, mak­ing plans and obser­va­tions as we dine together.  In gen­eral the group is feed­ing on each other’s excite­ment, the excite­ment of being here and the antic­i­pa­tion of days ahead.  Not me, though. My skin is start­ing to crawl and focus­ing on con­ver­sa­tion is becom­ing more dif­fi­cult.  I want to join in. I’ve been cross­ing boxes off the cal­en­dar for this day, but I’m start­ing to strug­gle with my senses.

We will be leav­ing for the cof­fee farms after a night’s sleep.  We will trek south across the isth­mus of Mexico to San Miguel and join a co-op for their annual meet­ing.  The co-op is com­prised of 50 grow­ers that have banded together with a com­mon cause and the results are note­wor­thy.   Together they have cre­ated a mercy fund to sup­port each other in lean times.  As an exam­ple, they once called an emer­gency meet­ing when a snake bit the daugh­ter of one of the farmer’s.  The near­est hos­pi­tal is an eight-hour drive. The father didn’t own a car nor have the money for travel and med­ical expenses.  As a group, how­ever, they were in a posi­tion to save a life.  Bound by cof­fee and com­mu­nity they were able pro­vide the resources to spare her. This is the kind of story that has brought me to Mexico.  Not to men­tion that they are pro­duc­ing some very nice cof­fee and I’m anx­ious to learn from them.

While that adven­ture starts tomor­row, I’m nav­i­gat­ing my own adven­ture at the moment.  We pay our tab and wan­der toward the street fair wait­ing to absorb us.  I con­fide in Stephan, a friend and one of my travel com­pan­ions, regard­ing my con­di­tion.  He is German born and has spent most of his life liv­ing in Guatemala but now lives in Southern Cal.  I say this because he is far bet­ter trav­eled than I and I need his advice.  We talk only briefly.  Bottom line: absolutely look into travel alerts, pre­pare your­self.  Never take the “once-a-week” dose of anti-malaria med­i­cine; it’s hardcore.

After 4-wheeling our way through a cou­ple of rivers and har­row­ing moun­tain passes to San Miguel the next day, my state of mind couldn’t be bet­ter.  I am loaded with ques­tions but want to play it cool.  All in time, I think. I’m here for four days.  Upon arrival I imme­di­ately learn that the mem­bers of the co-op have never met a roaster from out­side of Mexico.  They have as many ques­tions for me as I do for them, and the rap­port is imme­di­ate.  They want to under­stand cof­fee cul­ture in America and what role I play.

I tell them how we eval­u­ate cof­fee and learn that they have never cupped before.  I have the oppor­tu­nity to cup with grow­ers whose fam­i­lies had been pro­duc­ing cof­fee for gen­er­a­tions.  We have a great time.  Armed with cof­fee and cama­raderie we fall into a place of peace with our sur­round­ings.  I am invited to visit many of the farms. I’m hum­bled by the hos­pi­tal­ity I receive and inspired by the sto­ries I hear.  They are not wealthy, but gen­er­ous and, in gen­eral, happy.

Sleeping in a tent, bathing in a river, the new sur­round­ings, and stim­u­lus offer the oppor­tu­nity to get really tired.  Once the keen edge of excite­ment is dulled, it is much eas­ier to pick up on the vibe of San Miguel.  It is in gen­eral, a happy and grate­ful place.  Our group dis­cusses this on our last night in Mexico.  We term it “re-entry.”  What will we bring home from this expe­ri­ence and how can we carry on the vibe?  Of course we will all sink back into the famil­iar rou­tines that make up our days and lives.  Nothing wrong with that; I just hope to appre­ci­ate it more.  Most of all I will always keep them in mind through my deci­sions as a cof­fee buyer.

That first trip to Mexico is now years in the past, and I’ve since made sev­eral other vis­its to ori­gin.  I’ve learned a few lessons along the way and con­sider myself a more weath­ered trav­eler.  I also believe I’ve devel­oped a bet­ter eye for what I see on trips to ori­gin and it has cer­tainly shaped my world­view.  Often I am pitched on buy­ing a cof­fee that is premised on the idea that it will help the farmer.  It is so easy to find your­self in a coffee-growing region where the land­scape is lit­tered with good inten­tions.  Buying some­one out of poverty isn’t a long-term answer.  Engaging in a sup­ply chain of mutual ben­e­fit is a real answer for all involved.  This begins through a process of mutual under­stand­ing.  Direct trade is a pop­u­lar phrase these days.  But to me, the ori­gin of direct trade means one thing – a direct con­nec­tion.   It’s my job to share that story with every­one else in the sup­ply chain and com­plete the connection.

Healthcare with a Lasting Impact

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

groundsforhealth 1Project Description
Today, the world has the knowl­edge and tools to save tens of thou­sands of women cof­fee farm­ers from a pre­ventable death. Put sim­ply, no woman should die of cer­vi­cal can­cer. This pre­ventable dis­ease kills more than 275,000 women every year, with the vast major­ity occur­ring in the devel­op­ing world. Projections show that by 2030, as many as 500,000 women could die annually.

Coffee just hap­pens to grow in remote areas of the world where access to pre­ven­tive health ser­vices is slim to none. In most coffee-growing coun­tries, cer­vi­cal can­cer kills more women than any other can­cer, more than even child­birth and preg­nancy. Cervical can­cer is tak­ing its toll on the eco­nom­ics and liveli­hood of the cof­fee industry.

However, this is not a fore­gone con­clu­sion, and the Specialty Coffee Industry has had the fore­sight and con­vic­tion to do some­thing about it. Since 1996, the indus­try has sup­ported the work of Grounds for Health and its ongo­ing mis­sion to estab­lish sus­tain­able cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion pro­grams in coffee-growing communities.

This ongo­ing effort has taught Grounds for Health a great deal about what works and what doesn’t. In recent years, one thing in par­tic­u­lar has made the non-profit’s suc­cess unique: the strength of cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties and the impor­tance of get­ting them involved in all aspects of pre­ven­tion programs.

Through Grounds for Health’s guid­ance, cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties in Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tanzania have been able to break down bar­ri­ers that stand between women and life-saving pre­ven­tive ser­vices. Co-ops pro­vide trans­porta­tion. Community health pro­mot­ers edu­cate friends and neigh­bors. Also, local doc­tors and nurses admin­is­ter effec­tive screen­ing and treat­ment meth­ods that have been proven to make a difference.

Grounds for Health wants to share its lessons learned with the world, and the global health com­mu­nity is ready to lis­ten. On May 27, 2013, Grounds for Health helped unveil the “Call for Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention” at the Global Forum on Cervical Cancer Prevention in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This call to action has been signed by thou­sands of pol­icy mak­ers and its adop­tion shows that the world is at a tip­ping point: we’re ready to stop a major killer of women.

At the Women Deliver Conference, also in Kuala Lumpur, Grounds for Health Executive Director, August Burns gave a well-received pre­sen­ta­tion on com­mu­nity involve­ment and its impor­tance to the suc­cess and sus­tain­abil­ity of cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion pro­grams. Burns high­lighted the essen­tial role of the com­mu­nity in cre­at­ing effec­tive cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion pro­grams, and that in order for pro­grams to have a mean­ing­ful and last­ing impact, com­mu­nity engage­ment must be seen as a crit­i­cal com­po­nent on equal foot­ing to pre­ven­tion technologies.

The call for com­mu­nity engage­ment is part of Grounds for Health’s con­tin­ued advo­cacy for “the woman at the end of the road”—a pas­sion that is shared by the organization’s cof­fee fun­ders and the com­mu­ni­ties it serves.

The unique part­ner­ship between Grounds for Health, cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties, and the cof­fee indus­try is lead­ing the way towards a future where no woman dies from cer­vi­cal cancer.

Who ben­e­fits from this project?
Grounds for Health’s work directly ben­e­fits women in cof­fee regions, their fam­i­lies, and their com­mu­ni­ties. Cervical can­cer pri­mar­ily affects women in the prime of lives, ages 40–50, and a woman’s untimely death has wide­spread reper­cus­sions on her fam­ily, her work, and her community.

However, Grounds for Health’s advo­cacy work goes beyond just coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties. The lessons learned from com­mu­nity involve­ment can be applied through­out the world in cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion pro­grams. For exam­ple, because of its expe­ri­ence in devel­op­ing sus­tain­able pro­grams, Grounds for Health was invited to serve as a Technical Advisor to the World Health Organization in cre­at­ing the new global guide­lines on cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion. Grounds for Health have also been asked to present at numer­ous con­fer­ences around the world from Rome, to Washington DC, and even to Kuala Lumpur.

How can I help?
The best way to get involved is to become a sup­porter of Grounds for Health. Major donors include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Royal Coffee Inc., ECOM Foundation, Monin Gourmet Flavorings, and many more. Become a sup­porter:

Contact Name:     Justin Mool
Location:     Worldwide
Email Address:
Phone Number:     802.241.4146

Agricultural Innovation Through Heritage Seeds and Practices

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

ASER MAIZ_Jan 2013 (197)Project Description
Since 2010, Coffee Kids has worked with the Advice and Rural Services Center (ASER MAIZ), based out of Veracruz, Mexico, to improve the food secu­rity of local coffee-farming communities.

They pro­mote com­mu­nity devel­op­ment by improv­ing the eco­nomic, social, and polit­i­cal con­di­tions within rural com­mu­ni­ties in Veracruz, Mexico. Founded in 1996, the orga­ni­za­tion was born out of the eco­nomic and social crises that affected many rural areas in Mexico after the sign­ing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). ASER MAIZ addresses poverty by train­ing rural fam­i­lies in sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture, food secu­rity, and orga­ni­za­tional development.

Mexico’s entry into NAFTA in 1994 forced trans­for­ma­tions in rural regions, push­ing them toward inten­sive agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion for an export mar­ket rather than local con­sump­tion. This has con­tributed to food poverty in Mexico, par­tic­u­larly in Veracruz where sta­ple foods such as corn and beans have suf­fered low yields in recent years due to crop dis­eases brought about by cli­mate change.

The com­mu­ni­ties where ASER MAIZ works are some of the worst affected in the state. These same events threaten the tra­di­tional milpa mode of pro­duc­tion, the sub­sis­tence agri­cul­tural sys­tem upon which rural pop­u­la­tions through­out Mexico have sub­sisted for hun­dreds of years. At the heart of the milpa triad is maize (inter­cropped with squash and beans). However, region­ally adapted her­itage vari­eties of maize are dying out due to GM drift, crop fail­ure, and the influx of cheap but less nutri­tious vari­eties that are sold for seed.

This project con­tin­ues the efforts of ASER MAIZ to build rural food secu­rity and joins the cam­paign Sin Maíz no Hay País (Without corn there is no coun­try) in pro­mot­ing the recov­ery and pro­tec­tion of native seeds, while also sup­port­ing organic pro­duc­tion tech­niques and encour­ag­ing more effi­cient use of land and water. This project will also com­pile and doc­u­ment tra­di­tional forms of milpa pro­duc­tion and will attain a col­lec­tion of seeds bet­ter adapted to the region.

ASER MAIZ_Jan 2013 (127)Who Benefits from this project?
This project started with a group of 100 fam­i­lies from seven com­mu­ni­ties in the Totonacapan region of Veracruz, Mexico, to exchange knowl­edge and seeds through back­yard veg­etable gardens.

Although many com­mu­nity mem­bers still grow their own food, many oth­ers have begun to pur­chase their food with­out know­ing where it comes from or how it was pro­duced. This is due in part to emi­gra­tion to the US and in part to dimin­ish­ing land space for gar­dens. Despite these changes, some­where around 85 per­cent of the fam­i­lies in these seven com­mu­ni­ties con­tinue to rely on agri­cul­tural activ­i­ties for their livelihoods.

People such as Esther Gómez Isidro from the com­mu­nity of Coyutla have seen their con­sump­tion of sta­ples dimin­ish. Esther remem­bers the veg­etable gar­den her fam­ily kept when she was a child. It pro­vided her with fresh sal­ads and ten­der greens year round. Time went by and her father left for the United States. The fam­ily gar­den dis­ap­peared and she stopped eat­ing fresh veg­eta­bles every day.

Through this project, Esther recently trans­formed a small piece of land that she used for stor­ing things into her own veg­etable gar­den. She plans to grow most of the veg­eta­bles she con­sumes and exchange the seeds with local women.

How Can I Help?
Coffee Kids depends on dona­tions to sup­port our projects; to pro­vide mon­i­tor­ing, eval­u­a­tion, and train­ing ser­vices to our pro­gram part­ners; and to help edu­cate the gen­eral pub­lic about rel­e­vant issues at coffee’s origin.

There are many ways to get involved. Individuals can give a one-time dona­tion or set up a monthly recur­ring dona­tion. They may also gift a dona­tion. See which option is best for you:

Businesses may become mem­bers for $500 per year or offer a one-time dona­tion at the level at which they’re able to give. Become a Coffee Kids mem­ber here:

You may also par­tic­i­pate by hold­ing your own fundraiser. We can help you cre­ate and pro­mote your fundraiser if you email

Social media, blog posts, and arti­cles are all great ways to help oth­ers learn about Coffee Kids, cof­fee farm­ers, and what we can all do to help pro­tect the future of coffee.

Contact Name:     Kristina Morris Heredia
Web Site:
Location:     Santa Fe, New Mexico USA
Email Address:
Phone Number:     505.820.1443

El Paraiso Computer Laboratory

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

cup edu 4Project Description
Located 8 miles up the moun­tain from the main road to Mexico, very close to the bor­der, El Paraíso Development Center pro­vides locals with a clinic, phar­macy, and a com­puter lab­o­ra­tory. Cup for Education has been a long time sup­porter of the Computer Laboratory.

Since 2008 we have funded the salaries for the teach­ers, new soft­ware, com­puter main­te­nance, and art pro­grams over school vaca­tions.  Funding has also been increased for small read­ing pro­grams that travel around to the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties to encour­age improved lit­er­acy skills, and 2 stu­dents have been awarded schol­ar­ships to attend University.

These schol­ar­ships pro­vide them with the oppor­tu­nity to earn degrees that can help them improve their lives, assist their fam­i­lies, and com­mu­ni­ties. Both stu­dents are doing very well. We are proud to work with the El Paraiso cen­ter and see how their out­reach to the sur­round­ing cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties brings much needed edu­ca­tion and skill build­ing in a safe envi­ron­ment to the chil­dren of Huehuetenango.

Who Benefits from this project?
Hundreds of chil­dren of cof­fee farm­ers and their fam­i­lies in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Huehuetenango, Guatemala ben­e­fit from this cen­ter.  Attendance has increased each year at the center’s classes, and we have been able to reach more chil­dren with the trav­el­ing programs.

How Can I Help?
The best way to sup­port the cause is to talk about it.  Cup is now on Facebook and twit­ter.  Get on board and talk about the need in these com­mu­ni­ties.  Host a fundraiser, col­lect Spanish books, or school supplies.

There is a need among all the cof­fee grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties of the world, and Guatemala is just one of many coun­tries where we have projects. If you know of a com­mu­nity that is in need of improved edu­ca­tional tools please send us a sug­gested project.

Of course, mon­e­tary dona­tions are always wel­come. Every dol­lar raised goes to the projects.  Everyone involved with Cup for Education is a vol­un­teer, and there are no salaries or admin­is­tra­tive costs.   Cup for Education’s admin­is­tra­tive costs are sup­ported by Coffee Holding Company Inc. so that we can make the biggest impact pos­si­ble with every dol­lar we receive from our supporters.

Contact Name:     Karen Gordon
Web Site:
Location:     Staten Island, New York 10314
Email Address:
Phone Number:     718.832.0800

The Café Femenino Foundation Story

Categories: 2013, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

3_13 10-AThe Café Femenino Foundation was first con­ceived in 2004 through the inspi­ra­tion of a group of women in Peru who decided to change their sit­u­a­tion in life and cre­ate their own orga­ni­za­tion and their own cof­fee prod­uct.  Women in most cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties through­out the world have no rights, they are une­d­u­cated, they are poor, and live in iso­lated rural com­mu­ni­ties.  Without rights, liv­ing in poverty and iso­la­tion, women are often abused, and they have no voice in their fam­ily.  So the Café Femenino Foundation was cre­ated to ben­e­fit women and their fam­i­lies in cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties around the world.

The foun­da­tion was licensed by the IRS as a 501©(3) in December 2004.  A week later, the tsunami hit in Sumatra, so the first thing the foun­da­tion did was work to raise funds to help the vic­tims in the rural cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties in Aceh, Sumatra.  Funds went directly to cof­fee coop­er­a­tives that used the funds to pur­chase water, rice, and funeral cloths for those who lost their lives.  Since that time, the foun­da­tion has funded grants in Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Haiti.  The foun­da­tion works to raise funds to be able to fund grants that are received directly from cof­fee orga­ni­za­tions in all these coun­tries.  The door is open to hear the needs of these impov­er­ished small pro­duc­ers.  The requests are as var­ied as the coun­tries they live in.  Over the years, the foun­da­tion has funded grants for health train­ing pro­grams, san­i­ta­tion, can­cer screen­ings, schools, libraries, water projects, school books, food secu­rity that involves, ani­mal breed­ing pro­grams, quinoa pro­duc­tion, com­mu­nity gar­dens, and can­ning.  The foun­da­tion has funded income diver­si­fi­ca­tion such as weav­ing, embroi­dery, roast­ing and sell­ing their own cof­fee, micro-lending pro­grams, candy pro­duc­tion, and fruit tree pro­duc­tion.  The Café Femenino Foundation lis­tens to the needs of these small pro­duc­ers and is open to fund­ing all types of aid projects.  The funds are gen­er­ally over­seen by the cof­fee orga­ni­za­tions them­selves or by local NGO’s.  Construction projects such as schools or irri­ga­tion projects are done by the pro­duc­ers and the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves keep­ing project cost to a min­i­mum and allow­ing the foun­da­tion to accom­plish a great deal with the small­est cost possible.

The Café Femenino Foundation is an all-volunteer orga­ni­za­tion.  Funds come from dona­tions and fundrais­ing by com­pa­nies and indi­vid­u­als work­ing within the cof­fee indus­try.  Other orga­ni­za­tions such as churches and Soroptimists have also been donors to the foun­da­tion.  Coffee Fest, which puts on sev­eral regional trade shows each year, gra­ciously donates show floor space in every show to enable the foun­da­tion hold a Bid for Hope Silent Auction to help raise funds.  All items in this auc­tion are donated by the com­pa­nies that are exhibitors at each of the show.  This year, for the first time, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is also donat­ing show floor space to hold the “Call to Auction” silent auc­tion to help sup­port the Café Femenino Foundation.  All vol­un­teers in the foun­da­tion even pay their own way to each of the trade shows.  So the only money that the foun­da­tion spends is for mar­ket­ing, allow­ing the foun­da­tion to be able to donate most of the funds to fund the many grant requests that come into the foun­da­tion every year.

The reward for all the work that the foun­da­tion does every year to help these poverty stricken com­mu­ni­ties comes directly from these com­mu­ni­ties when we can see a home that now has clean run­ning water or a child that now can speak because he had cleft pal­let surgery through the rela­tion­ship the foun­da­tion main­tains with the Faces Foundation, located in Portland, Oregon.  We have seen the level of poverty improve, and we’ve seen cul­tural changes where women are now being respected because the woman now is able to gen­er­ate her own income.  Girls go to school where once they did not.  A com­mu­nity where all chil­dren failed school because of a lack of any resources or books now has its own library and a trained librar­ian is there to help the chil­dren learn.  So many won­der­ful things are hap­pen­ing in so many coun­tries due to the work of the Café Femenino Foundation.  But there are still so many fam­i­lies around the world that need help; there is still so much work to do.  We hope the cof­fee indus­try will con­tinue to help and sup­port the work of the Café Femenino Foundation.

2012 Editor’s Prologue

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

First a lit­tle house­keep­ing, the arti­cles in this issue are the ideas and opin­ions of the writ­ers and do no NECESSARILY rep­re­sent the opin­ions of CoffeeTalk and the Daily Dose or its employee – includ­ing me! I would have thought that this was pretty obvi­ous but appar­ently not. Maybe we all have become so jaded to the way news is pre­sented and manip­u­lated that the idea that we might print an opin­ion from some­one that dis­agrees with our own edi­to­r­ial view just doesn’t seem pos­si­ble to some. We at CoffeeTalk take the idea of fair and bal­anced seri­ously and so we print oppos­ing ideas to our own – weird, huh?

There, that is out of the way!

Editor’s Prologue

December 21, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, I would like to just say that I for one am extremely grate­ful that a giant fire­ball thrown off by the sun did not cre­mate the entire earth. I see that as a huge pos­i­tive – just saying.

During this past year, sev­eral fes­ter­ing issues have finally bro­ken through into the lime­light. The fore­most of these are, in my opin­ion and in no spe­cial order…

• The accep­tance of the real­ity of Climate Change
• Emerging Latin con­sumer power in the US mar­ket
• Market accep­tance of the OMG fac­tor regard­ing the health ben­e­fits of coffee

Others of course will have their own lists, but these are my favorites. During this com­ing year, I see these items expand­ing and redefin­ing our approach to so many fac­tors of the cof­fee busi­ness includ­ing; sup­ply, mar­ket­ing, fla­vor pro­files, new prod­uct devel­op­ment, store design, and other essen­tial busi­ness elements.

Climate change has been one of those sub­jects that have lin­gered in the issue bag for years. I know that we at CoffeeTalk have been shout­ing about it for well over seven years. Finally, the impact on cof­fee and the sup­ply chain has become so obvi­ous that even those who think that the idea of cli­mate change being dan­ger­ous to our well being is so much bologna have come to believe that there is some­thing going on. I think that the accu­mu­la­tion of dev­as­tat­ing nat­ural weather dis­as­ters cou­pled with crop fail­ures in Colombia, Central America, and Africa as well as drought and polit­i­cal insta­bil­ity caused by food inequity, finally woke deci­sion mak­ers up. Unfortunately in the sci­en­tific cof­fee com­mu­nity, the gen­eral opin­ion is that it is too late to fix the cli­mate and instead we must hurry to mit­i­gate the dis­as­trous effects of cli­mate change.

At ASIC (Association for Science and Information on Coffee) this year, Climate Change and Sustainability were the pri­mary sub­ject lines through­out the entire con­fer­ence. The wide con­sen­sus was that talk of avoid­ance is long past; the industry’s only choice now is to respond to the effects. Wide pest and dis­ease infes­ta­tion, drought or, equally bad, exces­sive mois­ture, nature’s impact on infra­struc­ture, tem­per­a­ture changes, loss of opti­mum farm­lands and other impacts can no longer be halted by behav­ioral and indus­trial changes, we can only mit­i­gate the effects.

Emerging Latin Consumer power in the US mar­ket. If there is one take-away from the recent elec­tions in the US, it is that the power is no longer held exclu­sively by old white males. The same is true for con­sumerism. Rapidly expand­ing mid­dle class pop­u­la­tions that have not been tra­di­tional con­sumers of spe­cialty cof­fee are rapidly emerg­ing as impor­tant demo­graphic lead­ers – key to this is the Latin Community. How can we as an indus­try con­tinue to ignore Latin con­sumers when we know they embrace the spe­cialty cof­fee cul­ture, just look at Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil for exam­ples? Look no fur­ther than the Latin con­sumer in America if you are hop­ing to expand mar­ket share!

Second on the list of major changes this year has to be the extra­or­di­nary story of the emer­gence of cof­fee as a healthy bev­er­age. After spend­ing the bet­ter part of the last cen­tury jus­ti­fy­ing the con­sump­tion of cof­fee as a kind of sin­ful plea­sure, what a sur­prise it is to be able to hon­estly talk about the remark­able pre­ven­ta­tive health ben­e­fits of brewed cof­fee. We are pur­vey­ors of the elixir of life, the cure for can­cer, and the keys to the Land of OZ. Coffee as a healthy alter­na­tive to caf­feinated sodas is so for­eign a con­cept that many in cof­fee are skep­ti­cal of our own facts. Taken in mod­er­a­tion, less than 5 cups per day, cof­fee reduces the risk of Type 2 dia­betes, can­cer of the pan­creas, colon, pros­trate, liver, and other organs, onset and deep­en­ing of Alzheimer’s, onset of Parkinson’s dis­ease, and so many other mal­adies. It is the golden age of cof­fee and health. Hurrah!

In the com­ing year, we expect that nutraceu­ti­cal prod­ucts derived from green cof­fee will flood the mar­ket with expan­sion into beauty prod­ucts, nutri­tion sup­ple­ments, and pre­ven­ta­tive medicines.

These are just some of our takes on the past, and the com­ing year. In this issue, you will read the ideas and thoughts of over 35 other con­trib­u­tors from a wide rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our indus­try. These rep­re­sent some of the most impor­tant lead­ers of both pri­vate and non-profit orga­ni­za­tions weigh­ing in on the impor­tant issues of our busi­ness. We hope that you enjoy this year’s port­fo­lio of writ­ers and they pro­voke thoughts about your own busi­ness and your role in our wider global community.

Thank you for your ongo­ing loy­alty, con­stant read­ers, and we look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to bring you closer to the issues that mat­ter to you most dur­ing the com­ing year. And thank you to our writ­ers and con­trib­u­tors who braved the pos­si­bil­ity of the destruc­tion of the world and still made our dead­lines to bring you these stories.

Ending Poverty 
Through Land Ownership

Categories: 2012, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact Name: Nathan Hawkins

Location: Mexico, Central America
Email Address:
Phone Number: 206−528−1066

Project Description

Agros is founded on the con­vic­tion that the rural poor can and should be empow­ered to take con­trol of their own destiny

Agros, (Latin for “land,”) has been help­ing to break the cycle of poverty for land­less, rural, poor fam­i­lies in Mexico and Central America since 1982. By offer­ing access to agri­cul­tural land, long-term credit, and train­ing in sus­tain­able farm­ing tech­niques and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment, fam­i­lies who were once migrant pick­ers and the like are able to start, develop and even­tu­ally own homes, farms, and the busi­nesses they cre­ate for themselves.

As an aware­ness of the plight of those at ori­gin grows, peo­ple are gain­ing an under­stand­ing of what the cof­fee farm­ing fam­ily endures in order to pro­duce their prod­uct. Months of hunger, lack of edu­ca­tion and lim­ited access to health­care are only some of the chal­lenges they face. Imagine though, being on the eco­nomic level below that even of the small cof­fee farmer, on the level of the migrant cof­fee picker’s fam­ily, who not only make a dis­mal wage for a short period out of the year, but also have noth­ing to sus­tain the basic needs of rais­ing a fam­ily; shel­ter, food, clean water, and most impor­tantly, secure fam­ily relationships.

These are the peo­ple Agros International seeks out. Through Agros’ unique, time-tested, prac­ti­cal assis­tance, poor fam­i­lies gain the land and skills to build a bet­ter future. While respect­ing the knowl­edge, spir­i­tu­al­ity, and expe­ri­ence of the peo­ple, Agros sup­ports train­ing that brings about change in the whole per­son and the whole com­mu­nity. Agros offers step-by-step assis­tance and train­ing in the fol­low­ing areas:

  • Community and lead­er­ship development
  • Sustainable farm­ing tech­niques through diver­si­fied agri­cul­tural production
  • Building homes, self-composting latrines, com­mu­nity build­ings, roads, schools and more
  • Family Health and child well-being assess­ment and education
  • Business and mar­ket development

Agros believes that those who pay for goods and ser­vices retain a greater amount of dig­nity and develop a stronger sense of own­er­ship than those who learn to expect oth­ers to meet their needs for them. Agros mate­r­ial and finan­cial sup­port is for a lim­ited time. Therefore, the fam­i­lies who par­tic­i­pate must even­tu­ally sup­port them­selves through pro­duc­tive enter­prises, viable social struc­tures, and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of nat­ural resources. The great suc­cess of Agros’ model is evi­denced by the thou­sands of fam­i­lies who have paid off their land and micro-loans in the short span of five to ten years. Land own­er­ship is key to erad­i­cat­ing poverty.

Who Benefits From This Project?

Coffee is the main income-producing crop for many Agros vil­lages. Of Agros part­ner com­mu­ni­ties, 44 are pro­duc­ing cof­fee for com­mer­cial sale: 3 in Nicaragua, 1 in Honduras and 40 in Guatemala. Where pos­si­ble, Agros has worked with com­mu­ni­ties to secure con­tracts for inter­na­tional export, as well as facil­i­tat­ing direct trade relationships.

How Can I Help?

YOU CAN CHANGE LIVES. Visit to learn prac­ti­cal ways to get your staff, cus­tomers and com­mu­nity excited about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the lives of cof­fee farm­ing fam­i­lies. Go on a “Vision Trip” to see Agros’ in action and join in this wor­thy work.

Coffee Kids

Categories: 2012, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact Name: Carolyn Fairman

Location: Mexico
Email Address:
Phone Number: 505−820−1443

Project Description

Coffee has always been a boom or bust crop, a volatile agri­cul­tural com­mod­ity. While prices dur­ing boom years are sig­nif­i­cantly higher than dur­ing bust years, they are decep­tive. Often when prices are high, the cost of pro­duc­tion is equally high, and farm­ers still do not earn what they need to sur­vive the year with­out great sacrifice.

Fairtrade and other pre­mi­ums have helped estab­lish bet­ter prices and pro­vide ben­e­fits for small-scale farm­ers. They also pro­vide roast­ers and ven­dors with the oppor­tu­nity to pay a fair price for their cof­fee. Unfortunately, this alone is not enough to ade­quately address the prob­lem of poverty for small-scale cof­fee farm­ers. There are, though, many efforts being made within the cof­fee indus­try to con­front this prob­lem. Yet chronic sea­sonal hunger, that is, hunger dur­ing the months when there is no income from cof­fee, remains a seri­ous problem.

If cof­fee farm­ers are to lib­er­ate them­selves from the cycle of poverty, they need not only to improve their yields, cof­fee qual­ity and pro­duc­tion sys­tems, but also to find ways to put food on the table year-round. This is where Coffee Kids comes in.

Coffee Kids was founded in 1988 as a non­profit devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tion. Our work is not related to the pro­duc­tion or mar­ket­ing of cof­fee, but rather to cre­at­ing sus­tain­able alter­na­tives to cof­fee that will allow farm­ers to con­tinue to har­vest cof­fee, while sub­se­quently increas­ing their eco­nomic opportunities.

Dedicated to help­ing coffee-farming fam­i­lies improve their lives and liveli­hoods, Coffee Kids sup­ports pro­grams in food secu­rity, eco­nomic diver­si­fi­ca­tion, health care, edu­ca­tion and capac­ity building.

When coffee-farming fam­i­lies have addi­tional sources of income, they are bet­ter able to sup­port them­selves and their fam­i­lies. They can then con­tinue to farm cof­fee know­ing that a dip in inter­na­tional prices will not have a cat­a­strophic effect on fam­ily income.

Annually, Coffee Kids works with more than 9,000 cof­fee farm­ers and their fam­i­lies in more than 130 com­mu­ni­ties through­out Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Peru. The over­all impact of our 19 projects reaches more than 80,000 people.

One exam­ple is organic gar­den­ing in Tabaconas, Peru. Food pro­duc­tion in this region is scarce, and pur­chas­ing food is pro­hib­i­tive in cost. Thirty fam­i­lies are now learn­ing about native plants, the nutri­tional prop­er­ties of crops and how to sell their sur­plus veg­eta­bles. Not only are they now able to meet their nutri­tional needs, but they are also earn­ing extra income, which ben­e­fits all com­mu­nity mem­bers who can now pur­chase afford­able, locally grown and organic foods.

In the com­mu­nity of Nuevo Progreso, as in many other coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties, peo­ple roast their cof­fee on a clay comal or griddle

Doña Graciela García reyes

Señora Carmen is the women’s group coör­di­na­tor for our pro­gram part­ner APROVAT in Tabaconas, Peru. Since 2005 she has been an exam­ple of out­stand­ing work and fierce commitment

Who Benefits From This Project?

Small-scale cof­fee farm­ers grow most of the world’s cof­fee on plots of land that are less than five acres. It is these farm­ers and their fam­i­lies who directly ben­e­fit from the sup­port of Coffee Kids projects.

Doña Graciela García Reyes, from Oaxaca, is a long-time par­tic­i­pant in Coffee Kids-funded projects. She has been fight­ing for women’s rights in the com­mu­nity since 2000, when she and three other women founded Naxii’, a women’s coöper­a­tive that pro­duces locally grown chili, peach and apple preserves.

Doña Graciela is cur­rently pres­i­dent of the orga­ni­za­tion Naxii’, runs an Internet café, and makes sure that the can­ning oper­a­tion, which is one of the organization’s biggest income gen­er­a­tors, runs smoothly. Doña Graciela also owns a small restau­rant and is cur­rently par­tic­i­pat­ing in CAMPO’s food-security project where she grows 10 dif­fer­ent types of veg­eta­bles in a greenhouse.

I’ve been grow­ing veg­eta­bles since 2007 with the help of CAMPO,” says Doña Graciela. “We grow let­tuce, radishes, toma­toes and many vari­eties of chilies. In my house we eat very spicy food, and thanks to this project, I don’t buy chilies or toma­toes in the mar­ket any­more. I har­vested toma­toes all year round last year and had about 90 extra kilo­grams that I sold to fam­ily and friends. With the money I earned, I bought fer­til­izer for next year’s crop.

Thanks to this project I’ve learned to grow my own veg­eta­bles, make extra money and get other women to grow the veg­eta­bles that they would oth­er­wise just buy in the market.”

How Can I Help?

Coffee Kids relies on cash dona­tions to imple­ment all of our projects. We also accept in-kind dona­tions in the form of pub­lic­ity, as well as equip­ment and other resources to help us meet our admin­is­tra­tive and mar­ket­ing needs.

Grounds for Health: Sustainability in our Mission, Health Care with a Lasting Impact

Categories: 2011, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

In recent years, sus­tain­abil­ity has been THE buzz­word in both the cof­fee indus­try and the pub­lic health sec­tor. At Grounds for Health, through 15 years of hands-on expe­ri­ence devel­op­ing health care pro­grams in some of the world’s poor­est and most remote areas, we have seen first-hand that too often, well-meaning devel­op­ment pro­grams are funded, set up, and run by out­siders, and then aban­doned with­out the nec­es­sary sup­port or train­ing to keep the project sus­tain­able. The third world is lit­er­ally lit­tered with inef­fec­tual pro­grams, bro­ken equip­ment and bro­ken promises.

Grounds for Health focuses on pre­vent­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer, the num­ber one cause of early death for women in most devel­op­ing coun­tries. The fact that thou­sands of women die from a pre­ventable dis­ease is truly stun­ning. It is also an eye-opening fact that cer­vi­cal can­cer is per­haps the eas­i­est of all can­cers to detect and to treat. Right now, the tech­nol­ogy and the resources are there to save lives and avoid the huge finan­cial and per­sonal bur­den that can­cer care and early death bring to fam­i­lies and soci­eties. So how does an orga­ni­za­tion begin to tackle this major health prob­lem skill­fully and effec­tively to reach a sus­tain­able solution?

Grounds for Health has dis­cov­ered a few key ingre­di­ents:
• Locally Driven: Communities must rec­og­nize the need, buy in to the pro­gram, and assume local own­er­ship.
Grounds for Health pro­grams always start with an invi­ta­tion from the com­mu­nity. The com­mu­nity has decided cer­vi­cal can­cer is a pri­or­ity prob­lem and is will­ing to put energy and resources into the solu­tion.
• Affordable: Local com­mu­ni­ties must be able to pay for their own resources and mate­ri­als to con­tinue indef­i­nitely.
In coun­tries such as Nicaragua or Tanzania where the annual fam­ily income can be as lit­tle as $300/year, any health care solu­tion needs to cost pen­nies and not dol­lars. The sim­ple screen­ing test Grounds for Health uses costs 25¢ per test and is con­sid­ered a “best buy in pub­lic health” by the World Health Organization.
• Focus: Programs should begin by reach­ing out to the pop­u­la­tions at great­est risk.
In rural areas, poor women between the ages of 30 and 50 are at great­est risk of devel­op­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer. By screen­ing and treat­ing this seg­ment first, soci­ety will receive the great­est ben­e­fit despite lim­ited resources. Grounds for Health’s close com­mu­nity links pro­vide the com­mu­nity edu­ca­tion and mobi­liza­tion that helps iden­tify and encour­age these women to go for ser­vices. The cof­fee co-op helps with trans­port and makes sure she gets follow-up care if she needs it. Without that link, she may never arrive for pre­ven­tion in the first place.
• Locally Sourced: When sup­plies run out, com­mu­ni­ties should be able to find new mate­ri­als locally.
Grounds for Health scru­ti­nizes every ingre­di­ent, sup­ply, and piece of equip­ment to make sure it is nec­es­sary, can be locally sourced when­ever pos­si­ble, and/or doesn’t require fancy tech­nol­ogy to keep it going.
• Locally Sustained: Programs should empower with the knowl­edge to con­tinue.
Grounds for Health invests heav­ily in train­ing local providers, thereby improv­ing health sys­tems, and increas­ing access to basic care. Local providers con­tinue the work and our co-op part­ners make sure that if there is a break in access either through loss of a local provider or a lack of nec­es­sary sup­plies, that efforts are made to cor­rect the prob­lem early. We are now focus­ing on edu­cat­ing mas­ter train­ers in rural com­mu­ni­ties who can help develop new providers and con­tinue to sup­port new pro­grams with­out our assistance.

And, the final key ingre­di­ent to sus­tain­abil­ity is the invest­ment at all lev­els of the fund­ing base. In the case of Grounds for Health, what runs our engine is the sus­tained sup­port from the Specialty Coffee Industry. Having a fund­ing base that truly cares about and is will­ing to invest in the pop­u­la­tion we serve means that the sup­port does not change when the next big cri­sis blows through the media. And because our fund­ing comes from many sources in the form of direct dona­tions, it means that there is no sin­gle fun­der dic­tat­ing our work. We have had the uncom­mon lux­ury of flex­i­bil­ity and free­dom to try out new ideas and to test what really works, change what does not, and make con­stant improve­ments to our model.

The result has been wide recog­ni­tion for out­stand­ing, sus­tain­able pro­grams that address cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion – from com­mu­nity edu­ca­tion and mobi­liza­tions, to high qual­ity local health ser­vices, to assur­ance of care and fol­low up for women who need more. As part of that recog­ni­tion, Grounds for Health received the 2011 SCAA Sustainability Award, was named a National Demonstration Project by the Tanzanian and Nicaraguan Governments, and has been appointed to the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Cervical Cancer.

What started 15 years ago with a few good peo­ple from the cof­fee indus­try join­ing together to address the high rate of cer­vi­cal can­cer in a small coffee-farming com­mu­nity in south­ern Mexico, has grown into a model of community-empowered sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. We are fully caffeinated.

Thank you Specialty Coffee.
To learn more about Grounds for Health or to donate, visit:

Ms Burns, Executive Director of Ground for Health, is an expert in women’s health and has worked in more than a dozen coun­tries. She is co-author of “Where Women Have No Doctor,” a health guide for women in low-resource set­tings, now trans­lated into over 30 lan­guages and used around the world.

The Expanding Market for Bird Friendly® Coffee

Categories: 2011, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Bird Friendly® Coffee (BFC) is the world’s most strin­gent shade-grown stan­dard for cof­fee pro­duc­tion, requir­ing that cof­fee is both organ­i­cally grown and meets spe­cific shade-grown cri­te­ria devel­oped by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) at the National Zoo in 1997 to pro­tect migra­tory song­birds. These birds are not only beau­ti­ful and sonorous, but are essen­tial to the global ecosys­tem, pro­vid­ing flower pol­li­na­tion and seed dis­per­sal, among other roles.

BFC car­ries a seal of approval (logo) that assures con­sumers that all the cof­fee in the bag is organic and has met the Bird Friendly stan­dards. The cri­te­ria include: a min­i­mum canopy height of 12 meters; a species list of at least 10 trees in addi­tion to the major or “back­bone” species; at least 40 per­cent foliage den­sity; and three strata or lay­ers of veg­e­ta­tion that pro­vide struc­tural diver­sity. Criteria apply to the cof­fee pro­duc­tion area itself and are con­sid­ered by indus­try and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion spe­cial­ists to be the strictest shade stan­dards in the world, ensur­ing a claim of “shade-grown” is true.

The ben­e­fits of Bird Friendly cof­fee production

In many trop­i­cal regions where migra­tory birds have over­win­tered for mil­lions of years, BF cof­fee pro­vides viable, qual­ity habi­tat in areas often dev­as­tated by defor­esta­tion. Of the more than 150 species of song­birds that migrate to the Neo-tropics (American trop­ics) each year, includ­ing ori­oles, tan­agers, war­blers and thrushes, many use these cer­ti­fied forest-like farms as their habi­tat dur­ing their months spent there. These farms also sup­port impor­tant res­i­dent birds like tou­cans, becards, wood creep­ers, and parrots.

Aside from the obvi­ous aes­thet­ics of their singing and strik­ing plumage, migra­tory birds pro­vide a num­ber of “eco­log­i­cal ser­vices.” They pol­li­nate flow­ers, dis­perse seeds, and feast on insects. In both SMBC and other stud­ies of birds in cof­fee, research has shown that they con­sume a wide vari­ety of insects, some of them cof­fee pests.

Growers cer­ti­fied to the BFC stan­dards nor­mally see price pre­mi­ums of 5 to 10 cents per pound in addi­tion to the pre­mium they already receive for being cer­ti­fied organic. The SMBC receives roy­alty pay­ments from roast­ers (more than $450,000 since 2000) that go to an SMBC fund used for research and edu­ca­tion related to migra­tory birds in gen­eral and the cof­fee con­nec­tion specifically.

The mar­ket for Bird Friendly coffee

According to a September, 2011 report by Dr. Robert Rice, coör­di­na­tor of the Bird Friendly pro­gram, approx­i­mately 1,400 pro­duc­ers man­aged more than 18,000 acres (7,600 hectares) of BFC area/coffee farms and pro­duced more than 9.7 mil­lion pounds of BFC in 2010, a 39 per­cent increase from 2009. Guatemala ranked first in terms of pro­duc­tion (with 28 per­cent of all BFC), and, with Peru (25 per­cent), Mexico (20 per­cent), Nicaragua (15 per­cent), and Columbia (8 per­cent), the five coun­tries account for 96 per­cent of all the BFC cer­ti­fied glob­ally. The remain­ing 4 per­cent came from Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Venezuela. Farms in Nicaragua brought that coun­try into the BFC pro­gram in 2010. Efforts are under­way to gain BFC in Africa, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Sales of BFC rose 166 per­cent from about $1.5 mil­lion in 2005 when Japan entered the pro­gram to more than $4 mil­lion in 2010. Volume sold in 2010 was 466,000 pounds, up 3 per­cent from the 452,000 pounds moved in 2009, a reflec­tion of the gen­eral eco­nomic times. Projections for 2011 are on track to equal or slightly exceed the sales of 2010.

Roasters glob­ally are find­ing ready mar­kets for Bird Friendly® cof­fee among con­sumers with inter­ests in organic prod­ucts in gen­eral and cof­fee that serves as viable habi­tat for birds and other organ­isms in par­tic­u­lar. The vol­ume of BFC roasted and sold in the US between 2000 and 2010 increased more than 115-fold from fewer than 2,000 pounds to 225,000 pounds. The three years from 2007 to 2010 saw an aver­age of 25 per­cent annual increase in vol­ume roasted and sold in the North American mar­ket, a growth mir­rored glob­ally as well.

Today, there are 44 roast­ers in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands and Japan that carry Bird Friendly® cof­fee imported by 16 com­pa­nies. Certifications are con­ducted by 13 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-accredited organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion agencies.

Given the increased aware­ness of the impor­tance of pro­tect­ing migra­tory song­birds in addi­tion to farm­ers and the envi­ron­ment in gen­eral, as well as the inter­est of many roast­ers in get­ting dou­ble or triple cer­ti­fied to dif­fer­ent stan­dards that attract dif­fer­ent con­sumers, SMBC esti­mates that sales of Bird Friendly® cof­fee will con­tinue to grow into the future.

See for more information.

Sandra Marquardt is pres­i­dent of On the Mark Public Relations, which pro­vides media out­reach, event coör­di­na­tion, and research ser­vices on behalf of the organic food and fiber sec­tors. Dr. Robert Rice is the coör­di­na­tor of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly cof­fee pro­gram at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

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