Tag Archive for: specialty

by Rocky Rhodes

Roasters Rock

Categories: 2014, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Folly of a Roaster Geek

Dang it! I am out of cof­fee at home. I need to roast some­thing.” And that is how it started. What hap­pened next was an unfold­ing of roaster geek­ness that only those of us that roast will understand.

I needed to roast some cof­fee. Simple enough. Go get a green sam­ple from the stack in the cor­ner left over from old projects and torch it up. A caf­feine fix is needed and the beans are green. Green to brown, grind, steep, press, drink. But alas, I dis­tracted myself.

I was recently in Taiwan and vis­ited an Aboriginal vil­lage that is rein­vent­ing itself as a third wave cof­fee com­mu­nity. They bring cof­fee tourists in and allow them to pulp, wash, dry, roast, and pre­pare cof­fee in their pro­cess­ing cen­ter / tourist house. To roast the cof­fee they had a ter­ra­cotta pot that was mod­eled after some hun­dreds of years old thing they used to use to roast cof­fee over the fire. It is a mod­ern piece now with enhance­ments in the struc­ture and glaz­ing, but ulti­mately, it feels like a step back in the past. I bought one of these roast­ers and brought it back to my home office where it looked pretty on a shelf.

It is about time I test this roaster! So I got an ‘Ov-glove’ (a hot pad you wear like a glove) since the pot will get freakin’ hot and decided to roast some cof­fee over the flames of my gas stove. I decided that I would use this very large sam­ple of cof­fee I had left over from a small farm in Concordia, Colombia where I had done a project. The cof­fee has both a bright­ness and body so it would be a good test.

But wait… I should com­pare this ter­ra­cotta roaster with another roaster to see how they com­pare! I think I will get the old Hearthware air roaster out and com­pare a con­vec­tive heat roaster with the almost 100 per­cent con­duc­tive heat roaster in the pot. That will be inter­est­ing to cup the results if I can con­trol the devices enough to match roast­ing para­me­ters. I decided to use the roast­ing pro­to­col for sam­ples being graded by The Coffee Quality Institute (CQI): Between 8 to12 min­utes at whole bean Agrtron 58 +/- 1 and ground color of Agtron 63 +/- 1.

But wait, if I have a con­vec­tive roaster and a con­duc­tive heat roaster, I should get a drum roaster to see what the dif­fer­ence is when I add a lit­tle radi­ant heat. Since I have not got a Probatino handy in my home lab, I won­dered what I could do. I KNOW! I bought an antique roaster from the 1800’s off Ebay about ten years ago and I always wanted to try it. The design is quite sim­ple. Picture a soup can with a slider door cut into the side. Get a metal rod with a wood han­dle and stick it into the can and then you essen­tially had a lit­tle bar­rel roaster. There is a baf­fle inside of ‘the can’ and when you spin it, you get action of the beans being moved and tum­bled. Add a wire hook to the out­side so you can hang it on the hearth in the fire­place and there you have it, an 1800’s home bar­rel roaster.

Time to Roast!!! I started with the 1800’s roaster. First prob­lem with this roaster, you can­not see the beans once they are inside. Oh well, roast by sound. I also con­sulted “The Frugal Housewife,” pub­lished in 1820, which explained that the proper way to roast cof­fee was to stop when the beans were ‘dark and oily.’ Not much help; just go for it. As it turns out, in about 9:30 min­utes smoke poured from the roaster so I dumped the ‘dark and oily’ beans. I gave this cof­fee to my neigh­bor who does not know any bet­ter and tried again. This time I used the Ov-Glove to sneak peeks inside and got a nice 11:30 roast into the 1st crack.

Next up was the Taiwan ter­ra­cotta pot. There is a hole in the top of the pot about the size of a sight-glass on a con­ven­tional roaster. The han­dle is hol­low. I first thought this was for smoke to be car­ried away. As I approached the end of the roast I real­ized that this was actu­ally for dump­ing the beans. You just lift the pot and they dump out of the han­dle. I found that by adding a 21st cen­tury iPhone with a flash­light app that I could get a good look at roast devel­op­ment inside the pot. I got this roast out in 9:45 just into 1st crack.

Last was the roaster I was most famil­iar with. I set up the Hearthware out­side since I mod­i­fied it a bit. In order to get a roast, even approach­ing eight min­utes, I had taken off the chaff col­lec­tor on top so the air just flows straight through the beans and car­ries the chaff all over the place. I also peri­od­i­cally switch to cool mode to slow it down. I also man­u­ally agi­tate the machine the whole time to get an even roast. This roast came out in 8:45 min­utes just into the 1st crack.

Time to Cup!!! I stole a lit­tle of my sam­ples for the days cof­fee, but waited 24 hours to offi­cially cup my results. I got my daugh­ter to ‘blind’ the cof­fee for me. I used the SCAA form and was sur­prised at how dif­fer­ent they were.
A: Bright and thin: 83.5
B: Flat and a bit­ter fin­ish: 81.25
C: Nice bal­ance of acid­ity and body: 85.25

Then the reveal sur­prised me.
A=Hearthware. I pretty much guessed that A was the air roaster due to the bright­ness and lack of sugar devel­op­ment.
B=Taiwan Pot. Wow! I did not expect that. With all of the agi­ta­tion I did to keep the cof­fee mov­ing I thought it would have devel­oped nicely rather than take on such a baked pro­file.
C=1800’s roaster. Well I will be damned! Sometimes older is bet­ter. It has more tech­nol­ogy than a pot but a far cry from an elec­tric air roaster. I was totally impressed with the results!

I do wish I had not burned my thumb check­ing roast color devel­op­ment though! My inner roaster geek is going to try a few more exper­i­ments now…

Rocky Rhodes is an 18 year cof­fee vet­eran, roaster, and Q-Grader Instructor, and his mis­sion now is to trans­form the cof­fee sup­ply chain and make sweep­ing dif­fer­ences in the lives of those that pro­duce the green cof­fee. Rocky can be reached at

Power of Good

Categories: 2014, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

What Could Be Lurking in your Favorite Café Snacks…

Editor’s Note
With healthy liv­ing and health­ful foods con­stantly being brought to the mar­ket, it is impor­tant that the fol­low­ing topic gets addressed. We under­stand that the major­ity of our read­ers are in the cof­fee indus­try. However, some of our adver­tis­ers are pro­mot­ing this healthy lifestyle trend. Many cafes and cof­fee shops serve food with the label non-GMO printed on it, and some peo­ple may not under­stand what it means. Well, this arti­cle is here to help explain the mean­ing behind the label.

We all eat and, intu­itively, most of us do not trust food if we know some­body has tam­pered with it. What would be your response if you learned that genet­i­cally mod­i­fied (GM) foods have been totally untested for their effects on our health? That it is indus­try influ­ence, not sound sci­ence, which has put them into our mouths? Further, over­whelm­ing sci­en­tific research indi­cates that the foods should never have been approved.

Having dis­cov­ered the truth for them­selves, our European neigh­bors have out­right refused our genet­i­cally mod­i­fied foods. In essence, the EU has told the World Trade Organization and the United States, “We will pay the fines, but we will not buy the poi­son.” More star­tling, even hun­gry African nations will not accept GM foods.

Thus far, the pro­duc­ers of these foods have avoided label­ing because they know it would decrease sales. How do you like that?

We’re Eating Genetically Modified Food. Is it Safe?
There has not been a sin­gle ani­mal or human study demon­strat­ing that these foods are safe for con­sump­tion. Yet today, in the US, they are present in 60–70 per­cent of processed foods. (This is bound to increase since GM pota­toes are now in supermarkets.)

Today, most non-organic US corn, soy, cot­ton, and sugar beets are genet­i­cally mod­i­fied organ­isms (GMO). Combined, these pro­vide a vast por­tion of the sweet­en­ers, fats, and addi­tives used by food man­u­fac­tur­ers. Plus, they com­prise nearly all of the feed used by the meat industry.

The Fix is In
In the early 1990s, the sci­en­tific con­sen­sus at the FDA was that GM foods were inher­ently dan­ger­ous and might cre­ate hard-to-detect aller­gies, poi­sons, gene trans­fer to gut bac­te­ria, new dis­eases, and nutri­tional prob­lems. Those sci­en­tists rec­om­mended rig­or­ous long term test­ing of these new foods!

GM “foods” have been creep­ing into our food sup­ply since the mid-1990s. Unless you buy only cer­ti­fied organic or Label Project foods and eat only foods made from scratch, then you are eat­ing GM foods and so is your family.

What is Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engi­neer­ing involves blast­ing DNA arbi­trar­ily into an estab­lished gene sequence. This crude inser­tion process inter­rupts the genome’s pro­gram­ming in unpre­dictable ways. It can:
1)    Mutate or per­ma­nently turn genes on or off
2)    Alter RNA or pro­teins in plants
3)    Produce aller­gies or tox­i­c­i­ties
4)    Trigger fur­ther impacts, which con­tinue to occur through time

After the inser­tion takes place, the changes are not sta­ble. In other words, as the genome con­tin­ues to adapt, changes are idio­syn­cratic and con­tinue to hap­pen. This is how two ears of corn from the same stalk may vary in nutri­tional con­tent, or even appearance.

Splice ‘n’ Dice
The pub­lic per­cep­tion of this tech­nol­ogy is that genes are like Lego blocks, inde­pen­dent pieces that snap into place.

For cen­turies, gar­den­ers, farm­ers, and ranch­ers have cross­bred plants or ani­mals to increase the odds of get­ting desired traits. This is a tech­nique (hybredi­z­ing) that relies on repro­duc­tion to pass on genes. A sim­ple exam­ple is cross­ing apple vari­eties to insure sweet and hardy fruit. Sometimes these exper­i­ments work out; some­times they do not.

On the other hand, genetic mod­i­fi­ca­tion is extremely hap­haz­ard. There is noth­ing pre­cise about it. When genetic crops are engi­neered, a gene is “inserted” ran­domly into a code sequence that has evolved over hun­dreds of mil­lions of years.

Most fre­quently a gene from one species is inserted into the gene sequence of a dif­fer­ent species. It is a ran­dom inser­tion because we have nei­ther the tech­niques nor the under­stand­ing to place the genes. Using the word insert as though we exert some con­trol is grossly misleading.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), food is now respon­si­ble for twice the num­ber of ill­nesses in the United States that sci­en­tists orig­i­nally thought seven years ago.

The above quote is from an arti­cle about con­t­a­m­i­nated food, which appeared in the New York Times (March 18, 2001). Over the seven years referred to, there were 35,000 deaths, over two mil­lion hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, and 500 mil­lion ill­nesses related to food. And, these are only the reported cases.

In 1990, before GM foods, not one state pop­u­la­tion had over 19 per­cent obe­sity. Now, 20 per­cent or more cit­i­zens are obese in every state. Twelve states have 30 per­cent obesity!!!

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine takes the stand that GM foods actu­ally cause adverse health effects. They ask that physi­cians advise patients to avoid GM food. In fact, the GM foods most of us eat every day were mutated with the same process recounted above.

Your Right to Know. What can you Do?
1.     Demand Labeling. The over­whelm­ing major­ity of U.S. Citizens want GMOs indi­cated on food labels.
2.     Call, Write, or Visit your elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to ask for their sup­port in label­ing.
3.     Buy local, organic, or foods that are labeled non-GMO. Knowing your food is safe makes a difference.

Additional Resources:
The NON GMO Project

Siri Khalsa is the edi­tor of Nutrition News, and she has been writ­ing for the pub­li­ca­tion for many years. She has the pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion to edu­cate read­ers on the health ben­e­fits on tea and coffee.

Kids and Families in Coffee

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Cindy Elliott
Phone: 520.869.1232
Organization Name: Alive Church and Cindy Elliott
Project URL:

Project: Kids and Families in Coffee
Location: Costa Rica
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Santa Elena Coffee Farm
Projected Impact: 500

Project Description
JulyCover1 copyKids and Families in Coffee is about try­ing to do some­thing med­ically ben­e­fi­cial for all of those chil­dren and fam­i­lies who are involved in the pick­ing of cof­fee in Costa Rica, specif­i­cally at the Santa Elena cof­fee farm.

In January of 2014, we took a group of 13 vol­un­teers to the Santa Elena Coffee Farm. I was the only med­ical provider on this first trip. The oth­ers helped coör­di­nate plans, set up and break down the out­door clinic equip­ment in the cof­fee fields, run for sup­plies when it was needed, play with and enter­tain the chil­dren, and much more.

The inspi­ra­tion for this trip came from a National Automatic Merchandising (NAMA) event. In January of 2012, 40 peo­ple of NAMA went to the farm to learn more about cof­fee. As we saw the farm and learned about the peo­ple pick­ing the cof­fee, it became appar­ent there was a need for med­ical care and atten­tion on these cof­fee farms. Since most of the pick­ers are migrant work­ers, they are not under the Costa Rican med­ical sys­tem that is cur­rently in place, and there­fore, they can­not receive med­ical care unless it is an emergency.

I spoke to Luz Marina Trujillo, the owner of Santa Elena, and Kerri Goodman, the owner and pub­lisher of CoffeeTalk Magazine, about putting a trip together to care for these peo­ple and their basic needs. The trip occurred in January of 2013, and it was a great suc­cess! With the help of my crew, I was able to see and care for 240 peo­ple in just four days, doing my best to meet their imme­di­ate med­ical needs.

There is another trip planned for January of 2015 to go back to the Santa Elena cof­fee farm and care for the peo­ple, both the chil­dren and their fam­i­lies. This year, hav­ing a bet­ter idea of what is needed, I plan to take another med­ical provider and two stu­dents to help with the imple­men­ta­tion of med­ical care.

We are so excited to make this an annual event, work­ing to improve the health of the peo­ple at the farm, hope­fully improv­ing their over­all health and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their lives!

Who Will Benefit from this Project?
The fam­i­lies and chil­dren of the Santa Elena cof­fee farm directly ben­e­fit because of this med­ical mis­sion trip. They are given a basic health assess­ment and are then treated for imme­di­ate med­ical prob­lems that may be apparent.

What You Can Do to Help
We need your finan­cial sup­port to make this trip pos­si­ble. We would like to ask the cof­fee, tea, and water com­mu­nity, and those who are a part of the NAMA com­mu­nity, to assist us by donat­ing for med­ica­tions, trans­porta­tion, and mod­est hotel accom­mo­da­tions for those who are vol­un­teer­ing their time and skills.

Thank you for all of your sup­port!
Cindy Elliott, FNPC

Coffee Leading the Way for Community Impact

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact Name: Karen Cebreros
Phone: 619.889.1997
Project URL:
Organization Name: Track What Counts

Project: Coffee Cares
Location: The United States
Projected Impact: 100,000

Project Description
The past two decades have seen a lot of buzz about cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity (CSR). Consumers are increas­ingly demand­ing trans­parency, authen­tic­ity, and con­sid­er­a­tion of more than just the bot­tom line. Instead, the suc­cess of a busi­ness is being judged by the strength of its triple bot­tom line – peo­ple, planet, and profit. In many ways, the val­ues of the cof­fee indus­try, which are qual­ity, rela­tion­ships, and com­mu­nity, are already aligned with the idea of a triple bot­tom line. However, despite admirable progress on pro­tect­ing the planet, the first pil­lar, the peo­ple, has received rel­a­tively lit­tle atten­tion in the realm of cor­po­rate respon­si­bil­ity, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to mea­sur­ing the impact of busi­nesses on com­mu­ni­ties. In response to the need to bring more aware­ness and data to the human impact of the cof­fee indus­try, Karen Cebreros decided to cre­ate Coffee Cares.

Even before cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity was a hot topic, the cof­fee indus­try was actively engaged in strength­en­ing com­mu­ni­ties, both in the United States and glob­ally. Coffee Cares’ founder, Karen Cebreros, is rec­og­nized as a pio­neer in the global cer­ti­fied organic and sus­tain­abil­ity move­ments. Like Karen, many in the cof­fee indus­try are ded­i­cated to serv­ing peo­ple, whether it is by donat­ing cof­fee to com­mu­nity events, mak­ing phil­an­thropic dona­tions to non-profit orga­ni­za­tions, or by vol­un­teer­ing their time and exper­tise in grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties. With all of this activ­ity, and much more to be done, there is a strong busi­ness case for track­ing and telling the story of that pos­i­tive impact. However, within an indus­try that is already doing so much to sup­port employ­ees, the sup­ply chain, and com­mu­ni­ties, many in the cof­fee indus­try are miss­ing an oppor­tu­nity to max­i­mize prof­its when they do not share that impact story.

For many roast­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, and café own­ers, ded­i­cat­ing lim­ited time and resources to track­ing and report­ing social impact is a major chal­lenge. Coffee Cares is the employee engage­ment and cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity solu­tion that will help over­come that chal­lenge. An end-to-end solu­tion, Coffee Cares equips com­pa­nies with the tools and exper­tise nec­es­sary to exe­cute out­stand­ing social impact pro­grams. From design­ing ini­tia­tives to involv­ing employ­ees to track­ing and report­ing on the impact being made, Coffee Cares deliv­ers a cus­tom cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity solu­tion that will strengthen the peo­ple and profit pil­lars of the triple bot­tom line with one-on-one sup­port and access to some of the industry’s top cof­fee and cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­ity experts. The soft­ware ser­vice pro­vides an intu­itive and effort­less way to track employee and com­mu­nity vol­un­teer hours, in-kind dona­tions, and phil­an­thropic con­tri­bu­tions, plus pho­tos and sto­ries from com­mu­nity events and vol­un­teer engage­ments. Employees within a com­pany and between cof­fee busi­nesses have the oppor­tu­nity to con­nect and col­lab­o­rate on vol­un­teer projects, com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives, and fundrais­ing cam­paigns. This type of employee engage­ment in the social mis­sion of a com­pany has been shown to improve loy­alty and pro­duc­tiv­ity, and draw more tal­ented staff. Once the good work has been done, Coffee Cares will help craft a com­pelling report and nar­ra­tive about a busi­ness that truly cares about people.

From tree to cup, the cof­fee indus­try is already doing quan­tifi­able good in the lives it touches. Coffee Cares enables busi­nesses to do well as a result of doing good.

Pilot Project to Reduce Potato Defect

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Susie Spindler
Phone: 406.542.3509
Project URL:
Organization Name: Alliance for Coffee Excellence

Project: Pilot Project to reduce potato defect
Location: Rwanda
Projected Impact: This is at yet undetermined

Project Description
Rwanda farmers copyAny buyer of spe­cialty cof­fee knows the dis­tress that is caused when a spec­tac­u­lar cof­fee ends up with a potato cup. This defect, which is preva­lent around the Great Lakes of Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, part of Tanzania, and Kenya, has become an increas­ingly insid­i­ous prob­lem that is caus­ing long time buy­ers to aban­don cof­fees that they once cher­ished, and it is caus­ing farm­ers in these regions to lose pro­duc­tion and mil­lions of dol­lars in pre­mi­ums. The 2013 Cup of Excellence in Rwanda and Burundi elim­i­nated almost 65 per­cent of the entries for potato, some of which had got­ten to the final round and some were scor­ing in the mid 90s. It was dev­as­tat­ing to the cup­pers and to the farmers.

Extensive research has been ongo­ing and mul­ti­ple dol­lars has been spent with not much prac­ti­cal direc­tion of how to solve the prob­lem at the farm level. While the staff of ACE does not pur­port to be sci­en­tists, it was obvi­ous that we needed to get involved.

Working with Global Knowledge Initiative, ACE offered a chal­lenge prize of up to $20,000 to fund any pilot study that would help fur­ther under­stand what actions could be taken to help pre­vent and reduce potato defect. We then asked our mem­bers to pro­vide the funds, and they did, either in small amounts or large amounts.

There were sev­eral pro­pos­als that came in all vet­ted by a tech­ni­cal team, but the one that ACE chose is the most farmer prac­ti­cal and will be a test on the effects of prun­ing, stan­dard insec­ti­cides, and pyrethrum, an organic insec­ti­cide made from cer­tain flow­er­ing plants. It is a widely held belief that the antes­tia bug, which is a mem­ber of the stinkbug fam­ily, either directly or indi­rectly, causes this defect.

ACE and the Rwanda Agricultural Board will start out with a base­line cup­ping in 2014 to cre­ate some com­pa­ra­ble sta­tis­tics for the 2015 test. Potato is so ran­dom that it is hard to accu­rately pre­dict its preva­lence in any given lot of coffee.

Lab tests will be con­ducted on the antes­tia bug to deter­mine the cor­rect for­mu­las to be exam­ined for both the con­ven­tional and the pyrethroids insec­ti­cides. Once this is com­plete, the farms of Coöperative de Caféiculteurs de Musaza – COCAMU will be divided up into test plots. These test plots include: 1. Control, 2. Pruning only, 3. Conventional insec­ti­cides and prun­ing, 4. Conventional insec­ti­cides and no prun­ing, 5. pyrethroids and prun­ing, 6. pyrethroids and no pruning.

The coöper­a­tive will sep­a­rate the cof­fees from each of these six test areas. After the sam­ples are processed, the sam­ples will be cupped and assessed for the per­cent­age of potato defect. The pilot hopes to deter­mine which method – if any – has the great­est pos­i­tive impact on reduc­ing the potato defect. Once these results are known, they will shared.

Who Will Benefit from this Project?
While this small pilot will not reduce potato defect over­all, its results will be used to fuel a much larger study that could even­tu­ally impact hun­dreds of thou­sands of small farm­ers. It will also aid those in the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try that want to buy the Rwanda and Burundi cof­fees, but do not dare to pur­chase it now because the risk of potato is too great.

What You Can Do to Help
There are still sev­eral very use­ful pilot projects that were left unfunded that could pro­vide infor­ma­tion about the nature of potato defect. For exam­ple, whether it is also in the cherry and at what stage of ripen­ing and whether the bugs could be trapped in a man­ner sim­i­lar to Broca traps.

For inter­ested com­pa­nies that wish to donate to the sci­en­tific effort, please go directly to the ACE web­site listed at the top of this page and click on the “donate now” but­ton and choose qual­ity projects.

Keeping track of the inci­dence of potato will prove very use­ful to deter­mine if there is a micro­cli­mate or loca­tion that is more prone to the potato defect. We hope to have a page or a web­site for buy­ers in the year 2015 to input infor­ma­tion about when they find the potato defect, in what cof­fee, and at what percentage.

If you know of any­one who is also doing potato defect research, please let us know so that we can share these results with them as well. The potato prob­lem is huge, and it will take a huge effort to help solve it. However, maybe by all of us work­ing together we can not only improve the liveli­hoods of these farm­ers, but also find spec­tac­u­lar cof­fees to sell.

Root Capital Partner to Develop Micro-Enterprises for Resilient Coffee Supply Chains

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Janice Nadworny
Phone: 802.482.6868
Project URL:
Organization Name: Food 4 Farmers

Project: Food 4 Farmers – Root Capital Partner to Develop Micro-Enterprises for Resilient Coffee Supply Chains
Location: Guatemala
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Maya Ixil Coöperative region
Projected Impact: 130

Project Description
Working hillside hives copyFood 4 Farmers’ newest project in Guatemala tests our basic premises: Can we iden­tify and plug the capac­ity gaps pre­vent­ing coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties from cre­at­ing last­ing food secu­rity? Can a small orga­ni­za­tion have an impact by work­ing with like-minded larger orga­ni­za­tions that can lever­age the work through their exten­sive net­works?
Our new ini­tia­tive with Root Capital, a leader in the non­profit social invest­ment world and the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try, aims to accom­plish both goals.
“Business in a Box,” an inno­v­a­tive pro­gram that pro­motes com­mer­cial bee­keep­ing as an alter­na­tive source of income for small­holder cof­fee farm­ers, was launched under Root Capital’s Root Link pro­gram, a three-year ini­tia­tive designed to strengthen the finan­cial man­age­ment of small­holder pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions. It is now being expanded under the Root Capital’s region-wide Coffee Farmer Resilience Initiative.
Our orga­ni­za­tion is work­ing with Guatemalan coöper­a­tive Maya Ixil on this two-year pilot pro­gram. We are train­ing the co-op’s tech­ni­cal advi­sors and 46 cof­fee farm­ers to give them the skills nec­es­sary to develop farmer-owned bee­keep­ing enter­prises. During this first year, farm­ers are learn­ing together at com­mu­nal api­aries, work­ing the hives every week and receiv­ing train­ing from our orga­ni­za­tion in all aspects of bee­keep­ing. In the sec­ond year, they will begin cul­ti­vat­ing honey on their own farms to pro­vide addi­tional income, while con­tin­u­ing to receive train­ing and sup­port from Food 4 Farmers and coop tech­ni­cal advi­sors.
This com­mu­nal approach is designed to over­come typ­i­cally high dropout rates and bar­ri­ers to mar­kets for new bee­keep­ers, who often do not have the resources or sup­port they need to build a new line of busi­ness. To help these entre­pre­neurs bring their prod­ucts suc­cess­fully to mar­ket, Food 4 Farmers and Root Capital have teamed up with COPIASURO, a Guatemalan honey coöper­a­tive, whose exper­tise in extract­ing honey and other bee prod­ucts, mar­ket­ing, and dis­tri­b­u­tion can help boost Maya Ixil’s oppor­tu­ni­ties for long-term suc­cess.
With Root Capital financ­ing, Maya Ixil will pro­vide a startup resource pack­age and a small loan to par­tic­i­pat­ing farm­ers, help­ing them acquire equip­ment and sup­plies nec­es­sary to make it on their own. Loan repay­ment will be tied to incre­men­tal income asso­ci­ated with the new ven­ture to avoid over-indebtedness.
Root Capital plans to repli­cate this model in other coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties affected by rust in Latin America by work­ing with Heifer International as its imple­ment­ing part­ner. Heifer’s tech­ni­cal advi­sors are now being trained by Food 4 Farmers along­side Maya Ixil tech­ni­cal advi­sors and mem­bers, so they can repli­cate this inno­v­a­tive pro­gram.
In Guatemala, farm­ers who are pro­duc­ing honey can earn more than the national min­i­mum wage from bee­keep­ing alone. Imagine the impli­ca­tions for a rust-affected farmer who has to keep up with house­hold expenses, includ­ing food, while invest­ing many work­ing days in farm ren­o­va­tion and reha­bil­i­ta­tion activ­i­ties that will not pro­duce income for three to five years.

What You Can Do to Help
You can help build more inno­v­a­tive food secu­rity pro­grams, like this one, by donat­ing at If your com­pany would like to spon­sor a project, or you’d like to help get the word out about how to take action against sea­sonal hunger in coffee-growing com­mu­ni­ties, please con­tact us directly.

Healthy Women, Healthy Harvest: Voices of the Community

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Justin Mool
Phone: 802.241.4146
Project URL:
Organization Name: Grounds for Health

Project: Healthy Women, Healthy Harvest: Voices of the Community
Location: Ethiopia
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Current projects are in Ethiopia, Peru, and Nicaragua. Projects in the past were in Mexico and Tanzania
Projected Impact: 10,000+

Project Description
Grounds for Health part­ners with the cof­fee indus­try to reduce unac­cept­ably high rates of cer­vi­cal can­cer in cof­fee farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Latin America and Africa. By engag­ing cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties and part­ner­ing with cof­fee coop­er­a­tives and local and national min­istries of health, Grounds for Health has strength­ened the local capac­ity and has estab­lished the foun­da­tion for sus­tain­able cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ven­tion programs.

Cervical can­cer is a pre­ventable dis­ease the kills more than 275,000 women every year, with the major­ity of deaths occur­ring in the devel­op­ing world. In most cof­fee grow­ing regions, cer­vi­cal can­cer pre­ma­turely takes more women than preg­nancy and child­birth. These women are needed by their fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and by the cof­fee indus­try because they pro­vide over 70 per­cent of labor in the har­vest­ing of cof­fee and the sort­ing of cof­fee beans.

Since 1996, Grounds for Health has worked with 18 cof­fee coop­er­a­tives, trained 365 doc­tors and nurses, edu­cated 792 com­mu­nity health pro­mot­ers, equipped 56 health cen­ters, and screened over 46,000 women for cer­vi­cal can­cer. Three years ago, Grounds for Health began col­lect­ing inter­views with par­tic­i­pants and ben­e­fi­cia­ries of its pro­grams. These men and women uniquely cap­ture the impact of Grounds for Health pro­grams and put a voice behind the numbers.

In Peru, the pres­i­dent of the National Coffee Association spoke about the impor­tance of pro­vid­ing access to women, “Grounds for Health has suc­ceeded in break­ing down the bar­ri­ers that many women face. Often women in the coun­try­side are afraid of or inse­cure about going to the doc­tor. Grounds for Health has brought them con­fi­dence and the secu­rity to par­tic­i­pate in these screen­ing events, which in many cases can save their lives.”

Once women over­come these bar­ri­ers to access, an essen­tial com­po­nent of Grounds for Health’s model is to ensure they receive com­plete pre­ven­ta­tive ser­vices from screen­ing through treat­ment. In Nicaragua, the vice pres­i­dent of a cof­fee coöper­a­tive part­ner spoke about this com­mit­ment, “I think that we have achieved our objec­tive of bring­ing bet­ter health to women. Women came to be seen, per­haps some with fears. However, they received care with­out fear and all of the women who tested pos­i­tive have received treatment.”

Direct ser­vices are just the begin­ning. A regional health author­ity in Nicaragua spoke about the impor­tant of capac­ity build­ing. Grounds for Health’s local train­ings and cam­paigns give doc­tors and nurses the skills to con­tin­u­ally pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive well-woman care. “If we look hon­estly, our national health sys­tem has not had the resources nec­es­sary to pro­vide the space, train­ing, or pri­or­ity for VIA. I have seen that the the­ory and the skills that the Grounds for Health trained doc­tors and nurses learn in the con­fer­ence and clin­i­cal train­ing is quickly imple­mented by the providers.”

Ultimately, Grounds for Health’s suc­cess is made pos­si­ble through local part­ner­ships and com­mu­nity buy ins. The pres­i­dent of a cof­fee coöper­a­tive in Peru explains, “It is one of the prin­ci­ples of the coöperative—to safe­guard the com­mon good of the pro­duc­ers and the com­mu­nity. Seldom are co-ops involved in health projects, but here, we have brought together the cof­fee co-ops and the local gov­ern­ment. We have seen involve­ment from local health author­i­ties, the health cen­ter, and ourselves—the co-ops.”

What You Can Do to Help
The best way to get involved is to become a finan­cial sup­porter of Grounds for Health. The Leadership Circle includes the ECOM Foundation, Keurig Green Mountain, Monin Inc., Royal Coffee Inc., and Swiss Water Decaffeinated. Major donors include Allegro Coffee, Caribou Coffee Company, Club Coffee LP, Coffee Enterprises, Flavor & Fragrance Specialties Inc., InterAmerican Coffee Inc., S&D Coffee & Tea, Scolari Engineering, and Volcafe Specialty Coffee. Become a sup­porter today at

Early Education Centers in Peru

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Karen Gordon
Phone: 718.832.0800
Project URL:
Organization Name: Cup For Education in part­ner­ship with the Café Femenino Foundation

Project: Early Education Centers in Peru
Location: Peru
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: This project incor­po­rates two schools in the com­mu­ni­ties of Corral de Piedra and Murojaga
Projected Impact: 100 chil­dren under the age of 5 years old

Project Description
This past year has seen excit­ing advance­ments in the Early Education Centers of Corral de Piedra and Murojaga that were funded by Cup For Education work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Café Femenino Foundation. Located in an area des­ig­nated as “high-poverty” by the gov­ern­ment of Peru, these preschools serve chil­dren between the ages of three and five years in an effort to stim­u­late learn­ing and com­bat mal­nu­tri­tion. In the first year, these Education Centers were cre­ated by upgrad­ing the class­rooms to include art and musi­cal sup­plies, more edu­ca­tional tools, mats for floor play, col­or­ful instruc­tional posters, hand wash­ing sta­tions, new paint, and a roof.

Lots of hands-on projects and move­ment were incor­po­rated so that the fine and gross motor skills of the chil­dren were enhanced. In these chil­dren, the lev­els of mal­nu­tri­tion rates have been quite high. A mal­nu­tri­tion pro­gram for teach­ers and par­ents, that included spe­cial­ized train­ing and track­ing in nutri­tional aspects of children’s health, was imple­mented. We are pleased to report that now going into the sec­ond year of this preschool, we are already see­ing a remark­able reduc­tion in mal­nu­tri­tion. These preschools have quickly become trea­sured by the com­mu­nity. This is because in this area of rural Peru, the preschool-aged chil­dren have never had access to this type of early edu­ca­tional stim­u­la­tion. They have essen­tially been left behind aca­d­e­m­i­cally com­pared to chil­dren edu­cated in the cities.

Malnutrition rates for small chil­dren in these com­mu­ni­ties are very high lead­ing to dimin­ished learn­ing capac­ity and poor aca­d­e­mic per­for­mance. The mal­nu­tri­tion sur­vey, which began in the first year of the project has con­tin­ued in this sec­ond year and will con­tinue for five years. As this project con­tin­ues into the sec­ond year, more data is col­lected, and new stu­dents enter­ing the school, along with their par­ents, will receive the spe­cial­ized training.

Experiences, such as draw­ing, paint­ing, using scis­sors, and color crayons, which have not pre­vi­ously been a part of these children’s lives are now incor­po­rated into the cur­ricu­lum. Movement skills, such as som­er­saults and dance, have also been intro­duced. Early read­ing and math skills, in addi­tion to out­door envi­ron­ment stud­ies, are being intro­duced for the first time. A lunch box pro­gram con­tin­ues into the sec­ond year, as it has been a suc­cess­ful edu­ca­tional tool for the chil­dren and their par­ents on the topic of nutrition.

Because the chil­dren were being sent to school in the first weeks with lunches made up of cook­ies and candy, we became aware of the lack of knowl­edge the par­ents had in pro­vid­ing a nutri­tional lunch for their small chil­dren. It became nec­es­sary to give the par­ents more infor­ma­tion and train­ing in what to send with their chil­dren in the way of healthy and nutri­tious food. The lunch boxes were given to the chil­dren to pro­vide a daily reminder to the stu­dents and their fam­i­lies that healthy eat­ing was impor­tant to aca­d­e­mic success.

What You Can Do to Help
The best way to sup­port this cause is to talk about it. Cup for Education is on Facebook and Twitter. Find out what we are doing and how you can con­nect to help. Hosting a fundraiser, col­lect­ing books in Spanish, or basic school sup­plies is some­thing any­one can do. There is great need among cof­fee grow­ing com­mu­ni­ties of the world, and Peru is just one of many coun­tries we have projects.

Monetary dona­tions are always wel­come. Every dol­lar raised goes directly to the projects. Everyone involved with Cup For Education vol­un­teers their time so that there are no salaries or admin­is­tra­tive costs. The admin­is­tra­tive costs are cov­ered by Coffee Holding Company Inc. so that we can make a big­ger impact with every dol­lar we receive from our supporters.

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Coffee Community Schools

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Rosemary Trent
Phone: 202.302.0622
Project URL:
Organization Name: Pueblo a Pueblo

Project: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Coffee Community Schools
Project loca­tion: Guatemala
Projected Impact: 1,500

Project Description
At spec­tac­u­lar Lake Atitlan in the high­lands of Guatemala, water is truly at the heart of this large, indige­nous coffee-growing com­mu­nity. And yet, this com­mu­nity is in lack of clean water and san­i­ta­tion ser­vices, which is a basic human right. What this means is that cof­fee farm­ers and their chil­dren con­tin­u­ously face infec­tious pathogens, result­ing in gas­troin­testi­nal ill­nesses, and some­times even death. When chil­dren are afflicted, their abil­ity to absorb enough nutri­ents is com­pro­mised. In return, this then con­tributes to chronic mal­nour­ish­ment and leads to insuf­fi­cient phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive development.

With its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools (WASH) project, Pueblo a Pueblo is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. While work­ing with local com­mu­nity orga­ni­za­tions, we are help­ing ensure access to clean water and san­i­tary facil­i­ties to improve the children’s health, such as water fil­tra­tion sys­tems, toi­lets, and soaps. The key to this project is help­ing estab­lish com­mu­nity own­er­ship to make sure that the water and san­i­ta­tion facil­i­ties are kept in work­ing order and con­di­tions. By doing it this way, each com­mu­nity will be able to main­tain its WASH facil­i­ties, edu­ca­tion pro­grams, and healthy behav­iors with­out our support.

Since its incep­tion in 2011, WASH has grown to serve over 850 stu­dents and teach­ers at six dif­fer­ent ele­men­tary schools. The Situation Lake Atitlan is one of the most beau­ti­ful places imag­in­able. Three large vol­ca­noes loom over a huge crater lake that is sur­rounded by the indige­nous Maya vil­lages. Encircling these vil­lages are vast rows of cof­fee plants inter­min­gled with avo­cado trees, papaya trees, and banana trees. This land­scape cer­tainly resem­bles utopia, which is why it is inter­na­tion­ally renowned for yield­ing great tast­ing high-quality cof­fee. Although Guatemalan cof­fee is in high demand all around the world, unfor­tu­nately, lit­tle of the coffee’s profit finds its way back to the aver­age cof­fee farmer. In return, it then results in wide­spread poverty.

Daily access to a con­sis­tent clean water sup­ply, which is at least five liters per per­son per day, is imper­a­tive to human health and learn­ing. Drinking untreated or unfil­tered water can cause gas­troin­testi­nal ill­nesses, such as diar­rhea, dehy­dra­tion, and in some cases, fatal­i­ties. The mag­ni­tude of the clean water prob­lem in rural Guatemala can be dis­cour­ag­ing. However, the good news is that water-related ill­nesses are entirely pre­ventable. Pueblo a Pueblo’s WASH project focuses on the pub­lic ele­men­tary schools to improve the health of the most vul­ner­a­ble indi­vid­u­als, and also because school water and san­i­tary facil­i­ties are often at the cen­ter of a vil­lage and are used by the entire community.

Who Will Benefit from this Project?
The project has three parts, which are often imple­mented at the same time. First, we help schools and com­mu­ni­ties gain access to clean water and san­i­tary facil­i­ties. Second, Pueblo a Pueblo helps to edu­cate adults and chil­dren on healthy behav­iors, such as hand wash­ing before food con­sump­tion and after bath­room use, as a means of pre­ven­tion. We work with teach­ers and school admin­is­tra­tors to rein­force these behav­iors until they become a habit for the chil­dren. Third, we work closely with com­mu­nity groups, school admin­is­tra­tors, and local munic­i­pal­i­ties to estab­lish the fund­ing, sup­plies, and com­mu­nity own­er­ship needed to keep the water and san­i­ta­tion facil­i­ties in work­ing order.

Sustainability of these pro­grams is key to the con­tin­u­a­tion of dis­ease pre­ven­tion and good health main­te­nance. It is vital that each com­mu­nity be able to main­tain its WASH facil­i­ties, edu­ca­tion pro­grams, and healthy behav­iors with­out rely­ing on us.

What You Can Do to Help
What will help make the project suc­cess­ful are cash dona­tions, in-kind dona­tions of books, clothes, and sup­plies. You can even vol­un­teer your time to aid in the cause. There are sev­eral ways to help Pueblo a Pueblo expand water, san­i­ta­tion, and hygiene access to other Guatemalan cof­fee communities.

You can donate money for a locally made water fil­ter, spon­sor a school or com­mu­nity WASH project, or vol­un­teer your time, effort, and skills. For more infor­ma­tion visit Pueblo a Pueblo’s web­site at

Working and Learning Together

Categories: 2014, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Contact name: Dana Reinert
Phone: 202.827.8032
Project URL:
Organization Name: Coexist Campaign

Project: Working and Learning Together
Location: Uganda
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Mbale, Uganda
Projected Impact: 1,500 Farmers

Project Description
In Eastern Uganda, decades of civil con­flict tore com­mu­ni­ties apart and nearly drove some tribes to the brink of extinc­tion. However, tribal lead­ers, whose own broth­ers had died in the fight­ing, rose up against the vio­lence and reached across divides to usher in a new area of peace—a peace built around cof­fee. On the slopes of Mount Elgon, a dor­mant vol­cano, the main prod­uct of the region is a fan­tas­tic, highly grown, ancient Arabica vari­ety of coffee.

No sin­gle tribe or reli­gious group in the diverse area owned enough land to cre­ate a prof­itable cof­fee busi­ness on their own, so they had to col­lab­o­rate and work together to estab­lish a suc­cess­ful busi­ness. The farm­ers formed “Peace Kawomera Coöperative,” unit­ing Jewish farm­ers, Christian farm­ers, and Muslim farm­ers. They then started export­ing their deli­cious Arabica beans. Coexist Coffee comes directly and solely from the farm­ers of the Peace Kawomera Coöperative. As a fair trade prod­uct, we go even fur­ther as hav­ing the honor of being the first cof­fee retailer to buy directly from this coöperative.

The amaz­ing cof­fee is shade grown using organic prac­tices, and it is inter­cropped with vanilla trees, cocoa trees, and local fruit and nut trees. All prof­its from our cof­fee sales go directly back to the com­mu­nity in the form of edu­ca­tion, where we sup­port the farm­ers’ chil­dren going to inte­grated schools where Jewish, Christian, and Muslim chil­dren learn together.

Our pro­grams cre­ate a sys­temic solu­tion for post-conflict and frag­ile states that bring peo­ple together so that they can advance their own devel­op­ment – Work together, learn together, and live together. As the Coöperative mem­bers col­lab­o­rate on shared goals and actions, they fos­ter social cohe­sion and bind­ing rela­tion­ships. When chil­dren are learn­ing together in diverse envi­ron­ments, it is proven to reduce sec­tar­ian and reli­giously fueled violence.

At Coexist, we do not impose a pre­de­ter­mined solu­tion on a frag­ile com­mu­nity, but rather, we become an eco­nomic part­ner with those who are try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence and enhance their oppor­tu­ni­ties. We call this model the 100 Percent Plus. The Direct Trade pre­mi­ums are rein­vested in the busi­ness and in the com­mu­nity to grow their share of the value chain. The prof­its are sent back to sup­port edu­ca­tion, help cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for the farm­ers’ chil­dren, and advance the com­mu­nity as a whole. Coexist Coffee is a prod­uct of the Coexist Campaign, an ini­tia­tive of Coexist that sources prod­ucts from post-conflict areas and frag­ile states.

How can I help?
Every time you buy a Coexist prod­uct, we, in return, donate prof­its to areas of con­flict in the form of sup­port­ing edu­ca­tional ini­tia­tives through the Coexist Campaign. You can find our prod­ucts and infor­ma­tion about our prod­ucts at You can also give mon­e­tary dona­tions directly to Coexist Campaign’s other projects at