Tag Archive for: specialty

Earth's Choice

Coffee Women Entrepreneurs on the Rise in Struggling Economies

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

Contact per­son: Roberta Bernhard Lauretti
Phone: 571.230.6628
Project URL:
Organization Name: Earth’s Choice

Project: Women in Coffee Microfinance
Location: Guatemala, Mexico
Projected Impact: 50

Project Description
“I just want the same things that you want; I want to pro­vide for my fam­ily and to earn a decent liv­ing from my cof­fee,” a women cof­fee pro­ducer from Nicaragua told Karen Cebreros in 2003 dur­ing the his­toric International Women’s Coffee Alliance con­fer­ence. Karen took that state­ment, and many oth­ers like it, to heart and founded CoffeeCares/Earth’s Choice. While Coffee Cares works with cor­po­ra­tions and profit pil­lars of the triple bot­tom line for impact investors, Earth’s Choice gets to the heart of poverty by imple­ment­ing their Women’s Microfinance Fund to pro­vide a cre­ative and sus­tain­able approach to eco­nomic equal­ity and community-owned devel­op­ment in cof­fee ori­gin coun­tries. Earth’s Choice has cus­tomized the proven “Grameen Bank” micro­fi­nance method­ol­ogy for busi­nesses led by women. By con­nect­ing directly to women cof­fee pro­duc­ers through their local coop­er­a­tives and com­mu­nity busi­nesses, Earth’s Choice pro­vides seed money for revolv­ing loans that become self-sustaining over time. The loan fund allows women to start and expand small busi­nesses related to farm­ing and trade in their com­mu­ni­ties. Women report that the increased incomes have helped their fam­i­lies gain bet­ter access to health­care, edu­ca­tion, and health­ier diets for their children.

Who Will Benefit from This Project?
Earth’s Choice believes that women and men are empow­ered by women’s greater eco­nomic con­tri­bu­tion to their com­mu­ni­ties, and that they are the key to lift­ing their fam­i­lies out of poverty. For exam­ple, women like Lili Santos Funes, who is a cof­fee pro­ducer in Rancho Viejo, a small vil­lage in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. She and her hus­band have been pro­duc­ing export qual­ity cof­fee for many years, but there are always hard times dur­ing the dry months or “lean sea­son.”
“The cof­fee rust, or “ la roya,” has reduced our cof­fee pro­duc­tion, and the loan from the Earth’s Choice “Women’s Microfinance Fund” has allowed me to increase my com­mu­nity phar­macy and earn an addi­tional income through­out the year for school fees and food,” Lili stated. “The best part about receiv­ing a loan is that I also received finan­cial lit­er­acy train­ing, and I am a bet­ter busi­ness woman now and can man­age my accounts to ensure that I am earn­ing money on a reg­u­lar basis.”
From this expe­ri­ence she has gained the con­fi­dence to embark on another entre­pre­neur­ial ven­ture and designed and cre­ated jew­elry sam­ples to do a beta test mar­ket in sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.
Young women have a chance! As a younger woman, Sonia Gomez did not have equal access to finan­cial ser­vices like the older estab­lished women in her com­mu­nity due to her lack of expe­ri­ence and exper­tise. Women have stated that it is impor­tant for young women and men to expe­ri­ence pos­i­tive female role mod­els that are non-threatening and pro­duc­tive. Positive role mod­els give them hope that they have a brighter future, and they can even make a dif­fer­ence in their own lives. It has also been proven sta­tis­ti­cally that when women earn money, they may have more bar­gain­ing power at home. This in turn can help reduce their vul­ner­a­bil­ity to domes­tic vio­lence and HIV infection.1

What You Can Do to Help
If you are inter­ested in sup­port­ing these busi­ness women, please donate funds to the “Women’s Microfinance Fund” at the Earth’s Choice Foundation at

You can also con­tact the Founder & President, Karen Cebreros, at or the Executive Director, Roberta Lauretti-Bernhard, at

Technical Services for Quality Coffee

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

Contact name: Alexandra Katona-Carroll
Phone: 562.624.4190
Project URL:
Organization Name: Coffee Quality Institute

Project: Technical Services Program
Project loca­tion: Worldwide
Projected Impact: Hundreds each year

Project Description
Founded in 1996, the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) works to improve the qual­ity of cof­fee and the lives of the peo­ple who pro­duce it. While the mis­sion is broad, CQI’s reach has been pro­found, attrib­ut­able to our Technical Services Program. Our orga­ni­za­tion has a strong­hold on pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal ser­vices to cof­fee pro­duc­ing ori­gins and is rec­og­nized as the train­ing orga­ni­za­tion for the indus­try. On any given month, we are out in the field teach­ing pro­duc­ers how to process cof­fee more effi­ciently or teach­ing a Q Course via one of our bril­liantly tal­ented Q Instructors.

The Technical Services Program pro­vides train­ing and assis­tance to cof­fee pro­duc­ers and other indi­vid­u­als in the ara­bica and robusta sup­ply chains to increase the value and vol­ume of qual­ity cof­fee pro­duc­tion. These tech­ni­cal ser­vices address every­thing from research to agron­omy to busi­ness devel­op­ment, and our mea­sur­able global impact is tied to these pro­grams. Designed and man­aged by CQI staff, this work is com­pleted at ori­gin by uti­liz­ing indus­try experts and Coffee Corps™ vol­un­teers (vol­un­teer consultants).

Coffee Corps™ vol­un­teers are experts in their field and are uniquely qual­i­fied and cho­sen for each par­tic­u­lar assign­ment, many of which are com­pleted through grant and gov­ern­ment fund­ing. These vol­un­teers donate their time to help pro­duc­ers improve dif­fer­ent facets of their busi­nesses, and at the same time, they get exposed to the chal­lenges and cur­rent state at origin.

Marcelo Pereira, Coffee Corps™ vol­un­teer, com­mented, “I started as a vol­un­teer at CQI due to my pas­sion for cof­fee, as many of us often do. After sev­eral assign­ments in Ethiopia and Uganda along­side top cof­fee pro­fes­sion­als, I have not just learned more, but rather the expe­ri­ence has changed me. Today, I see qual­ity cof­fee as just a con­se­quence of human growth through skill devel­op­ment and respon­si­ble man­age­ment of the envi­ron­ment. So, I am not just focused on the taste of cof­fee any­more, I am focused on the peo­ple and how the pur­suit of qual­ity could improve their lives. This is what I work for and what we work for at CQI.”

In some cases, these Coffee Corps™ Volunteers develop friend­ships with the var­i­ous pro­duc­ers that they carry with them for the rest of their career. In short, these assign­ments prove to be mutu­ally ben­e­fi­cial for both players.

At any given moment, CQI is work­ing in a cof­fee pro­duc­ing coun­try in one aspect or another, and we encour­age all play­ers in the sup­ply chain to reach out to CQI and see how they can get involved and make a dif­fer­ence. CQI’s pro­grams and inno­v­a­tive approaches to eco­nomic sus­tain­abil­ity allow cof­fee pro­duc­ers to become active par­tic­i­pants in the sup­ply chain and make invest­ments for their future.

What You Can Do to Help
To learn more, please visit us at or feel free to email

& Family Gardens">Harvesting Food Security (Year One): Rainwater Harvesting & Family Gardens

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

Contact name: Rebecca Singer
Phone: 773.549.2653
Project URL:
Organization Name: Coffee Kids

Project: Harvesting Food Security (Year One): Rainwater Harvesting & Family Gardens
Location: Mexico
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: in the city of Veracruz
Projected Impact: 40 par­tic­i­pat­ing families

Project Description
The Harvesting Food Security Project addresses food inse­cu­rity in four rural com­mu­ni­ties in Veracruz, Mexico. Over the course of three years, the project pro­vides train­ing in water pro­vi­sion­ing, veg­etable har­vest­ing, and egg pro­duc­tion, as well as the con­struc­tion of rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tems. It estab­lishes an inte­grated and self-sustaining food pro­duc­tion sys­tem that can be repli­cated through­out the region.

The project will form a regional net­work for sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture and respon­si­ble water man­age­ment that will help fam­i­lies across the Totonac region of Veracruz, Mexico. The project will also help to improve their nutri­tion, mit­i­gate the neg­a­tive effects of cli­mate change, and sub­stan­tially reduce food insecurity.

2014 is the first year of the project and dur­ing this year the project will build Adaptive Rainwater Harvesting Systems (SACALL) that will facil­i­tate year-round access to water for roughly 40 fam­i­lies. This sys­tem was devel­oped by our part­ner, ASER MAIZ, specif­i­cally with the needs of the com­mu­ni­ties where they work in mind. Participating fam­i­lies will also plant fam­ily veg­etable gar­dens and learn how to grow their own food, uti­liz­ing the water har­vested through the rain­wa­ter sys­tems for irri­ga­tion dur­ing the dry season.

The SACALL sys­tem will be con­structed through two stages of mano vuelta, also known as turn of hand or com­mu­nity labor exchange. Each par­tic­i­pant is respon­si­ble for cov­er­ing half of the total costs of each sys­tem, and all of the par­tic­i­pants will also pro­vide the man­ual labor nec­es­sary to build each sys­tem. In the first stage, 20 of the 40 par­tic­i­pat­ing fam­i­lies will receive the funds, mate­ri­als, and tech­ni­cal advice nec­es­sary to set up their back­yard rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tems. The remain­ing 20 fam­i­lies will help the first group con­struct their SACALL sys­tems. In stage two, the first group will rec­i­p­ro­cate the mano vuelta, help­ing the sec­ond group set up their SACALL systems.

Furthermore, each par­tic­i­pant will receive a seed pack­age con­tain­ing seeds for var­i­ous heir­loom veg­eta­bles. Participants will save their seeds after har­vest and exchange them with other com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing ASER MAIZ’s annual seed exchange in October of 2014.

Over the course of the project, ASER MAIZ will record the process of build­ing the SACALL sys­tem and will make a how-to man­ual that will be avail­able to the pub­lic. This guide will also include infor­ma­tion on good water man­age­ment prac­tices that can be put to use with their new SACALL systems.

Love Abounds Foundation

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

Contact name: Jennifer Wheatley
Phone: 541.955.4700
Project URL:
Organization Name: Dutch Bros. Coffee

Project: Love Abounds Foundation
Location: The United States
Projected Impact: Thousands

Our Cup Runs Over

My cup is full and run­ning over, so I can now fill another.” – Travis Boersma, Co-founder of Dutch Bros. Coffee

Dutch Bros. has given mil­lions of dol­lars in its life­time and con­tin­ues to give over a mil­lion dol­lars annually.

The cof­fee com­pany began with two broth­ers, Dane and Travis Boersma, a big dream, a lim­ited bud­get, and one push­cart in down­town Grants Pass, Oregon. In 1992, chang­ing indus­try poli­cies had impacted the family’s dairy busi­ness, and they decided to sell the farm. They jumped into the cof­fee trend that was grow­ing in the Pacific Northwest, and Dutch Bros. Coffee was born.

Immediately a com­pany phi­los­o­phy was devel­oped that was about peo­ple. Travis has been known to say, “We are not in the cof­fee busi­ness. We are in the rela­tion­ship build­ing busi­ness and this cup (of cof­fee) is just a vehi­cle to build those rela­tion­ships. It is not about what is in the cup, but what hap­pens around it.”
With a mis­sion of build­ing a cof­fee busi­ness and serv­ing peo­ple as the dri­ving force, Dutch Bros. has focused on putting smiles on people’s faces and ensur­ing that every per­son who vis­its a Dutch Bros. leaves feel­ing cared for. It is our hope that they leave inspired to do the same for some­one else.

From the begin­ning, our com­mu­nity sup­ported us,” said Travis. “They sup­ported us when we started by bring­ing friends and fam­ily to the cart for cof­fee. They sup­ported us when our ware­house burned down. They sup­ported us when my brother, Dane, our co-founder, passed away. We are try­ing daily to return the favor and love they show us each day.”
Dutch Bros. loves the com­mu­ni­ties it serves. The com­pany prides itself on our stores being locally owned and oper­ated, and our sto­ries are a reflec­tion of this.

Franchisees are equally phil­an­thropic. They are a part of the Dutch fam­ily and have been born because of us and grew up in the company’s giv­ing cul­ture. Dane was known to say, “Love abounds!” This car­ing and giv­ing phi­los­o­phy is an impor­tant part of the cul­tural fab­ric, and fran­chisees carry that torch as they grow in the com­pany. It can­not be divorced from them, as they become owners.

Pouring into Our Communities
As a result, much of our giv­ing is focused in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve. Franchisees often take on oppor­tu­ni­ties in their neigh­bor­hoods to sup­port local orga­ni­za­tions and fam­i­lies in need.

There are unend­ing exam­ples of the gen­eros­ity of our fran­chisees in the com­mu­ni­ties they call home. We have seen incred­i­ble impact with these projects, like “A Cure for Cat,” which raised funds to help a young woman who is deal­ing with the dev­as­tat­ing symp­toms of CREST syn­drome. Another exam­ple is “Water For Juan,” in which the pro­ceeds from the sales of water for one month in one com­mu­nity went to sup­port seven year old Juan, while he went through surgery and recov­ery from a severe intesti­nal issue and hope­fully allowed him to be off a feed­ing tube for the first time in his life. “Shake it for Brooke” is another exam­ple, in which pro­ceeds from the sale of Dutch Frosts for two weeks went to sup­port nine year old Brooke’s leukemia treat­ment; and, recently on Mother’s Day, 15 stores banded together to sup­port Make-A-Wish. These four days raised nearly $100,000 to sup­port these local causes. These are just exam­ples of the phil­an­thropic work that hap­pens within the Dutch Bros. sys­tem. We have as many local sto­ries as we have stores.

Pouring in Together
In addi­tion, all 225 stores in the Dutch Bros. fam­ily par­tic­i­pate in three company-wide events each year, which are both local and cause related. It is a part of our mis­sion to pour back into our com­mu­ni­ties both finan­cially and with aware­ness support.

Every Valentine’s Day we cel­e­brate “Dutch Luv Day,” in which all stores band together with a local food bank to help col­lect non-perishable food items. To encour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion, each loca­tion offers a drink deal to cus­tomers who bring in food items. In the last few years, Dutch Bros. has donated over 500,000 pounds of food to its local food banks.

After a dev­as­tat­ing diag­no­sis of amy­otrophic lat­eral scle­ro­sis (ALS) for Dane in 2005, the com­pany started an annual aware­ness and fundrais­ing day called “Drink One For Dane.” Dane passed away in 2009 due to com­pli­ca­tions from ALS. Since the incep­tion of “Drink One for Dane,” the com­pany has donated well over 1.26 mil­lion dol­lars for ALS research and sup­port ser­vices for fam­i­lies deal­ing with ALS. In the his­tory of “Drink One For Dane,” Dutch Bros. has used our large social media pres­ence, media cov­er­age, and the oppor­tu­nity to talk to thou­sands of cus­tomers at the win­dow to raise aware­ness, as well as funds, for ALS.

In December, a month known for cel­e­brat­ing, hon­or­ing, and pro­vid­ing fun for the child in all of us, Dutch Bros. hosts its annual “Buck For Kids” day. All loca­tions donate pro­ceeds from the day to youth pro­grams selected by the local fran­chisee. These orga­ni­za­tions range from regional Boys and Girls Clubs to Christmas toy col­lec­tion pro­grams. Buck For Kids has been hap­pen­ing for many years, and in just the last few years, over $415,000 has been raised for kid’s orga­ni­za­tions in the seven states where we serve.

Today, the habit of phil­an­thropy is strong company-wide. With Dane’s wise words dri­ving Travis and the employ­ees, Dutch Bros. is cur­rently devel­op­ing “Love Abounds,” a foun­da­tion that will become a part of, and even fur­ther, this cul­ture of giv­ing. While Love Abounds is still in devel­op­ment, we know that it will serve Dutch Bros. com­mu­ni­ties in many ways. The com­pany will con­tinue the three company-wide give back days, and fran­chisees will con­tinue to give as it is writ­ten on their hearts. The foun­da­tion will sup­port fran­chisees as they invest in their com­mu­ni­ties, and pro­vide employ­ees ways to sup­port their com­mu­ni­ties and pas­sions for help­ing others.

We will con­tinue to put a great deal of effort into mak­ing sure our com­mu­ni­ties are sound, fam­i­lies are pro­vided for, and kids, in par­tic­u­lar, are cared for.

We hope that oth­ers in our indus­try will act sim­i­larly, that they will be aware of what is hap­pen­ing in their local com­mu­ni­ties. Sometimes the best phil­an­thropy is the sim­plest. Sometimes a small ges­ture has incred­i­ble impact – a rip­ple effect that can be felt by many. We work hard to make big ges­tures, and we also lis­ten closely to those on the ground in our com­mu­ni­ties. Our baris­tas and fran­chisees have a great deal to do with the local sto­ries we become a part of each day; they are an impor­tant part of our local philanthropy.

Travis is often heard quot­ing thinkers and artists. A quote reg­u­larly heard is from the Beatles song, The End, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make…” Something Travis and all of the Dutch Bros. fam­ily takes to heart each day and with every moment.

Minding the Gender Gap! What Gender Equity Can Add to Smallholder Coffee Communities in East Africa

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

Contact Name: Gyde Feddersen
Phone: +004940808112422
Project URL:
Organization Name: Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung

Project: Minding the Gender Gap! What Gender Equity Can Add to Smallholder Coffee Communities in East Africa
Location: Uganda
Projected Impact: 17,000

Project Description
Women in rural Uganda pro­vide a lion’s share of the work­load put into cof­fee farm­ing. From tend­ing cof­fee gar­dens to pick­ing, dry­ing, and sort­ing cof­fee beans, they account for up to 70 per­cent of the total labor when pro­duc­ing cof­fee. Additionally, they are often solely respon­si­ble for run­ning the house­hold and tak­ing care of the fam­ily, from mak­ing sure that there is food on the table to pay­ing for their children’s edu­ca­tion. However, they are rarely given the same access to var­i­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties and resources that the men are given.

More often than not, men own, man­age, and con­trol their family’s land, finan­cial assets, and income. As a result, it is com­mon for women to side sell unripe cof­fee at low prices to local mid­dle­men in order to pay for basic house­hold needs. In addi­tion, due to their diverse roles within their fam­ily and com­mu­nity, women often can­not engage in capacity-building activ­i­ties, which then can result in lower pro­duc­tion and infe­rior qual­ity of cof­fee. As a con­se­quence, dis­re­gard­ing women’s stake in cof­fee farm­ing reduces the ben­e­fits that fam­i­lies can gain from cof­fee pro­duc­tion and directly affects the entire cof­fee value chain.

Together, with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AgriBusiness Initiative Trust, the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS) has been pilot­ing an ini­tia­tive since 2010. This ini­tia­tive is designed to increase women’s vis­i­bil­ity in small­holder cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties and to pro­mote shared decision-making within fam­i­lies. Besides actively involv­ing women in agron­omy and mar­ket­ing train­ings to improve their tech­ni­cal skills, the pro­gram focuses on rais­ing women’s pro­file by encour­ag­ing a change of mind­set. Through so-called ‘cou­ple sem­i­nars,’ women and men are moti­vated to reflect on their daily work­load, income sit­u­a­tion, and inter­ac­tion. By ana­lyz­ing the dif­fer­ent tasks each house­hold mem­ber assumes within the fam­ily and its cof­fee busi­ness, and how these tasks affect pro­duc­tiv­ity and income, the par­tic­i­pants nat­u­rally con­clude that more bal­ance is needed.

Following the sem­i­nars, cou­ples express­ing com­mit­ment to shared decision-making and a will­ing­ness to social­ize their expe­ri­ence with other mem­bers of their com­mu­nity are iden­ti­fied as ‘change agents.’ These cou­ples then receive ongo­ing coach­ing from HRNS, but are oth­er­wise entirely self-motivated. Drama shows and com­mu­nity dia­logues fur­ther help to cre­ate aware­ness and dis­sem­i­nate key messages.

What You Can Do to Help
For more infor­ma­tion, please watch our gen­der movie on Youtube: “Improving Gender Relations in Coffee-Farming Households.” You can also con­tact us directly for more information.

Abonzo Coffee — Helping Thailand Coffee Farmers Help Themselves

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

Contact name: Paul Kurtz
Phone: 614.395.6808
Organization Name: Hemisphere Coffee Roasters
Project URL:

Project: Abonzo Coffee – Helping Thailand Coffee Farmers Help Themselves
Location: Thailand
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Helping peo­ple help them­selves
Projected Impact: 200

Project Description
High in the moun­tains, north of Chiang Rai, Thailand, in the vil­lage known as Doi Chaang, there lives a proud and indus­tri­ous peo­ple. For many years now, they have been grow­ing cof­fee, hav­ing aban­doned the slash and burn farm­ing prac­tices of long ago. The king intro­duced cof­fee agri­cul­ture many years ago, but this par­tic­u­lar cof­fee has been slow to find a world­wide fol­low­ing. Many attempts have been made to export this high-grade cof­fee and to be able to dis­trib­ute more of the eco­nomic value of this cof­fee directly to the farmer. Many of these attempts have been unsuccessful.

The Ahka Hill tribe is well acquainted with exploita­tion and failed promises. The major­ity of the Ahka Hill tribe does not have cit­i­zen­ship. Because of this, they are vul­ner­a­ble, and they lack oppor­tu­ni­ties nec­es­sary to improve their lives and flour­ish as people.

Through my work with a mis­sion agency over the years, I became aware of the plight of cof­fee farm­ers, which led me to start a Direct Trade import­ing com­pany to address the com­plex issues that are related to sus­tain­abil­ity and human thriv­ing in cof­fee pro­duc­ing com­mu­ni­ties. In 2012, I began com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a Thai cof­fee farmer and a mem­ber of the Ahka Hill Tribe, Pat Aaru Yeasawku. During this time I became aware of the many fam­i­lies who had lost their mar­ket for their coffee.

In the spring of 2013, I vis­ited Pat in his vil­lage. He intro­duced me to his fam­ily and the other farm­ers who had cof­fee to sell but had no buyer to pur­chase it. I cupped it on the spot and was imme­di­ately impressed with the sweet­ness in my throat and the cit­rusy notes that exploded in the cup. I imported the full lot and have been work­ing to build a loyal fol­low­ing for this excep­tional coffee.

Our phi­los­o­phy is that most times peo­ple do not need a hand­out, but rather, they need a chance. Aid can be addict­ing and it cre­ates depen­dency. Alleviating poverty begins with the cre­ation of jobs and a reward for the hard work being done. Direct Trade allows me to relate directly with the farmer, encour­ag­ing him or her, treat­ing them as equals, and cre­at­ing mar­kets for their coffee.

This project is a call to try some excep­tional cof­fee that will ben­e­fit a small farm­ing com­mu­nity in north­ern Thailand…business to business.

What You Can Do to Help
This Direct Trade, high scor­ing cof­fee is cur­rently in the process of being shipped to the United States and should land in the mid­dle of July. It will be ware­housed in The Annex on the west coast and in Ohio for the east­ern states. We need many roast­ers and indi­vid­u­als to try this cof­fee, and you will see why I am excited about this offer­ing. Contact your roaster or con­tact me to get green sam­ples or fresh roasted sam­ples of this cof­fee. This is not a “hand­out” for the Thai cof­fee farm­ers, but a “hand up” that is enabling them to dis­cover new mar­kets to sell their cof­fee and real­ize their hopes and dreams for a bet­ter future.

IMARE">Innovative Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs — IMARE

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

Contact name: Britt Rosenberg
Phone: 503.896.5863
Project URL:
Organization Name: Mercy Corps

Project: Innovative Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs – IMARE
Location: Guatemala
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Quiche and Huehuetenango, Western Highlands of Guatemala
Projected Impact: 800

Project Description
According to a United Nations World Food Program study, Guatemala has the high­est rate of mal­nu­tri­tion in Latin America and is the fourth high­est in the world. Smallholder farm­ers in Guatemala, many from rural indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, face dif­fi­cul­ties access­ing prof­itable mar­kets for their prod­ucts, includ­ing cof­fee, and they often lack the tools and knowl­edge nec­es­sary to improve their family’s nutri­tion. As a result, farm­ers face what is com­monly known as “los meses fla­cos,” or the thin months. This means that some fam­i­lies are left with­out food or an income for five to seven months out of the year. The Innovative Market Alliance for Rural Entrepreneurs (IMARE) pro­gram helps farm­ers over­come bar­ri­ers, tap into new mar­kets, and increase their incomes to lift them­selves out of poverty.

IMARE, sup­ported by USAID, Keurig Green Mountain, and other part­ners, links rural small­holder farm­ers to high value com­mer­cial mar­kets by help­ing them orga­nize into pro­ducer groups and improve the pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing, pack­ag­ing, and trans­porta­tion of their crops. The pro­gram also helps farm­ers build their con­fi­dence, as well as nego­ti­a­tion and busi­ness man­age­ment skills required to enter more com­pet­i­tive for­mal mar­kets. IMARE ensures that increased income leads to improved food secu­rity. This is done by help­ing farm­ers diver­sify their crops and by pro­vid­ing train­ing on stor­age and prepa­ra­tion tech­niques for nutri­tious foods. The pro­gram has shifted this year to help farm­ers cope with the dev­as­tat­ing impact of cof­fee leaf rust, bet­ter known as “la roya.”

Now an epi­demic in Guatemala, cof­fee leaf rust is fur­ther threat­en­ing the food secu­rity and liveli­hoods of already vul­ner­a­ble fam­i­lies. The fun­gus attacks the leaves of cof­fee plants, trig­ger­ing pre­ma­ture defo­li­a­tion and reduc­ing the plant’s pho­to­syn­the­sis capac­ity, lead­ing to fewer and smaller cof­fee cher­ries, which means a smaller, lower qual­ity crop. For the 73,000 small­holder farm­ers rely­ing on a small par­cel of land to pro­vide for their family’s needs, the con­se­quences are dire.

Mercy Corps con­ducted a sur­vey of these small­holder farm­ers in the rural Western Highlands where we work. They all reported a decline in cof­fee prices, while the decreases in their pro­duc­tion grew expo­nen­tially. Last year, only seven per­cent of the farm­ers saw their pro­duc­tion drop by more than 60 per­cent. This year, 51 per­cent lost more than half of their crop and sub­se­quent income, and 85 per­cent say that this up com­ing year will be even worse. We also sur­veyed cof­fee pick­ers, only 56 per­cent of whom found work in the cof­fee fields this year, com­pared to 79 per­cent last year. Their daily rates also dropped by 20 percent.

NGOs, like Mercy Corps, are col­lab­o­rat­ing with the gov­ern­ment and the cof­fee indus­try to iden­tify imme­di­ate inter­ven­tions and more long-term solu­tions. The IMARE pro­gram is help­ing coop­er­a­tives grow rust resis­tant seedlings for ren­o­va­tion, teach­ing new crop man­age­ment tech­niques, and help­ing farm­ers to diver­sify crops for addi­tional income gen­er­a­tion and for fam­ily food con­sump­tion. Though progress is being made, more sup­port for cof­fee farm­ers in Guatemala and else­where in Central America is still needed. One cof­fee farm­ing fam­ily called this “the year of the cri­sis,” stat­ing that no one knew how bad leaf rust would become.

What You Can Do to Help
Mercy Corps relies on the sup­port of indi­vid­u­als, foun­da­tions, and cor­po­ra­tions to make our work in Guatemala and in other cof­fee grow­ing regions pos­si­ble. Visit to learn more about how you can get involved. You can also stay con­nected to our work and see how we are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence by fol­low­ing our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

Conscious Coffee Project

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

Contact name: Denny Robert
Phone: 618.977.0163
Project URL:
Organization Name: More Than Fair and Cameroon Boyo collaboration

Project: Conscious Coffee Project
Location: Cameroon
Additional infor­ma­tion on loca­tion of project: Within the Boyo Region
Projected Impact: 2,000 families

Project Description
The world has truly become smaller through glob­al­iza­tion and with the help of the Internet. We can make cel­lu­lar Skype video and audio calls from lit­er­ally any­where around the world, share near instant news and media con­tent, and send money from one end of the globe to the other in a mat­ter of sec­onds. Technology gives the lay­men an oppor­tu­nity to be a part of the global econ­omy. The Conscious Coffee Project embraces and lever­ages the advance­ment of tech­nol­ogy in the last decade to achieve its goals.

The Conscious Coffee Project is a con­scious cap­i­tal­ism busi­ness. Through direct part­ner­ship, investors sup­ply the cap­i­tal that is nec­es­sary to grow cof­fee trees to their matu­rity. Coffee farm­ers sup­ply the nec­es­sary labor to grow and main­tain these same trees. The investor and farmer rela­tion­ship is designed to be fair and just for all of the par­ties involved. This is not a char­ity. This is a mutu­ally prof­itable busi­ness relationship.

The cof­fee farmer com­mits to plant healthy spe­cialty cof­fee grade seedlings, which include Geisha, Arabica Typica, and Java II. They assure that they will use the best agri­cul­tural prac­tices to bring the trees matu­rity, which takes approx­i­mately five years. They also com­mit to main­tain the trees through­out their pro­duc­tive lifes­pan, which is about 20 to 40 years. Finally, the cof­fee farmer shares his or her prof­its with the investor through the pro­duc­tive lifes­pan of the tree.

The investor com­mits to invest the cap­i­tal needed to pur­chase the cof­fee tree seedlings. They promise to main­tain a finan­cial part­ner­ship with the farmer until the trees attain matu­rity, which is approx­i­mately five years. Conclusively, the investor will share prof­its with the farmer through­out the pro­duc­tive lifes­pan of the cof­fee trees.

The Conscious Coffee Project launched our pilot pro­gram in 2014. We have 50,000 seedlings ready to be planted at cof­fee farms in the con­scious region of Cameroon. With local gov­ern­ment approval, we are seek­ing out­side cap­i­tal invest­ments to part­ner with trained cof­fee grow­ers on his or her fam­ily owned land.

Aside from the finan­cial return on invest­ment, investors will be able to posi­tion them­selves as part­ners in micro-lot scale cof­fee farm­ing. This is mar­ket­ing gold and a strong dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion fac­tor from the competition.

Accountability is pro­vided through annual inter­nal audits and with oppor­tu­ni­ties for the investors to travel to the partner’s farms on ori­gin trips. We are cur­rently plan­ning an ori­gin trip for October of 2014 that is open to all invest­ment part­ners in the Conscious Coffee Project.

What You Can Do to Help
We would like CoffeeTalk read­ers to invest in Cameroon cof­fee farm­ers, to pro­vide the cap­i­tal nec­es­sary to pur­chase cof­fee tree seedlings, and to main­tain a finan­cial part­ner­ship with the farmer after the trees pro­duce fruit.

It is our hope that the Conscious Coffee Project has inspired you to make a dif­fer­ence. Thank you for con­sid­er­ing part­ner­ship with us.

Orchestrating Change: A Lesson on Sustainability

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

Contact name: Diana Pardo
Phone: 57.1.313.6631
Project URL:
Organization Name: Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC)

Project: Orchestrating Change: A Lesson on Sustainability
Location: Colombia
Projected Impact: 563,000 cof­fee growers

Project Description
More than 50 mil­lion cof­fee grow­ers in the world have farms with less than five hectares of land. This implies sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges. The per­ils of cli­mate change and the need to improve crop yields and qual­ity require indus­try con­sen­sus on what are the most press­ing pri­or­i­ties. In addi­tion to agree­ing on what is most impor­tant, we also need to agree on how we are going to achieve the desired impact by mod­i­fy­ing the con­di­tions of a large enough num­ber of cof­fee grow­ing fam­i­lies. While many cof­fee stake­hold­ers are ready to pro­vide some sup­port to cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties in var­i­ous ways, it is not com­mon to imple­ment far reach­ing pro­grams that aim to improve the con­di­tions of a large cof­fee grow­ing pop­u­la­tion that one could describe as “mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant difference.”

One sig­nif­i­cant pro­gram that fits those con­di­tions is the strat­egy per­formed by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) in deal­ing with a leaf rust (la Roya) cri­sis that the coun­try faced between 2009 and 2011. La Roya had not pre­vi­ously been of great con­cern to Colombia’s campesinos. A sig­nif­i­cant change in weather pat­terns, cou­pled with an intense La Niña weather phe­nom­e­non that took place in 2009, meant that con­di­tions were now per­fect for the growth and spread of the fun­gus. All of a sud­den, most cof­fee grow­ers real­ized how vul­ner­a­ble they were to the changes in weather patterns.

Hundreds of thou­sands of Colombian cof­fee grow­ers, 96 per­cent of whom have plan­ta­tions smaller than five hectares, were not pre­pared to face the press­ing chal­lenge asso­ci­ated with the la Roya attacks that put their plan­ta­tions in dan­ger. Growers like Consuelo Herrera, who lives on her farm that is just north of Pereira in Santa Rosa, Colombia, expe­ri­enced for their first time the chal­lenge of deal­ing with dis­eases brought by weather vari­a­tions that could even put their own way of life at risk. Consuelo´s farm, about three and a half acres, is by far her most sig­nif­i­cant asset, and she is heav­ily depen­dent upon cof­fee. While she also grows beans and corn on what lit­tle land is left, she was not pre­pared to cope with the dra­matic reduc­tion of her farm´s cof­fee har­vest as a result of cof­fee leaf rust. In fact, the aver­age cof­fee farm in Colombia saw a more than a 30 per­cent reduc­tion in yields over his­tor­i­cal pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els dur­ing almost three years. By the end of the last decade, Consuelo, like many cof­fee grow­ers around the coun­try, needed some­one to step in and help make a BIG difference.

During 2010 and 2011, cof­fee grow­ing lead­ers met at the National Coffee Growers Congress to define their pri­or­i­ties. They agreed to put in place pro­grams to dis­trib­ute fungi­cides and fer­til­iz­ers to those plan­ta­tions that were still young, while empha­siz­ing that the most effec­tive way to deal with rust. The con­clu­sion was to replace older plan­ta­tions with rust resis­tant vari­eties. This ver­dict was based on a col­lec­tive deci­sion made by the cof­fee grow­ers them­selves. Colombia now had a plan that focused on the dam­ag­ing effects of the rust. This is the first con­di­tion to mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence: to make a col­lec­tive deci­sion on what is really impor­tant for you so that all of the resources are used to accom­plish your objec­tive. We had a score.

The FNC took the cof­fee grow­ers man­date and under­stood that it needed to pro­vide viable solu­tions to thou­sands of Consuelo Herreras, and the only way to do that was by orches­trat­ing change. This meant the need to make sure that all of the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of a large enough cof­fee tree ren­o­va­tion pro­gram needed to be prop­erly aligned, yearly tar­gets devel­oped, and key per­for­mance indi­ca­tors agreed upon. This is by no means an easy process. One can have a diag­no­sis, but imple­ment­ing change is another story. The sec­ond les­son is there­fore clear: in order to make a big dif­fer­ence, you have to have the ele­ments to imple­ment and move from a diag­no­sis of a sit­u­a­tion to mak­ing actions.

Looking back, one can attest that it has been an ardu­ous, and at the same time, a suc­cess­ful process. Most Colombian cof­fee plan­ta­tions are now younger and more pro­duc­tive, and more than 61 per­cent are rust resis­tant. Achieving this dra­matic change required incred­i­bly care­ful exe­cu­tion. The FNC has helped nearly 400,000 cof­fee grow­ers since 2008 renew their plan­ta­tions with younger and rust resis­tant plants. These efforts have resulted in ren­o­vat­ing nearly three bil­lion cof­fee trees (in a time span of approx­i­mately five years), and have sig­nif­i­cantly improved the pro­duc­tive capac­ity of small cof­fee grow­ers in Colombia. Colombian cof­fee pro­duc­tion has now reached 11.5 mil­lion bags in the period from June 2013 to May 2014, a 30 per­cent increase com­pared to the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

Similar to the skill of an orches­tra con­duc­tor, the FNC devel­oped a pro­gram where suc­cess hinges on per­form­ing mul­ti­ple mea­sures simul­ta­ne­ously so that the desired objective(s) can be reached. There were sev­eral com­po­nents –musicians—of this orches­tra model for it to play well. Cenicafé, the FNC’s R&D cen­ter, devel­oped and cer­ti­fied a new set of improved seeds that became avail­able on time, in the vol­umes required, and at rea­son­able costs. The FNC pro­vided the sup­port and tech­ni­cal assis­tance through its 1,500 strong exten­sion ser­vice. It also made it pos­si­ble to pro­vide the required finan­cial ser­vices through a debit card sys­tem, known as the FNC´s Smart Coffee ID card. It arranged the nec­es­sary credit lines with the help of local banks so that the whole effort could be financed, adjust­ing the debt ser­vice to the new cof­fee trees’ expected har­vest cycles. The FNC also worked with the Colombian gov­ern­ment to arrange a set of incen­tives to help cof­fee grow­ers become more pro­duc­tive and less vul­ner­a­ble to rust. It also devel­oped agree­ments with key indus­try mem­bers and cof­fee brands to offer addi­tional incen­tives in cer­tain regions, while at the same time reach­ing out to local gov­ern­ments to finance cer­tain ele­ments of the plan at a local level.

The imple­men­ta­tion of this orches­tra model to achieve a com­mon goal is prob­a­bly the biggest chal­lenge to most sus­tain­abil­ity efforts.

There is clearly a need for strong insti­tu­tions to make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence for thou­sands of small farm­ers dur­ing these com­plex times. There is a valu­able les­son to be learned, all parts of the orches­tra must come together to play the same tune at the same time in order to effec­tively accom­plish change through large enough pro­grams that improve the con­di­tions of hun­dreds of thou­sands of grow­ers. This is no doubt an impor­tant teach­ing tool for adapt­ing to cli­mate change that the agri­cul­tural world requires.

Help Save Women’s Coffee Farms from Coffee Leaf Rust (Roya)

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

Contact name: Marilyn Dryke
Phone: 360.576.5045
Project URL:
Organization Name: Café Femenino Foundation

Project: Help Save Women’s Coffee Farms from Coffee Leaf Rust (Roya)
Location: Guatemala
Projected Impact: 3,127

Project Description
Guatemala – Roya Prevention & Reduction Project

Within the past year, many cof­fee pro­duc­ers have seen a 50 per­cent reduc­tion in cof­fee pro­duc­tiv­ity due to the coffee-leaf rust, also com­monly known as, Roya. The cof­fee rust is not only reduc­ing the cof­fee pro­duc­tion, but also dev­as­tat­ing the income of the already poor cof­fee producers.

The mis­sion of the Café Femenino Foundation is to help ben­e­fit the women in cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties through­out the world. In Guatemala there is a lack of human rights for the native Mayan pop­u­la­tion resid­ing there. To make maters worse, for the Mayan women there are no polit­i­cal, eco­nom­i­cal, or social rights. The fund­ing of this grant will help to ele­vate the neg­a­tive posi­tion of women within the fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and cooperatives.

The women cof­fee pro­duc­ers in Guatemala are ask­ing for our help. This project aims to improve the pro­duc­tion of the women’s cof­fee farms by pro­vid­ing the addi­tional organic fer­til­izer needed to improve the soils around the cof­fee trees. Training in Roya pre­ven­tion, trans­porta­tion to the work­shop, and a trained tech­ni­cian will be funded by the cof­fee coöper­a­tive to sup­port this project. Prior to the rust out­break, the women’s income was about $1,058 per year. With the effects of the coffee-leaf rust and the cof­fee being too small to husk, their income has fallen sig­nif­i­cantly to about $520 per year.

Funding will help con­trol coffee-leaf rust by spray­ing the trees with cop­per sul­fate and lime, reduc­ing shade by improv­ing prun­ing, and increas­ing plant feed­ing through bet­ter fer­til­iza­tion, as well as help­ing to pur­chase back­pack sprayers, pick-hoes, and prun­ing saws in order to imple­ment the improved agri­cul­tural practices.

This coöper­a­tive has worked dili­gently over the past years to improve their cof­fee farms, to achieve bet­ter man­age­ment of their farms and coop­er­a­tives, and to develop new and stronger rela­tion­ships with cof­fee buy­ers. Their efforts and achieve­ments bode well for the suc­cess of this grant funding.

Now, with the coffee-leaf rust pre­ven­tion train­ing, other resources, and with your sup­port, the women farm­ers will be able to improve the qual­ity of their cof­fee and increase their finan­cial income.

What You Can Do to Help
Help in the fight against the coffee-leaf rust in Guatemala!!!
Simply click on the link at the top of this page and you will be able to see this project, as well as many other adopt­able grants avail­able through The Café Femenino Foundation. Many of these people’s lives are depen­dent on the funds given to us by char­i­ta­ble peo­ple and busi­nesses that sim­ply want to make the world a bet­ter place.

We encour­age you to join the fight against coffee-leaf rust by:

1) Merely click­ing the link at the top of the page giv­ing the Café Femenino Foundation’s Guatemala – Roya Prevention & Reduction Project the oppor­tu­nity to receive $1,000. CoffeeTalk will donate $1,000 to the story with the most clicks. Please click the link above to Help Save Women’s Coffee Farms from Coffee-Leaf Rust
(Roya) in Guatemala.

2) You can also go directly to: and click on the DONATE NOW but­ton to Help Save Women’s Coffee Farms in Guatemala. Here, you can make an online dona­tion that goes directly to this $6,000 project, which is just $300 per each com­mu­nity in Guatemala.

PLEASE join us in the Fight Against Coffee-Leaf Rust and Poverty in Guatemala.