Posted by Chris O’Brien
Chris Treter, one of the three bloggers here at Bean Activist, is way too modest to toot his own horn so I’m going to do it for him.
Michael over at CRS Fair Trade recently blogged in praise of Chris T’s willingness to pitch in and help farmers get a fair shake at making a decent living from the coffee trade.
Michael and Chris met up in Guatemala to conduct a series of basic roasting workshops for four different cooperatives: Loma Linda, Nueva Alianza, Santa Anita and APECAFORM, a cooperative that CRS has supported since the early 1990s. After their truck got stuck in a ditch for a couple hours, they finally made it to their rural highland farm-community destination.
The growers they visited wanted to learn how to roast beans themselves for their own domestic market. This is a great way to add value at the farmer cooperative level and reduce the environmental footprint of coffee by developing local markets.
Part of fixing the flaws of the global coffee trade includes farmers getting more of the value of their product. Green coffee is an export commodity, whereas roasted beans are a gourmet specialty product with much greater value. Farmers who can supplement their export earnings with even a modest amount of domestic sales of roasted beans may well be on the way to a more livable and stable financial footing.
I’m looking forward to seeing more efforts like this, and its no surprise that my pals at Higher Grounds are leading the way. I’d be glad to hear from any readers know of other northern coffee companies helping growers to develop domestic markets for roasted beans in producer countries. This could be promising trend for farmers.