Article: Bienvenidos

Written by Cafe Campesino on Sep 5, 2009 in Article, NEWSLETTER |

Bienvenidos / Welcome Miguel

On August 18th, our Bill Harris traveled to Hartsfield Int’l Airport in Atlanta for a much-anticipated pickup. A friend from Guatemala, Miguel Tzoy Tum, manager of commercializatión for La Asociación Chajulense, had come for an extended 5 ½ week stay in Americus. It has been a treat to get to know him better and we hope Miguel has enjoyed his time here as much as we have. One event that we’d like to highlight is a two-day trip to Sweetwater Organic Coffee with Tripp. Nick Dunn, from Sweetwater, sums up a Q&A session during their brief time in Florida:

Gainesville received Miguel Tzoy Tum of La Asociación Chajulense in style last Thursday night at Pascal’s Coffee House in the Christian Study Center of Gainesville. Over 25 people crowded the center’s classroom, Sweetwater coffee drinks in hand, to hear the Café Campesino sponsored presentation by Miguel Tzoy Tum and Tripp Pomeroy. The evening began with Tripp, the co-owner of Café Campesino, explaining the nuts and bolts of the global coffee trade. He painted a broad-brush, multidisciplinary portrait of coffee, incorporating vocabulary words like coyote (an exploitative roving coffee buyer and Fair Trade undercutter), the mathematics of three-acre smallholder farmers and 40,000 pound containers, and more. The coffee-savvy and justice-oriented crowd at Pascal’s scribbled notes and banged away on laptops with each new drop of coffee knowledge, but they saved their keenest attention for the main attraction, Miguel.

As the commercialization director for the association, Miguel related the near-miraculous history of La Chajulense coffee, from 40 producers in 1992 to 1,600 today, representing fully a fifth of Chajul’s population, and shipping over 40 containers of coffee per year (that’s 1.6 million pounds!). Jaws dropped when Miguel revealed that a farmer can support his family on a mere seven acres of coffee, a spread painfully out of reach for many three-to-five acre smallholders. When asked what American coffee drinkers can do to help, the proud and resilient coffee farmer set his jaw and replied, “Don’t patronize us. No handouts. Simply respect us and our coffee, and support us in our own efforts to improve our coffee, our yields, and our lives.” If the incisive questions and friendly rapid-fire Spanish conversation are any indication, the conversation about crop-to-cup ethical coffee will continue in Gainesville, as will the enduring friendship between Gainesville’s coffee drinkers and Latin America’s coffee producers.

We want to give thanks to Bill for initiating and planning Miguel’s visit. Lots of home stays with friends and neighbors, lots of meals, lots of English lessons (Miguel’s #1 to-do while he is in the US is to learn more English. And what better place to do that than in Americus, GA! “¿Cómo se dice ‘Howdy, y’all’?”)

Following his stay in Americus, Miguel will travel with a Café Campesino and Cooperative Coffees crew to Austin, TX to join in our annual cooperative members meeting. The value of having a producer partner participate in our day-to-day happenings has been immense. We share stories and tasks; we learn similarities and differences; we all are benefiting from the cultural exchange. Thanks, Miguel. Gracias, amigo. You are welcome here anytime!

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