Article: Meeting and Greeting in Americus

Written by Cafe Campesino on Sep 1, 2003 in Article, NEWSLETTER |
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For months, we’ve been tormented by our fellow members of Cooperative Coffees concerning their upcoming visit to Americus, our hometown. “Which trailer park will host us? What immunizations do we need to get before heading south? Do I need a visa for my passport in order to cross the border?” and so on, but we’ll take no more of this!

“In fact,” said Bill Harris, head of our own Cafe Campesino and a founder of Cooperative Coffees, after the blazing success of Cooperative Coffees annual membership meeting, “I think that they were charmed by our quaint little town.

“Our friends at The Windsor Hotel, Habitat for Humanity and the local restaurants really rolled out the red carpet for us,” Bill added.

While we thought our fellow coffee roasters would enjoy Americus’ small town Southern charm, we were surprised and pleased by how much they enjoyed their stay. For many, this was their first trip to the Deep South.

“It was an awesome meeting,” said Outreach Coordinator Geoffrey Hennies. “It’s wonderful to see people with such diverse interests working together for a common cause. There was a real feeling of teamwork as ideas were discussed and concepts shared.”

Thirteen of Cooperative Coffee’s 17 roaster members from all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico came to town last weekend to attend workshops on cupping, check out the new look of Cooperative Coffee’s website (www.cooperativecoffees.com), and discuss fair trade and organic certification, just to name a few of the many activities. The annual membership meeting itself was held on Saturday, where our roaster, Lee Harris, was reelected to the Coop Board of Directors.

“Being on the green bean committee is going to be good,” said Lee. “It’ll be interesting and fun because we’re actively looking for new green bean producers for the coop.”

But it wasn’t all meetings and workshops. The Café Campesino team got to interact in a social aspect with fellow small roasters at dinner Friday and lunch on Saturday, which was held at Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Discovery Center. The weekend culminated at our warehouse and roastery with a down-home southern pork barbeque, grilled veggies and live bluegrass from Americus’ own Happy Country Boys.

“I think everyone enjoyed the pig,” laughed Lee. “I had a great time at the disco, or what turned into the disco,” he added, referring to those who stayed late on Saturday, turning the warehouse into a temporary dance hall, complete with the music of 1970s disco stars, Abba.

Those who didn’t have to catch an early flight back home on Sunday attended services at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA, where former President Jimmy Carter regularly teaches Sunday School. President Carter autographed a hard cover text of his Nobel Peace Prize speech for each attendee. After church, he joined members of Cooperative Coffees for lunch at Mom’s Kitchen in Plains and discussed the concept of fair trade, the continual plight of the small scale coffee producer and the acceptance of fair trade coffee.

“It was a great meeting,” said Lee. “It seemed like everyone was very involved this year. I think there was a lot of excitement, not only going into it, but when everyone left because it was a pretty successful event. We have great plans for the future of Cooperative Coffees.”

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