Community Caravan

Written by Cafe Campesino on May 8, 2009 in Community Caravan, NEWSLETTER |
It has truly been an event filled month or so since the last installment of this newsletter and there are no signs of a slow down in sight. Busy, busy, busy… just the way we like it!

Looking back

The SCAA event recently held in Atlanta was a super weekend filled with fun and learning, reunion and newfound relationship, (and lots and lots of coffee). Our friends from Third Coast and Bongo Java (along with Café Campesino and Sweetwater) were on hand to brew and serve all the fair trade coffee passers-by to the Cooperative Coffees booth could drink. SCAA weekend also means a chance to “talk shop” with the farmers, to check in on the upcoming crops, to put faces with the names and places that some of us know only via a computer screen or a telephone.

Following the SCAA weekend in the “ATL”, many fellow Coop Coffees members and dozens of representatives from farmer groups and producer cooperatives from around the coffee growing world with whom we do business made the 3 hour journey south to our “big city” Americus for a couple of days of meetings that included a visit with former president Jimmy Carter (Thank you, Mr. President!), some southern culture, and an excellent party.

After all, it’s not every day that we get the chance to break bread and toast a celebratory 10th anniversary of importing and selling coffee grown by small-scale farmers and their cooperatives. It was quite the shindig (did we just say shindig?).

Speaking of a decade of green coffee bean importing, perhaps you remember these numbers from last month’s issue: 10 million pounds of coffee, $20 million to farmer coops. Perhaps you’ll remember this as well: Those numbers are impressive but there’s a lot of work yet to do to make the impact we fair traders are striving for.

Several of our producer partners stayed a few extra days in the US and visited with some of the roasters from our green bean buying coop. They got tours of a few of the home territories of the folks that buy their coffees and blessed us with educational sessions that gave a deeper look into how they live and work and grow the wonderful beans that we need not take for granted. Café Campesino wants to give special thanks to Miguel Martinez from Colombia for his help here in Americus. We also want to thank Miguel Mateo from Guatemala for his presence in teaching us more about the diligent work that he and his comrades at Manos Campesinas are undertaking with tremendous compassion on behalf of their brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers who grow and harvest coffee. To Miguel and Miguel, we say ¡Muy bien! To our growing community of caring, supportive, like-minded folk, we say ¡Solidadarid! Gracias, amigos.

A little more on Miguel Mateo and his time spent with us: Miguel, Tripp, and Dave headed to Gainesville, FL the morning after the 10th anniversary party. We joined up with the crew at Sweetwater as well as our friends at Harvest of Hope, a foundation working to alleviate financial pressures for migrant workers and their families. We also attended the University of Florida’s Earth Day event sponsored by the school’s Office of Sustainability. UF’s efforts to conserve more and “green up” their campus were quite impressive. Great strides are being made at the 2nd largest university in the United States. We wish them even greater success in the future. (And we hope that UF President Dr. Bernie Machen enjoyed the Sweetwater organic coffee that Tripp, Miguel, and Harvest of Hope’s Ed Kellerman presented to him following his Earth Day speech.)

BRAG – Our trusty, traveling event manager Geoffrey tells us that last month’s Bike Ride Across Georgia Spring Tune Up was a success. And he’s already looking forward to and preparing for the main event coming up in June which will stretch from the north Ga. Mountains to near the coastline of Savannah. Ride on!

This past Saturday, May 9th , was a yet another memorable day in our company’s history; not only did we and dozens of our friends participate in an attempt at a world record coffee break (more on those results next month) as part of World Fair Trade Day but our longtime barista and all-around cool guy Jason Foster celebrated a couple of mighty nice milestones. Saturday was Jason’s birthday as well as the day he walked across the commencement stage to receive his college diploma. Double congrats. Way to go. (Now get back to work!)

One more note from recent days: we hosted our inaugural movie night at the cafe. A free showing of Casablanca was available and we had a good many takers. We’re looking forward to the next one to be scheduled soon.

Looking forward

Tripp, Maty and Bill are headed to Guatemala on June 3 along with representatives from fellow Cooperative Coffee’s roasters Kickapoo Coffee and Doma Coffee as participants in the CRS CAFE Livelihoods project.  Our team will spend six days conducting training workshops for about 30 representatives from our trading partners Apecaform and Santa Anita, as well as 3 other cooperatives in Guatemala.  The goal of these meetings is to provide cooperative leaders with technical assistance in the areas of coffee production, post-harvest processing and market engagement, while strengthening the management capacity and competitiveness of participating farmer organizations.

It’s sure to be an action-packed adventure with lots of fun and lots of learning.  We’re all looking forward to reports and pictures of this excursion and wish them buen biaje (good trip).

Business After Hours – On Tuesday night, May 19th, the café will be the scene for the Americus-Sumter Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours” event from 5pm to 6:30pm.  This event is a chance for members of the community to meet and discuss ideas in a fun and fellowship-friendly atmosphere.  We’re looking forward to serving some great coffee, tea, and smoothies that evening.  Here’s hoping you can join us!

Till next time…

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