“Now I know” by Scott Umstattd

Written by Cafe Campesino on February 6, 2013 in BLOG

Cafe Campesino Guatemala Tour 2013

Photos, video and article by Scott Umstattd

In January of 2013, I had the opportunity to go with Cafe Campesino on a cooperative tour of Guatemala. Sure, we all know Cafe Campesino makes great coffee and that this great coffee is traded in a way the best serves the farmers who nurture and grow the beans, but to actually go out and meet the people in this supply chain made a tremendous difference in how I view an already superior product and business model.

scott_pullout_1The group, about ten of us depending on which day we’re talking about, arrived in Antigua, Guatemala, and soon after we began to learn more about this entire fair-trade process. We met with members of the Manos Campesinos Cooperative in Guatemala City to see how coffee beans are sorted and stored in their gigantic warehouse. An interesting note here- security at the warehouse was very tight, as there was literally millions of dollars of green coffee beans being stored. Not sure if you heard about this,  but up in Canada a few months back millions of dollars of maple syrup was stolen from a warehouse. There is value in these raw commodities, so securing the beans is actually a very important thing to consider. We also learned that there is often armed security riding alongside and on the large commercial trucks that transport tons of coffee beans across Guatemala. The thought of bean security had never entered my mind prior to taking this trip. Already on day one, I was learning what it takes to make my daily cups of coffee possible. Also on day one, we had a chance to cup Guatemalan coffee. If you don’t know what cupping is all you need to do is think about how wine aficionados taste, swirl and then spit out wine into a cup to make comments like “It tastes woody with hints on berry and smoke.” or whatever wine tasters say after they spit out their wine. Cupping coffee is pretty much the same thing. People with sophisticated pallets taste the coffee and say things like, “It tastes woody with a hint of berry and smokiness.” If you’ve never cupped or seen coffee being cupped, it makes for quite a sight (and sound). You have to forcibly suck in the coffee from a spoon and this sucking sound, that allows just the right amount of air to come in with the coffee, when repeated over and over again,  can be quite funny. Already, just on day one, I had learned two things.

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Cafe Campesino/Coop Coffees Trip to Guatemala & Pacaya Volcano

Written by Cafe Campesino on May 28, 2010 in BLOG, POSTS FROM THE FIELD

We (Tripp and Bill) are busy packing for our trip to Guatemala tomorrow for two weeks – the first week as facilitators for a week-long workshop with coffee coop managers and farmers as part of the CRS Cafe Livelihoods Fair Trade Program and the second visiting with our trading partners at APECAFORM and La Chajulense.  Last night’s eruption of the Pacaya volcano has left 2″ of ash on the runway of the now closed airport but we’ll keep you posted once we’re on the ground!

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