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Just Coffee's 2007 delegation to Guatemala
May 18-24, 2007
May 2007 again led a Just Coffee delegation to Guatemala where we visited our coffee producer friends in Santa Anita and learned about the production of coffee from bean to cup as well as learned about the complications of trading one of the worlds very largest globally traded commodities, and doing it justly.
Our easy going quintet was made up of representatives from Just Coffee, Bongo Java in Nashville TN (a roaster and coffee shop that is also a member of Cooperative Coffees), and Red Rooster Coffee House in Aberdeen SD.
After meeting in Guatemala City we traveled together to Quetzaltenango, aka Xela. The three days that we were in Xela were spent marveling at the cities architecture, streets, markets and parks. We walked a lot and had some informative and interesting meetings with friends from Manos Campesinas, Entre Mundos, and Café Conciencia. Our meeting with Tim Kantz from Café Conciencia was especially interesting as a lot of it pertained to Santa Anita’s history, current state of being, and projects that are being undertaken. We all felt that these meetings were important in giving us a background of where we were and this enabled us to have a more complete understanding of Santa Anita, than we would have otherwise.
From Xela we took a typical ‘chicken bus’ to another highlands town, Colomba, where we were escorted by friends to Santa Anita in the back of a pick-up truck. While visiting the stunning community of Santa Anita we were fortunate enough to tour their lush land, all the while receiving stories and explanations of their communities tumultuous and enduring history, as well as detailed explanations regarding their processes for producing coffee. We spent time with their coffee trees, at their wet-processing facility, and in their final production facility where they even roast and package their own coffee for domestic consumption. That is quite an accomplishment. Our group split up for most meals in Santa Anita, choosing to eat with families that hosted us for the days that we were there. This was special time as it allowed us each a little more one on one time and a chance to, even for a few days, develop a closer and more intimate connection to one individual family…to experience a sliver of what their lives and realities are like.
Jacqueline, from Bongo Java brought a pile of great children’s books in Spanish, some with both Spanish and English. After a few days of worrying that maybe the airlines had lost their bag with the books inside, the bag arrived in Xela just in time to take out to Santa Anita with us. One of my favorite times on the trip was when Jacqueline read a few of the books out loud to the children in the primary school. Later we all divided up and the children read out loud in smaller groups. The children absolutely loved the books and we all really enjoyed the time spent together.
Aside from all this we also accidentally climbed a volcano. Oops! Yeah, it wasn’t really in the plan but it just sort of happened and kept happening and kept happening until, finally, after what felt like an eternity, it was over…and we were all limping and exhausted. I guess if we had known what we were going to be doing a few of us wouldn’t have thought it such a good idea to stay out dancing so late, now would we? Maybe this way we got the best of both.
In March 2008 one of the members of this delegation was interviewed for a a Wall Street Journal article about our Just Coffee delegations. The article said, “Having seen firsthand Just Coffee's commitment to fair trade, ‘it would be really, really hard for us to go somewhere else for our coffee,’ says Ms. Cleberg, who co-owns Red Rooster Coffee House in Aberdeen, S.D. When customers ask for coffee suggestions, she recommends the brew that comes from those Guatemalan beans, a coffee she didn't stock before she took the trip.”
Aside from a little bit of lost luggage and an accidental volcano, this was an absolutely fantastic delegation that again served to strengthen our commitment to our continued relationship with Santa Anita as well as an important opportunity for us to further work towards truly fair trade.
-Chicken bus and truck ride to Santa Anita Coffee Cooperative where we: browsed historical photos of the community, shared meals with individual families in community, took a walking tour of their land and coffee fields, visited their kinder and primary school classes, toured their beneficio, roaster, and dryer, and had a discussion with Santa Anita's president about the process of cultivating coffee. We also ate the greatest tortillas ever! Gracias, Sra. Maria!
-Meeting with Café Conciencia, an international non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life of poor coffee farmers and their families in Guatemala. We also rocked out and met a lot of really interesting people at their fundraising party one night.
-Meeting with Entre Mundos, an organization which promotes positive social change in Guatemala by supporting and expanding the capacity of communities and non-governmental organizations.
-Meeting with Manos Campesinas, an umbrella organization that works with 8 grassroots organizations of four different geographic departments, all of them small coffee producers, with the main goal being the commercialization of the products of its members, preferably through international exportation.
-Tour to Volcan Santo Tomas, Aguas Amargas, and the pueblos of Zunil and Almolonga.
-Tour of Copavic 100% recycled-glass blowing cooperative.
For more information or to sign-up for a delegation, please contact Just Coffee's Delegation Coordinator Colleen Coy at: colleen (at) justcoffee (dot) coop. Thank you for your continued interest and support!