The Coffee Co-Mission was invited to take part in a trade fair called ExpoAmazonica. It was a world class event so congratulations to PromPeru for putting it together. It was an all expenses paid trip for us and we were the only company from all of North America that was invited. We are really humbled and grateful for that. Moyobamba, Peru has a lot to offer the eco-travel enthusiasts.
Of course this business is not all fun and pool parties. Peru produces some great coffee but there's a lot of issues. Most farmers and co-ops have been forced to sell to local brokers who've traditionally made more money than the farmers. These brokers have mixed and rotated crops, from various regions, which has led roasters in the US to believe that the quality of production in Peru is inconsistent. This isn't the case. There are three very distinct growing regions in Peru and the coffees are not the same. The brokers don't represent this to their customers, who then don't know to represent it to their customers and so-on. As always, the farmers are the ones that end up paying the price.
I don't really want to get into the price issue. I will say that I met one group of farmers who were ready to give up on coffee entirely because they were only getting paid $1 usd per kilo! $1 per kg! You could see the exhaustion in their faces. I didn't meet any group being paid more than $1.90lb and that was for specialty grade, certified organic and Fair Trade coffee. Our competitors think these rates are fair. We know because the farmers told us who has been buying their coffee. You know who you are!
More importantly we met farmers and co-ops working really hard to do good things. We met farmers who've started planting Geisha, Maragogype and experimenting with Natural and Honey processing. We met co-ops working to preserve indigenous lands and communities. The women of the Andes were definitely out in force and doing really impressive things. We even met a group of farmers from the Bagua area. Some of you may be familiar with the Bagua Massacre of 2009 (watch http://www.whentwoworldscollidemovie.com/ if not). I'm really looking forward to helping these people! The passion they have for their communities and their products grabs a hold of you and never lets go.
We also hired two new team members! Welcome Fiorella and Louis to The Coffee Co-Mission!! They will be our translators and feet on the ground in Peru to help us in our work with farmers there. One day I will learn to speak Spanish.
All together we met 20 individual farmers and co-op groups. We are sample roasting coffee we brought back from the event now and we have some more coming direct from Peru. It will take a little while to work out which groups we can begin working with first. If you have any interest in direct transparent coffee trade with farmers in Peru, let us know what you like and we'll get you some options to cup for yourself. There's a plethora of organic, fair trade and rainforest alliance coffees to choose from. We'll be sourcing our shipments based on the wishes of our Coffee Co-Mission Buying Network members.