The farmers of Bella vista are a difficult bunch, not because they're aggressive, but because they know that Think Coffee is invested in their well being, and they want our help.
We spent 3 or 4 hours at a meeting talking. The compañeros wanted a lot. They asked to change from monthly
payments to 2 or 3 payments per year. They asked for new coffee drying patios. They asked me for a car.
I had to remind the Bella Vistans of a few things: i am not a multinational corporation. I am not a charity. I am but a man representing a small business much like their own, and i have a dedication to two sides. I have to make sure that our coffee is delicious and purchased responsibly, such that it isn't too expensive. I have to make sure that the farmers are being taken care of, that Think is doing what we can to improve their quality of life. One side cannot exist without the other.
I spent the next several hours walking around the patios and a few parceles, showing the compañeros what can be done to improve the quality. The main thing, which took a long time to explain, is that they should stop mixing unripe coffee with ripe coffee. As it was last year, mixed, we liked the coffee. But to pay a higher price, and to use more of this coffee in think blend, we need coffee that is sweeter and thicker. I kept telling them, it's like making orange juice with green oranges and ripe oranges. It is not the same quality, it is not worth more just because it's organic and I can touch it. It is worth more when it tastes better.
To start, each socio will sell us at least one bag of 100 % ripe, red-cherry coffee coffee. If they don't want to, that's okay, but we will pay them the same price that we already pay. If the socios begin this improvement to our coffee, we will be able to work with them more to improve their lives. They can have new patios and more money and maybe even a car. But it has to be a mutual project, not just a gift.
Think Coffee and Bella Vista will grow together. One cannot grow without the other. As the coffee improves, their lives will improve.