Taking Sides

We buy our coffee responsibly.  Sometimes it’s clear we should support a coffee producer and sometimes it’s not.  We currently offer on our Single Source menu Ixil A’achimbal, a community-grown coffee from the state of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. The coffee is farmed, harvested, and processed by native Ixil Mayans.

 This is the third year in which this coffee was able to be exported as high quality coffee on the international market. It has taken about twenty years for the Ixil Mayans to gain back enough land to grow and export coffee. In 1989, Guatemala’s 36-year civil war ended. After many years spent hiding in the  mountains of west-central Guatemala, a group of Mayan Ixil ndigenas returned to their village to find that their ownership of the land was not recognized by the new government. After five years, a collective of 80 families was able to purchase a meager 25 acres of land–not enough to sustain them, but enough to sustain hope. In 2000, The Ixil population, with the help Agros International (www.agros.org), was able to purchase a 635 acre tract of land to grow bananas trees, citrus trees, and coffee plants.

“The goal of Ixil A’achimbal’s coffee project is to produce coffee of the highest quality in order to earn a reasonable return. The natural environment of the Ixil A’achimbal area makes this a possibility, since the community (and its coffee plantings) sit above 4,600 ft.; the people of the Ixil A’achimbal communities make it a reality by planting only Bourbon and Typica coffee trees, and meticulously caring for the coffee from seedling to mill. The coffee is passive organic, hand-picked, hand sorted for defect, and sun dried on raised wooden racks. After the villagers have done the initial sorting (without the benefit of any machinery), the coffee is loaded onto burros, taken down to trucks, and whisked off to a cooperative mill in Guatemala City for final processing and export. The bourbon beans are meticulously processed and sorted, and the resulting cup is beautifully nuanced, with a delicate smoky tone and medium to light body. The price for the coffee was set by the coffee growers themselves, and is paid to them directly.” (Taken from the Atlas Coffee website, http://www.atlascoffee.com/products.html).  

 Atlas coffee has purchased all of their coffee for the third year. We are purchasing as much as we can through our roasting partner Plowshares Coffee (www.plowsharescoffee.com), who trades with Atlas.

Guatemalans recently elected Perez Molina as president.  Perez Molina was a General in the Guatemalan Army of the 80’s and ran on a platform of two major components.  The first was “Mano Duro,” a stance on gangs and drugs.  The second was to increase the country’s income through aggressive national export control efforts.  We don’t want to be too controversial, but feel free to research what these things have historically meant in Guatemala.  

WE HAVE TAKEN SIDES.  We support the Ixil of A’achimbal and are open to assisting them against aggressors. This entire blog entry consists of individual opinions.  None of the information or opinions here came from Agros International, Atlas Coffee Imports, or Plowshares Coffee.