The Faces Behind Each Cup

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As a young girl in Sontule, Nicaragua, Doña Lucia spent her days picking coffee from the mountainside. Upon returning home, she would help her mother care for her ten younger brothers and sisters. Finally, when she lay down to sleep at each day’s end, she dreamt.

 Lucia dreamt of a better life for her family, of access to education and medicine for her community. Instead, war found its way to the quiet mountainside. For six years, her family and friends lived in terror. Fearful of attacks, nights were spent not in their homes, but under the very coffee trees from which they worked all day. And each night, Lucia dreamt.

 Then, a distant peace accord – and with it, a new dawn. Despite owning no land, together with twenty women, Lucia formed a cooperative. Others laughed, they persisted – gardening with what they had, setting up seminars on nutrition and health, workshopping with other communities – until finally, they managed a loan to purchase 3 acres of coffee trees. Today, she is a proud owner of her own cooperative.

 Fair-trade and direct trade roasters want to engage the community in the story of coffee starting at the beginning of the process- the farmers. However, most people still don’t know the journey behind the coffee beans. One Village Coffee Roasters is a B Corporation certified coffee roaster in Pennsylvania that, according to One Village team member Jess Lyle, aims to “build transparency and trust at every level of the supply chain.” Doug Hackman, the owner and founder, had a love for travel, and he and his family traveled to Nigeria, where they met a coffee farmer, Bala. Bala’s dedication to his co-op was incredible, and it saw tremendous success within the community. This inspired One Village to work toward forming relationships with other coffee farmers.

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Today, their coffees come from all over the world: Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. They are passionate about supporting the farmers and sharing stories like Doña Lucia’s and Bala’s. To Jess at One Village, “You’re not just dealing with coffee, you’re dealing with people; people all along the supply chain and we find coffee farmers so inspiring. Coffee just naturally has this way of bringing people together. We want to make sure that as they’re coming together, they get the sense that what they’re drinking is a crop and that people put in the effort to bring it to them.”

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One Village partners with Fair Trade USA and COMSA CO-OP, a coffee producer society. It was founded in 2001 in La Paz, Honduras to promote economic and environmental sustainability. COMSA ensures the farmers are using the best practices and improve the farms productivity. When Honduras was hit by coffee rust, a fungus that destroys coffee plants, COMSA brought bees onto the farms to pollinate and offer honey as a medicinal product. The COMSA Bee Project was successful in fighting against the rust. Now the project is fully sustainable with over 50 farms within the co-op educated on how to maintain the bees. Since then, One Village and COMSA joined together to develop The Orchard School. This program empowers the children within their community by giving them the opportunity to learn how to grow healthy foods.

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One Village continues to look for ways to improve the livelihoods of the farmers. As of August 2018, One Village announced a merger with an impact farming company based in Peru called Shared-X. What they’re doing on the ground is essentially why One Village started. Shared-X has figured out what the plants need to thrive and are making a positive impact on the farms. They have implemented agronomics and agronomics techniques to maximize crop production and quality. Now, while some of the coffee farmers working with Shared-X were previously able to produce only 10 bags per season, the same plot of land can now produce 50-70 bags of higher quality crops. “We’re really excited about this transition. The coffee drinker will now be able to meet the farmers where the coffee is grown” explains Jess, a team member at One Village.

Due to the support from fair-trade and direct trade coffee roasters, like One Village Coffee, more people are able to discover new tastes and preferences and connect back to the farmers. It’s not only important to appreciate good quality coffee, but to acknowledge and appreciate about the people behind the scenes.

Check out One Village’s coffee and their new Shared-x coffee from Finca Matapalo offered as a single origin coffee today! All proceeds from that coffee will go back to Shared-X community. 

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