Espresso brewing into a white demitasse cup.

One of the biggest equipment costs for any coffee shop will be its espresso machine. This purchasing decision is important and can be complicated for a variety of reasons.

Common Mistakes in Buying Espresso Machines

The two most common mistakes people make when purchasing espresso machines is either underpaying or overpaying. Before making your purchase, have solid answers for these three questions:

  • How busy is your shop going to be?
  • What is your personal budget?
  • What bells-and-whistles are must-haves for your espresso machine?

I often use a car-buying analogy when I’m consulting with wholesale customers or students on this issue. Don’t buy an economy car when you need a heavy-duty vehicle. Don’t buy a Ferrari when your budget only supports a Ford.

You can spend a ton of money on a top-of-the-line espresso machine, but a higher price doesn’t mean that it’s the best or even the right machine for you.

Types of Espresso Machines

The first decision you will need to make is determining how big your machine needs to be.

The number of group heads, or groups, determines the number of shots you can produce at a time. Do you anticipate being a high-volume shop? You may want a three-group espresso machine. Are espresso-based drinks only a small portion of your beverage menu? You might want a one-group machine.

In addition to determining the number of group heads, you will also need to decide how much control you want to have over each shot.  

There are four types of espresso machines that each give you a different capacity to control the flavor profile of your espresso shot.  They are: Manual, Semi-Automatic, Automatic, and Super-Automatic.

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual machines require a lot more barista training, but they offer the barista more control over the flavor profiles of the end-product. On a manual machine, the barista can control the pressure of the espresso shot, which is a key variable that determines the strength and extraction of the final cup.  Most modern manual machines offer pressure profiling. This allows the pressure to be varied throughout the shot, but also set by a computer to help maintain some consistency.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi-automatic machines are generally no-frills machines where the barista must start and stop each shot.  The barista can influence the brew time (another important variable that impacts strength and extraction) by controlling when to start and stop a shot, as well as through grind size and tamp. The pressure of the water as it moves through the coffee puck is controlled in a semi-automatic machine. This is my favorite type of machine. I learned to pull espresso shots on this type of machine, and it was a great vehicle to learn about the variables that impact espresso. It is typically more user-friendly for beginners than a manual machine.

Automatic & Super-Automatic Espresso Machines

Automatic espresso machines don’t quite do it all for you, but can take a lot of the guesswork out of the barista’s hands by programming shot volumes. If you want a super-automatic espresso machine, it will pull shots, texture milk, and even auto-clean for you. You will pay for that convenience.  High-end super-automatic single-group head espresso machines can $15,000 or more. A Semi-Automatic might be priced as low as $3000.

Buyers should beware a bargain, though! If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.  It’s easy to fall in love with the price point of a $1,200 machine. Unfortunately, this is either a high-quality home machine that won’t have the power to keep up with your needs as a coffee shop, or it’s a low quality machine that claims to be commercial grade.  In my experience, a low-quality machine both makes bad coffee and breaks down frequently. When it breaks down, it will also be difficult to find service technicians and replacement parts for it, because there will be fewer of those types of machines in commercial use.

It’s important to remember that your espresso machine is where you make most of your money as a coffee shop. When it breaks, you lose money. You should invest in a quality piece of equipment from a reputable brand, like Nuova Simonelli, La Marzocco, or Rancilio, that has service available in your area.

Automatic 2 head espresso machine with two coffee bean grinders, cleaned and ready to brew. Clean coffee cups stacked on top.

2-Group vs. 3-Group Espresso Machines

Most shops do best with a two-group machine, and that means expecting to spend closer to $5,000–$11,000 (or more, depending on the make and model). Unless you know you are going to be EXTREMELY high-volume, then you can probably save the money of investing in a three-group machine.  Two well trained baristas can work faster on a two-group than one person producing coffee on a three-group machine.

Within each of these classes of machines, there are different grades. For example, a three-group Rancilio Classe 5 Automatic Machine may cost around $8,000. The same size Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Gravimetric machine, with all of its bells and whistles, can run upwards of $25,000.  At the end of the day, you can literally spend as much as you want on your espresso machine.

Choosing the Right Machine & Parts Dealer

Where you buy your machine will also have a big impact on your cost. Most of the prices quoted in this blog are from online retail stores, specifically  If you buy your machine directly from an equipment dealer or manufacturer, they may offer package deals that could include purchasing an espresso grinder at the same time.

Many dealers also include installation and warranties for the first few years.  Personally, this has always been a major selling point, especially for new businesses. You will want to minimize the downtime of your machine and be able to call a qualified tech if something breaks.  It’s also possible that the dealer will have a showroom where you can try out different machines, which is the case with my personal favorite dealer in Georgia, Espresso Southeast.

Whatever machine you choose, just make sure that you know how to use it properly.  At the end of the day, the person running the machine will dictate your drink quality, not how many gadgets the machine has.

Key Questions to Ask Before Opening a Coffee Shop 1

As a specialty coffee roaster, we regularly meet interesting, passionate people from a broad array of backgrounds who aspire to opening a coffee business. In fact, one of the most exciting and challenging parts of my job is collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs to think through coffee business concepts, lend our experience and expertise to their planning, and support them with the roll-out and launch of their new coffee shops. Even more exciting is watching these coffee businesses take root, hit a sustainable rhythm, and grow.

Ask Those Who’ve Been There

Over the course of our 20 years in business, we have been mighty fortunate to work with folks who have – through blood, sweat and tears – built successful coffee businesses from the ground up.

Key Questions to Ask Before Opening a Coffee Shop 2
Drip-Thru Coffee serves many regulars each morning at their Stockbridge and College Park, GA location.

The Sentient Bean in Savannah, who started about the same time we started Cafe Campesino,  have taught us so much about community-building and coffee house sustainability. Our friends at Drip-Thru Coffee in Stockbridge and College Park also come to mind. They are boldly and successfully introducing the specialty-coffee, drive-thru model to the Atlanta metro region.

We’ve also met our fair share of people over the years who for one reason or another were unable to launch their coffee shop or keep their doors open. Based on those experiences and more, here are some of the key questions I believe every aspiring coffee-shop owner should be asking themselves.

What is your time-frame, and is it realistic?

Rome was not built in a day… most of our successful customers have planned for at least several months – sometimes even years- in advance of opening. Whether or not you are building a new coffee spot from the ground up or upgrading an existing operation, everything will take longer than you think. If it takes less time, be happy!

Do you have enough capital to fund the planning, build-out, outfitting, pre-opening and ongoing operations for the first year?

Do you have enough money to pay yourself until the business generates enough revenue to pay you? ‘How much capital does it take?’ is a frequent question. And, yes, it depends.

Build it or buy existing?

Are you planning on building your business from the ground up? If so, the resources needed are significant. I suggest that folks also consider looking for an existing business to purchase. Many small-business owners want to exit their businesses (for a number of reasons). You might help them do that. Maybe there is an existing coffee house in your target neighborhood that is for sale (or could be)? Buying an existing business is worth considering, because it already has infrastructure in-place and comes with a customer base. Plus, you might be able to find out from the owner what has and hasn’t worked for them in that location.

Is your new coffee business expected to provide all of the income for your family?

It is not recommended that a family (with or without children) relies on a new coffee business for all of its income. That is extremely stressful, risky, and not good for relationships.

Location. Location. Location?

Is there regular, daily foot traffic? Easy parking? Will you stand out or blend in among other businesses? Yes, location makes or breaks a coffee house business. Consider questions like: Is your location easy to access during non-rush hour and rush hour? What is the traffic count, and is it sufficient to drive sales? Will parking be easy or congested? Do you share parking with other vendors? Is there enough reserved parking spaces for your business? What types of businesses surround you, and do they attract the same types of customers you seek? Is your location within walking distance to residential and business communities? If your model depends on foot traffic, are there enough pedestrians to sustain your business?

Key Questions to Ask Before Opening a Coffee Shop 3
Many coffee shops find they need to also sell food to be able to generate big enough average ticket sales.

Sales… what do you need in gross sales each month to pay your costs of goods, payroll, and overhead expenses?

To generate the sales revenue you need, do you need to also sell food? (The answer is most often yes.) How many tickets do you need per day, and at what average value? 150 tickets at an average of $10 per day? 300 tickets at $7 per day? Will your location support that number of tickets per day? Will the customer-base spend an average of $10 per visit?

How are you going to generate the foot traffic you need to generate the quantity of tickets you need?

“Build it and they will come” does not work… aggressive community engagement, social media presence, promotion, and fast, happy, excellent customer service are critical. Great online reviews are necessary.  Will you be able to manage the various online review sites where your customers will post? One of the best ways to learn what works and what doesn’t is to study successful coffee houses. For your own business, you should consider having someone designated for generating new customers and keeping existing ones.

Eye-opener (at least for me it always is)… How many $10 tickets does it take, for example, to pay for $2000 in monthly rent?

If you operate on a typical restaurant financial model – with expenses budgeted at 30 percent of gross revenue, then you need at least $6600 per month in revenue just to cover rent… this does not include your other expenses! If your average ticket is $10, then in a given month, you would need 660 tickets to cover the rent. In a 30-day month, that translates into 22 tickets a day… just to pay the rent.

Stamina and going it alone…

Building and running a new business is hard work and requires an above-average amount of stamina. Do you have the energy and resilience it takes to work 7 [long] days a week? Can you do it for the first year or longer?  Are you a good multi-tasker? Can you talk to to customers while you are making their breakfast or their latte?

Finding a good working partner can help immensely, not only to share the workload but also the stress that comes with being a business owner. While not everyone is built for working with a partner (I respect those who have the capacity to go-it alone), I believe that most are. The key is knowing each other on a deeply personal level, getting clear on expected investment of time and capital, responsibilities, etc… and agreeing to an amicable exit strategy if the partnership doesn’t work out. Regardless of what some folks say, friendship is part and parcel to any viable, sustainable business partnership… at least in my experience.


Finally, among the various elements lying at the heart of sustainable coffee house businesses, I would highlight the following three:

  • Make a habit of solid business and financial management systems and practices. You will need a good bookkeeper to help you track your costs of goods and expenses. It will be impossible to know if you’re making money if you don’t accurately track your COGs and expenses.

  • Keep a robust sales and marketing function.  Even when things are going well, your best customers will move, your competition will increase, your best-trained barista will get a full-time job.  You must keep generating new customers.

  • Your commitment to win-win relationships with key stakeholders….. from the hard-working women and men who grow your coffee, to the roaster who supplies you with your most critical ingredient, to your food vendors, staff, the community that surrounds and supports you, and the customers who come back day-in and day-out. The key to all of these is creating win-win relationships all around. Your sanity will depend on it.

General rule of thumb from a cranky old business mentor… “if you want to improve your chances of success with a new business, take your sales projections and cut them in half, double your projected expenses and the amount of time it takes to launch and reach breakeven, and if you have the grit and capital to survive these conditions, you stand a good chance of making it.” A little Draconian but a valid point all the same.

Helping to grow our coffee business has been one of the most exciting, and rewarding endeavors of my life. I am consistently inspired by the work-ethic and creativity I see from everyone along the supply chain- from our trading partners to my fellow coffee entrepreneurs. But my work is not done. It’s never done, and I know now that coffee businesses are not for the faint of heart.

PeachDish supports farmers.

Atlanta meal kit service puts sustainable farmers & food first.

PeachDish, a national meal kit service based in Atlanta, exists to enrich and nourish lives through good food. They have high standards. They are an industry leader in quality, creativity and customer service. They’re also building transparent, innovative, and wholesome food systems.  Every day, PeachDish strives to bring the best, sustainably-grown food to an audience that cares.

Better Farming means Better Food

President Judith Winfrey came to PeachDish with over a decade of sustainable agriculture experience. Therefore, she knows that nutrient-dense, organic food can make a difference in our bodies and our lives. Plus, she knows that good farming practices can benefit the environment. When we eat food that is grown with care and attention – without being doused in chemical inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) – we are showing that same care and attention to ourselves and our planet.

Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds examine a new crop of lettuce in the evening sun.
Joe Reynolds and Judith Winfrey at Love is Love Farm, a sustainable, Atlanta-based farm supplying PeachDish.

As a result, this positivity resonates through our lives and our community.  We’re more alive, more whole, more in-tune, more responsive, more available.  In short, we’re better people when we eat better food. This may sound too simplistic or pollyannaish to you. But think about it this way: food is the only thing we ever buy that literally becomes who we are.  It provides the building blocks for everything we are: our brain, our eyes, our skin, our muscles and our hearts.

Sustainable Farms Showcased at PeachDish

A farmer drops off produce at the PeachDish warehouse Monday morning, and it’s packed to go out that afternoon. When you have better ingredients, you cook better, eat better and live better. Understanding your food, from seed to table, is the best way to integrate nutrition and wellness throughout your life.

We’re proud that PeachDish includes Cafe Campesino in its meal kit options and also sources ingredients from other farmers and artisans we respect and admire. Farms like Love is Love Farm, Rise ‘N Shine, Urban Sprouts, Decimal Place Farm, and businesses like Beautiful Briny Sea and more.

Like us, PeachDish sources from businesses that are working to make positive social impact. We could not be prouder to work with them. And we consider them an ally in the good-food movement.

Learn more about PeachDish, or take the plunge! Order a meal kit produced by some of the South’s most sustainable farmers.

A couple follows a PeachDish recipe, cutting tomatoes and preparing other vegetables to cook for a meal.
Support the South’s leading sustainable farms and businesses by preparing PeachDish meals at home.
Our Favorite Coffees: Staff picks for 2018 4

Specialty coffee is incredibly seasonal. Not only is it grown and harvested seasonally (like all agricultural products), but consumer preferences also change according to seasons. Sometimes you prefer a darker roast when it’s cold outside- a lighter roast when it’s hot. The following is a winter 2018 selection from our staff- what we’re drinking and loving at this very moment. We hope you enjoy!

Colombian Fondo Paez Coffee in a brown, Biotre bag.

Colombia – Fair Trade, Organic Coffee

Region: Cauca, Colombia
Roast Style: Medium
Co-op: Fondo Paez
Coffee Varietals: Colombia, Castillo, Typica, Caturra
Growing Altitude:1,600-1,900 meters

Whose pick is this? Tripp Pomeroy, CEO and Lee Harris, general manager of the coffee house.

Why we’re loving our Colombian Coffee:

Caramel in the cup! With medium-to-high acidity and fruity undertones, this coffee offers a sweetness both in its aroma and cup quality. Plus, the Fondo Paez cooperative that produced this coffee is committed to improving its in-house knowledge and quality- recently instituting a cupping program for farmers. The co-op is led by its first female manager, Yuri Pilliume, a single mother, who visited us here in October.  Read more about her October visit here. Explore Fondo Paez’s coffee.

Ethiopia Yirgacheffe- Fair Trade, Organic Coffee

Our Favorite Coffees: Staff picks for 2018 5

Co-op: Negele Gorbitu
Roast: Medium
Varietals: Heirloom
Growing Altitude: 1,800-2,300 meters

Whose Pick is this? 
Bill Harris, founder & CFO; Coffee House Assistant Manager Ifah Hathcock, and Nema Etheridge, marketing director

Why We’re Loving our Yirgacheffe:

Citrus, bergamot, light-body, complex flavors.  Coffee professionals often LOVE Ethiopian coffees, because there’s so much to take in.  This coffee is no exception. It wows in the cup. Explore Yirgacheffe.

Nicaragua – Fair Trade, Organic Coffee

Nicaragua coffee with a silky body and fruity flavors.

Region: Las Segovias
Roast: Medium
Varietals: Caturra, Lempira, Parainema
Growing Altitude: 850-1,270 meters

Whose Pick is this? Hannah Mercer, coffee education coordinator and authorized Specialty Coffee Association trainer

Why we’re loving our Nicaraguan coffee:

Clean, easy-to-drink, fruitiness in the cup, with a silky body.  Hannah finds it so tasty sometimes she wonders, “Is this drink bad for me?”

Mocha Java – a Fair Trade, Organic Coffee Blend

Mocha Java  coffee - one of our staff favorites.

Origins: Sumatra, Indonesia & Sidama, Ethiopia
Co-ops: Permata Gayo & SCFCU
Roast: Viennese
Varietals: Various
Growing Altitude: 1,100 – 2,010 meters

Whose Pick is this? Karen Montano, coffee house barista

Why we’re loving our Mocha Java Coffee:

The complex acidity of Sidama coffees meets the full-bodied earthiness of Sumatra.  With a darker roast profile, this coffee is full-bodied, perfect for the winter months and holds up well to cream. Learn more about Mocha Java.

Honduras – Fair Trade, Organic Coffee

Honduran coffee that is fair trade and organic.

Region: La Marcala
Co-op: COMSA
Roast: Full City
Varietals: Lempira, Ihcafe 90, Catuai, etc.
Growing Altitude: 1,200-1,800 meters

Whose Pick is this?  Ethan Ryan, roaster; Geoffrey Hennies, webmaster

Why we’re loving our Honduran Coffee

Freshly harvested and roasted slightly darker than a medium roast (but not as dark as Viennese), this coffee is sweet with a nice body. Learn more about COMSA – the exceptional cooperative that farms this coffee.

So there you have it. Our top five coffees in this very moment. As we move into 2019, we will start getting new crop harvests from Central America (where coffee is currently being hand-picked). No doubt, our coffee preferences will change as the new year progresses. Plus, we’ll start of focus in on some recently harvested South American coffees (like Peru) and get some fresh-crop Bolivian back in. So.. lots more to share in the coming months. Until then, cheers! Drink up, and have a happy holiday.

A ribbon cutting at GSW with Cafe Campesino

Georgia Southwestern State University, Aramark Corp. and Cafe Campesino officially announce Cafe Campesino’s arrival to GSW’s dining hall.


AMERICUS, GA, October 25, 2018– Students looking for locally roasted, fair trade, organic coffee at Georgia Southwestern State University can now find Café Campesino on campus in Americus, Ga.

Sold by-the-cup inside the dining hall at the Marshall Student Center, Café Campesino is available for purchase during the location’s standard operating hours.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to partner with Café Campesino and bring their great coffee right here on to our campus,” said GSW President Neal Weaver during a ribbon-cutting event at the university.

Café Campesino CEO Tripp Pomeroy echoed Dr. Weaver’s enthusiasm. “We really do strive to be a community-based coffee company,” Mr. Pomeroy said. “GSW plays no small role in our ability to connect farmers to coffee drinkers.”
Since its founding in 1998, Café Campesino has been focused on building a sustainable supply chain- where small-scale coffee farmers receive some of the best terms of trade in the coffee industry and coffee-drinkers receive some of the highest quality, most ethically sourced coffee available.

“The way they do their business, the way they source their coffee and the way they treat their customers …. should be an inspiration to all of us,” Dr. Weaver said during the event.

Tripp Pomeroy talks to a crowd while GSW President Neal Weaver listens.

Cafe Campesino CEO Tripp Pomeroy addresses an audience at GSW as university president Neal Weaver listens.

Café Campesino sells fair trade, organic coffees by-the-pound to universities, hospitals, grocers, coffee houses and individuals across the country. It also redistributes sustainable food-service products to complement a robust coffee menu, including organic syrups, compostable to-go wares and fair-trade and organic teas.

Recently, the company expanded its product-line to include fractional packs of coffee that are pre-measured for easy brewing, which is well suited for food-service institutions like GSW. “We are expanding the reach of ethical, fairly trade coffee into traditional food service,” Mr. Pomeroy said.

The company’s emphasis on fair trade and community inspired a local network of supporters that helped get Café Campesino’s coffee into GSW. “This is all the result of strong, local relationships- with GSW and the people at Aramark who wanted to make it happen,” Mr. Pomeroy said.

In addition to the GSW campus, Americus coffee drinkers can also find cups of Café Campesino at Little Brothers Bistro, Rosemary and Thyme restaurant and inside the company’s restaurant and coffee house located at 134 West Lamar Street in downtown Americus.

More about Café Campesino
Café Campesino has been selling exclusively fair trade, organic coffees for more than 20 years. It sources all of its coffees through the green coffee importer it helped to found- Cooperative Coffees- which only purchases from small-scale coffee farmers and makes its coffee contracts available online. A leader in sustainable coffee sourcing, Café Campesino is a certified B Corp- Georgia’s first outside of metro-Atlanta. The company also operates a Specialty Coffee Association Premier Training Center in Americus, Ga. Learn more at:

About Georgia Southwestern State University
Georgia Southwestern State University, located in Americus, Ga., is a public, four-year unit of the University System of Georgia with more than 3,000 students. Georgia Southwestern offers outstanding professional programs of study as well as degrees in the arts, humanities, sciences and graduate programs in business, computer science, education, English, and nursing. Founded in 1906, Georgia Southwestern is recognized as one of the best value colleges in the South.

For more information about Georgia Southwestern State University, visit


Bill, Yuri, Esperanza, Tripp and Carlos all discuss Fair Trade, organic coffee.

 L-R: Bill Harris, Yuri Pilliume, Esperanza Dionisio, Tripp Pomero and Carlos Reynoso, discuss challenges and opportunities in the fair trade, organic coffee industry.

As a part of our 20th anniversary festivities, we have welcomed leaders of fair trade coffee cooperatives to celebrate with us in Americus Oct. 5-6.   Yuri Pilliume of Colombia’s Fondo Paez, Esperanza Dionisio of Peru’s CAC Pangoa and Carlos Reynoso of Guatemala’s Manos Campesinas each sells coffee to us, and each is a leader in the world of specialty-grade, organic, fair trade coffee.

We want you to know them.

If you are coming to Americus, please chat with them when you see them, or join us for a panel discussion at our coffee house on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 3-4:30 p.m.

In the mean time, learn a little more about the people behind the cup.  Read the question-and-answer series with each producer partner below.

Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, General Manager
CAC Pangoa, PERU

Farmer Membership: about 650
Google Map
Past Visit from Esperanza
More on CAC Pangoa

  1. You’ve been with CAC Pangoa for 20 years.  What have been some of your greatest successes? – I joined the Pangoa Cooperative when there was social chaos and they were heavily in debt. The success is having achieved the credibility of the cooperative members and their confidence in the co-op system. Having exported directly under fair trade conditions in the year 2003, I was very excited to sell at $141 when coffee was sold at $70 (market rate). We have paid all the debts without selling any assets.
  2. You were an agronomist living in Lima before you came to work with Pangoa.  How did your life change when you joined Pangoa? When I was 8 years old my father took me to the jungle. I went on horseback, and that beautiful memory of walking in the woods was recorded in my mind. When I was at University I took many courses about tropical soils, thinking of traveling to the jungle. I started working in the co-op Satipo in the year 1977. It is 36 km away from Pangoa. They had some doubt about hiring me but were faced with the challenge of an engineer leaving the extension work. They thought maybe a woman could do it well, so they trusted me. In 1980, they offered me to go to work in the Technical Department of Pangoa, so I traveled to Brazil for training. When I returned I was the boss and was in charge of male engineers. I was the only woman among many men. I knew how to drive a motorcycle, and I could explain to them with patience and give the farmers examples from their own farms of the work (they should do) to improve coffee productivity. So they started to believe in a woman, with results – I had to know more than them so that they would trust me.
  3. What are some of Pangoa’s current challenges?-  “Esperanza’s hope is for Pangoa to continue working without Esperanza.” For several years, we have been investigating the generational change at the level of partners, managers and management. For this, we are working on (developing) values ​​- honesty, responsibility, altruism, solidarity – because we are the people who make up the Cooperative company. We are recruiting children of partners for the key posts and drafting all the processes that exist in the coop – regulations, policies, and of course our status updates.
  4. How do you see the specialty coffee industry evolving in 25 or 50 years?– The tendency is to consume healthy products, free of pesticides, to conserve health among people of all economic levels. So, organic, biodynamic production will grow, and the coffee producers will conserve their health, and the consumer will also be taken care of. There will be a greater tendency toward traceability, and coffee will be one of the products that will help conserve soil and water and maintain a balanced environment.
    Pangoa is generally considered to be one of the best-operating Fair Trade cooperatives.
  5. Why do you think Pangoa has been successful?  – Due to constant social balance, we are investigating what the partner needs. The PRIMA FLO was created in 2006 with revolving funds for the education of partners’ children for the health of the member and his family. The women’s committee was created in 1997, and it started with a leadership school in 2008. The statute was revised and updated, employees are invested for Q graders, training trips are encouraged, the quality control laboratory was built, and since 2013 (we have been selling) coffee by the cup. These are recommended to the partner who must improve their field. We have clients like Coop Coofees, whose roasters come and they teach us, they guide us. (They are) clients that have the same philosophy as Pangoa. For any change, we call the partners to Assemblies and we communicate quickly through an education committee that gives the partners informative tours
    . We agree annually to practice 3 values; for 2018 they are responsibility, respect and loyalty, at the level of partners, managers, collaborators.
  6. What is a normal week for you?/How do you spend your time?
    – Review the work progress of each area: associative and business
    -Requests are made, and if they are delayed we call them and ask the reason and then they are reconsidered
    -Communicate with the executives who come in shifts
    -Assist partners in their queries of credit, stock, and others
    -Check the collection and shipments of coffee and cocoa
    -Review financing and make sure there is no shortage of cash in the account
    -At 4 a.m. I read emails. During the day I cannot because I visit the areas looking for strategies for improvements. There are also meetings with NGOs, visits with human resources to review contracts
    -We are attentive to SUNAT (Superintendencia Nacional de Aduanas y de Administración Tributaria – the organization that enforces customs and taxation in Peru) with accounting
    -There is a team of collaborators that work well with the executives who are thinking and sharing their concerns
  7. What inspires you in your work?

a) That through a cooperative company we can connect to similar groups in the world to do business and improve the income of the members.
b) That our industry of roasted coffee and chocolates grows and that more Peruvians consume healthy products with the Pangoa brand.
c) That we are a large family with cooperative philosophy.
d) The cooperative is an active life and you learn a lot every day.

8. What advice do you have for women in leadership roles? Be consistent. Look long term. Train constantly. Be mature emotionally. Believe in a superior being.

9. Why did you want to attend this celebration for Cafe Campesino?
Because of its history – it is a founding partner of Coop Coffees that understands the needs of the partner coffee producer – and because we agree on principles, values ​​and vision. We consider ourselves as one family.

Pangoa is considered one of the best operating fair trade cooperatives in existence.  In addition to coffee, the organization also sells cacao (some of which is purchased by our Atlanta bean-to-bar friends, Xocolatl) and honey.

Meet our Guests: Q&A with Fair Trade Coffee Leaders 6

Yuri, president of Colombia’s Fondo Paez, presents hand-made gifts to Cafe Campesino staff, as Esperanza of Pangoa and Tripp listen to their meaning.

Yuri Pilliume, President
Fondo Paez, COLOMBIA
Fondo Paez Background
Co-op size: about 500 small-scale farmers
Google Map
Co-op Background & Recent Video
Fondo Paez Profile 

1) How long have you been the president of Fondo Paez? I am the first woman representative of the organization. There have been 7 men representatives, and it has been 4 years since I assumed the role of legal representative.

2) What are examples of recent successes of Fondo Paez? Our recent examples have been our group of tasters for the organization and some projects that I have been able to find for the welfare of my Association. Each customer visit is also an achievement for us.

3) How do you feel about being a woman in the coffee sector and your role as a leader? Were there any issues in terms of gender and the leadership of the organization?
The power of men is very highlighted in our culture; however, it depends on one’s willingness as a woman to want to be part of this challenge. For example, there can be difficulties at the family level because I am a single mother. However, I have a brother who supports me a lot, and since I have been part of the Association since its creation, it is not a complicated organizational or political issue.

4) It seems that Fondo Paez focuses a lot on respect for the “Mother Earth”. What is the role of Mother Earth in the Nasa culture? It’s that the land is our only inheritance, and we take care of it as a mother because the land does not grow by itself, and if we neglect it, it will no longer produce our daily sustenance.

5) How many people speak the Nasa language? Not everyone speaks Nasa because we cover a large mix of ethnicities. There are Nasas Misak and farmers, so it can be said that 80% speak it.

6) How does Fondo Paez preserve the traditions or culture of Nasa? The creation of the Association is under the Nasa context, which are the principles of caring for Mother Earth, produce under the phases of the moon, and knowing how to coexist with Mother Nature under the ancestral guides like the water, the rays of the sun, the storm and the Rainbow.

7) What do you want Americans to know about Fondo Paez coffee? The Americans are the ones who know the most about us. For example, we have been exporting our coffee since 2003, and every year they visit us, and every year we can take them to different places because we are 28 coffee producing groups. And in that way, they have a different impact. However, the only thing we can do is guarantee a product that is produced with the effort of each producer so that you can have it in your daily meals.

In addition to being a small-scale farmer with approximately 1,500 plants in cultivation, Yuri is also a member of the internal controls committee of the Colombia Initiative for Fair Trade, Solidarity and Sustainability and the Vice President of the Standards Committee of the Small Producers Symbol (SPP).  Café Campesino has been buying coffee from Fondo Paez since 2003.

Meet our Guests: Q&A with Fair Trade Coffee Leaders 7

Carlos Reynoso of Guatemala’s Manos Campesinas shows unripe coffee cherries on a tree in Guatemala. Picture from a 2011 visit to APECAFORM.

Carlos Reynoso, Manager
Manos Campesinas, GUATEMALA
Manos is a secondary-level cooperative made up of 13 primary cooperatives.  It represents 1,400 small-scale farmers throughout Guatemala.  The APECAFORM of San Marcos, Guatemala, is one of those cooperatives. Cafe Campesino has been purchasing coffee from APECAFORM for 18 years.
APECAFORM membership: about 400 small-scale farmers
A Recent visit to APECAFORM

1) How long have you been with Manos Campesinas?  About 12 years

2) What changes have you seen in the organization over the years? An improvement to member services, a better quality coffee, increased sales and improved processes in general.

3)What are some of Mano’s greatest successes? Increased production, the quality of our allies (buyers and customers), gaining the trust of our members.

4) What have been some of your challenges? Growing sales, adapting to climate change, improving our integration of young people and women.

5) What does Manos Campesinas represent for Guatemala’s coffee industry?  A solid organization that is socially responsible and transparent.

6) What changes do you see coming for Manos Campesinas in the next 25 years?  We will own more coffee shops, we will grow the number of farmer-members in the organization, and we will create alliances with other organizations that can help benefit producers and their communities.

7) In the last 20 years, what has changed for APECAFORM farmers?  They have grown to trust the cooperative, they have improved their organizational processes and improved their production capacity.

8) Do you have hope in the future of specialty coffee?  (Yes).  We can innovate.  Producers are creative.  We can add more value to the production at origin so that we can control more of the supply chain.

9) Talk about your role at CLAC (Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade).  How do you work with coffee farmers in this context? To be the voice of the producers.  I organize strategic discussions about the global fair trade system and defend the farmers’ ideals.

10) Why did you decide to join Cafe Campesino for its 20th Anniversary celebration?  It’s an opportunity to strengthen our work together and evaluate new possibilities of mutual support.

Carlos is also a small-scale coffee farmer in Guatemala’s Western Highlands.

Cafe Campesino coffee educator Hannah Mercer travelling to coffee origin in Peru

I’ll be the first to admit that when I began working in coffee, I didn’t really understand it.  Between being hired at Cafe Campesino and working my first shift, I did a little studying about roast profiles, drinks, and fair trade – but I honestly didn’t know how coffee was grown. I was NEW to the coffee world, and it took me engaging with a community outside of my own company to really understand how special Cafe Campesino is.

Read more

Cafe Campesino celebrates 20 years this year.

Cafe Campesino celebrates 20 years this year.

Bill Harris has been on a self-described “coffee tangent” for the last 20 years. This year, he goes back to where it all started, and you’re invited to join.

Some 20 years after meeting a coffee farmer on a Habitat for Humanity trip, Bill Harris will join Habitat again, returning to the very town where he was inspired to start Café Campesino- San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala.

This Nov. 10-18, 2018,“Back-to -Guatemala” service trip will organize volunteers to build smokeless stoves in homes around San Lucas Toliman and feature excursions to nearby coffee farms.

Coffee professionals looking to learn more about rural Guatemala, Habitat for Humanity’s international work, or the origins of an industry-leading sustainable coffee supply chain, are encouraged to participate.

Since starting Café Campesino in 1998, Bill has returned to Guatemala more times than he can count, but he has not gone back as a Habitat volunteer in 19 years.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to San Lucas Toliman on Lake Atitlan to help families in that area again,” he said, adding that he was curious to see how many families in the area would be working with coffee.  “It’s one of the most famous coffee-growing regions in the world.”

Over the years, Bill has traveled extensively to the departments of Quiché and San Marcos, where Café Campesino sources its coffee, and he has seen the need for improved air quality in homes that use wood-burning stoves.

“In particular, we’ve noticed so many coffee farming families that have really difficult conditions in the homes, with women & children living in smoky rooms all day long.  We’re excited to help build safer kitchens for those who need it,” he said.

individuals measure a smokeless stove installation

Habitat volunteers installing a smokeless stove.  Photo courtesy of Joe Johnston.

Habitat estimates that 90 percent of rural Guatemalan families use wood as their primary cooking fuel and most cook using an open fire inside the home. This contributes to respiratory illnesses and deforestation across the country.  Smokeless stoves, however, are built with adobe blocks and a metal pipe to ventilate smoke outside of the home, which improves indoor air quality and uses about 60 percent less firewood.

Smokeless stove installations are a part of Habitat’s efforts to improve household conditions that negatively impact physical health.  The organization also installs sanitary latrines and works with families to filter their drinking water.

Process of installing a smokeless stove

Smokeless Stove installation.  Note the exhaust pipe and adobe brick foundation. Photos courtesy of Joe Johnston.

Bill started importing coffee directly from small-scale farmers after talking with a coffee farmer during a Habitat home-building project in 1997.  During that conversation, the farmer helped Bill understand that middlemen in the coffee supply chain were absorbing his profits.

Despite doing the labor-intensive work of caring for coffee trees, hand-picking coffee cherries and preparing coffee for export, farmers have traditionally earned the lowest percentage of profits, because they often do not have direct access to buyers.

Bill with coffee farmers in Guatemala in 2011.

Bill and Cafe Campesino CEO Tripp Pomeroy in San Marcos, Guatemala, with members of the APECAFORM coffee farmers’ cooperative.

When Bill started Café Campesino in 1998, he had this in mind.  He started importing coffee directly from small-scale farmers who were organized into cooperatives.  That farmer-cooperative model in Latin America inspired a roaster-cooperative model in North America.  In 2000, Bill found five other coffee roasters in the Eastern United States who wanted to source directly from farmer cooperatives using fair and environmentally responsible principles to guide their terms of trade.  Cooperative Coffees was born, forming a one-of-a-kind importing collaboration between small-scale roasters in North America. Today, Cooperative Coffees has more than 20 roasters-members in the U.S. and Canada who have collectively imported more than $80 million of fair trade, organic coffee directly from farmers.

The group also leads the coffee industry in its terms of trade- returning year after year to source from the same farmer groups, facilitating access to pre-financing for farmer groups and re-opening closed coffee contracts so farmers can benefit from higher coffee prices at harvest time.

Bill Harris in his Habitat for Humanity shirt, holding a carafe of Chemex-brewed coffee and a hammer.

With a Chemex in one hand and a hammer in the other, Bill Harris returns to Guatemala with Habitat this November.

Café Campesino has also assumed a leadership role in the coffee industry.  Based in Americus, Ga., it is the state’s only Certified B Corp outside of metro-Atlanta; it sources and sells coffee-house supplies that align with its values, such as compostable to-go ware, fair trade, organic teas and a full line of organic syrups.  It also trains coffee industry professionals at its Specialty Coffee Association Premier Training Campus and operates a restaurant and coffee house in Americus.

Because Café Campesino and Habitat for Humanity both started in Americus, individuals who were involved in both entities’ “early days” are expected to participate in this trip.

In fact, Joe Johnston, a former Café Campesino employee who has been working with Habitat for Humanity International for the past 8 years, will be leading this November trip to Guatemala.  Joe opened Café Campesino’s first coffee house in 2007 that was located adjacent to the company’s roastery.  Today, Joe manages staff and Habitat Global Village teams that travel the world.

Traveling internationally with Habitat changed Joe’s life.  It certainly changed Bill’s life.  And it will no-doubt impact yours.  Join Joe and Bill this November as they ponder life, learn more about San Lucas Toliman coffee and help families in need. Learn More.