hands lathered up and ready to wash

Like many of you, we are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 and are making every effort to keep our staff and customers informed and safe and to mitigate the spread of this virus.

In both our roastery and our coffee house cleanliness, sanitation and food safety are of utmost importance. We already have strict sanitation standards in place, but we are reinforcing those standards and adding to them in light of COVID-19.

At the roastery, we are :

  • Instructing employees to wash their hands more frequently and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Ensuring all packing equipment is cleaned and sanitized daily.
  • Encouraging the increased use of hand-sanitizer.
  • Instructing employees to wash their hands after using their cell phones.
  • Disinfecting door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, computers, phones and airpots at least two times per day.
  • Instructing employees to stay home and CALL their primary care doctor should they have a fever, cough or shortness of breath.
  • Instructing employees to stay home if they have been in contact with someone they believe has been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Instructing employees to avoid touching their faces and to wash their hands after they do.
  • Meeting daily with staff to reinforce messages of cleanliness, sanitation and hand-washing and keep them updated on the latest developments.
  • Hanging posters from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that address “What You Need to Know about COVID-19,” “What to do if you are sick,” “How to stop the spread of germs,” and “Symptoms of Coronavirus.”
COVID-19: Cafe Campesino Response 1

At our coffee house, we are also maintaining strict sanitation standards, as well as

  • More frequently sanitizing chairs, tables, and shared spaces.
  • Reducing the amount of touch-points for staff and customers.
  • Refusing reusable cups behind the counter & using disposable-compostable cups and silverware instead.

Rest assured, we will continue to monitor this situation and adapt our procedures and practices as needed based on the guidance of the CDC. We thank you for your support during this challenging time and are confident that together we will get through this with our community stronger and more united.

Gratitude for Staff

It’s impossible to have a month of gratitude without recognizing our awesome staff. These folks work behind the scenes to bring you Cafe Campesino. We are SOooo grateful for their hard work and positive energy. We want you to know them, too.

Our Production Crew

SO Grateful for Staff 2

Led by Esme Hernandez, this crew roasts, packs, grinds and seals all the coffee that leaves Cafe Campesino. They are some of the hardest working, most joyful people we know. Their laughter, attention-to-detail and pursuit of excellence makes our product what it is. We are so grateful to Esme, Itzel Reyes (not pictured here), Erika Hernandez, Barbie Phillips and Thomas Weber. This is a busy time of year, and they keep the coffee flowing. We. Are. Grateful.

SO Grateful for Staff 3

Our Location Manager

Cori Lyman-Barner is the voice behind the phone and the personality behind customer service emails. She makes sure your orders get entered and processed, working directly with Esme to get them out of the roastery. She also makes sure our roastery location stays sparkling clean, our production crew gets time off and every miscellaneous coffee need that comes through the door gets managed. We are so grateful to Cori for working diligently with all of our customers and staff to make sense of what could easily be coffee chaos.

SO Grateful for Staff 4

Our Delivery Driver

After 10 or so years in our customer service seat, Dave traded in his view of a computer for the open road. He knows our roastery, our customers, and so many back roads between Americus and Western North Carolina. We are so grateful to him for his long-running commitment to small-scale coffee farmers and his endurance to drive to and from Atlanta every week… and to and from North Carolina and Savannah every other week. Honk if you see Dave in our giant delivery van.

SO Grateful for Staff 5


Coffee House Manager/New England Culinary Institute Alum-turned COO (chief operating officer), Lee Harris’s behind-the-scenes wisdom helps steer our ship. Whether it’s crunching numbers, cupping coffees, training coffee house staff on made-from-scratch baking or overseeing purchasing, Lee stays busy. He served as the company’s first roastmaster back in the day, and it’s so fun to have him back.

SO Grateful for Staff 6

Our Bookkeeper

We drive her crazy with our vacation requests and under-reported sick days and old invoices and need for petty cash…but (we think?) she love us anyway. We sure love her! We couldn’t survive without Marcia Dupree’s skillful management of our accounts receivables and our accounts payables and all things in between. She is truly a behind-the-scenes shero for our company.

Our Webmaster and BRAG Brewmaster

SO Grateful for Staff 7

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the folks who’ve been around the longest. But not Geoffrey! Geoffrey started as our first customer when he lived out at Koinonia, and he’s been with us ever since. His work is so critical to our team that we all have him on speed-dial. He’s an expert in bulk brewing, having brewed coffee for so many Bicycle Ride Across Georgia events we’ve quit counting. But most importantly, he’s our all-things-tech adviser and our webmaster. Making sure our sites stay secure, updated and optimized is critically important this time of year, and we are SOOO grateful to have his support on that.. and so many other things.

Last but not least OUR COFFEE HOUSE STAFF

These folks rock. Led by Ifah Hathcock, this amazing crew of food service industry professionals is one of the best in the biz. Not only do they make sure Cafe Campesino coffee is outstandingly brewed for both drip and espresso drinks, they also make breakfast and lunch FROM SCRATCH (thank you, Lee Harris). The baked goods and sandwiches are some of the best there are in any coffee shop anywhere. And the crew taking your order and prepping it always has such an amazing, positive attitude. They are: Ifah Hathcock, April Rustin, Savannah Morgan-Barber, Karen Montano, Javier Abendando, Heather Thornburgh, Kasie Ware, Conner Batchelor ,Nathan Gibson and Alex Exum. (Pictured here from left-to-right are: Javier, Alex, Savannah, Ifah and April). They inspire us.

five people posing for a picture that recognizes coffee house staff. They are wearing dark shirts and cafe campesino hats and are posing in what looks to be a coffee house.

WE ARE GRATEFUL. We could not do Cafe Campesino without these awesome people.

(Looking for someone not here? They’re awesome, too. Check out our staff page to learn more about our crew.)

Gratitude for Customers text overlaid on a blue background

Running a small business might be one of the hardest jobs there is.  If you’re the one(s) in charge, you are always working.  You’re always solving problems.   Planning ahead.   Dealing with yesterday’s issues. Stocking product. Taking inventory, managing employees, dealing with human resources-related issues, marketing, selling, marketing, selling, overseeing customer service issues, cleaning, fixing that piece of equipment, marketing, selling, evaluating, tweaking.  Constantly improving. Your business is a child that always needs attention. You love it.  But it never stops needing attention.

Most of our wholesale customers are these people.  They’re the folks who had an idea and are wildly committed to seeing it through.   They are constantly learning, constantly working and constantly thinking about their business. 

We are so grateful to them. 

We are not only grateful that they had the courage to follow their dreams and jump into the world of small-business ownership- where they ‘dig-in” to the everyday life of their communities, offering folks a safe place to gather or others a place to work.  But we are also grateful that they’ve chosen us as their coffee roaster.

a gentleman in a black shirt that says "the sentient bean" stands holding a pan of cinnamon rolls in front of a wall of coffee beans.
The Sentient Bean in Savannah, Georgia, is one of our longest standing customers. They sell Cafe Campesino by the pound and by the cup….and make some pretty amazing vegan cinnamon rolls (as seen here). Photo by: The Sentient Bean.

By choosing to work with us, they’ve said that they care about the fate of the small-scale farmer.  They want to source organic coffee.  They believe in the power of farmer-owned cooperatives.  They don’t want coffee to be a nameless, faceless product.  And they know they can help.  They know they have a place in this supply chain.  They know their work is critical for creating the pull-through small farmers’ need to move their product.  They know these farmers are investing in the their own communities and farming in a way that helps preserve the planet.   AND…. They know that their customers will care.

Their coffee house customers are like our online customers…  or our own coffee house customers in Americus.  They’re conscious consumers.    We are convinced conscious consumers have the power to save the planet.

Conscious Consumers are Making a Difference

Just down the road from Americus, in Bluffton, Georgia, friends of ours at White Oak Pastures have been practicing rotational grazing, organics and regenerative agriculture for a little over 20 years.  Though they’ve been farming their land in Bluffton since the late 1800’s, it wasn’t until 1995 that Will Harris returned his farming operations to “radically traditional” farming practices that restore health to the livestock and to the soil. 

This year, international sustainability consultancy Quantis released a Life Cycle Assessment of White Oak’s beef. They wanted to assess the total environmental impact of White Oak’s beef production, because the conventional beef industry is known to be a top offender in the world’s green-house gas emissions.

The study found that White Oak’s soil teems with life.  The farm wasn’t just carbon neutral (which alone is hard-to-do in the world of livestock farming) but it was actually carbon positive.  A holistic approach to farming that includes planned rotational grazing has made White Oak’s soil capable of sequestering more carbon than their cows emit in their lifetimes. Keeping carbon in the soil ultimately helps cool the planet.

Now take that concept from the cattle farms of South Georgia to the coffee lands around the Equator. Small-scale coffee farmers are also practicing regenerative agriculture – fostering biodiversity in their soil and on their farms (and soon they will be able to measure their own carbon footprint) . Suddenly, a patchwork of healthy soils starts to form around the globe… helping to cool the planet.

But neither White Oak Pastures, nor small-scale coffee farmers would be able to survive if it weren’t for conscious consumers.  Customers who care enough to ask questions and seek business transparency.  Customers who demand a sustainable supply chain alongside a great-tasting product.  Customers who are willing to change their purchasing habits or spend a little more from time-to-time.

Man wearing white shirt and a hat talks with shorter women in a busy setting.

We are so grateful to those customers who care. Wholesale and retail.  Big and small. Coffee shops, natural food markets, food-service institutions, general stores, offices, restaurants, places of worship, individuals at home.  We absolutely would not exist if it weren’t for you. 

Thank you. And please stay engaged. Your purchases matter.

Conscious Consumption On-the-Road: Visit our Customers

If you’re a Cafe Campesino coffee drinker, and you’d like to support some of our wholesale customers, you can visit them at these locations.

"gratitude for producers" text sits on top of blue background. Word "producers" is yellow in the foreground

Anyone familiar with our company knows that we are extremely aligned with the interests of the small-scale coffee farmer.  After all, it’s in our name (“Café Campesino” loosely translates from Spanish to “coffee of the small farmer”).

It’s worth taking a moment to explain why.

Small-Scale Coffee Farmers are the Backbone of the Specialty Coffee Industry

Some 14 billion pounds of specialty grade Arabica coffee is produced every year, according to the International Coffee Organization.  Eighty percent of that is grown by small land holders who do not have full-time employees. 

Unlike Robusta (the other commercialized coffee species) Arabica is notoriously difficult to farm with machines.  For starters, it grows at higher altitudes on the sides of steep mountainsides, which are unfriendly to machines. The stems of the Arabica plant can also be easily damaged during a harvest cycle if the coffee cherry is not removed with just the right amount of finesse. If damaged, the stem risks not flowering or producing fruit the following season. And finally, the human eye is better than any machine at discerning the optimum ripeness of a coffee cherry, a detail that impacts the overall sweetness and flavor profile of a cup.

So, the majority of the world’s specialty-grade coffee – some 11.2 billion pounds- is picked by hand by small-scale farmers.

This raw product gets cleaned and processed by farmers. Then it gets exported to coffee drinking countries where it is roasted and brewed and leveraged into what in 2018 was a $ 45.4 billion industry in the United States. The specialty coffee explosion we’ve come to love in the United States- the one that supports importers, baristas, truck drivers, marketers, roasters, real-estate developers- it all happens because 25 million people around the world pick Arabica coffee by hand. We are immensely grateful to them for their work.

Small-Scale Farmers Preserve Indigenous Cultures

Nearly all of the farmers we source coffee from are indigenous people living in geographically remote places around the world. Coffee is their livelihood and a means of survival for communities. Ancient indigenous languages and traditions are kept alive in these communities. In Colombia, the Nasa farmers at the Fondo Paez co-op are preserving heirloom varietals of corn by saving and sharing seeds among cooperative members. In Mexico, Maya Vinic is able to practice ancient traditions of self-government and a reverence for mother earth with traditional farming practices and cooperative organizing structures. At the Asociacion Chajulense in Guatemala, women are paid to hand-sort coffees, earning money that supports a tradition of weaving colorful huipil textiles that are characteristic of their region.

In every farming community where we source coffee, indigenous cultures live on. We are grateful for this cultural diversity on the planet.

Small-Scale Farmers Teach us about Community

Last October, Yuri Pilliume, the first female general manager of the Fondo Paez cooperative of Cauca, Colombia, visited us in Americus for our 20th Anniversary celebration. She joined our staff for our daily morning huddle, and after everyone had shared their work plans for the day, she presented us each with a gift. Rainbow-colored woven belts she and other Fondo Paez members hand-made for us before her trip. “Each color has a meaning,” she told us. The blue is for the clean blue waters that run near their farm lands, green for the health of the earth, the red for the blood that has run from years of past violence in their area, the black for the dark times we all have to go through to get to the lightness, and the orange for the natural minerals found in their soils.

woman is talking to man with another woman listening in. She has a group of rainbow-colored hand-woven belts in front of her.
Yuri Pilliume the general manager of the Fondo Paez cooperative presents Tripp Pomeroy and Cafe Campesino staff with colorful hand-woven belts as a gift. Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, general manager of Peru’s CAC Pangoa cooperative, listens.

She, like so many small-scale producers over the years, reminded us of the power of community. That together, we can love and support one another to be our best selves- for the benefit of our community and for the planet. Freddy Perez of Honduras’s COMSA cooperative sums it up like this: “It’s one big give and take. Alone, we can move faster, but together we can go much further. This is our proposal, and it’s what we’re betting on.”

Small-Scale Farmers Show Us How to Preserve the Planet

A layered tree canopy and biological diversity of plants and animals are hallmarks of shade-grown coffee farms. Organic coffee farming at its best is regenerative – sequestering carbon and preserving life in and around the soil. You see this from small-scale farmers who live and farm in these environments. Their commitment to composting, applying micro-organisms to their soil, planting and caring for trees and preserving biological diversity in their fields reminds us that being human is about living with nature.

For these and so many other reasons, we are deeply grateful to the world’s small-scale coffee farmers who are the true leaders of specialty coffee. Their work and commitment to community and the planet, have been and will remain our guiding posts for business at Cafe Campesino.

5 Reasons You'll Love our Coffee Subscription 8

Subscribe and save. We’ve all heard it. Cleaning supplies, copy paper, toiletries… Enter: Coffee. If you don’t currently have a coffee subscription, you should give it a try. We have a feeling you’ll love it. Here’s why:

1. Set it and Forget it

This is the most fun part. You know you’re going to drink coffee. You know it’s going to run out. You know you LOVE coffee. Why not extend a helping hand to your future self? Customize your coffee shipments to arrive every week; every two weeks; every four weeks or every six weeks.

And if for some reason you need to change your order frequency, or get a different coffee, you can do that, too. Just sign-in online and change your coffee subscription. Or give us a call.

2. You Get the Coffee You Want

Experienced online coffee shoppers will already know this. When you purchase coffee directly from a roastery, you are likely getting some of the freshest coffee that company puts out. It’s hard to get that level of freshness at a grocery store. You often don’t get it from second-party web vendors.

When you purchase coffee directly from a roastery, it’s as though you stopped in to the production facility, took a whiff of coffee-charged air, and said, “give me your freshest coffees.”

Freshly roasted coffee greatly impacts cup quality. You like drinking coffee that’s been roasted within the past few weeks. (You also like it when it’s been freshly ground, so try to grind your beans right before brewing :)

Cafe Campesino's roaster full of fair trade organic coffee. Freshly roasted coffee is best for a coffee subscription.

With our coffee subscription service, you can choose from a variety of roast styles, coffee origins, and blends to get the exact coffee YOU like at its peak freshness point. You can also choose from a variety of bag sizes. When was the last time you bought a five-pound bag of freshly roasted fair trade, organic coffee at the grocery store? Not gonna happen.

3. It’s True. This Coffee Subscription Will Save You Money

Customers who’ve joined our Cafe Campesino mailing list know that we regularly send out discounts for certain coffees throughout the year. But let’s say you REALLY love Mexico, Chiapas, coffee, and we haven’t offered a discount on it in a long time. A subscription to that coffee will get you a 15 percent discount every time it ships. If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re going to buy coffee somewhere. Why not get exactly what you want at a 15 percent discount?

4. You’ll get Great Customer Service

We really want you to be happy with your purchase. If something goes wrong with your shipment or you are not satisfied with your order, you can contact us. You don’t have to fill out a form, or search for a “help link” in our web navigation. Send us an email or give us a call- 888-532-4728. We will make it right.

coffee subscriptions come directly to your home.

5. You Can be Certain you’re contributing to the Greater Good

We probably don’t stay this enough: Our supply chain is one the best there is in specialty coffee. You are not only treating farmers with dignity and respect when you purchase coffee through this supply chain, but you are also investing in people who are care deeply about their communities.

All of our coffees are certified organic and fair trade, which generates additional revenue for farmer groups. All of our trading relationships are long-term, so producers can count on us to return year-after-year. All of our coffee contracts are made public, so other coffee companies will know that business transparency can be a norm.

But in addition to all of that, every pound of coffee you purchase also helps fund farmer-led development projects at origin. Through our importer, Cooperative Coffees, we allocate three cents of every pound purchased toward an Impact Fund that directly supports farmer-led development projects.

For example, in 2018, we contributed nearly $4,000 to support farmer-led initiatives at coffee origin. Those projects included a reforestation project with the Norandino cooperative in Northern Peru; the establishment of localized farmer training sites with the Maya Vinic cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico; and a soil sampling and organic training initiative with the Fondo Paez cooperative of Cauca, Colombia.

In addition to supporting small-scale producers around the world, your purchase of Cafe Campesino coffee also supports a thriving small business in rural America. Some 17,000 people live in and around Americus, Georgia, a small town nestled in rural farm lands about 130 miles southwest of Atlanta. Cafe Campesino has operated from Americus for 21 years and now employs 20 people locally. It is the only certified B Corp in Sumter County, Georgia, and (last we checked) Georgia’s only certified B Corp south of metro-Atlanta.

Your purchases can have a cascading effect around the world. Why not make it a positive one?

Start your coffee subscription by finding your favorite coffee in our web store. Then, select the order frequency you’d like to receive it. Once you’ve set your preferences and checked out, we’ll handle it from there.

Coffee Price Transparency Pledge with a coffee bean at the center

In solidarity with coffee producers, our customers, and ethical coffee companies around the world, we are making a commitment to be fully transparent in our coffee buying.

What does the Transparency Pledge Mean for Cafe Campesino?

For years, we have posted online the prices we pay farmer cooperatives. But today we are making a commitment to go deeper. In accordance with The Transparency Pledge, we will make available not just our Free on Board (FOB) Price for green coffees, but also the quality scores for our coffees, the volume of coffee we purchase from each co-op, and the length of time we’ve purchased from each producer group.

Over the next month, we will make this information available for every coffee we purchase. In the meantime, we invite you to visit our Current Coffee Lots page and click on each lot number to see our coffee contracts and FOB pricing for all of the coffees we are currently roasting.

Why Coffee Price Transparency is Important

We believe that price transparency is the first step in getting coffee producers more money. The coffee industry does not have an answer to the pricing crisis that has plagued coffee farmers for years- but desperately over the past few months.. Currently, the C market sets the worldwide benchmark for green specialty coffee pricing. That price affects how farmers get paid, but it never reflects their true costs of production. As a result, thousands of farmers around the world are being forced out of coffee production, sometimes producing other crops. Some are leaving their homes entirely- risking their lives to find a more sustainable income. To stop this trend, and make coffee truly sustainable, farmers must earn more money.

Solidarity in a Common Code of Transparency

Price transparency means very little when it is given out of context or simply used as a marketing tool. Today we join fellow roasters and importers around the world to create a common code for price transparency. Each of us is committed to making the following available for at least 1 coffee we sell:

  • Making Transparency Data Publicly Available and Easily Accessible
  • Stating the Producer/Producer Organization the Coffee was Purchased From
  • Stating the FOB Price Paid for the Coffee
  • Indicating the Quality of the Coffee
  • Stating the Volume of that Coffee Purchased
  • Stating the Length of the Relationship between the Producer and the Buyer
  • Stating the Percentage for Transparent Coffees in Relation to the Total Volume of Coffee Sold in a Stated Year

Who is taking the Pledge?

By taking the Transparency Pledge, we are standing alongside: TraidCraft of the United Kingdom; Cooperative Coffees of North America; Transcend Coffee + Roastery of Canada; Coffee Collective of Denmark; Flying Roasters of Germany; QuijoteKaffee of Germany; Cross Coffee of Germany; Sweetwater Organic Coffee of Florida, USA; Seven Seeds Coffee of Australia; Onyx Coffee Lab of Oklahoma, USA; Tim Wendelboe of Norway; Junior’s Roasted Coffee of Oregon, USA and Counter Culture Coffee of North Carolina, USA.

We salute their willingness to collaborate and work to create a better specialty coffee industry.

We invite other coffee companies around the world to join us. Learn more or sign-up at www.transparency.coffee

Our Favorite Coffees: Staff picks for 2018 9

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 10

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.

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 11

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 12

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.