sticker of drip-thru coffee between a fair trade and organics image

Written by Martin Deen, owner of Drip-Thru Coffee

Since we started Drip-Thru Coffee and opened our first shop in 2016, we’ve always planned to run the business in an ethical way.  For us, that meant things like looking for local suppliers, choosing ecologically sustainable packaging, and looking for other ways we could have a positive impact with our business. 

Fair Trade: a Must for Drip-Thru Coffee

Given our primary product, coffee, is mostly an imported good, that also meant Fair Trade.  Fair Trade is trade that adheres to standards of social, economic, and environmental practices that provide a sustainable livelihood, empowerment, and a safe environment to the communities with which we trade.

A Drip-Thru Coffee Origin Trip to Guatemala 1
Martin and Christy Deen of Drip-Thru Coffee found ripe coffee cherries while visiting farmers at the Asociacion Chajulense during a recent coffee origin trip to Guatemala . November 2019. Photo courtesy of Drip-Thru Coffee.

This began with our roaster Cafe Campesino who imports Fair Trade coffee as a member of Cooperative Coffees.  We’ve relied on their guidance and experience in sustainable and fair importation of specialty coffees from all over the world.  But this year we had the opportunity to see part of that process first hand by making a trip to Guatemala to visit with some of the co-ops that export the coffee and the farmers who grow it.

Meeting with the passionate people in Guatemala involved in the Fair Trade movement was eye-opening. 

– Martin Deen, owner of Drip-Thru Coffee
A Drip-Thru Coffee Origin Trip to Guatemala 2
Bill Harris of Cafe Campesino and Martin Deen, Drip-Thru Coffee co-owner, near Lake Atitlan in Guatemala . Photo courtesy of Drip-Thru Coffee.

A Life-Changing Coffee Origin Trip

We’ve made an effort to be informed cafe owners, studying with the Specialty Coffee Association to become certified as baristas.  This study included information on how coffee was grown, the process involved in exporting and importing, and other information about coffee trade.  Diligence in study was important, but it was also important and life changing to experience the coffee country that is the origin of this beverage we all love.

Meeting with the passionate people in Guatemala involved in the Fair Trade movement was eye opening.  Our visits with Asociacion Chajulense and Manos Campesinas let us meet men and women who are devoted not only to producing quality coffee but also helping their communities and empowering the coffee farmers they work with.  They were excited to share their time with us and give us so much information and background on what it takes to bring coffee to market.  They also shared with us the struggles involved in keeping farms, co-ops, and small-scale coffee production going in Guatemala.

A Drip-Thru Coffee Origin Trip to Guatemala 3
Juan Solis Brito, Chajulense coffee farmer and promoter, with Christy and Martin Deen in Chel, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Drip-Thru Coffee.

Seeing the small farms in a beautiful country where our Guatemalan coffee was grown was wonderful.  But meeting the farmers who are involved, engaged, and eager to remain informed about the journey their coffee makes to its final destination was truly revelatory.  While we play different roles in the coffee industry than the farmers we met, we all shared a sense of community being part of Fair Trade coffee as a whole.

In the end, it was an adventure of discovery of people as much as landscape or experience.  Making connections across distance and barriers of language revealed our common passion and labor towards delivering good coffee while honoring the people that made it possible.

While we play different roles in the coffee industry than the farmers we met, we all shared a sense of community being part of fair trade coffee as a whole.

Martin Deen

Martin & Christy Deen own Drip-Thru Coffee, which has two drive-thru coffee locations in metro Atlanta. Martin wrote this piece after he and Christy returned from Guatemala in November 2019. Visit Drip-Thru locations at: 50 HWY 138 West in Stockbridge, Ga., and 1515 Virginia Ave. in College Park, Ga. Learn more at https://www.dripthrucoffee.com/

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