We got to fulfill some of our dreams for the shop this year by visiting the farmers who grow our coffee. Since the shop opened in 2016, our goal has been to improve the lives of everyone we do business with, so we can share the love of Christ with them.
Along the chain of getting coffee from farm to your cup, there is no role more important than the producers/farmers. The coffee starts with them and all of the potential for deliciousness comes from their hard work. After we get the coffee, all we can do is reveal, highlight, and cover up different flavors that are already present in the green coffee.
This is why we are so thankful for our producers and want to be able to not only visit them but show our appreciation of their hard work by building a relationship through continuing to buy their coffee, ensuring they are paid fairly, and showing any acts of kindness that we can as opportunities arise.
This was our second visit to Guatemala with Onyx Coffee Importers. The first visit we tasted tons of coffee and chose three lots that really stood out. We ended up with Guayables, Colmenita, and El Limonar. This trip we got to visit the farms of Colmenita and El Limonar and meet with the farmers.
We listened to them about the challenges that they had with this current crop, tasted their coffee, saw where our coffee grows and got to start a relationship that we hope will last a very long time.
At Finca Colmenita we learned that he lost 2/3 of his crop to drought but also heard how God has been good to him. He owns a decent amount of land with an average harvest of 300 quintales of coffee each year (30,000 lbs) and he has a small store in his village that provides additional financial support for his family.
At Finca El Limonar we also heard about some challenges that José Bernabé Martinez was facing this year. He sadly lost 1/2 his crop to coffee rust, a fungus that spreads to the through leaves of the coffee plant through the air and is very hard to stop. He also added that the labor costs were higher this year than he expected and expressed how it is going to be a hard year for him financially. Because of this we are going to pay an extra dollar per pound of coffee we buy from him to help mitigate some of the financial hardship that he is going through.
One of the most special things that we got to experience on this trip was bringing some coffee from El Limonar back to his farm. Once we arrived, I asked him if he had ever tasted his own coffee before. He said that in the forty-one years that he has been working on his farm, he has never been able to taste his own coffee. This shocked me but our in country host, Oscar, said that it is common throughout the country for farmers to never have tried their own coffee. This does not sit right with me, they work tirelessly all their lives growing coffee and they don’t even know if it’s good.
So we opened the bag, let him smell it for the first time, then I ground it and made a pour over for him. He asked if people liked his coffee in America, I told him that it was our favorite Guatemalan coffee we have ever had and he smiled from ear to ear and his eyes started to water. He tasted his coffee and said that it was very delicious three separate times as he finished his cup quicker than it was brewed.
My takeaways from this trip are that we should focus more on the coffee farmers we work with, we should highlight who they are and the hard work they have put into growing our coffee. I also want to make it a priority to build upon our relationship coffee options offered each year, travel more to origin to visit more of our producers and farms and of course brew their coffee for them as humble act of service back to them, so they can see the fruits of their labor. Through all of this, by building relationships, using our money to spread the gospel in the areas we buy our coffee, we can be focused on the Kingdom of God and bringing it to some of the most remote parts of the world.