|Brief History of Coffee|
One day, in a small village in Nicaragua, rebels came through and took all the men and young boys away. None were ever seen again. The women were devastated by the loss of their loved ones: husbands, brothers, uncles, and sons. The senseless rebel uprising shattered their economy; poverty, hunger, and suffering crept in. The women tried desperately to sustain their daughters and sisters by selling hand woven blankets and clothing, but the burden was too great.
The Fair Trade Coalition and the Organic Coffee Growers Association have intervened in a way that offers these villagers hope for the future. They have established a coffee plantation, giving the women plants, tools, machinery and the wisdom they need. They have remained at the village in order to mentor these courageous women towards their own success.
This is the culmination of blood, sweat and an ocean of tears. This coffee honors all who were taken, and more importantly, everyone who lives on to rebuild a thriving community.
Update - Spring 2008
The village is doing so well they are expanding to help other communites of women to create a larger cooperative of farms. They want to give back by being invovled in helping schools and health clinics in the region. We wish them all the success and prosperity in their dedication and strength.
Update - Fall 2009
The Co-op is now owned and operated by 140 women! Las Hermanas Fair Traded coffees have given back to the community with 700+ new school uniforms and numerous health and civil projects. The Beneficio Seco, dry mill, is about to become operational for this years harvest. This is a huge factor in the overall quality and control for finishing the coffee to export at the specialty level. They have designed the final steps with a double conveyor line where 30-40 people will physically pick out and defects and less than wonderful beans which may slip through the mechanical sorting. Not only will this create employment, but the product will improve.
Fatima Ismael, Gerente General, of the Las Hermanas, personally updated my roaster during his last visit, on the community progress including sustainable production, quality control, credit, human benefits of hunger and poverty, economic diversification, environmental protection, social medicines, equality of gender, reproductive health and human rights, democratic participation, market education in the schools and a strong family core. Several of pallets of "school books and supplies " were ready for distribution in the new beneficio warehouse. She arranged a special luncheon at which the youth band played on their instruments funded by the cooperative as part of the cultural diversity element. "We will fight these things." Needless to say she is a powerful and dedicated woman of coffee. Thank you for bringing these fabulous coffees from Jinotega, Nicaragua and improving the quality of life.
Update - Autumn 2011
The cooperative continues to thrive. Women in Nicaragua can own the title to their own land. This is different from other Central American countries. It is a result of the progressive reforms of the Sandinista revolution and has been maintained under subsequent governments. The co-op is led by a charismatic leader, Fatima Ismael, who has been helping the farmers for four years and is inspired by an organization where 30% of the membership are women coffee farmers. Her vision is to create a worldwide network of women who buy and market this coffee, sending a message to these rural farmers that they have options, that they can create what they want for themselves and their families. Read a great interview here: Coffee Kids: Grounds for Hope