Editor’s note: While researching last Tuesday’s Pillar to Post posting we discovered one of the leading coffee cooperatives operating from the U.S.
Today, we profile one of Cooperative Coffee’s partners in Jaen, Peru. We open with background on Cooperative Coffee before following up on CENTROCAFE in Peru. Please note: to obtain coffee imported by Cooperative Coffee and its producing partners you have to purchase the coffee from its partner roasters in the U.S. To find a nearest roaster offering CENTROCAFE produced beans go to http://coopcoffees.coop/interactive-map/
Cooperative Coffees of Americus, Georgia (coopcoffees.coop) exists to import high-quality, organic green coffee from small-scale farmer organizations to build long-term relationships and foster fair and equitable trading practices. Our goal is to make coffee-growing a sustainable and beneficial endeavor for farmer families and their communities.
Cooperative Coffees is a green coffee importing cooperative committed to supporting and partnering with small-scale coffee farmers and their exporting cooperatives. By importing directly from our partner-farmers, we do business in a way that creates a fairer, more transparent and sustainable system of coffee trade that directly benefits farmers, and their families and communities.
Coop Coffees’ story began in 1997, when founder Bill Harris – inspired by his encounter with a Guatemalan coffee coop on a Habitat for Humanity delegation – decided to start up a roasting company that would import and roast fairly traded coffee beans from Central America. By 1998, Cafe Campesino, the roasting company, imported one full container – approximately 40,000 pounds of coffee. Needless to say, they were up to their ears in green coffee that would have taken them years to go through themselves. So Bill planned a road trip to scour the eastern seaboard and across the mid-western states, looking for value-driven roasters interested in investing in a collective coffee importing venture. In 1999, seven roasters met in Atlanta and officially formed Cooperative Coffees.
In 2009, 10 years down the road, the cooperative had grown to include 23 roasters who spanned the continent from the Yukon to the panhandle of Florida. Committed to sourcing sustainably grown coffees and to partnering closely with the farmers who grow it, our roasters know that by working together, cooperatively, they can more readily impact and multiply the positive effects of their selective coffee purchasing.
CENTROCAFE is one of the cooperatives working with Cooperative Coffees. CENFROCAFE is short for Central Fronteriza del Norte de Cafetaleros. This coffee growing cooperative was founded in 1999 with 220 small-scale coffee farmers in eleven community-based associations. Nearly fifteen years after their founding, CENFROCAFE, now based out of Jaen, Peru serves more than 2,000 farmer members in local associations spanning across twelve districts within the lush Cajamarca region.
From technical assistance and quality control workshops for their farmers, to economic and leadership training for the young people in their rural communities, CENFROCAFE works not only to support the commercial endeavors of its members – but also to facilitate the development of their communities as a whole. The CENFROCAFE financial team provides short-term credit that help farmers cover the front-end costs of the harvest and materials in the coffee production.
CENFROCAFE is one of the leaders in creating a cooperative alliance with like-minded associations in the greater Cajamarca region to provide important technical and marketing services to thousands of small-scale farmers in Northern Peru. Without this kind of strong organization, local farmers would have otherwise been left each to his or her own devices to develop best practices for healthy fields and increased production yields, or for the marketing and sales of their coffee.
Results to date are impressive. On average, CENFROCAFE producers yield 20qq (100lb sacks of parchment) of organic coffee per hectare, and often show in the top finalists in national and international quality competitions. The improved revenue for CENFROCAFE farmers has been instrumental for their access to basic health, education, and other social services.
CENFROCAFE founding member and former president of the producer Board of Directors, Anselmo Huaman Moreto, explains: “A huge difference in our lives is that now our children can actually go to school, our coffee is being recognized in the market for the quality we produce, we are receiving a fair price for our efforts, and our members can be proud again to be farmers.”
Cooperative Coffees began importing from CENFROCAFE in 2005. Since then, our relationship with this cooperative has flourished both in coffee purchases – with more than 2 million pounds direct purchased — as well as roaster efforts to support their production and quality improvement initiatives.