From Community to Cup: Café Imports Becomes a TWP Corporate Partner

by Katie Murphy, Strategic Partnerships Manager 

TWP_Cafe_Imports-01

Café Imports brings some of the highest quality green coffee to the global market. What makes them truly shine is not only their excellent product but the way they engage in business. To minimize their environmental impact, they have partnered with us to continue their carbon neutrality for the next two years. With the environment at the forefront of all their decisions, Café Imports believes it is just simply part of doing ethical business in the ever-changing coffee market. They believe that quality, education, and progress are the driving principles that make their services exemplary, and here at Trees, Water & People, we couldn’t agree more.

“This new effort in 2017, a charitable effort by the ownership of Café Imports, guarantees again that all of our coffee is carbon neutral by the time it arrives at our warehouse.“

    —Andrew Miller, Café Imports Founder

By becoming part of TWP’s Partners for a Sustainable Planet Program (PSP), Café Imports is doing more than just offsetting 3,378 tons of CO2. Through reforestation and clean cookstove efforts in Honduras, Café Imports can ensure their carbon neutrality and further their existing philosophy which highlights the “tree to the cup” traceability of their coffee.

You can see for yourself how Café Imports examines their carbon footprint in their 2017 Environmental Progress Report. By computing not only their shipping and business travel, but including the day-to-day office and warehouse output, and even employee commuting, Café Imports can feel confident in their carbon footprint metrics and make changes to their business practices accordingly. In 2016, they were able to reduce their annual carbon output by 11% from the previous year.

Staff_Photo_2016_Photo
Café Imports is taking carbon offsets further!

This unique partnership in the Honduran Highlands lends support to 220 local families in the twelve coffee producing communities we work with and also trains locals in agroforestry practices. By diversifying coffee farms with shade trees and integrated food crops, we can strengthen coffee crops and improve economic opportunities in these communities. Additionally, Café Imports has sponsored the construction and installation of 20 clean cookstoves and the training of two local Hondurans in stove design and construction. Implementing clean cookstoves helps families breathe cleaner air, reduce their reliance on and consumption of fuelwood, and improves their quality of life for years to come.

Our partnership connects Café Imports to the families that grow coffee, taking their existing philosophy of “tree to cup” to “community to cup.” TWP is proud to partner with a business who doesn’t just talk the talk about environmental responsibility; they walk the walk.

If you would like to learn more about our Corporate Partnership Program, click here! 

Check it out

Community Voices: Jorge Perez Talavera

Don Jorge
Jorge Perez Talavera stands proud next to 4,300 coffee seedlings at his tree nursery in Chachagua, Nicaragua.

by Megan Maiolo-Heath and Lucas Wolf

In the north central region of Nicaragua, 80% of families are dependent on coffee for their livelihoods. In the rural areas where farmers are scratching out a living – growing coffee and living off the land to feed their families – 68% of the population does not have access to electricity, one of the lowest electrification rates in Central America (IDB, 2010). The closer you get to the “last mile”, as we have done on a recent trip to the remote farming village of Chachagua , the more families you will find struggling to survive on only a few dollars per day.

TWP Assistant International Director, Lucas Wolf, and I had the pleasure of staying with a local family during our four days in the community as part of a trip with our local partners, buildOn and GivePower. Jorge Perez Talavera, his wife Damaris Godoy Garcia, and their 17 year old daughter, Ara Yorleniz Perez Godoy, welcomed us into their small home, which has no running water or electricity. At night, situated around their rudimentary stove, Damaris and Ara Yorleniz cooked us hot meals: rice, beans, and tortillas overflowing with Nicaraguan flavor and love. We spent a lot of this time laughing together, finding that Nicaraguan humor is fueled by sarcasm. My kind of humor! We also had the opportunity to discuss the harsh reality of life in the campo, living off the land and relying on family and community to survive.

The closest town to Chachagua is Murra, a rough, 2-hour drive by truck or motorbike. No buses drive this far back into the mountains, making agriculture a necessity for income generation and for feeding your family. Rows of coffee plants dot the hills, along with other crops like maize, beans, banana trees, squash varieties, and root vegetables.

Chachagua Nicaragua
Don Jorge’s tree nursery is situated next to the rinsing and drying facility, with fruit trees surrounding the area.

Down the hill from Jorge’s small adobe home sits his tree nursery, where he is currently growing 4,300 coffee seedlings and a variety of fruit trees. He uses organic methods to grow the coffee, such as mixing garlic and cayenne for use as a pesticide. During the coffee harvest, Damaris and Ara Yorleniz help Jorge pick the ripe, red coffee cherries by hand.

“All of us spend long days together to harvest the coffee. It’s very hard work and the whole family helps.”

For the subsistence farmers in this region, who depend on the land for their survival, climate change is not a far off threat that they casually discuss. Climate change is happening. Right now. There is no debate about how or if a changing climate will affect them, the question is how will they adapt and survive. I invite climate deniers to visit Chachagua and tell the families here that climate change is a hoax.

“We have noticed a big change in the weather and temperatures over the past six years. The rains come later now and it’s much warmer, which affects how our coffee grows.”

Nicaragua deforestation
Agriculture is a major contributor to deforestation in Central America, making access to agroforestry education critical to environmental and human health.

In Nicaragua, temperatures are rising, drought is the new norm (and flooding when it does eventually rain), and crop disease is devastating, especially to rural coffee farmers and landless farm workers. The nation consistently ranks in the top ten among the places most affected by climate change (Global Climate Risk Survey). Coffee is Nicaragua’s second largest agricultural export earner. In 2012-13 an outbreak of La Roya (coffee leaf rust), which spread to 37% of the crop, cost $60M in losses. Small farmers like Jorge, who have no extra money to purchase fertilizers, have been hit hard by La Roya. When their mature coffee plants die from the rust, new seedlings can be planted, but they take three years to produce coffee. And, when there is no coffee there is no money.

When we discuss ways that farmers like Jorge are adapting, everyone we talk to points to reforestation as a top priority for improving all aspects of the local environment. Even the highest levels of government in Nicaragua are supporting practices like crop diversification and shade grown coffee, which improves soil and watershed health while protecting farmers from crop failure. With more diversity, and less dependence on one crop, families can survive when diseases like La Roya hit.

Chachagua Nicaragua
The beautiful view from Don Jorge’s home in Chachagua, Nicaragua.

On our last morning with the family, we all gather around the kitchen fire drinking coffee. It’s been pouring rain all night, a welcome return of moisture after days of no rain (and it’s supposed to be the “rainy season” in Nicaragua). Damaris has prepared a chicken for us, an incredibly generous gesture for a family living at this level of poverty. Lucas takes this time to express our gratitude for their hospitality:

“We know it is a hard life out here. We recognize that and we want to support you in any way possible. To see a family that is so happy together and so welcoming to strangers like us has really touched our hearts. Thank you for letting us into your home.”

Jorge responds, with a smile, “No matter what, the most important thing in life really is happiness.”

Corporate Partners Spotlight: Counter Culture Coffee Goes Carbon Neutral

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Communications Coordinator

 

Counter Culture Coffee stands out for many reasons; it is a different kind of coffee company. They are dedicated to finding and bringing to market the most exciting, authentic, and delicious coffees in the world. Counter Culture approaches their work “with a passion for the ideal of coffee perfection, a dedication to real sustainability, and a commitment to cutting-edge education throughout the coffee chain.”

“Building a sustainable business is central to Counter Culture Coffee’s mission. We strive to be leaders in sustainable coffee and combine our commitment to buying high-quality coffee with respect for the natural environment.”

In 2009, Counter Culture Coffee started down the road of carbon neutrality by calculating the carbon footprint of Finca Mauritania’s coffee from seed to cup (read all about this journey here). They set a goal of going carbon neutral by 2015 and got to work. They enlisted Vancouver-based company, Climate Smart, to calculate their total annual emissions: 576 tonnes of greenhouse gas.

In 2011, we were excited to receive a call from Counter Culture about helping them offset their emissions through our clean cookstove projects. The idea of working directly with one of Counter Culture’s coffee cooperatives to build cookstoves was an ideal carbon offset opportunity and we were honored to help such a progressive company meet their sustainability goals.

Together, we will provide 76 COMSA Coffee Cooperative members in Marcala, La Paz, Honduras with clean cookstoves, saving these families a significant amount of money on fuelwood costs while, at the same time, greatly reducing indoor air pollution in their homes and deforestation rates in the area. Each Justa cookstove model that we build saves 1.5 tons of carbon emissions per year. Over the stove’s minimum projected lifespan of 5 years, that equates to 7.5 tons of carbon.

We look forward to working with Counter Culture Coffee well into the future and we are proud to be their offset partner, working together to meet an important carbon neutrality goal.

To learn more about Counter Culture Coffee’s sustainability programs click here.

Honduras Justa clean cookstove
From fuelwood and emissions studies conducted by independent monitors, each of TWP’s Justa clean cookstoves saves 1.5 tons of carbon emissions per year.