FAPECAFES is an umbrella organization of seven primary producer groups: APECAM, PROCAP, PROCAFEQ, APEOSAE, APECAEL, APECAP, and ACRIM. The co-op represents over 1650 families in the highlands. The co-op formed in 2002 after years of informal cooperation between farmers in the region.  In 2011 95% of the growers were farming 1 1⁄2 hectares of land or less with an average yield of six quintales (600 pounds) per hectare due to an extremely mature stock of coffee plants including Borbon, Caturra, Pacas and other heirloom varietals. Coffee is grown in a wide variety of microclimates with altitudes spanning between 800 and 2000 meters. In 2011 83% of the farms are certified organic through BCS, USDA and JAS. Each of the seven primary associations has a cupper on staff who is responsible for coffee quality and integrity.  FAPECAFES has two cuppers on staff that sample and confirm the results of the coffee they receive from the primary co-ops.  FAPECAFES farmers invest in planting fruit trees to provide shade for coffee plants These include banana, orange, lime, papaya, yucca and others. This not only allows them to grow food for consumption or market, but also provides a habitat for birds and other animals. FAPECAFES is purchasing wet mills and building greenhouse-type coffee drying facilities in the communities where the famers live to improve quality and to maximize possible output through organic production. In addition to coffee, FEPECAFES farmers produce organic products such as honey and other bee products, chile, and bananas. They work toward phytosanitary conditions on farms, on crop diversification projects, and prohibit the use agrochemicals.  They became FLO fair trade certified in 2002. 

Uganda, Gumitindo 

Founded in 1998

Comprised of 7,000 members

Mount Elgon Region

Organic; FLO

1000 – 1900 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Catimor varietals

Medium acidity, full body, cedar and dark chocolate flavors

Located on and around Mount Elgon, a large volcanic mountain spanning a chunk of the border between Uganda and Kenya, the farmers of Gumutindo produce high quality arabica coffee at altitudes up to 1,900 meters above sea level. The cooperative is a farmer-owned business comprised of ten different “primary societies” (community based organizations) and representing more than 7,000 farmers.  After losing its foothold in the international market in the early 1990s, it became very difficult for Ugandan coffee farmers to find sales outlets for their high quality beans. The dismantling of the country’s coffee industry had created a hostile environment for foreign importers – and Uganda became known as a high volume, lower grade source. But in 1998, a handful of farmers joined a collective effort to re-establish Uganda’s commitment to quality coffee and cooperative structures. And by 1999, some 200 farmers had gathered around the leadership of their founding General Manager Willington Wamayeye. And with the support of U.K.-based fair-trader / developer TWIN Trading, they were able to consolidate a functioning organization.  Since then, Gumutindo has expanded significantly in membership and capacity. They now boast a professional staff, team of agronomists, technicians and cuppers, as well as having constructed their own offices, warehouse, and sorting room.  Gumutindo has become an important motor for development in the Mount Elgon region, having revitalized its primary societies, increased the quality of coffee exports, instilled organic values and practices among its farmer members, and incorporated the voice of women in both its organizational and agricultural development. Appealing to the demands of specialty coffee markets, the coop analyzes and sorts all of its collected coffee according to quality, allowing importers to discern and select which coffees would best suit their market. Fair Trade has allowed the primary societies to build stores, offices, and a medical clinic for the village’s inhabitants. Gumutindo members hope to continue their growth through transparent and mutually beneficial trade partnerships:  “We seek to develop long term relationships based on mutual commitment and loyalty, with buyers who are ready to work with us as our farmer membership, coffee quality and volumes increase,” says Marketing and Exports Manager Lydia Nabulumbi.  Coop Coffees imported our first container of Gumutindo coffee in 2009. Since then, roasters have appreciated the consistent quality and healthy communication between organizations. And looking forward to our 2014 arrivals, we should be reaching our 500,000th pound mark.   

Democratic Republic of Congo, Sopacdi  

The first coffee in the DR Congo to achieve top national grade – Kivu 2 – since 1967 Specialty fully-washed arabica coffee Organic certification FLO certification number 26275 Main harvest from March to June; fly crop from September to October Shipments from June to December Altitude 1460m to over 2000 metres above sea level . SOPACDI represents over 5600 farmers from different ethnic groups in the Kivu Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, producing some of the finest coffee in Africa.  After years of conflict and civil war, their coffee promotes working together for a better future.  It is a time of great change and hope for us. Many farmers had to leave their land for safety during the conflict years. Before farmers had no choice but to sell their coffee to smugglers or smuggle it themselves across Lake Kivu into Rwanda. It was very dangerous and many farmers lost their lives. Eleven years ago a group of farmers came together to look for a way forward.  They decided that producing and marketing the finest coffee was the answer. They experimented, and were able to produce just a few tons in the beginning. They found their first buyer in 2008, who was amazed by the quality of their coffee. Since then, the momentum has been building and they have begun renovating farms, and have achieved international fairtrade and organic certifications. Many families have returned to their homes and have joined the cooperative.    Around 20% of their coffee farmers are women, many of them are widows whose husbands drowned smuggling coffee to barter for food and everyday essentials.   Sopacdi’s female members receive a price premium for coffee delivered to the cooperative. The solidarity and price premiums will enable them to provide for their families. 

Ethiopia, Banko Gotiti

Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia

Organic; FLO

1,600-2,300 meter

Indigenous heirloom cultivars, Full natural and dried on raised beds     

Very pronounced cherry and decidedly sweet aroma.  Flavors of lemon combined with cherry.  Particularly clean and sweet.   Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 3 FTO Banko Gotiti GrainPro coffee is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Banko Gotiti Cooperative located in the village of Banko Gotiti in the southern district of Gedeb in the Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia. The cooperative was established in 2012 as a separate entity from the larger Worka Cooperative, and currently has approximately 300 members. Banko Gotiti Cooperative is well known for the best coffee cherry selection in Ethiopia. Ripe cherries are carefully selected and immediately placed on raised beds carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control for an optimal drying process.  Cherries are also turned regularly on the beds to prevent damage during the drying process.  The cherries are stored in a local warehouse after the moisture is reduced to between 11.5 and 12 percent, and then transported to Addis Ababa where the coffee is milled and exported.    

Ethiopia, Idido

Member  of  YCFCU  District  of  Yirgacheffe  Yirgacheffe  region   Member  of  YCFCU  since  2006   1650  farmers  members   1  ha  per  farmer   Altitude:  1800  to  2400  m   Varietals:  Heirloom   Idido  cooperative  is  very  often  mentioned  as  one  of  the  YCFCU  cooperative  that  delivers  the  best  quality.  We  have  been  buying  from  this  cooperative  in  2013  and  2014.  YCFCU  can  guarantee  us  a  full  container  from  this  cooperative  and  this  year  maybe  a  second  one.  This  cooperative  is  on  the  same  terroir  as  Negele  Gorbitu  our  former  partner  through  OCFCU.  In  2014  the  cooperative  shipped  out  the  equivalent  of  3  containers  of  washed  coffee  and  1  container  of  natural.  All  the  washed  coffee  was  scored  by  ECX  within  grade  1  or  2.  All  the  Natural  was  scored  within  grade  2  or  3.  In  2015  the  cooperative  expects  to  ship  out  the  equivalent  of  9  containers  in  total  which  is  3  times  what  they  did  in  2014.  They  are  adding  up  300  members  this  year  and  the  yields  will  be  higher  than  last  year.  In  2014  the  farmers  received  12  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg  of  cherries  as  a  first  price  then  a  second  price  of  1  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg.  In  2015  they  expect  to  get  13  to  15  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg  of  cherries.  The  cooperative  only  owns  one  washing  station.  The  place  looked  very  unorganized  during  our  visit.  When  I  say  that  I  mean  we  could  not  really  identify  the  workers  versus  the  people  from  outside  coming  for  our  visit  (out  of  curiosity).  The  pulping  machine  was  broken  and  they  had  cherries  from  the  previous  day  all  around  the  washing  station.  They  told  us  they  would  use  it  for  natural  coffee  into  the  second  processing  unit  only  for  natural.  The  water  in  the  fermenting  tanks  was  very  dirty.  They  said  they  change  the  water  every  12  hours  during  fermenting  but  to  be  honest  it  did  not  look  to  be  the  case.  Another  problem  is  that  coffee  in  the  soaking  tanks  was  covered.  They  explained  us  that  because  of  the  lack  of  space  onto  primary  drying  tables,  they  had  to  keep  the  coffee  in  the  soaking  time  for  more  than  12  hours  so  they  cover  the  tanks  in  order  for  the  coffee  to  not  heat  too  much.  Sorters  (women)  are  paid  20  Ethiopian  birr  per  day  (1$US)  and  washer  (men)  are  paid  32  Ethiopian  birr  per  day.    

Ethiopia, Hama

Member  of  YCFCU  District  of  Kochere  Yirgacheffe  region   Member  of  YCFCU  since  2007   1605  farmers  members   0.8  ha  per  farmer   Altitude:  2000  to  2500  m   Varietals:  Heirloom   Hama  was  a  very  pleasant  surprise  in  the  end  of  our  visit.  The  cooperative  is  very  well  located  in  Kochere  district.  The  view  of  Hama  village  from  the  cooperative  washing  station  is  beautiful.  All  Hama  members  who  were  in  the  washing  station  on  time  we  arrived  looked  very  involved  in  the  meeting  and  very  pleased  to  receive  our  visit.  The  feeling  was  very  positive  at  this  time.  In  2014  the  cooperative  shipped  the  equivalent  of  2  containers  of  washed  coffee  and  a  third  of  a  unwashed  container.  In  2015,  they  are  making  a  full  natural  container  for  us  (special  grade  3  prep)  and  they  expect  to  ship  the  equivalent  of  6  washed  containers.  They  mentioned  that  doing  the  natural  special  preparation  is  not  an  issue  for  them  and  they  like  doing  it  for  us.  In  2014  the  farmers  received  12  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg  of  cherries  as  a  first  price  then  a  second  price  of  1  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg.  In  2015  they  expect  to  get  13  to  15  Ethiopian  birr  per  kg  of  cherries.  The  cooperative  owns  one  washing  station  and  another  processing  unit  where  they  only  receive,  dry  and  mill  natural  coffee.  The  place  we  visited  is  the  washing  station.  It  looked  much  more  organized  than  what  we  saw  in  Idido  or  Biloya.  The  water  in  the  tanks  still  did  not  look  very  fresh  but  still  better  than  in  Idido  and  Biloya.  The  sorters  teams  were  well  organized  and  washers  as  well.  During  our  visit  the  secretary  mentioned  that  they  decided  to  join  with  YCFCU  in  order  to  get  access  to  a  market  that  is  more  focused  on  quality  and  also  in  order  to  receive  some  support  to  produce  a  better  quality  coffee.  Sorters  (women)  are  paid  25  Ethiopian  birr  per  day  (1$US)  and  we  did  not  get  this  data  for  washers  (men).      

Ethiopia, Yirgacheffe

YCFCU  is  really  working  to  be  proactive  in  term  of  promoting  quality  and  getting  higher  prices  for  their  coffees.  They  are  setting  up  some  measures  that  are  supposed  to  increase  the  quality  of  the  coffee  they  ship  to  their  customer, which include premiums based on grade delivered. YCFCU  is  holding  a  cooperatives  scorecard  that  puts  the  cooperatives  into  3  different  categories  :  -­‐ Category  1  :  These  cooperatives  are  the  most  consistent  in  regard  to  quality,  but  also  the  ones  that  are  dedicated  to  the  Union  and  the  one  that  are  getting  a  higher  demand  from  buyers.  What I call  the  «  hype  »  cooperatives.  In  this  category  we  find  Idido,  Adado,  Hafursa,  Konga,  Worka,  BankoGotiti,  and  Adame.  -­‐ Category  2  :  The  cooperatives  are  showing  good  signs  of  development  with  a  very  decent  quality  and  some  positive  signs  in  term  of  loyalty  to  the  Union.  In  this  category  we  find  Biloya,  Hama,  or  Arramo  (and  many  more).  -­‐ Category  3  :  These  cooperatives  are  the  ones  that  just  started  working  with  YCFCU  or  the  ones  that  are  not  really  demanded  by  the  market. YCFCU  exported  100  containers  in  the  last  season  (13-­‐14).  They  plan  to  export  220  containers  in  14-­‐15.  This  increase  is  due  to  a  better  harvest.  YCFCU  is  now  processing  its  coffee  into  its  own  processing  facility  in  Addis.  They  still  have  no  lab  yet  and  are  sometimes  using  SCFCU  lab.    

Ethiopia, Telamo

Member of  SCFCU  District  of  Shebedino   Sidama  region  

Member  of  SCFCU  since  2010  (2002  Ethiopian  Calendar)   

4000  farmers  members   

0,5  to  3,5  ha  per  farmer   

Altitude:  1800  to  1900  m   

Varietals:  Heirloom   

Telamo  cooperative  decided  to  join  SCFCU  in  2010  in  order  to  get  access  to  the  market  through  a  very  transparent  and  open  book  organization.  In  addition  to  the  market  access  support  the  Union  is  also  providing  financial  support  to  the  cooperative  as  well  as  technical  support  to  improve  farming  practices  and  processing  practices  as  well.  Telamo  farmers  and  staff  are  working  together  in  order  to  deliver  to  their  Union  a  very  high  quality  coffee.  The  cooperative  owns  4  washing  stations  and  1  processing  unit  for  natural  coffee.  The  one  we  visited  is  for  natural  coffee.  It  shows  drying  tables  to  dry  red  cherries.  The  other  processing  units  have  a  washing  station  to  process  washed  coffee.  In  the  natural  coffee  processing  unit  the  cherries  layer  in  the  table  was  very  thin  and  the  cherries  selection  was  very  decent  as  well.  There  are  two  staff  per  table  (25  m)  to  turn  cherries  around  and  guarantee  a  proper  drying  of  all  cherries.  December  is  the  best  time  to  dry  cherries.  At  this  time  of  the  year  the  weather  is  always  very  dry.  In  these  conditions  it  lasts  20  days  to  dry  the  cherries  and  have  it  ready  to  be  hulled.  The  cooperative  also  owns  a  huller  for  dried  cherries  hulling.  It  shakes  the  cherries  first  to  remove  any  foreign  material  then  it  hulled  the  cherries.  The  final  step  in  the  machine  is  to  shake  again  the  beans  in  order  to  separate  broken  beans  and  light  beans  (floaters  and  immature).  In  2015  the  cooperative  expects  to  ship  the  equivalent  of  3  containers  of  natural  and  to  shipe  the  equivalent  of  10  containers  of  washed  coffee.        

Ethiopia, Fero

Member of SCFCU District of Wonsho Siadama region  

Member of SCFCU since 2005  

4164 farmers members  

0,5 ha per farmer 

Altitude: 1800 to 1900 m

Varietals: Heirloom  

Fero cooperative is very often mentioned as the most successful cooperative in the whole country. The cooperative receives is well known for being very transparent to its members and to provide a very solid technical support to its members on the farming front as well as on the processing front. The industry manager (quality manager) of the main washing station is Teshome Debiso. He is really on top of the processing unit and is a very good advisor for all staff working at both cherries washing and on drying tables. He is also on site every night to carefully control the cherries selection of daily deliveries coming from the 16 collecting centers that the coop owns. Pulping machine is very well calibrated. However, the cooperative is also implementing a brand new Pinhalense eco pulper that was provided by Technoserve. Staff onto the washing site are paid 24 Ethiopian birr per day (1.05 $us). All of them are men. Staff on sorting/drying tables are paid 20 Ethiopian birr per day (1 $us). All of them are women. In 2014 Fero shipped the equivalent of 16 containers. In 2015 the cooperative expects to ship the equivalent of 20 containers. 

Ethiopia, Sidama

Founded in 2001

Comprised of 80,000 members

Sidama Region      

Organic; FLO

1700 -1950 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Heirloom

Citric acidity, full body, and lasting flavors of  lemon zest, bergamot and bitter cocoa

Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU) was founded in 2001 to represent coffee producing cooperatives located throughout the Sidama Zone of southern Ethiopia both locally and in international markets. Today, SCFCU has grown to represent 46 cooperatives and more than 80,000 small-scale farmer families — making SCFCU the second largest Coffee Farmer Cooperative Union in Ethiopia.  Coffees produced by SCFCU member cooperatives are shade grown in low densities under the canopies of indigenous trees and enset (false banana), a staple food crop for Sidama families. The Sidama region stretches across the rugged mountains of Bensa to the valleys of Dale and Aleta Wendo – which provide a range of quality profiles that exemplify this wealth of production landscapes.  Sidama washed coffees show pronounced acidity, fruit flavors varying from red fruits to blueberry and sweet organic to tangy lemon aromas and flavors, medium body and a bitter cocoa finish. In Sidama regions of higher altitudes – often called “Yirgacheffe type” coffees – the coffee shows the characteristic and delicate flavors of bergamot and lemon zest.  Sidamo natural process (unwashed) provides a quality profile with candied strawberry or blueberry fruit flavors, low acidity and rich, full body.  Coop Coffees began sourcing directly from SCFCU in 2009. Since then, we have had the opportunity to develop direct relationships with several of the SCFCU community based cooperatives over the years, including Shilcho, Homacho Waeno, Talamo, Bona, Abela Galuko and Fero Cooperatives.  Overall, Sidama Union produces some 10,000 tons of high quality Organic Arabica beans per year, of which nearly 95% is washed. SCFCU has been certified by Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) since 2003, supporting their role as the bridge to develop producer-buyer relations and direct export OF members’ extraordinary, high quality coffee to international, gourmet markets.  

Sumatra, Permata Gayo

Founded in 2006

Comprised of 2000 members

Bener Meriah, Aceh      

Organic; FLO; SPP

1200 – 1600 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Timtim, Ateng Super, Catimor (Hybrid of Caturra and Timtim)

Medium acidity, big body, earthy, leather, green pepper, red fruits

Rising abruptly from the coastal plains of Sumatra’s northern-most province, the mountains of Aceh Tengah (Central Aceh) are the historical home to the Gayonese people. The ideal growing conditions of this region have supported the long history and unique quality reputation of “Gayo Mountain” coffee.  Most coffee grown in this area has followed a similar, traditional route: the farmer sells his coffee cherry to “collectors” at the going street price – who in turn de-pulp, wash and dry the coffee to asalan, or 20% humidity in parchment, before selling it to a centralized buyer in Takengon. The commercial buyers in turn negotiate a price with an exporter and truck the coffee down the mountain to the southern province of North Sumatra. Final processing occurs in the commercial plants in the coastal city of Medan, before shipping it out of the port at Belewan. In this scenario, the individual farmer rarely knows at what price his coffee was finally sold, or where it will end up.  Permata Gayo was founded in 2006 in the Bener Meriah district of the Aceh Province, with the intention of changing history. In bringing the full process from farmer to final export under one roof, Permata Gayo is able to regain more control over each step of the way to improve quality, communications and direct sales, and to achieve their ultimate objective – sharing a bigger portion of the final price back to the farmers themselves.  Cooperative Coffees began importing coffee from Permata in 2009. During these short five years, we have already seen incredible strides forward by members and staff to strengthen their internal structures and continually improve their quality control. With 36 villages and distinct processing centers, it is a constant challenge to maintain consistency. However, during our annual visits to Sumatra, we have seen well-equipped facilities, clean fermentation tanks, well- calibrated de-pulping machines, expanded drying patios, and a marked improvement in the attention given to coffee processing each step along the way: from cherry collection to final sorting and lot selection. Permata Gayo farmers are well informed about market expectations and are proud to know where their coffee is sold and of roaster and customer appreciation of their efforts.  For Coop Coffees, Permata Gayo coffee has quickly become one of our most important offerings. With a characteristic quality profile of medium acidity, sweet and earthy flavors with hints of green pepper and dark walnut, a syrupy, full body and long, lingering finish, this is a popular coffee as single origin and an irreplaceable element in many of our members’ roasted blends.  

Peru, Sol Y Cafe 

 Founded in 2008

Comprised of 1020 members

San Ignacio, Jaen and Cajamarca

Organic; FLO; SPP

900 – 2050 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra

Catuai, Pacche, Mondonovo

Medium acidity, full body, dried raisin, dark cocao and red fruits

Sol y Café was founded in 2005, with support from the Caritas Jaen technical team. They quickly moved to acquire the necessary organic and sustainable trading certificates to sell into North America and Europe and grew from their initial 27 clusters of producer base groups to more than 60 producer associations bringing together some 1,000 farmer families. They continue to share an office space in the Caritas complex in Jaen, where they maintain a small warehouse and quality control lab.  Sol y Café has followed a steady growth plan, sticking to clear and strictly applied membership criteria. Members are expected to actively participate in the development of their cooperative and to contribute to its growth, by bringing in at least 51% of their estimated harvest.  Producers requesting membership into the coop need the visto bueno of existing members within that particular community. Or, if the applicant comes from a community not yet associated to Sol y Café, he or she will be visited by the producer board of directors president, to assure that the candidate comes with the intentions of becoming a contributing cooperative member and dedicated to producing high-quality, organic coffee.  Their strict criteria seem to be paying off. Sol y Café achieves export levels around 80% of their total collective harvest; and members show regularly as top finishers in quality competitions held nationally and abroad. Classic Sol y Café cupping notes include: jasmine floral fragrances, sweet tropical fruit, honey vanilla and caramel flavors, balanced with crisp acidity and a creamy, full body.  In order to support their members in production yields, Sol y Café has proactively supported field experimentation that demonstrates, after a three-year transition process, volumes doubling with totals up to 40qq per hectare. Sol y Cafe is now implementing a 300-hectare renovation plan with all members, in order to replicate those production levels more broadly across their zone of influence.  We began importing from Sol y Café only a few short seasons ago. However, due to the excellent communication, coffee quality and services to their members, Sol y Café has quickly become a solid and integral member of the Coop Coffees producer partner network.  


Founded in 1999

Comprised of 2000 members

San Ignacio, Jaen, Cajamarca regions      

Organic; FLO

1000 – 1900 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra

Crisp acidity, medium body w/ milk chocolate, dried fruits, honey and caramel flavors

CENFROCAFE 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, 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.”  We 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.  

Nicaragua, CECOCAFEN

Founded in 1999

Comprised of 2600 members

Matagalpa and surrounding regions

Organic; FLO; SPP

900 – 1500 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra

Crisp acidity, medium body w/ milk chocolate, dried fruits, honey and caramel flavors

CECOCAFEN, the Central Association of Northern Coffee Cooperatives, was founded in 1997 with initial investments from their 500 producer members and financing support from international lending organizations in order to export their first containers. Today, CECOCAFEN represents some 2,600 farmer families in twelve community based cooperatives, with more than 100 container-loads of coffee exports per year.  As a unique umbrella organization in the region, CECOCAFEN’s raison d’être is to support members’ production capacity and to promote and sell its members’ coffee in direct and fair trade export contracts to these coveted international niche markets.  CECOCAFEN, with their expert quality control staff in the SolCafé processing plant and cupping lab, offers producer members quality assessments and advice for continual improvements to production and processing practices. With producing communities located in the mountains of Matagalpa, Jinotega and Las Segovias, renowned for rich volcanic soils, high altitudes, and a humid tropical climate – CECOCAFEN members are well positioned to produce consistently high-quality coffees with unique flavor profiles from each of the regions.  Over the course of our 12-year relationship with CECOCAFEN and its cooperative members, we have witnessed the growth and development of their organization. We have worked together to: organize some of our initial region-wide producer and roaster exchange events; source special profile coffee lots to meet our members’ needs; and support each other through the ever-changing landscape of specialty, organic and fair trade markets.  In addition to the smooth operations that have put more than 2.6 million pounds of coffee on the water and eventually to Coop Coffees roasters’ docks, CECOCAFEN has successfully supported local development of their communities through eco-tourism initiatives, a micro-lending program for women entrepreneurs, youth education scholarships from primary up to university levels and many social and cultural activities.  The foundation of their operational success rests upon staying focused on three basic elements: producing a quality coffee; establishing programs for ecological practices; and offering equitable opportunities for integrated development of their members’ communities. During visits to the region, we consistently witness these elements reinforcing each other in the field.  

Mexico, Yachil

Founded in 2001

Comprised of 800 members

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Organic    1000-1300 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Caturra,

Typica    Medium acidity, medium body w/ dried cherry fruit notes and chocolate finish

Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan, which means “new light in the sky” in the Tzeltal language, was founded in 2001 with an initial 383 small-scale coffee farmer members from the Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan indigenous communities in the municipalities of Chilon, Pantelho and San Juan Cancuc. A defining characteristic of Yachil membership is their progressive, political position of solidarity with the Zapatista movement, struggling for autonomy and respect for Indigenous rights.  Coffee is one of the few viable export options for small-scale farmers in Chiapas, and in particular for Yachil farmers, who do not accept any financial support from the Mexican government. The sale of their coffee is their primary source of income.  Yachil exported its first lot of coffee to solidarity buyers in Germany in 2003, and their first organic certified lots to Coop Coffees roasters in Canada and the USA in 2005. Since then, Yachil has worked hard to expand its volumes and sales in both solidarity and gourmet markets across Europe and in North America.  Today, Yachil is comprised of some 800 members in eight municipalities ( Pantelhó, San Juan Cancuc, Chenalhó, Tenejapa, Chalchihuitán, Aldama (Magdalena de La Paz), Simojovel (16 de Febrero) and El Bosque (San Juan de La Libertad) across Chiapas, with annual exports of more than 130 tons of high quality, green coffee.  With the profits from their sales, Yachil members have invested in improving the individual wet processing equipment in their communities, constructing a central warehouse to assure safer storage of parchment coffee prior to export, providing on-going technical workshops to members in organic practices and organizational leadership, and in trainings for the rotating Yachil producer Board of Directors in topics such as: basic accounting, cooperative administration and export, as well as improving their understanding of all necessary steps to assure consistent quality control and improvement.  Despite their many accomplishments, Yachil farmers continue to live under a cloak of uncertainty. Members of this cooperative have formed their own local Indigenous governments, supporting development in keeping with their values and traditions, and promoting democracy, equality, and empowerment. Over the last decade of resistance, members of Yachil have suffered repression at the hands of government security forces and the paramilitary. Many members and their families have been forced to flee their communities and continue to live as internal refugees, victims of political oppression and intimidation.  

Honduras, COMSA 

Founded in 2001

Comprised of 620 members

Marcala, Honduras

Organic; FLO; SPP

1200-1600 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Catuai, Caturra, Lempira, Pacas

Citric acidity, medium body, honey, mango and bitter chocolate flavors

Café Orgánico Marcala (COMSA) was founded in December of 2001 with a vision of creating new and alternative development opportunities for small-scale coffee farmers in the region. The organization originally brought together 69 small-scale farmers of Lenca origin who were interested in selling their coffee collectively under the umbrella of a rural credit union.  At that time, the predominant production system in the region used conventional (chemical) practices and sold to the local coyotes, often at prices that did not even cover their production costs. One of the primary founding objectives of COMSA was to seek out and promote new ways of thinking – both in production, moving from conventional to organic production; and in markets, moving from commercial to specialty buyers.  In the beginning the challenges were enormous, as transitioning from conventional to organic practices can cause dramatic drops in production yields. Many members became discouraged and dropped out of the organization. In response, the COMSA BoD and technical team looked for new methods of intensive organics to support their transition and established a strategic alliance with the Corporación Educativa para el Desarrollo Costarricense – CEDECO.  With CEDECO’s support, staff and members of COMSA learned new and innovative practices to transform their lands into integrated organic farms – promoting soil and water conservation, and the preservation of local plant and wildlife. Meanwhile, members began to see improvements in coffee yields, better family relationships and rapid growth in membership for COMSA.  With their initial successes, members became more and more open to experimentation with innovative organic practices. Their organic evolution is as follows: 2001 – use of organic materials, 2006 – application of micro-organisms in compost; 2010 -exploring the use of minerals; 2012 – production of fermented live solutions; 2013 – strengthening the grey matter (brainpower) of their technical team, members and strong educational program with their youth and women’s groups.  Last season COMSA exported some 53,000qq (140 containers) of high quality green coffee, with the unique regional characteristics of Marcala: medium body and pronounced acidity, and nuances of floral, lemongrass, peach, wild berries, etc. This coming harvest, COMSA expects exports to approach 100,000qq (240,000).  In order to assure best quality control, COMSA now manages their own wet and dry processing plants and are organic certified with Biolatina and export under FLO, SPP, Denominación de Origen Marcala (DOP) and UTZ.   

Mexico, Maya Vinic 

Founded in 1999

Comprised of 500 members

The highlands of Chiapas (Acteal)

Organic; FLO

900-1400 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Typica, Caturra,

Mundo Novo, Bourbon    Citric acidity, medium body, milk chocolate, almond, honey flavors

The Cooperative “Producers’ Union Maya Vinic” is comprised of some 500 coffee farming families located in 38 highland communities in the municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico. Each member has on average one hectare of coffee and produces about 400 kilos annually. Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Maya Vinic operates with a respect for local language and culture, and a reverence for Mother Earth and traditional forms of self government.  The founding members of Maya Vinic come out of the base organization “Las Abejas” – a network of Liberation Theology catechists in the region. They envisioned the cooperative in the aftermath of the 1997 Acteal massacre, where 45 of their members were caught in the political cross-fire of the era. The day of their funeral, survivors and sympathizers arrived each carrying a brick – which would be used to build a mausoleum to commemorate their dead. Yet it wasn’t until three years later, with the birth of Maya Vinic that they were able to create the foundation for new life in the community.  The founding members worked hard: organizing, training, reclaiming the land, composting, pruning, communicating… both to locals for support and externally for a fair market – all looking for a better alternative to the life they had just come from.  Striving to offer a consistently high-quality coffee, raised with care and respect for their natural resources — the coop offers their producer members regular educational and capacity-building activities focused on sustainable farming techniques and the importance of a strong social economy. Maya Vinic in the cup has a classic Chiapas profile, with medium body, bright acidity and balanced with sweet, deep flavors of caramel, dark chocolate and spices… and a hint of fruit.  As a collective initiative to improve the living situations of their farmers, Maya Vinic understands that in addition to producing great coffee for our roaster members, they must also provide even greater economic benefit to their producers. They strive constantly to support dignified livelihoods and living conditions through the production and marketing of their green coffee as well as roasted coffee sales across Mexico and through their producer managed coffee-shop located in San Cristobal de Las Casas.  Coop Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2002. Now some 12 years later, we celebrate one of our longest standing relationships anticipating the landing of our 1.5 millionth pound of coffee from them this season.  

El Salvador, Las Marias

Founded in 1993

Comprised of 63 members

Canton Las Marias, Usulutan

Organic; FLO

600-900 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Bourbon, Pacas

 Mild acidity, full body w/ earthy, spice and cocoa flavors

Las Marias 93 is one of the positive and constructive results of the negotiated 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords – ending decades of brutal civil war in El Salvador. As a part of these accords, this group of former combatants was able to purchase a piece of land in 1993 and Las Maria 93 cooperative was formed to help their communities move beyond their turbulent past. With a commitment to organic and sustainable farming, today 39 of their members are included in the Organic Program. The remaining members do not use chemicals in their production, but have not yet been organic certified. Their objective is to include all members in intensive organic practices.  Las Marias 93 facilities include an ecological wet processor, drying patios and an industrial dry processor. They have also installed “eco-depulping machines” – which have reduced their water consumption from 124 gallons to 38 gallons per quintal and has reduced their electrical consumption by half; created a central organic compost production site; and maintain a nursery with a growing capacity of up to 25,000 coffee trees. The trees were purchased by the National Coffee Council to be distributed to coffee growers across the country as a program to revitalize productivity in El Salvador.  They now have a permanent Internet access in their office and have set up a cyber café, thanks to funds they have earned via a long-standing exchange and delegation-hosting program they have established with a college in Washington D.C. The cyber café is run by a youth group organized within the coop, and is working with the local school and receive groups of students for training throughout the week. Las Marias 93 is also developing a rural tourism project and attempting to create a living history museum focused on the region, the Civil War and the 1992 Peace Accords. As part of another community and income diversification project, Las Marias 93 has also developed a solid, local roasted coffee market and has opened a roadside coffee shop / snack counter that is gaining popularity.  Yet despite their impressive accomplishments, Las Marias 93 has been one of the most hard-hit organizations within our producer network by the dreaded leaf rust that has swept through the region. Las Marias 93 General Manager Porfirio Diaz estimates that up to 80 percent of all production has been damaged by the fungus and the entire organization is in an intensive 5-year recovery plan. In the meantime, what little production they have in the coming harvest, is being dedicated to maintain their local roasted coffee sales.  We imported our first container from Las Marias 93 in 2009. And although the cooperative will most like not have exportable production for the next year or two, we will stay in communication to help in any way possible their recovery. Stay tuned, as we track their field renovation and are able to bring their fine coffee back up to our markets!  

Colombia, Fondo Paez

Founded in 1992

Comprised of 550 members

Department of Cauca

Organic; FLO; SPP

1300-1900 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Typica, Castillo

Bright acidity, full body w/ raisin, apricot, honey blossom and brown sugar flavors

Located in the remote, highland regions of Cauca, the Paez (who also call themselves Nasa, or “the people”) is the largest indigenous group in Colombia. Fondo Paez was founded in 1992, with the primary goal of recuperating traditional agricultural knowledge and indigenous culture which had been buried by centuries of conflict and oppression.  The main cash crop of this region is still coffee. Therefore, to ensure a stable income for their members, Fondo Paez proposed a cooperative of community based coffee farmer associations. By 2000, they were sufficiently self-organized to be selling coffee through the Coffee Federation’s Specialty Coffee program. Today they are active members of the fair trade community and process, market, and export their coffee via the regional plant at ExpoCosurca, but maintain full independence in their internal decision-making process. They are governed democratically with final decision-making powers at the general assembly of member delegates, and the day to day work distributed between the producer board of directors and production, organizational, internal credit and external marketing committees run by the members themselves.  Quality control is an art unto itself within Fondo Paez. Prior to their harvest, running from early June through late August in the majority of their growing regions, Fondo Paez promoters visit each member to review production results and to encourage best picking, handling and wet processing practices. Their efforts to date have definitely paid off.  Fondo Paez coffee is characterized by pungent flavors of raisin, apricot and fresh berries, honeysuckle and vanilla aromas, bright acidity and silky full body; and their coffee continues to win recognition and awards as a 90+ coffee in both local and international cupping competitions.  But that is not to say that the path is clear for Fondo Paez farmers. Climate change increasingly wreaks havoc on their harvests, with unseasonable rains, heat waves and, as in so much of Latin America, severe leaf rust, also known as the dreaded roya. Fondo Paez suffered the brunt of this infestation some four years ago. But their members are only now coming back with full production levels. In the meantime, these have been challenging years. Many families have depended upon other crops and products such as corn, potatoes, beans, a variety of root vegetables, cows’ milk and cheese, and the manufacturing of panela; a bi-product of sugar cane to complement what little coffee sales they had, while working their field renovations towards full coffee production recovery.  We began importing from Fondo Paez in 2004. Since then, we have purchased more than 2 million pounds of their fine coffee and have followed their development closely – both with site visits and regular communication, as well as offering roaster and staff support as they worked through a very tough time with their production and field renovation.  We are inspired to see the extent to which Fondo Paez has created a sustainable vision for their indigenous communities. This is remarkable in and of itself, but the work and successes of this organization are truly extraordinary when viewed within the context of Colombian politics and globalization. From Spanish conquest centuries ago to the armed conflict raging in their territory for the past 40 years, the Paez people continue to struggle for their lives and livelihoods, their land, and their rights to self-determination.  

Bolivia, Cooperativa Mejillones   

Founded in 1988

Comprised of 85 members

Calama, Caranavi

Organic; FLO; SPP

1350 – 1700 meters above sea level      

Arabica – Typica, Caturra

Medium acidity, full body, cocao, sweet almond and ripe berry flavors

The Mejillones cooperative was founded May 8, 1988 when the original 20 farmer members came together to promote organic practices and quality coffee production in the region. Today with 85 members, Mejillones is well positioned to sell into national and international fair trade and organic markets – now with an average annual production level of some 3,750,000 pounds of exportable, green coffee.  Quality improvement and control has been a cornerstone in Mejillones development. Mejillones Commercial Manager Marcial Huanca is certified as a Q-grader and has judged at Cup of Excellence and Cup of Fair Trade competitions previously held in Bolivia. He has actively promoted internal competitions at Mejillones in order to promote best practices and internal learning amongst members.  Their efforts have paid off. With dark fruit, fig and dark chocolate flavors, sweet and pleasant acidity and a thick, creamy body, the Mejillones’ classic cup profile tends to be a top finisher in national competitions  Given that the Caranavi region underwent a relatively recent land reform – farmers here have relatively large plots. On average, Mejillones producers own 4-8 hectares of land, with much of that dedicated to coffee. Wet processing is done individually on site. And once the coffee parchment has been fully sun-dried on patios, the producers will bring their sacks to the Mejillones central warehouse in Calama. When a container load is ready for processing, a truck is dispatched to transport the parchment coffee to the Mejillones dry processing plant in El Alto, La Paz.  Nearly 90 percent of Fair Trade premiums earned at Mejillones have been invested in the purchase and maintenance of this plant in El Alto, further enhancing both their organizational autonomy and their quality control. Now with proven quality, and with Fair Trade and Small-Farmer Symbol certifications, Mejillones is well positioned to sell into specialty and fair trade markets alike.  The remaining 10 percent of Fair Trade premiums goes towards the purchase of organic components and for education and training going towards Mejillones members’ composting and soil management regimes.  Our partnership with Mejillones began only a few short years ago. But we are encouraged and enthusiastically looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship into the future!