Sustainably minded. Coffee driven: Bettering the coffee community through farmer assistance programs and sustainability efforts to help coffee farmers at origin.
We wake up, grab a cup of coffee, enjoy and repeat as necessary. It’s such an ingrained habit and an integral part of our daily routines, that it’s easy to forget that the delicious liquid in our cups came from a plant in a far away land. Coffee is an agricultural product grown in underdeveloped regions of the world and as the global demand for coffee beans increases, it calls into question the sustainability of the industry and how it impacts the people and land at origin.
Our family started as coffee farmers in the southern mountains of Cuba. We were coffee growers first long before we became roasters. Our deep connection to the land is why we always honor the plant and the people that cultivate it. We recognize a need to support coffee farmers and increase sustainable practices of the coffee industry. Our family started getting involved at origin in 2003, when we launched our international outreach program to improve the livelihood of small coffee farmers and help them adapt to climate changes. In 2015, to further strengthen our sustainability efforts, we expanded them into what we call our Gaviña Direct Impact Initiative. This initiative has four areas of focus––dedication to farmers, sustainable sourcing, environmental sustainability and social stewardship. These pillars influence every business decision we make and our Direct Impact Initiative is our commitment to improve the livelihood of small coffee farmers at origin and empowering them to be more self-reliant, adapt to climate change, and preserve their land for future generations.
In 2013-2014, while coffee production in Guatemala suffered severe crop losses from roya infestation, or Coffee Leaf Rust, the small rural farming communities in Villa Canales saw as much as 50% of their crop destroyed by roya. Our goal was to promote a sustainable future for these coffee producers through increasing household income by 15% and inspiring the younger generation to innovate farming solutions for their communities. We committed to help Villa Canales coffee farmers by providing sustainable farming, technical assistance and educational resources to benefit 100 farmers and youth in the area. The Direct Impact project in Guatemala trains participants to employ sustainable farming methodologies while adopting best practices to generate better yields from their land resulting in higher income. The program also provides financial resources so that farmers will have access to the capital they need to improve their farming.
Several years ago, we partnered with delos Andes Cooperative and began building the La Chaparrala Wet Mill in Andes, Colombia. Our main goal with this project is to increase cash flow, improve quality of life for the coffee farmers and protect the environment. In Colombia, coffee cherries are usually wet milled and dried into parchment on the farms of individual farmers. If coffee cherries are not processed in the same day, it will affect the quality and quantity of the resulting parchment. Most farmers do not have water treatment equipment, so the contaminated processed water is released directly into the river, which is their main source of water supply. When the wet mill started accepting its first coffee cherries on April 1, 2019, farmers dropped off their harvested coffee cherries and received cash payment that same day with prices based on parchment equivalent price for their coffee cherries. Now the farmers can take care of their workers and have more time to spend with family since they no longer have to process the coffee and maintain their own wet mill. Directly benefiting 600 coffee farmers in the area, the wet mill is helping farmers shorten their workload, allowing them to spend more time with their families and focus on other skills in coffee, as well as drink cleaner water and breath cleaner air.
As the climate changes and the demand for coffee increases, our family is investing in every effort to leave a greener coffee footprint and help others do the same. From Guatemala to Colombia and beyond, Don Francisco’s Coffee is committed to promoting a culture of sustainability and improving the lives of coffee farmers, because supporting and protecting our coffee-growing communities creates a more promising future for us, them and you.