Monday, April 23, 2007

Personal Relationships

It is the personal relationship with the growers that makes the difference. They are proud of their small hectars of mountain coffee. They are also so appreciative of a relationship that pays them a fair price for their beans. These photographs hardly do justice to the tears of appreciation and the friendships formed without language but with love.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Fund Raiser for non-profit

Nothing but the best! Earth Friendly imports wholesale, at greater than "Fair Trade" prices, the best beans. Roasted in Guatemala, some by the indigenous people themselves, the fresh-roasted coffee is flown next day to Denver, Anchorage and to volume buyers for resale. A non-profit organization can sell as a fund raiser -- supporting its own worthy goals.

This is gourmet coffee at a reasonable price, but more important it is a social mission, supporting the impoverished mountain farmers with their wonderful crop. This social entrepreneurship gives added value every inch of the way along the supply chain -- to the consumer.

Additionaly, 2% of all Catholic sales go CRS in support of the poor, and EFC, behind the scenes, promotes and supports the local women of the villages learning the intermediate processing, cupping and roasting of their own coffee.

Pictures below depict this year's exploration and buying journey to the mountains of Guatemala.

Rain Forest

I don't know if it is still that way, but in Mexico, flying over the mountainous rain forests near the coast one could see smoking fire after smoking hillside from "slash and burn" strategies to secure farm-able land. The fire put carbon into the soil, often a depleted sandy thin topsoil. The farmer would benefit from a few years of vigorous crop growth; following which, the erosion of the hillside and the depletion of the ground would render the area useless.
The farmer then goes to yet another area to repeat the process.

Here the environment remains undisturbed. Coffee trees have adapted to the rain-forest and grow with vigor under the protection and in harmony with the natural ecology of the mountain.


The first stage of processing completed, the carefully selected beans surrounded by their dried silk-like exterior are waiting to be bagged in large white (150 pound) sacks for transport to town. In town at the mill they will loose a third of their weight in the milling process with screening and re-packaging as green beans (Oro) in 132pound (1.32 qt) traditional, woven, brown sacks.

Locally the separation of the silk from the bean is done in a colorful display of women with their brightly colored skirts poring the pergamino from over their heads. Piles of naked beans then collect in piles at their feet. The dry silky threads blow away in the wind.

A Cupping Class

Roast each sample with consistant care.


Francisco, Guatemala's prominent cupper, examines a tray of beans. A cupping number of 85 or above from him is, indeed, a coveted distinction.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Another stage in the processing of mountain coffee.

Social Entrepreneurship

These mountain people are poor but industrious. Descendants of the Mayan, coffee has been their traditional way of life. The modern era, however, does more to exploit them than reward their enterprise. It is a sub-optimal unpleasant equilibrium from which they have taken only the smallest cut, often breaking even or worse. They do not usually speak Spanish, so they are yet further disadvantaged in their efforts.

The Sustainable Coffee movement, The Fair Trade Federation, CRS and companies like Earth Friendly form a social entrepreneurship that is changing that equilibrium for the better.


After the farmer crudely mills away the husk, the coffee bean is still covered with a wet pulp. Here the farmer dries the product in an initial stage of processing.

Diane founder of Earth Friendly Coffee brings some small measure of good cheer. She makes sure the family farmer actually gets paid the better than "Fair Trade" price.

Shade Grown is good. The overhanging canopy of the Rain Forest protects the cherries fron direct sunlight. The beans ripen more slowly. It preserves the environment and makes a home for the birds and the creatures like us, no erosion, no slash burn and no insectsides.


Give the kids a break. These mountain farmers were decimated by Globalization. The World Bank gave Brazil, Vietnam and others so much money to raise a cash crop, coffee that they flooded the world commodities market and drove the price paid to these indigenous farmers an amount less than the cost of the harvest. And these are the very best beans!

Coffee Cherries, SHB Arabica

A closer look shows the rational for hand picking. The cherries do not ripen all at the same time. In fact, there may be 4 harvests from February to April each year.

The higher up the cherry tree, the sweeter grow the cherries, or so the song goes. The higher altitude the coffee tree on the volcanic mountainside, the sweeter and mellower the roast. -- That's no kidding, it's the taste. Coffee grading in Guatemala reserves the best of these high altitude slow ripening shade grown berries as SHB, meaning Strictly Hard Bean.