Fair Trade Helps Preserve Native Cultures

By Laura

In the rural highlands of Guatemala, you can tell where a woman lives by the patterns on her huipil, or traditional blouse.  The beautifully woven and embroidered motifs are unique to each community.  In a similar way, astute coffee lovers can discern a Guatemalan bean’s geographic provenance by the distinctive flavor and aroma patterns imparted by the soil, altitude, and rainfall of its environment.

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Guatemala boasts eight distinct coffee-growing regions, each with its own personality and expression in the cup.  We source Guatemalan beans from coops in several regions, including Association Chajulense Val Vaq Quyol near the Chuchumatanes mountains of Chajul.  The name of this Fair Trade co-op means “only one voice,” and the co-op’s main goal is to improve the quality of life for its members while maintaining their traditions, values, and cultures. It is the largest organic coffee cooperative in Guatemala.

We’ve been working with Chajulense during the past three harvest cycles and are delighted by what we’ve tasted on the cupping table. On a recent trip to Guatemala, our chief coffee buyer, Lindsey Bolger, teamed up at the cupping table with cooperative President Arcadio Daniel Galindo and head cupper Arsemio Rivera Molina to identify beans that best displayed the unique qualities of coffee grown in regions around Chajul.  The cooperative’s prized Caturra and Bourbon varietals displayed shimmers of high-toned fruit, a vibrant acidity, and a resonant depth.

Fair Trade means the cooperative will receive a fair price for these excellent beans, and more. “Searching for a fairer market means not only that we will get better prices,” they write on their website, “but also that we are committed to work towards justice, freedom, and life for all men and women, so that we can live in justice among us and justice with our Mother Earth because only then we will achieve peace and happiness.”

Fair Trade Certified™ beans from the Chajulense cooperative are often used in Fair Trade Organic French Roast, Fair Trade Organic House Blend, and Heifer Hope Blend.

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