Today we woke up as usual, bright and early and had breakfast at 7:30. Breakfast was delicious and consisted of many fruits, boiled bananas and pineapple pancakes. Yum! (Oh and of course de la gente coffee).
We left after breakfast and walked to a farmers house where we each were given a basket to carry on our backs. We hiked about an hour up volcano agua. It was a very steep and dusty hike, but the views were so worth it! When we finally made it to the coffee farm on the volcano, we were taught about the basics of coffee farming and everything it entails, including the harvesting process. We all then picked the ripe coffee fruit from the trees for about another 45 minutes to an hour. We ended up picking 88 pounds of coffee fruit! (Which the farmer carried back down the volcano in a burlap sack on his back with the handle around his forehead! He does this 2-3 times per day)
We then headed back down the volcano to the farmer’s house and had a delicious lunch, consisting of marinated chicken, arroz and an assortment of steamed vegetables.
After lunch, we walked through every step of the coffee process after the harvesting has been done. We were able to first ride the bike-machine used to separate the coffee fruit from the actual beans inside. We then headed up to the roof to see the drying process of the beans after they are fermented and washed. After drying, the coffee beans are then shelled and sifted to keep the beans uniform size. The defected beans are picked out (individually.. by hand!), and then the beans are ready to be exported to different roasters they are partnered with in the USA, Canada and Europe.
After the coffee tour, we each were given a bag of coffee (for free!) and had a chance to buy extra bags for a lower price than what you pay online. Then, we met with the director of De La Gente coffee, and he gave us more insight and background into the company and co-op as a whole.
Lastly, we went back to the farmers house we had worked with previously to have dinner.
All in all, I can safely say that today was a VERY humbling experience for everyone. Here are a few quotes from those nearby (including myself).
“Seeing all the work farmers do… they’re very under appreciated. The work they do is crazy. And seeing behind the scenes gave me such insight” -Rosa
“I can’t believe how little compensation as well as appreciation we give to the farmers. This goes for not only coffee, but pretty much everything we import in America. The money mostly goes to the roasters (brand names) and shipping companies! Buying fair trade products is so important because they work to give the farmers a fair-er wage” -Cora
“I loved seeing the entire family process and how much unity there is. The family all helps out with the farming, and it’s passed down for generations” -Hannah
Great story … thanks for sharing your experience. Can’t wait to see pics when you return.
Glad you all made it to Guatemala. It will be 19 degrees here tonight. I’m thinking it is warmer there….
Oh…. the coffee!!! As I sip my below standard drip coffee at my desk I’m thinking about the experiences you are having. Wonderful.
Thank you so much for giving up your Spring Break to help others in need. You make me proud!