Friends of San Lucas is spreading the opportunity to help the families in San Lucas and the surrounding area by providing this wonderful coffee to you.
Direct Trade Helps Build Relationships
By Lauren Vaske, LTV Coordinator, San Lucas Mission
Coffee harvesting season is right around the corner in San Lucas Tolimàn, and is one of the most important times for our friends in Guatemala. The harvest starts in December and goes through March in San Lucas, and has already started at lower altitudes. Keeping this in mind, October is U.S. Fair Trade Month. Although Juan Ana Coffee is not Fair Trade Certified, it qualifies as Direct Trade. Since there is no month for Direct Trade, let us use Fair Trade Month to celebrate Juan Ana Coffee, and the importance of building relationships with our Guatemalan counterparts through our daily cup(s) of coffee.
Direct Trade is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, thus cutting out the middleman. This means the buyers can work together with the growers to directly control the quality of the coffee, and in many cases, social and environmental issues that are related. Direct Trade is similar to Fair Trade in many ways, including that both ensure producers: earn a fair price for their product, are included in the decision-making process, and are treated with respect and dignity. Most importantly, they are both about building and fostering relationships over the long term.
Direct trade is about continual and direct communication between the grower and the buyer, which helps to build relationships. In San Lucas Tolimán, one way we do this is through coffee seedlings. In order to plant seedlings, bags must be filled with dirt, a project many of you helped with over the past several months. The bags are then planted with new coffee seedlings, and taken care of for 2 years before they are sold at a very low price (about 6¢/ plant) to the families Juan Ana Coffee buys from. Thanks to the hard work of all the visiting volunteers, families are able to plant new trees and continue to earn a living, and these relationships continue to grow.
Another way relationships are built is through the processing and roasting of the coffee beans. Every step in this process is done in San Lucas. Thanks to the help of Catholic Relief Services, the mission has been able to recently build a new processing plant, as well as buy new machines to roast and grind the coffee on site. These machines allow the coffee to be roasted upon order, and ensure that you receive the freshest coffee.
By supporting Juan Ana Coffee, we know that almost 700 families benefit from our daily cup of coffee, many living right in San Lucas. We know that the farmers were paid a fair price for their coffee crop, and that only the highest quality coffee was produced and bought. We know that by buying coffee, the mission is able to employ the people that process the coffee during harvest season, roast the coffee, and those who pack and ship the coffee orders. We also know that by supporting Juan Ana Coffee, we are keeping with the pillars of Christian Social Teaching. As Pope Paul VI said, “Let each one examine his conscience... is heprepared to support out of his own pocket works and undertakings in favor of the most destitute? Is he ready to pay a higher price for imported goods so that the producer may be more justly rewarded?"
So tomorrow morning, when you brew your morning coffee, take a minute to think about the relationships you have helped foster simply by opting for Juan Ana Coffee. And then ask yourself, am I ready to do as Pope Paul VI asked us to do and continue to build these relationships?