The Coffee Process

Let’s take a coffee farmer- we’ll call her Maria. She lives on and owns a coffee farm. On this farm she picks coffee beans. She then sells her coffee beans. For this venture, she has two options: She can sell her beans on the open market at a price that is below her household cost, therefore losing money rather than earning income. Or, she can sell her coffee beans to the Asociacion Artesanal de Cafecultores dl Rio Intag (AACRI), a fair trade organization that buys coffee beans from farmers at reasonable, income-making prices. AACRI then processes the coffee beans. They unshell them, ferment them, and roast them.

This is especially impressive in Ecuador. Here, the majority of goods that are exported are raw; there is little industrial development. Mostly other countries will process the raw good that they bought from Ecuador. (For example, Germany processes the cocoa plants from Ecuador, making excellent chocolate). Not AACRI! They process, manufacture and package the coffee themselves. They then sell the finished product at a higher cost.

Besides buying coffee at a higher price than normal with the money, AACRI developed its own laboratory. This lab develops organic fertilizers that aid the growth of the plant and protect it from diseases. AACRI sells these organic fertilizers (which are cheaper than chemical fertilizers) at an even lower cost to the coffee farmers. The coffee farmers use these fertilizers to create stronger crops. And the process starts over again.

Maria is my host mother. I live on a coffee farm. I work with AACRI. This is my new life.