Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Caffeinating Portland

Urban Dictionary's definition: 
1. Caffeinating: The act of loading up on caffeine. 
"Raura's currently caffeinating in the break room."

Last week was the SPECIALTY COFFEE ASSOCIATION'S ANNUAL EVENT in Portland, Oregon where coffee gurus from all over the world come to discuss, learn, advise, and network about all things coffee. I decided to go to a few lectures and of course, the Expo floor. More to come on that later. Some highlights of the trip include: 

Latte Art Throwdown in Portland's Convention Center... these were pretty amazing works of art considering they had a few beers on stage with them. 
 We were NOT prepared for the weather. The forecast should just read, "Rainy...Always."
 A surprise guest spoke at the Opening Ceremonies: Mr. President of Honduras! Porfirio Lobo Sosa gave a lovely speech about coffee growing in his country and the families that are dedicated to the trade. He was speaking in his native language while the transcriber put his script on the big screen, which was pretty off, so the Spanish-speakers would laugh at a joke and then 20 seconds later the non-Spanish speakers would read it and laugh! Always fun. 

Also, our logo and website are complete! Thank you Karen at Good Work Group for doing an amazing job!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A fresh start

A few years ago I did a self-planned internship in Guatemala at a fair trade coffee plantation in the Western Highlands to learn about coffee growing and write my thesis on Fair Trade certification for my undergrad in Global Studies. In a little town called Columba, down a long, windy, dirt road, I found myself in a community called Santa Anita where 36 families made their living growing and selling coffee. They all lived in concrete houses with tin roofs, cooking over an open fire, and siting on the dirt floor. Since it was not harvest season, many men were looking for temporary work in bigger cities.
Jump forward three years, and I find myself trying to help those same farmers raise their quality of life, stay with their families, and give their children more opportunities. From the Ground Up is a not-for-profit organization that connects coffee growing communities to micro loans, assists in increasing the value of their product, and executes sustainable community projects for diversification.

We want to help the farmers, not create jobs for ourselves. That is why we are all unpaid. Yes, ALL volunteers. To us, sustainable development doesn't mean dependence on foreign organizations. We plan to lead coffee growers to opportunities, not hand-outs. That is the plan. PLEASE help us further our mission by sharing YOUR advice, experience, suggestions with us. 
Cheers, Emily