Cultivating Long-term Relationships with Growers

September 24, 2013

When we first met Don Primitivo Morran Herrera, proprietor of the Finca San Francisco coffee farm, we also met his newborn granddaughter Gabriella. As she rocked from a hammock in the center of the finca, we talked coffee with Primitivo and six other farmers from the Aldea Global cooperative. We wanted to work directly with them in pursuit of a mutually beneficial goal—the best quality coffee, produced sustainably, at a price well above fair trade. But for Nicaraguan farmers who’ve been misled by global roasters in the past, trust isn’t given freely. It must be earned.

For the next three years, we worked closely with Primitivo and the Aldea Global farmers to develop a direct trade relationship that wasn’t just about purchasing coffee, but also about caring for the coffee growers. Together, we’ve created a fully transparent pricing system that pays above-fair-trade wages to farmers, along with additional premiums to those who produce exceptionally high-quality coffee.

The farmers have re-invested these premiums to develop innovative organic agriculture techniques on their farms, provide fresh drinking water for their families, and conserve their region’s lush, natural forests. In turn, the Aldea Global Cooperative has invested in regional food security and farmer microloan programs. Of course, we’ve benefitted, too. We’re now able to purchase the finest shade-grown coffee from more than 1,700 farmers in the region. What’s more, we’re on a first-name basis with Gabriella—now a healthful, chatty toddler, who greets us with a smile every time we visit.