Coffee origin is a critical consideration at Crafted Coffee. We buy coffee in small lots which are traceable to specific farms or co-operatives that can demonstrate a commitment to the environment and workers conditions. This ensures that we obtain high quality coffee that is sustainably grown, and that the grower achieves a fair price for their crop. There are a number of certification schemes and ‘badges’ that are applied to coffee and all of these have their merits to varying degrees. However, these schemes do not necessarily guarantee sustainability or fair trade. Therefore our aim over time will be to work as closely as possible with specialist buyers, and in time we intend to buy directly from the growers, where possible. Below you can find out more about the farms that we currently source coffee from.
The Carvalho Dias and Ottoni families have been growing coffee in Brazil since 1890 and are something of an institution in Minas Gerais coffee circles. The fourth generation of Carvalho Dias and Ottoni coffee growers are continuing the family tradition on several farms dotted around the region’s prime coffee growing areas, including Fazenda Rodomunho. The estate is located in the Alto Paranaíba, the highest part of Minas Gerais’ Cerrado region, at some 900-1,050 metres above sea level. It extends over 450 hectares, of which 316 hectares are planted with some 1.3 million coffee trees of Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Acaiá and Icatú varietals.
Good environmental practice is a priority for Rodomunho, and the area under coffee is interspersed with native forest reserves to maintain a good ecological balance and provide habitat for local birds and animals. Solid wastes from processing are recycled as organic fertilizer, while the use of either the natural or pulped natural process keeps water usage to a minimum. What water that is used is recycled and fully treated to avoid polluting local water courses.
The farm also prioritises good conditions for its workforce, offering: fair wages (well above the average for the sector in Brazil); housing with modern services and utilities; a school; a health clinic; and sports facilities. The farm describes itself as a true ‘agrovillage’.
Geography & Biodiversity
The Pacas family started farming at Finca El Retiro in 1927. The farm has since passed between four generations and is now owned and managed by Alfredo Pacas and his family. The coffee grows under a protective canopy of shade, made up of indigenous tree varieties such as the leguminous balsam and ingas. Both of these trees are chosen for their heavy leaf fall, which provides a rich natural mulch. The farm is also home to many different animals including squirrels, armadillos, wild cats and quails.
The farm employs 24 permanent workers and provides seasonal work for a further 105 temporary workers at the peak of the harvest. Free medical care is offered to all of the farm’s employees.
Geography & Biodiversity
El Carmen Estate is located at 1,300m above sea level in El Salvador’s Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range, one of Central America’s prime specialty coffee producing areas.
The estate has been farmed by the Alfaro family for over a century. El Carmen lies in the heart of El Salvador’s main ‘protected highway’ of forest, a part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor System that stretches all the way from Mexico down to Panama. In El Salvador, where more than 80% of the country’s coffee is produced under shade, this eco-system is based mainly in the coffee forest. For this reason, coffee farms such as El Carmen play a vital role as a sanctuary for hundreds of the migratory and native bird species found in this part of the world.
El Carmen is an extremely well run specialty estate, with great emphasis placed on maintaining the identity of each lot from the moment its coffee cherries are harvested until the point when the green beans are ready for export. The estate’s coffee is produced under approximately 60% shade cover, which is required for the coffee to ripen evenly. Prior to the rainy season, shade trees are then pruned to about 40% shade to allow the access of light necessary for new foliage growth.
The estate was founded in the middle of the 19th century when Antonio José Alfaro acquired a plot of land near the village of Ataco – meaning ‘Site of Elevated Springs’ in the indigenous Nahuatl language – where he started to produce coffee. His son, Agustin Alfaro, founder of the Salvadoran National Coffee Company, followed in his father’s footsteps and established El Carmen as one of El Salvador’s leading exporters. His efforts were continued by Antonio Alfaro, head of the third generation of this coffee family. El Carmen has now become a proud symbol of Ataco village.
Coffee farming at San Francisco Tecuamburro began under Daniel Barillas Harrarte and his wife, Matilde Arroyo, in the late 1800s. The farm has been passed on from generation to generation and is now owned and managed by Sergio Barillas Escamilla. The farm’s unique location in the crater of the dormant Tecuamburro Volcano, at an altitude of 1,460-1,770m, provides ideal conditions for the production of high quality specialty coffee. The farm covers an area of 110 manzanas (around 77 hectares), and is planted with around 80% Bourbon trees and 20% Catuaí.
Abundant shade cover on San Francisco Tecuamburro is provided by native cujillo and guagua trees. The heavy leaf-fall from these species is deliberately left on the ground to create a leaf mould, which provides a rich natural fertiliser for the soil.
The water used to process the coffee comes from fresh water springs on the farm, which also provide drinking water to the local population in Chiquimulilla and Guazacapán. Waste water from the pulping process is fully treated in order to avoid polluting the farm’s water courses.
The Dukundekawa Musasa cooperative lies high in Rwanda’s rugged north-west, at around 1,800 metres. The co-op built its first coffee washing station in 2003, with a development loan from the Rwandan government and the support of the USAID-financed PEARL project. The coffee that we buy from Musasa is produced by the Gatagara washing station, which lies at 1,800 metres on top of a high ridge with views across the steep green hills and valleys beyond and below. Around 175 people work at Gatagara during the harvest season, as well as 19 permanent workers year round.
Income generation for small-scale farmers
This transformational programme was aimed at switching the focus in the Rwandan coffee sector from an historic emphasis on quantity to one of quality – and so opening up Rwanda to the far higher-earning specialty coffee market. The programme and its successor, SPREAD, have been invaluable in helping Rwanda’s small-scale coffee farmers to rebuild their production in the wake of the devastating 1994 genocide and the 1990s world coffee crash.
Musasa now owns two washing stations and is one of Rwanda’s larger cooperatives, with 1,800 members in the 2011/12 crop year. In addition, the co-op buys and processes cherries from around a further 6,200 farmers in the area – so the numbers (and paperwork) involved are staggering! Most of these small scale producers own less than a quarter of a hectare of land, where they cultivate an average of only 250 – 300 coffee trees each as well as other subsistence food crops such as maize and beans. Musasa gives these small farmers the chance to combine their harvests and process cherries centrally. Before the proliferation of washing stations such as Musasa, the norm in Rwanda was for small farmers to sell semi-processed cherries on to a middleman – and the market was dominated by a single exporter. This commodity-focused system – coupled with declining world prices in the 1990s – brought severe hardship to farmers, some of whom abandoned coffee entirely.
Today, it’s a different picture. Farmers who work with Musasa have seen their income at least double, and the co-op produces some outstanding lots for the specialty market year after year. ‘Dukundekawa’ means ‘love coffee’ in Kinyarwanda (Rwanda’s official language) – in reference to the power of coffee to improve the lives of those in rural communities.