We want our members to be more than just customers. We want you to know that by embracing the coffee experience that is "from your tree to your cup", you are making a difference. So, for every tree you adopt, we will plant a second one.
Adopting a coffee will contribute directly to:
- Breaking the traditional coffee market chain by keeping more value in the country of origin
- Coffee you buy through traditional retailers generally changes hands many times before reaching your cup. With each intermediary taking a cut, most of the price of a cup of coffee or espresso is absorbed by the retailer with little benefit to the producing country. Even when you buy a premium estate-grown coffee, the small producer still is most likely locked into a complex supply chain. This involves a series of intermediaries including an exporter, importer, distributors, roasters and retailers. Each add a margin such that at the end the farmer may get only 5% 10% of the price you pay for your bag of coffee beans and less than 1% of the price of an espresso or latte. Apasionado Coffee is a unique opportunity to to develop a model that breaks this chain with coffee delivered direct to consumers. By cutting out the intermediary, farmers not only receive a larger share of the price, but also acquiring additional knowledge and skills to perfect their coffee growing and processing techniques to and maximize their future earnings. We practice true direct trade or farm to table practices, from your tree to your cup.
- Social projects in the community
To further expand upon this goal of increasing the capacity of the local community, Apasionado Coffee is currently partnered with the Foundation Melting Pot Bolivia, a non-profit organization whose goal is to improve the life of marginalized populations in Bolivia through the training of young people in a variety of careers in the food industry, building local capacity on a variety of levels. They work closely with Gustu Restaurant, which also uses the coffee from Finca Las Tacanas. Gustu is a restaurant dedicated to using all locally sourced ingredients, and elevating traditional Bolivian cuisine to the next level. On the farm, given the organization of the finca and the relatively large number of local people we employ, a certain amount of knowledge and skills transfer happens. We work closely with our employees, sharing information, and leading by example. We also demonstrate the potential to be gained by investing the time and effort in the production of specialty coffee. We employ local farm hands to work on our finca, but many of them also have their own small farm plots. Local farmers now look to us as leaders in helping them learn how they can maximize their yield and produce higher quality beans, and they see the value of growing coffee over other less profitable or sustainable crops.
Local women enjoying a chat in the town of Coroico, a few miles from the farm.
- Environmental conservation
For every tree you adopt, we plant a second. In this region of Bolivia, ideally situated for coffee growing (due to the climate and altitude), many people would rather grow coca plants. Some of the coca is used for local consumption as part of the indigenous cultural practices. However, more often coca leaves are turned into cocaine and sold on in the international drug market. The coca plants themselves are problematic for two reasons. First, farmers who choose to grow coca slash and burn the forest to create plantations to grow it, completely destroying the natural ecosystem of the cloud forest, causing the soil to dry out, and displacing the animals, birds and plants that naturally thrive there. Second, coca plants sap the soil of nutrients, meaning that after a year or two of production, the land is no longer usable, and the farmers must move on to clear a new tract and start over. This cycle of destruction has devastating effects on the environment and threatens whole swathes of forest.
In the foreground of this picture you see our coffee processing center. The barren hills in the background are an example of old abandoned coca fields.
The coffee farms on the other hand, and in particular Las Tacanas (the source for Apasionado Coffee), practices polycultural farming techniques, to grow quality shade grown bird and animal friendly coffee. Polycultural means that multiple plants grow together on the same land, with coffee plants intermingled with fruit trees, and other flora, creating a symbiotic relationship for the soil, the plants, and the animals, nurturing sustainable land use.
- Developing a viable alternative to coca growing
- Coca production is a big industry in Bolivia. Although some production is legal, since coca leaves are chewed by locals and are important in many indigenous cultural practices, a large quantity is grown illegally to be converted into cocaine. As one would imagine, it is hard to compete financially with profits from the drug trade. Although farmers who grow coca see only a tiny fraction of the earnings of the cocaine retail price, they still make much more than they would growing many other traditional crops such as bananas or papayas. However, if we can successfully retain more of the coffee production profits in the hands of the farmers, coffee becomes a more viable and sustainable alternative crop. We pay wages that are competitive with what the coca farms pay, but our farm guarantees stable employment for our workers. Thus, our finca is not only protecting a swath of land from current coca production, it is also demonstrating to the surrounding farmers that they have alternatives to make a decent living and protect the health of their land for future generations. And, for every tree you adopt, we plant a second one.