A Visit from our Producer Partner COCAFELOL
Friday, July 31, 2015 |
Coffee Industry Insights, Coffee Sourcing
COCAFELOL is a cooperative that we at Matthew Algie have long admired for their innovative and pioneering approach to coffee production. The cooperative has seen a huge increase in membership in recent years and today boasts 340 smallholder farmer members who each carefully cultivate and harvest their coffee beans in the mountainous region of Ocotepeque in Western Honduras.
Over the years COCAFELOL have become an increasingly important supplier to us because their delicious tasting coffee is some of the best in Honduras and is an important part of our Tiki triple certified filter blend. Furthermore, we consider them an example of best practice in sustainable coffee production and are eager to learn from their understanding of how to farm for the future.
Direct communication and strengthening of our partnership with COCAFELOL over time, for example in our visits to Honduras, has opened up some great opportunities for knowledge sharing. Most recently we visited in 2014 and Roberto, the General Manager, showed us how they are creating bioethanol from coffee waste, developing organic pesticides to combat Roya (coffee leaf rust), and, constructing solar dryers to provide cover for their coffee beans whilst they’re drying in the Honduran sunshine. These initiatives have been crucial for maintaining excellent coffee quality whilst also adapting to the mounting environmental challenges farmers face (e.g. variable rainfall patterns due to climate change and the need to preserve biodiversity in the surrounding areas of outstanding natural beauty near the Güisayote Biological Reserve).
In June this year we were delighted to host Roberto and Ludwin, from COCAFELOL, and Merlin, from the neighbouring COCAEROL cooperative, in Glasgow as part of their first ever visit to the UK. It wasn’t difficult to find a bag of their beans in our warehouse waiting to be roasted! On the roastery tour we talked them through the process their beans will go through here in Glasgow and the technological investments we have made to ensure the coffee reaches customers tasting as fresh and as true to its origins as possible. We also held a cupping session with them to allow them to taste their coffee in comparison to others that we buy and to better understand our quality requirements. Though Roberto and his team are all experienced and talented cuppers, this was a relatively unique opportunity for them to taste coffees from other origins.
During their visit they shared information and pictures with us about their new social programmes. These new initiatives have focused on ensuring equal rewards and recognition for female farmers and developing a “Coffee School” for children and teenagers. The views of women, who account for about 30% of their farmer members, are being brought to the fore through a women’s committee, and best practice has been celebrated by including a “Best Female Farmer” award in their annual awards ceremony. The Coffee School was born out of a need to actively train the next generation of coffee farmers and prevent unmanageable levels of urban migration in future. It will also equip school-leavers with the skills they need to hit the ground running and to avoid unemployment. By seeking to tackle social injustices and actively addressing the issues that could threaten the sustainability of the cooperative, COCAFELOL can be more confident that coffee will continue to provide the livelihoods and income for local people in this part of Honduras long into the future.
Keep your eyes peeled for future updates on COCAFELOL from us – we’re hopeful that their commitment to achieving the highest and most comprehensive levels of sustainability will mean that our partnership will last for many years to come!
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