The coffee fungus La Roya swept through the coffee plantations in Guatemala a couple of years ago, destroying 70 percent of crops. The impact of the disease was so detrimental that Guatemalan farmers plunged into debt, accumulating loans in order to provide for their families.
In an effort to help farmers recover from this setback, Enactus, partnering with Airship Coffee, today sent Guatemala Coffee Project leaders Raquel Luciani and Daniela Reyes to facilitate a coffee auction between Guatemalan farmers and U.S. roasters.
“This helps them keep their farms,” said Luciani. “The farmers will get more income to pay off their debts. These families have had farms for three or four generations. It will help empower these people to move forward.”
This auction will provide an opportunity for the roasters to grade and buy coffee directly from the farmers, allowing direct trade, eliminating the middleman and increasing the profit for farmers.
The Guatemala Coffee Project works directly with Airship Coffee, a small business founded by Mark Bray, who seeks to give Guatemalan farmers the ability to stabilize their farms.
“Airship Coffee was founded on the idea that we could improve lives by improving coffee quality,” stated the Airship Coffee website. “Whether on the farm or in the café, we believe that education is the key to improving coffee, and better coffee means better livelihoods for everyone involved with its creation.”
Through Enactus, Airship Coffee taught farmers a new way of harvesting coffee called “dry natural process.” This new method not only improves the quality of coffee and is cost effective, but it sustains the crops without the use of water.
With this new process put in place, Guatemalan farmers have a greater opportunity for their crops to be bought.
“Roasters are willing to pay a higher price for quality,” said Reyes.
Enactus also helped Airship Coffee with monetary funds after receiving the Sam’s Club Step Up for Small Business Project Partnership grant.
“The Sam’s Club Step Up for Small Business Project Partnership mobilizes Enactus United States teams to empower a small business to strengthen their foundation for long-term success through improved business practices,” stated the grant’s website.
Enactus aided Airship coffee with planning the trips to Guatemala and accomplishing Bray’s goals.
“Our goal is to support Airship Coffee,” Reyes said. “We serve him as much as we can, to help the company grow for interest.”
“We aim to help establish and sustain competitive advantage for Airship Coffee by collaborating to introduce a new super specialty coffee brand with finer flavor processed using an innovative adaptation of a centuries-old, sun-dried natural method,” stated Enactus on their application for the Sam’s Club grant.
The project is also making connections with different organizations to sell Airship Coffee. The organizations with then sell the coffee as fundraising tools.
“Not only are we helping the people here, but also there,” said Luciani.