ABMF in Guatemala

Last week, Nossa Familia Coffee wrapped up an incredible journey that took 22 people nearly 3000 miles over the course of 3 weeks. We led not one but two coffee origin trips from Portland to Guatemala, which included employees, wholesale & retail customers, coffee producers, and friends of the company.

Our purpose at Nossa Familia is to ‘build positive relationships locally and globally,’ and these origin trips were a key part of strengthening old relationships and building new ones with our suppliers, partners and customers. It’s also really hard to fully understand coffee and all that goes into its production until you touch it, pick it, smell it, and taste it in its original form--at the source, as a cherry, and on the tree itself. Going to origin is the best way to really get to know your coffee, and the people who produce it.

One of Nossa’s five core values is ABMF - which stands for “Always Be Making Friends.” It’s a phrase coined by our founder & CEO, Augusto Carneiro, and if you’ve ever met him - you know that it pretty much sums up who he is. Everything we do is imbued with this value, and it means that we treat strangers as friends we simply haven’t made yet.

Our latest round of 'ABMF’ing' took us to Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Huehuetenango and Guatemala City, Guatemala, to meet with our partners who are doing wonderful work in the coffee world. Here is a snapshot of just a few of the amazing friends we met along the way. Stay tuned as we share more stories from our trips in the coming weeks and months!

 

Timoteo Minas of the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative

Just as a parent can’t name their favorite child, we wouldn’t be able to tell you that a certain coffee producer is our favorite. So we’ll just say that Timoteo is definitely up there on our list. Timo is a leader in the San Miguel Escobar Cooperative, a 30-person group of smallholder farmers that produces coffee in the Antigua region of Guatemala. He cultivates his coffee with an intense amount of care on Volcan de Agua. He produces delicious coffee that gets better year after year, and you can really see why: every action he takes is deliberate, from the spacing between his trees to how he processes his coffee. Timo exudes generosity and humility, and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to purchase his coffee.

 

Bayardo & Alvaro Reyes, coffee producers in Nicaragua

Bayardo and Alvaro are two brothers who operate the coffee farm Finca San Jose de las Nubes in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, and they were able to join us for a week to learn about coffee from other farmers and to see how things are done in Guatemala. They were excited to meet Nossa Familia employees and our other partner farmers and were sponges soaking up the positive energy, coffee knowledge, and ideas for how to improve their own farm. We are interested in seeing how they take what they learn back to Nicaragua, and are excited to continue building on our partnership with Finca San Jose de las Nubes.

 

The Team at De la Gente

De la Gente is a nonprofit organization that works to create economic opportunity for smallholder coffee farmers. They work with a handful of cooperatives in Guatemala, and facilitate connections between farmers and roasters in the US and elsewhere. They provide technical assistance and training to farmers and co-ops, and also run amazing tours and trips for tourists and university groups. We loved hanging out with their crew and learning more about the organization’s mission. We even had to leave one of our employees, Monica, behind to volunteer with them for a few months!

 

The Bressanis of Finca San Jeronimo

Visiting Finca San Jeronimo is an absolute treat. The landscape is stunning, interesting coffees are abundant, and the generosity of our hosts is incomparable. This family-run farm is currently being operated by fifth-generation owners and is a true model of sustainable, biodynamic coffee farming. The farm is home to a dairy business that produces a variety of cheeses, yogurts and creams, and every part of the operation feeds into the others. The manure from the dairy cows, along with the husks of coffee cherries and other organic materials, goes into a large compost system. The compost is used as fertilizer to keep the coffee trees healthy and productive, and to provide beneficial microorganisms that help them fight off harmful parasites and fungi. We were blown away by the level of care and thought they put into each part of this closed-loop farm system, and particularly by the way that they treat their employees and community as an essential piece of the puzzle.

 

Arianne & Jaime at The New Denim Project

We were able to squeeze in a visit at the tail end of our trip to the New Denim Project, a branch of the Iris Textiles company in Guatemala City - and we are definitely glad we did! We learned about the New Denim Project through our friends at Finca San Jeronimo, who are using their upcycled fabrics for their coffee sacks instead of traditional burlap or jute. The New Denim Project takes excess textile materials such as denim scraps, unwanted secondhand clothing, and waste cotton, turns the fibers into usable yarns and threads, and creates new and beautiful fabrics. In doing so, their fabrics are able to contain 70% upcycled material and only 30% virgin cotton. Due to some serious ABMF efforts, our coffee that comes through De la Gente will also be shipped in these sacks this year. We are grateful for their willingness to show us coffee folk around their textile operation and look forward to the next chapter of this partnership as we work with another local Portland brand to upcycle these coffee sacks even further.