Coffee co-ops in Costa Rica by Margaret Bau, RPCV

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, June 30, 2001 - 10:16 pm: Edit Post

Coffee co-ops in Costa Rica by Margaret Bau, RPCV

Coffee co-ops in Costa Rica by Margaret Bau, RPCV

Coffee co-ops in Costa Rica by Margaret Bau, RPCV

< < < Date Index Re: coffee co-ops in Costa Rica by Margaret Bau 30 April 2001 20:44 UTC < < < Thread Index

Dear fellow co-operators,

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Costa Rica, I can attest first hand to the vital work of Cafe Costa Rica. (For over three years I lived in a remote mountain village where most small coffee farmers were members of CoopeAgri, one of the Cafe Costa Rica affiliates.)

Unlike other parts of Central America, most Costa Rican coffee is produced by thousands of farmers who own small parcels of land and who belong to local coffee co-ops. Coffee production stands in sharp contrast to banana production in Costa Rica. Bananas are mainly grown on large plantations owned by foreign corporations - complete with company owned houses and towns named "Finca 28" (Farm #28). Due to small farm ownership and the services available through regional co-ops, coffee growing villages show much better social cohesion and community progress than the rough and tumble banana towns. It was my immersion in the Costa Rican coffee co-op culture that made me a believer in the power of co-ops!

Thank you Cafe Costa Rica for your efforts. May we on this list server learn from your wonderful example.

Margaret Bau Cooperative Development Specialist USDA Rural Development - Wisconsin wrote: Hi -- Forwarded from Felipe Rodriguez, Cafe Costa Rica -- Dear Friends, Cafe Costa Rica is a project formed by Coffee producing Co-Ops located in Costa Rica. These Cooperatives are: CoopeDota - Located in Tarrazu Coopertarrazu - Located in Tarrazu Coopronaranjo - Located in Naranjo CoopePalmares - Located in Palmares Cooperativa de Caficultores Ramonenses (CAFIRA) - Located in San Ramon CoopeAgri - Located in San Isidro de El General Our coffee selection gives consumers the opportunity to procure fine single origin coffees from the best growing regions in Costa Rica. In order to better understand us and our goals please consider the following information: Worker's Rights All workers involved in harvesting and milling, regardless of national origin or legal status, are guaranteed a minimum wage. The Ministry of Labor strictly enforces fair labor conditions by conducting unannounced on-site inspections. In fact, many workers travel from neighboring countries in order to benefit from higher wages and better work conditions. This is good indeed, especially in a continent so used to worker's rights violations and exploitation of indigenous population. Environmental Responsibility By using sediment tanks and treatment lagoons, solid by-products are processed and utilized as organic fertilizer. Treated water is then returned to the river without any negative impact on aquatic wildlife. By applying these new techniques, water consumption is reduced as much as 75% when compared to outdated wet milling methods. Modern wet milling practices have no negative effect over cup quality. Actually, the opposite is true, by recycling water used during the fermentation process, live bacteria are "re-employed", greatly improving fermentation. Cooperation By organizing into Coops, farmers are able to benefit from services such as coop-run grocery stores, offering discount prices, reduced cost on agricultural supplies and the availability of loans. Cooperatives are actively involved with their communities, promoting health programs and affordable housing. For many farmers, cooperatives offer the only protection when coffee market prices collapse. Honesty in Trade It is essential to identify origin and to ensure purity. As in many other coffee producing countries, it is common practice for some less than honest exporters to purchase green coffee from several different regions and grades. Once in the warehouse, these various coffees would be mixed in order to maximize profits. This practice has damaging consequences to overall coffee quality and reputation. By purchasing coffee directly from the Cooperative these anomalies are avoided assuring the highest possible quality and uniformity. This practice also from strong bonding relationships between producers and consumers. Quality Control We maintain high standards by paying close attention to plantation and precise milling (beneficiado) practices. We are proud to have Mr. Gerardo Astua as part of our team. Mr. Astua is regarded as a leading authority in Costa Rican coffee. Without exception, all our coffee goes through a rigorous quality control. From plantation to final cupping session, Mr. Astua ensures total quality control. Enclosed I am including a short article describing Costa Rica's Coffee History. We would deeply appreciate any comments, questions or suggestions pertaining to our project. Very respectfully, Felipe Rodriguez Project Coordinator 5001 College St SE, H305, Lacey WA 98503 - Tel: (360) 413-9307

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Costa Rica; Coops



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