Announcements and Events
Roaster members and staff of Cooperative Coffees gathered at Higher Grounds’ recently inaugerated café and roastery in the beautiful lakeside town of Traverse City, Michigan from Oct 2 - 5 for the Annual General Meeting of Members. The three-day weekend was action-packed with coffee cupping, discussion and debate around the internal politics of pricing and positions within Fair Trade, as well as clarifying the functions and responsabilities of staff and member alike.
More than 300 producer delegates and observers from 25 countries celebrated together the Third Bi-Annual CLAC Assembly – held this year in Antigua, Guatemala October 28 - 29, 2008. CLAC – the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small-Scale Fair Trade Producers – is an association of 300 farmer associations representing some 250,000 men and women working to promote sustainable development through Fair Trade in 20 Latin American countries.
The New Year tends to conjure great expectations. And while recent, dreary economic news has most people wondering – even fearing – what lies in store for 2009, we at Cooperative Coffees see positive signals ahead. Of course, 2009 will be filled with many challenges – not unlike the last 10 years of Cooperative Coffees’ existence! Our history gives us (realistic) hope that this year will be as successful as the others!
Coop Coffees ally and Fair Trade supporter, Catholic Relief Services has officially launched a "Coffee Livelihoods" program that will incorporate several producer coops -- including some of our partners -- in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico. The project entails a series of tecnical and management training workshops that will take place over the course of the next 3 years. Coop Coffees, along with social lender and ally Root Capital, will help facilitate several of these workshops.
The 7th annual BALLE conference is the place for independent business owners, social entrepreneurs, and all those interested in building strong local economies to discover and discuss how local, independent businesses will shape and influence the new economy. The 2009 BALLE conference will showcase the many ways that local networks of independent businesses are already building the next North American economy; one that is local, green, and fair.
During the IFAT annual general assembly held in Sri Lanka in October 2008, the decision was made by a 91% majority to change the organization's name to World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). The following article appears on the WFTO's newly revamped website in February and the organization will be in a period of transition over the next several months.
Coop Coffees is a proud sponsor of World Fair Trade Day (WFTD), an international celebration of Fair Trade. This year’s events will be taking place in over 80 countries worldwide and in North America, Fair Traders plan on breaking the record number of participants (50,000!) in the Fair Trade Coffee Break! The theme of this year’s World Fair Trade Day is Everything is better when it’s fair.
In March, roaster-member Amavida participated in an international, 9-years-running peace project called the Art Miles Mural Project in which communities -- and children in particular -- are encouraged to create peace through art, namely through mural-painting. This year, the organization that runs the project chose the Seaside community, home to Amavida, to host the event. After a trip to Chiapas, Amavida delivered several murals produced by producer partner Maya Vinic's children. Read Dan Bailey's summary of the event below!
The annual Fair Trade Federation conference offers an excellent opportunity for members of the North American FT movement and their international partners/allies to exchange useful experiences and information. This year's conference was particularly special as FTF launches into its 15th year anniversary in 2009! CoopSol's intern, Sophie Verdon was able to get the scoop in an interview with Carmen Iezzi, Exec. Dir of FTF.
There's one more SCAA under our belt! This year, the event happened in Atlanta and brought together the usual suspects: everyone and anyone involved in the specialty coffee world. Following SCAA mayhem, Coop Coffees members, partners, and friends rode 3 hours, caravan-style, to Americus, Georgia for day of productive meetings, useful exchanges, and a fabulously fun soiree! A true celebration for all!
Earlier in May, the Fair Trade Federation - the association of dedicated Fair Trade organizations in North America - held elections for their 2009 Board of Directors. They've posted the results and we're thrilled to see that Coop Coffees' own Monika Firl will be joining the other new and remaining members for what will surely be a productive and collaborative year of Fair Trade!
A key principle of Fair Trade is traceability; the consumer should be able to follow the path of a delicious cup of joe, bar of chocolate, or sprinkle of sugar back to the farm and coop behind the product. Peace Coffee recently launched a bright, fun, user-friendly website for people to dig deeper into their daily brew and learn about where the coffee comes from and who produces it.
Every year, Fair Traders all over the world join forces for "World Fair Trade Day." This year, May 9 was the special day and the Fair Trade Resource Network worked very hard to organize and promote the largest FT Coffee Break in North America. They surpassed their lofty goal of 55,000 participants and successfully reached thousands of consumers all over the continent! Congratulations FTRN and keep up the good work!
Slowly but surely – despite Swine flu-induced rescheduling and all the usual challenges of getting a multi-sector and international project of this nature moving forward in a coordinated way – Cooperative Coffees and CRS, under their recently launched CAFÉ Livelihoods project, have set the wheels in motion in El Salvador and Guatemala.
After years of small-but-steady steps forward (and the useful power of positive thinking), Coop Coffees’ sister coop in Montreal la Cooperative de Solidarite du Cafe Equitable “CoopSol” has moved beyond our former “closet-sized” office and into our current office “compound” – or, as we like to call it, “Labo Equitable” (The Fair Trade Lab Experiment)!
In a short but productive weekend, Coop Coffees' Green Committee met in the new office space and site of the coop's future quality control lab to discuss pressing green bean issues and evaluate the next steps in getting the internal lab established.
As part of the ongoing CRS project "CAFE Livelihoods," three representatives from Coop Coffees -- Bill Harris, Tripp Pomeroy of Cafe Campesino, and Chris Treter of Higher Grounds -- spent a week in Nicaragua facilitating and participating in workshops on market management and commercialization in the coffee industry. They worked alongside 5 different cooperatives which included CC producer partners. Below is a trip report by Chris Treter, roaster-member and participant in the CRS Project.
This year, the Coop Coffees crowd headed down to the land of taco stands, cowboy boots, and…BATS for our cooperative’s annual general assembly. Member-roaster Third Coast Coffee in Austin, Texas graciously hosted nearly 40 roasters and staff for a weekend of meetings, workshops, cuppings...and lots of coffee breaks.
Cooperative Coffees roasters and producer organizations from across Mexico gather together from Sept 4 - 11, 2009 under the umbrella of the Catholic Relief CAFE Livelihoods project in Oaxaca to discuss and experience first hand the challenges around producing consistently high quality coffee.
From January 15th to the 21st, several of Coop Coffees' members and producer partners convened in Peru for meetings and field visits during Coop Sol's 2010 annual assembly. Despite a grueling schedule (so much to do in one short week!), unexpected road blocks and run-ins with the police, everyone who participated came away with a better understanding of what fair trade truly is and should continue to be on the ground, with our partners, and within our coop.
A jog across the cradle of civilization to support childhood education
As always – the SCAA annual conference is an excellent opportunity to get back in touch with friends and allies and to get “up to speed” on all that is new in the specialty coffee industry and in the wonderful world of Fair Trade. This year in particular – we were able to get a clear overview of Fair Trade landscape.
On September 10th 2010, over 760 Fair Traders from all over the country, the continent, and the global community squeezed into the main conference room of the Marriott in Quincy, Massachusetts to begin the largest Fair Trade extravaganza of the year…if not, in history!
From September 16th to the 18th, a group of 45 people – including nearly all members, the full team of staff, and a couple producer reps – gathered in member-roaster Just Coffee’s offices for our annual general meeting: three days of discussing, debating, slurping (we are coffee roasters after all), and catching up on the latest news in our local and global communities.
Eco-labels continue to gain popularity in the food industry, however are they going far enough to meet consumer demand for ethical & ecological products? The third edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit explores new horizons in sustainability for eco-labels. How do organic, fair trade and other eco-labels contribute to sustainability? What role should they play in a food industry that is increasingly looking at the triple bottom line? The summit aims to debate and discuss such issues in a high-level forum.
Del 16 al 18 de Setiembre, un grupo de 45 personas, incluyendo todas nuestras tostadoras socias, el equipo entero de empleados y un par de representantes de productores, se juntaron en las oficinas de Just Coffee para nuestra Asamblea General Anual: tres días de discusión, debate, catado y de ponernos al día con las últimas noticias en nuestras comunidades locales y globales.
El 10 de setiembre del 2010, cerca de 760 proponentes del Comercio Justo de alrededor de los Estados Unidos, del continente y del mundo se juntaron dentro de la sala principal de conferencias del Hotel Marriott en Quincy, Massachusetts para empezar la reunión más grande del año del Comercio Justo, ¡y si no, de toda la historia!
Assembly press release Nov 2010
Jet-lag behind us, piles of snow built up around us, and lots of work to catch up on...January’s visit to Ethiopia seems a distant memory for the roasters, staff members, and kids who participated in the delegation. The two-week visit covered a lot of ground, beginning with a 10-kilometer run that marked the last stretch of the Run Across Ethiopia, and ending with a tour of the impressive new dry processing facilities of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union.
After many months of planning and several weeks of searching, interviewing, and deliberating...Cooperative Coffees is proud to announce that Janet Utecht will be taking over the Executive Director position from our dear founder and director of 10+ years, Bill Harris! Janet joined our team in January, when she "hit the ground running": in the span of a weekend, she ended her stint with the Peace Corps in Ecuador and hopped on a flight to Ethiopia for a two-week coop delegation. We may have only just met her, but with that kind of stamina, we know she's up to the challenge of steering the Coop Coffees ship! We're thrilled to have her with us - please join all of us at Cooperative Coffees in giving Janet a big, warm welcome!
Despues de muchos meses de planeamiento y de varias semanas de busqueda, entrevistas y discusión, Cooperative Coffees tiene el gusto de anunciar que Janet Utecht estará tomando la posición de Directora Ejecutiva, reemplazando a nuestro querido fundador y director ejecutivo por más de diez años, Bill Harris. Janet se unió a nuestro equipo en Enero y en un solo fin de semana terminó su estadía en Ecuador con el Cuerpo de Paz Americano y tomó un avión con nosotros a Etiopía para unirse a nuestra delegación ahí. Puede ser que apenas la estemos conociendo, pero con esa clase de energía, sabemos que es capaz de tomar el timón del barco Coop Coffees. ¡Estamos emocionadísimos de que Janet se una a nuestra tripulación y los invitamos a que le den una bienvenida calurosa!
March 2011 press release
Coffee prices on the NY"C" have been skyrocketing for months; producer cooperatives struggle to keep up with the competition on the ground; and "fair trade" has reached as challenging a moment as ever. In March, FLO responded with an increase to the required social and organic premiums to meet FLO cert criteria -- resulting in a new minimum price for organic and FLO fairtrade at $1.90/lb. As happy as we are to see FLO move in this positive direction, we have to wonder what kind of impact it will have on the ground. In the article below, Santiago Paz offers insight into the hard reality of a high-price coffee market, where traditional "fair trade" methods are being challenged daily and where the future of the movement has yet to be determined.
Los precios del café en el NY"C" se han disparado en los últimos meses; las cooperativas productoras estan enfrentando mucha competencia en el campo y el "Fair Trade" esta viendo uno de sus retos más grandes. En el mes de Marzo, FLO respondió con un incremento a las primas sociales y orgánicas de certificación FLO -- resultando en un nuevo precio mínimo de $1.90 por café orgánico-FT. Felices de ver esta movida positiva de FLO, todavía tenemos que preguntarnos que clase de impacto tendría esto en el campo. En el siguiente artículo, Santiago Paz ofrece una vista a la dificil realidad de un mercado con precio tan alto, donde los metodos tradicionales del Comercio Justo están siendo retados diariamente y donde el futuro del movimiento todavía no se ha determinado.
The Montreal Cooperative Coffees producer relations office has found itself in a constant shape-shift, with the welcoming of EJ to Canada and the arrival of Ellen to assist in the lab to solidify Labo Equitable operations, and now with the departure of Shannon Ripley, whose tenure at CoopSol as Communications Assistant has been instrumental in the Coop's growth and evolution throughout the past years.
La oficina de Cooperative Coffees en Montreal se ha encontrado en un proceso de cambio constante, con la bienvenida de EJ a Canadá y la llegada de Ellen para asistir en el laboratorio para solidificar las operaciones del Labo Equitable, y ahora despedimos a Shannon Ripley, cuyo trabajo en CoopSol como asistente de comunicaciones ha sido instrumental en el crecimiento y evolución de la organización a lo largo de los últimos años.
On May 2, 2008, during a meeting which took place during the SCAA in Minneapolis, Coop Sol recruited five producer groups as user and support members to our solidarity cooperative. More producer groups are in the process of becoming members, as they meet with their own members and board of directors for discussion.
In the wake of Hurricane Mitch, which hit Central America in 1998, and devastated communities in Nicaragua, GMAS ("Group of Women Saving in Solidarity") was founded in efforts towards recovery. Now, nearly 11 years later, the program is comprised of over 70 groups of women who invest into solidarity savings that provide loans for fellow members. Recently, Larry's Beans visited CECOCAFEN and learned about their campaign to screen women for breast cancer. This project has been a tremendous success thus far and continues to diversify its functions and strengthen the community.
On September 12, 2011 the life of Luis Carlos Mestizo Conda, president of our long standing Colombian producer partner Fondo Paez, was violently taken away in broad daylight. He was intercepted by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he made his way from the local bank in Santander de Quilchao to a machine warehouse with a bag with money to purchase new processing machinery for the association. Whether the attack was premeditated remains unknown.
Cooperative Coffees laments the loss of Lovis Masiga and his family. Mr. Masiga was a founding member of the Gumutindo Cooperative in Uganda. On August 28, 2011 a destructive mudslide carried away his house along with the nine lives inside of it... In the following letter, managing director of the cooperative Willington Wamayeye, describes the pain and the loss that members of the cooperative are now facing... We send our deepest condolences to the Gumutindo Cooperative.
For our 2011 AGM we set up shop in Whitehorse, Yukon in northern Canada (what best place to cool off of that late summer heat!) at the beautiful facilities of Bean North and at the Sundog Retreat for three days of heated discussion from August 18 to the 21.
The adventure started a couple of months ago during a Farmer-to-Farmer visit in Sumatra. Jim Hottenroth accompanied by Florent Gout and Bill Harris from CoopCoffees were asked by members of the Permata Gayo Co-operative to support a kids’ soccer team.
Congratulations and kudos go out to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) – following their well-attended international Assembly held in Goa, India. A weekend of exchange and debate helped move the work forward on their current Fair Trade Guarantee system and to envision the restructuring of the governance and de-centralized operations. Aside from the basic business of checking in with membership on financial and operational annual reports, the meeting allowed WFTO producers and Fair Traders to dig deeper into the priorities of their 2013 work plan.
The Second International Small Producers' Symbol Gathering is scheduled to be held in conjunction with the Latin American Small-Farmer Cooperatives Coordinator - CLAC Fifth Annual Meeting in Quito, Ecuador. CoopCoffees is excited to be part of this historical conversation - with Producer Relations Mgr Monika Firl and Montreal-based Santropol roaster/owner James Solkin attending. The two-day event November 23 and 24, will be an unique opportunity for producers, traders and promoters of this new certification system to meet and discuss their successes and challenges.
Our 2012 AGM was held in beautiful Rosemary Beach, Florida from September 20th to the 22nd. Members, staff, producer partners and allies engaged in three days of meetings, workshops and lively exchanges. Thank you to Amavida Coffees for hosting this very successful event!.
Congratulations go to our Northern Peru partners Sol y Cafe and Cenfrocafe for their high scoring results during the Regional staging of the VII National Coffee Quality Competition held in Jaen during the month of September. In the final selection 33 regional, top-quality samples were tasted under scrutiny of a top-notch panel of nationally and internationally calibrated cupping judges. Out of their work, it was don José Sauce Mego of SOL & CAFÉ from the San Jose del Alto district, Jaén who took first place.
On behalf of all Cooperative Coffees roaster members and staff, we share with the greater Fair Trade communities our deepest sorrow at the news of the tragic death of our friend and colleague Raul del Águila Hidalgo. We send our most sincere condolences to Raul's family members and friends.
The CFTN Annual General Meeting (AGM) & Fair Trade Conference 2013 - Building Foundations – Driving Change
The Canadian Fair Trade Network (CFTN) held its First Annual General Meeting in Calgary, Alberta Jan 10 - 11 to mark closure on a great founding year, celebrate successes and discuss with its members and followers future plans for a Fairer 2013. Building Foundations – Driving Change was the theme of the event and very appropriate for meeting dynamics, as key stakeholders came together from across Canada to strengthen relationships, build upon existing skills and capacity, and envision a collective strategy to move the Canadian Fair Trade Movement forward.
Half a year old is like 10 in start-up years! In that short amount of time there have been plenty of wins and successes. We just celebrated the completion of our first lending cycle, marked by APECAFORM paying back their loan! This is a huge win, never before has a coffee container been financed by consumers. We made history! We’d like to thank all of you who invested time, effort, and resources into this first financed container! Here’s to many more!
It is a great pleasure to join the staff and members of CoopCoffees in building the continued success of the organization. I have been involved in fair trade for over 3 decades and have worked with enough people and organizations to know that joining an existing organization with a developed culture and business model requires a deep commitment to learning and listening before making changes. I have been on an intense learning journey the last 9 months, getting to know the people, the culture and the systems that make this community function.
In March 2013 I had the good fortune of traveling, for the first time, to “origin”. As a cupper at CoopCoffees in Montreal and having only seen photographs of coffee growing regions I was eager to experience this world first hand. We were invited to Marcala, a coffee growing region in southern Honduras, to visit the area and to participate in their annual coffee festival. Traveling with me were Monika Firl of CoopCoffees (Montreal, Quebec), Linda Burnside, roaster owner, Alternative Grounds (Toronto, Ontario), Anne Costello, Peace Coffee (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and Neil Olson, Kickapoo Coffee (Viroqua, Wisconsin).
A CoopCoffees team -- comprised of Anne Costello, Peace Coffee, MN; Brad Brandhart, Larry's Beans ,NC; and Felipe Gurdian, CoopCoffees -- traveled to Boliva in late April, early May 2013 to meet with our producer partners. This was an excellent and timely opportunity to get a first-hand look at current production and market issues in this coffee growing region, and to get first-hand feedback from the farmers themselves.
CoopCoffees staff and member roasters were present "up-front and center" during the recent Fair Trade Federation Conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina – leading workshops and roundtable discussions and with Chris Treter, Higher Grounds Trading roaster/owner giving the Keynote Address. This annual gathering of dedicated Fair Traders, supporters and consumers is an important venue to exchange and discuss the latest issues and developments within Fair Trade. It is also an opportunity to network, explore and buy and sell new Fair Trade products from the show floor exhibit. From the philosophical to very practical and hands-on skills building workshops, this event offered something for everyone!