Francis Month Guest Blogger: What’s Peace Coffee by Melanee Meegan

by Melanee Meegan on October 3, 2013

During this month of Francis, man of peace, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite guest blogger Melanee Meegan to share about Peace Coffee, Minneapolis, MN. Do check them out!

The Story starts here…

Every cup of coffee tells a story. For Peace Coffee, that story lies in the myriad ways that coffee production is tied to people’s lives and communities all over the world and the ways in which that crop can impoverish or empower.

Apecaformm Farmers San Marcos, GuatemalaPeace Coffee was founded in 1996, born out of conversations between the local non-profit Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and a delegation of Mexican coffee producers. The goal was simple: the farmers sought a fair price for their products, access to markets, and a chance at earning a livelihood while all around them, the price of coffee was hitting historic lows.

The company got its start as the first 100-percent certified organic and fair trade coffee roaster in the country by importing green beans from Mexico and Guatemala for sale to local roasters. An early partnership with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu gave rise to the brand “Guatemalan Peace Coffee,” imported from farmers only recently returning to their land in the aftermath of the devastating Guatemalan civil war.

Then there was a name change…

Over time, the name was shortened to Peace Coffee, however the story has resonance with the story of coffee producers around the world. Coffee production spread around the globe at the same time as colonial powers. It’s cultivation has a long history of privilege and privation, often failing to enrich those who work the hardest. From Chiapas, Mexico to Aceh, Sumatara, Colombia to Oromia, Ethiopia, coffee-growing communities have their own stories of war, resettlement, and, perhaps, peace.

Through direct relationships with the farmer co-ops who supply the coffee, Peace Coffee supports sustainable development in coffee communities around the world. Long-term purchasing relationships, transparent contracts, and access to fair financing and training are just a few of the tools that aim to improve livelihoods with each sack sold.

Here in the US, Peace Coffee works to better communities as well. Every aspect of the supply chain, from roastery to delivery systems, takes sustainability seriously. The beans are roasted in a green building in the heart of inner city Minneapolis. A small fleet of bicycle trailers pedal beans around town. A cafe serves fresh, local goodies alongside carefully crafted coffee and composts all waste. Staff earn living wages. In short, Peace coffee considers the good of he community in every business decision.

Today…

Peace Coffee has been buying from Apecaform cooperative in Guatemala for more than 15 years now. The struggles facing farmers have changed over that time. These days, civil war is on their minds less than climate change and its accompanying curse, coffee rust. While there are no easy answers, the support of conscious coffee drinkers allows these organized cooperatives of farmer to continue to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.

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