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Groundwork Coffee Partners with the AMUCC to Empower Women: A new partnership between Groundwork Coffee Co and the AMUCC is working to embolden female coffee producers in Colombia.

In Colombia, the absence of men in communities due to the upheaval over the last 25 years created a vacuum. Women found themselves as the de facto heads of their households--with all the accompanying responsibilities, but none of the rights. The AMUCC--Asociacion de Mujeres Caficultoras Cauca (Women's Coffee Grower Association of Cauca)--is a Fair Trade USA-certified association of women in Cauca that empowers female coffee producers by creating a community for female coffee farmers, so they can be stronger together. Los Angeles, California-based specialty roaster, Groundwork Coffee Co, wanted to reward these efforts.

Jeffrey Chean, a partner in Groundwork Coffee and its "chief coffee guy," first visited the AMUCC in June 2016. He became enamoured with AMUCC's coffee beans and the community of women behind it and wanted to help that community thrive. Groundwork began by paying an additional USD 6 cents per pound green, to support the cause. And then decided that they should and could do more.

Groundwork asked the AMUCC community what would be helpful. They said that creating a revolving fund where farmers can take out a no interest loan to meet short-term cash flow needs (in the lean period that occurs during the farming cycle when the farmers need to pay their staff, but have yet to receive payment for their coffee) would be the best way to support them.

Groundwork decided to take roughly USD 25 cents per pound, and donate it back to the AMUCC for the creation of this revolving fund. This fund wiLl also make it easier for the remaining conventional farmers within the coop to make the transition.

"I plan to meet the currently certified and transitioning farmers in the group as well as encourage others to consider transitioning," said Chean. "I will also be dealing with the logistics behind the creation of revolving interest-free credit line we are funding."

To encourage the production of great coffee and the growth of the number of certified farms, Groundwork has also introduced a Quality Award of USD $1 per pound to a farmer who produces a truly exceptional micro-lot. The first recipient of the Ouality Award is Maria Cristina Potosi--mother, grandmother, 35-year veteran coffee farmer, and self-described "enterprising woman. Chean presented the award to Maria in person in July.

Groundwork Coffee's Colombia AMUCC Organic Coffee is a light roast with notes of tangerine, redcurrant, milk chocolate, green apple, and clover honey. It is available on the Groundwork website for USD $13.95 per 12oz, whole bean bag.

Giving Back to Farmers

Groundwork's partnership with the AMUCC evidences its efforts to improve the livelihood of farmers who grow coffee. "What we know as coffee today came from what is essentially the cherry pit' of a coffee plant. In the early days, it was more common to eat the fruit in which the coffee bean grows," said Chean.

"It was also common to pound the beans and eat them rolled in animal fat. Or sometimes the leaves from the coffee plant were steeped to make a tea-like drink. Groundwork doesn't really continue those traditions," he said. "However, we get back to the basics of coffee in a very important way by promoting the non-use of agrotoxins and chemical fertilizers.

Chean said to think of it as coffee the way your great-grandparents would have grown it, if they happened to live in the tropics. "In fact, when I've spoken with organic farmers, it is not uncommon for them to describe their methods as the same used by their grandparents."

He noted that Fazenda Camocim is a biodynamic-certified farm in Brazil, whose methods include tying harvests into moon cycles. It also incorporates the ancient methods of using herbal/animal bone elixirs, dating back to a time when humans were transitioning from nomadic life to agrarian society.

"While there have been advances in organic agricultural practices, the focus has remained keeping the process clean. Organic and sustainable practices are a natural pairing, since they revolve around a clean, natural process. The goal is to take good care of the land, return to it as much as is taken, protect waterways, and ensure the well being of people," said Chean.

Groundwork Coffee rose from the sands of Venice Beach, California, as a rare and used bookstore that also sold coffee and tea. As local demand grew they left the book business to roast full time. Groundwork was one of the first certified-organic coffee roasters in California and is the largest organic coffee roaster in Los Angeles. It is a sustainable-oriented businessthat employs solar-powered, low-emissions roasting technology.

Groundwork currently operates a new roastery and eight cafe locations throughout the Los Angeles area, and distributes its coffees to more than 900 foodservice and grocery customers across the US, as well as to cafes in Portland, Oregon.

Caption: Groundwork Coffee/ AMUCC's first Quality Award winner, Maria Cristina Potosi

Caption: Groundwork Coffee was one of the first certified-organic roasters in California.
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Comment:Groundwork Coffee Partners with the AMUCC to Empower Women: A new partnership between Groundwork Coffee Co and the AMUCC is working to embolden female coffee producers in Colombia.(SUSTAINING THE CHAIN)
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Nov 1, 2017
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