HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Mesa De Los Santos (3 msgs / 142 lines)
1) From: R.N.Kyle
Tom, I just bought 2 lbs from you a couple weeks ago, but reading the =
story makes me want to buy 20 more pounds. You don't mind do you :O). =
Now that's the way the workers should be treated. US companies should be =
so good. Thanks Tom . 
snippet from the post
100 employees are maintained year round. Among the 
benefits that make working at the farm so desirable are pay rates 
well above Colombian minimum wage, even for temporary laborers; free 
health care coverage for the workers and their families; disability 
coverage for temporary or permanent work absence due to injury; 
pension fund for retirement; and an educational allowance for the 
children of the full time employees. These are benefits many 
companies here in the U.S. still won't offer to their workers. To see 
it happening on a coffee farm in Latin America is virtually unheard 
of.
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC
rnkyle
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2) From: Tom & Maria
Here's a recent update on a visit to MDLS farm "El Roble" by John 
Cossette at Royal Coffee. I had a chance to meet the Acevedo family 
late last year, and they are a great group of people. John's notes 
give you an idea why people consider it a "model farm" both in terms 
of the coffee they produce and the care they put into their crop and 
their workers.
Last September, just prior to the current harvest, I paid a quick 
visit to Colombia. I was invited down by the League of Cooperatives 
to give a speech on current market trends in the U.S. gourmet coffee 
sector and perceptions of Colombian coffee here in the states. They 
applauded my words, slapped my back, and have promptly ignored all of 
the advice and suggestions I left with them. Fortunately, the trip 
wasn't a total bust, as I was able to spend the weekend visiting our 
main vein for Colombian organic coffee - La Finca "El Roble", better 
known as Café Mesa de Los Santos in Bucaramanga.
It had been 3 years since my last visit to the farm. In that time, 
the farm had grown substantially, numerous changes had been 
implemented for purposes of quality control, and a variety of health 
and social programs had gone into effect to make working conditions 
among the best on any coffee farm in Latin America. Abandoned pasture 
land that was just being planted with shade trees and coffee 
seedlings on my last tour was now ready for its first harvest, while 
some of the shade trees were already over 25 feet high. New tanks 
were built in the wet mill, new dryers were added in the beneficio, 
and a cupping lab had been created and a professional cupper had been 
hired to monitor the cup quality of the upcoming harvest.
Meanwhile, the ancient, heavily shaded parcels continue to produce - 
the Acevedo family has been growing coffee on the farm for over 100 
years. In the farm offices, meticulous data is maintained for each 
growing parcel - number, age, and variety of coffee trees, number and 
name of all shade tree species, harvest figures, composting data, 
etc. The farm is still the first and only farm in Colombia to be 
certified by the Smithsonian as Bird Friendly for its shade tree 
cover, in addition to being one of the first certified organic farms 
in the country.
Delving further into the makeup of the farm, the newly established 
cupping facility has taken up the task of cupping coffee from 
virtually every parcel on the farm just days after processing has 
been completed. In doing so, the best coffees have been isolated to 
create the signature "Mesa de Los Santos" blend, while good 
quantities of the strait varietals, including bourbon, have also been 
selected out to be offered individually. In our upcoming shipment due 
to arrive in February, roasters will have the choice of 3 distinct 
coffee types from the farm, all immaculately prepared, all cupping 
superbly, and all certified organic and shade grown.
While there have been many changes in the physical setting, even 
greater measures have been initiated into the social structure of the 
farm. As the farm grows, there is a subsequent need for additional 
labor. At the peak of this year's harvest in November, there were 
over 200 employees working the farm, while a full time, permanent 
force of close to 100 employees are maintained year round. Among the 
benefits that make working at the farm so desirable are pay rates 
well above Colombian minimum wage, even for temporary laborers; free 
health care coverage for the workers and their families; disability 
coverage for temporary or permanent work absence due to injury; 
pension fund for retirement; and an educational allowance for the 
children of the full time employees. These are benefits many 
companies here in the U.S. still won't offer to their workers. To see 
it happening on a coffee farm in Latin America is virtually unheard 
of.
With the beautiful natural setting of this farm, the shaded, 
organically cultivated fields, and a contented and amiable work 
force, Mesa de los Santos is a Shangri-La in the middle of a country 
racked with political, environmental and economic problems. While the 
farm can't qualify as Fair Trade due to its size, it is truly worthy 
of the support currently given to Fair Trade coffees for all of the 
reasons cited above. Visit the farm, roast and drink the coffee. For 
all that goes into a bag of Mesa de los Santos, it is a bargain at 
any price. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the League of 
Cooperatives to pay for my plane ticket.
--
                   "Great coffee comes from tiny roasters"
            Sweet Maria's Home Coffee Roasting  -  Tom & Maria
		1455 64th Street Emeryville CA 94608
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3) From: Peter Barnes
This farm notwithstanding, every day that I make coffee I am aware of 
just how ruthless the business is, and how many people suffer for my 
pleasure.  I know the coffees we buy from Tom are different, but as he 
has said in the past, even some of the coffees he carries can be 
underpriced.  I'm sure I would think twice about my habits if each cup 
cost me $4 or $5 (especially as a poor seminary student), but that would 
be better than putting up with the shame that is the coffee industry in 
general.  It's just amazing to think how many man (and woman) hours go 
into each cup of coffee that I drink.
I just wish there were more farms like this. 
*sigh*
Peter
<Snip>
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