Here at The Captain's Coffee, it's important to us that our coffee should not just be good, it should also do good. That's why we're starting a series shining a spotlight on farmers and producers who are doing good things for the earth, their community and their coffee. Today's farmer spotlight features our Honduras Catracha Isidoro Sanchez Microlot: a partnership between a farmer, Isidoro Sanchez and the exporter he works with, Catracha Coffee.
Isidoro Sanchez is the owner of Finca el Poso, a tiny farm near Santa Elena, Honduras where he lives with his wife and 6 children. For many years he operated his 5 acre farm as many small producers do: he used conventional farming methods in order to boost his crop yield and sold his coffee to a middleman at low market rates. This arrangement was unsustainable for both his farm and his family and it is sadly, all too common in the specialty coffee industry. But exporters like Catracha Coffee mean to change all that.
Nearly a decade ago, Mayra Orellana-Powell founded Catracha Coffee Company with the goal of improving the lives of coffee producers and their communities as well as the coffee they produced. They do this in several ways. First, they have a unique profit sharing model. Most middlemen in this situation simply purchase a farmer's crop and then do the leg work of selling the crops they purchase overseas, making their money off the premium they charge further up the supply chain. The difference here, is that producers who work with Catracha get paid twice: first when Catracha purchases their coffee and then again when the coffee is sold on the specialty market. Once they sell the coffee, Catracha sends a portion of their profits back to the farmer as a second payment. This profit sharing has allowed farmers the additional income to invest in their farms, families and communities. In the last few years of using this model, most farmers have received a total of around $2.50 per pound for their coffee. That may not sound like much, but remember that the Fair Trade average is around $1.40 per pound. Catracha further invests a portion of their own profits back into the community through a non profit called the Catracha Community which hosts training events for children and adults in everything from fine art and local crafts to entrepreneurship and business concepts.
Catracha coffee also works directly with farmers to improve the quality of their coffee. When he began working with Catracha Coffee 2 years ago, Isidoro immediately began improving things around his farm. First, he switched to organic farming practices including using lime to control the pH balance of the soil as well as using organic compost and organic fungicides. He then learned how to use his personal micro mill so that he could process his coffee on site and control its quality himself rather than sending it to a large mill. Most recently he has been refurbishing the older areas of his farm in order to expand production as well as investing in more and more organic farming practices to revitalize the soil and create a generations long sustainable farm.
Sources: catrachacoffee.com and royalcoffee.com. Picture credit: Royal Coffee.