I have a number of local examples of relationship coffee – some like Fiori and Five Senses I have talked about before. This one is a new effort that brings together over 5000 Australian coffee lovers with coffee growers on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
I am a member of an Australian group called CoffeeSnobs - it is the starting point for many coffee lovers for information, and for purchasing green beans to roast for themselves for the first time.
Coffeesnobs started a fundraising effort some time ago called 'First Crack' which involved a 50 cent donation from each kilogram of coffee sold to go into the fund. CoffeeSnobs proprietor, Andy Freeman, wanted the effort to go directly back to coffee growers, and to have no admin overheads attached at all.
Over $10,000 has been donated so far, and this week CoffeeSnobs celebrated the very first use of the fund. (You can catch the whole discussion on the CoffeeSnobs forum )
The first project was to purchase coffee processing equipment for use by smallholder growers in a coffee farming community on the Southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
The community is adjacent to the Machare coffee estate, an Utz and Rainforest Alliance certified farm in Tanzania.
The owners of the estate bought it as a run-down property and have worked hard to re-establish it as a great coffee origin. This has included not only sustainable production practices but also community development projects involving their neighbours. This has included installing small hydro-electric generators on the slopes of Kilimanjaro for some of the villages.
Andy got in contact directly with Bente Luther-Medoch, the project manager, and was told that their next project was to commence sustainability education for the farmers and establish a communal coffee pulping plant for each village so that they could process coffee themselves as a way of value adding to their own crop.
This also improves the quality of the local coffee considerable as it can be processed much sooner after harvest.
The CoffeeSnobs FairCrack fund has bought the two pulping machines that were required for the project and donated these. One has a 600kg per hour capacity and the second much larger pulper can handle up to 1200kg per hour.
Additional funds have also been allocated to purchase scales and fermentation tanks to complete the pulpery. The beauty of this project is that it was direct, personal and 100% of the funds went to the project. Bonus!
The village of Njari-Rononi is one of the villages into which a pulper will be installed and they have met already this week to prepare an existing shed (pictured along with the farmers) as the site of their new processing plant.
Andy describes the Kilimanjaro project as:
“a perfect fit, the actual small holder farmers are the ones that will manage
the use of the pulpers and maintain them. It is a true community project and
could potentially double the price the farmers can get for their beans.”
The inclusion of sustainability education makes this a very exciting project that allows individual Aussie coffee lovers to contribute directly to improving the lives of the farmers who produce a product we love.